PhDs that Work: Finding Success in an Uncertain Job Market

This series made possible through the generous support of the Faculty of Graduate Studies, the Arts Endowment Fund, and the Institute for the Humanities.

In this timely series of workshops, L. Maren Wood, PhD and Jennifer Polk, PhD, two pioneering career coaches and the founders of Beyond the Professoriate, will share their expertise and help both graduate students and faculty make better sense of, and prepare for today's challenging and shifting professional landscape.   Register for the entire series here.

Faculty Advisers - Ask Us Anything, with Maren & Jen
12:30-1:30 pm
223, Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, 65 Dafoe Rd.

A recent study reports that, despite their ambitions to become professors, fewer than one in five (18.6%) PhDs in Canada become full-time professors on the tenure track.  Understandably many faculty advisors feel unqualified or ill prepared to help their students navigate the professional world outside the university. Maren and Jen will host an hour-long open discussion with faculty and answer questions about preparing students for careers beyond the professoriate.  All welcome (no registration).

PhDs that Work: Finding Success in an Uncertain Job Market 
2:30-4:00 pm
306, Tier Building

Does it seem that every other week a new story appears in your social media feed that laments the current state of the job market for PhDs? Often short on statistics but long on scary anecdotes of impoverished adjuncts and exploited post-docs, these news stories do little to provide graduate students with guidance on how to manage their job search. In this keynote presentation, Maren & Jen will:

  • Provide an overview of the history of the academic job market crisis, starting in 1969, bringing a nuanced understanding of how we arrived at our current jobs crisis.
  • Provide the most recent data on the academic job market, and career pathways for PhDs who leave the academy.
  • Success stories of PhDs who now work beyond the professoriate.
  • An overview of the non-faculty job search process, and how it differs from the faculty search and hiring process.

All welcome.  Register here.


Motivators & Values Workshop
200, Education Building

Most people hate their jobs. Why? Their work doesn’t align with what matters to them or how they do their best work. Making good career decisions depends on understanding our own values, priorities, and strengths. Knowing what we each find fun, engaging, meaningful, and rewarding is crucial to identifying jobs that work for us. Yet when it comes to thinking about next career steps, we tend to jump past this step. We jump into skill assessments, industry research, and resume writing. This interactive workshop will focus on deeper considerations. Participants will:

  • Identity what’s important to them in their personal and professional lives, and what they offer that others might not.
  • Be able to better and more confidently make decisions that make sense for them.

All welcome.  Register here.

Transferable Skills: Learn to talk about what you do instead of what you know
200, Education Building

Identifying transferable skills can be one of the most difficult processes in preparing for a post-academic search. PhDs are trained to talk about what they know, not what they do. Employers, however, want to know what a candidate can do (their value) for their organization and hire based on a combination of skills, knowledge, and experience. Once students can identify the skills they have that are in demand by employers of interest, they can begin to write professional documents, network, and prepare for interviews. In this workshop students will learn:

  • How to conduct a Skills Inventory to identify the skills and abilities they have learned during their graduate education.
  • To identify key skills and core competencies employers are looking for.
  • To communicate their skills and subject matter expertise in a way that makes sense to employers.

All welcome.  Register here.

How to Prepare & Launch a Successful Job Search Beyond the Professoriate
200, Education Building

Graduate students at any stage of their studies can begin to prepare for a successful non-faculty job search. Through career exploration, networking, public engagement, and public scholarship students can set themselves up for a successful non-faculty job search from day one of graduate school. In this workshop students will learn:

  • The importance of building a network and the role networking plays in landing job opportunities.
  • How to use social media (Twitter & LinkedIn) to build an online personal brand and to build a COMMUNITY.
  • How to incorporate public scholarship and public engagement into their academic career.
  • How to gain non-faculty work experience (paid or unpaid) during grad school.

All welcome.  Register here.



       Jennifer Polk, PhD

Jen is the Director of Community and Co-Director of Educational Programs at Beyond the Professoriate.  She earned a PhD in History from the University of Toronto.  

Jen is passionate about helping PhDs transition into jobs and careers that suit them. She loves the career exploration process. In addition to her work as Beyond the Professoriate, Jen is an academic, career, and life coach helping a diverse group of graduate students and PhDs from all around the world launch meaningful careers, during and after graduate school. She also hosts an online community for entrepreneurial academics, called Self-Employed PhD.

Jen speaks on campuses and at conferences throughout North America on issues related to graduate education and career outcomes for PhDs.  Her writing has appeared in the Globe and Mail, University Affairs, Vitae, and Academic Matters.

To learn more about Jen's coaching, visit, and read her award-winning University Affairs blog.  Follow Jen on Twitter @FromPhDtoLife and connect with her on Linkedin.

        L. Maren Wood, PhD

Maren is the Director of Research and Co-Director of Educational Programs at Beyond the Professoriate. She earned a PhD in History from the University of North Carolina at Chapel hill.

Maren has been a lead researcher on several important studies on the academic and non-academic job market for humanities and social science PhDs, working for the Amerian Historical Association and the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Her writings appear in The Chronicle of Higher Education. Currently, she is leading a team of volunteer researchers to track Who Lands Tenure Track Jobs. She's also working on a History of the Academic Job Market Crisis from 1968 to the Present. You can follow both research projects at

Maren is often invited to campuses as a keynote speaker to present her original research.  She also delivers interactive workshops to help graduate students prepare for a non-faculty job search. In addition to her research, Maren provides one-to-one career coaching to PhDs through her self-paced course, Boot Camp for the Post-Academic Job Seeker.

Follow Maren on Twitter @drmarenw and connect with her on Linkedin.