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Danuta Otfinowski

every Ph.D. student has the ability to do research, to learn something very quickly and then communicate it, skills that will be useful in most any job. In this way, the Ph.D. glut indirectly serves society in the way Kathy Franz described: Those landing outside of higher education can have a positive impact across a variety of sectors. They can impart knowledge to business leaders, to the next generation of thinkers, to a cross section of America—such as the millions who will view Young’s curation in the D.C. museum, where she’ll start working in January as the historian of the Smithsonian Food History project. Of course, the transition won’t be as smooth for everyone else. During the post-Ph.D. period, fear and regret will still simmer. Academic CVs and résumés, while in theory representing the same person’s accomplishments, will still have wildly different formats. For some students, the monomaniacal priority they place on tenure-track jobs will still make good options seem like barista work. Others will still get ensnared in the short-term numbers game and ignore the long-term likelihood of success. “Everyone ends up having a happy outcome,” Leverett says, “but for some reason we still think that there’s no hope.” So if feeling hopeful is too ambitious, perhaps graduate students can simply take solace from a few precedents: The journeys of Young and Troester show that such challenging, enjoyable positions really do exist beyond the tenure track. And given that he still can read and teach the theories of Albert Hirschman and Thomas Schelling in the office, Troester is proof that the academy doesn’t have to be cordoned off from the rest of society. Knowledge can be applied anywhere. “I think I held back from making the full transition for a while, because I was frightened of the possibility of having to give up something essential that I really valued about myself, that the process of getting a Ph.D. was an expression of,” Troester says, now two years into his time at Research Square, four years into the business world. “Something that I’ve come to realize is that I didn’t have to give any of that up at all.” n DUKE MAGAZINE

FALL 2017


Fall 2017 Issue v. 3  
Fall 2017 Issue v. 3  

Includes Duke Forward campaign insert