When I finished my dissertation, I had all but written off a life in academia. I was sick of the research and writing and endless periods of solitude. Plus, I had applied for several applicable positions at universities in the Denver metro area without any luck. I was quite happy to forego a job at a university. Turns out I entering the job force at the worst possible time - at the beginning of 2009, right after the economic collapse of 2008.
At that time I mostly saw my PhD as a liability. Who would hire me at an entry-level position or a little higher with that kind of degree? But after working in academia for nearly four years, I wasn't qualified for much more. particularly in a new city and in the nonprofit sector. And I was ready to work. When a grant writing position opened at an organization where I had volunteered, I figured it was a good place to start - and they were interested in hiring me.
Turns out that it was a key decision in my professional life. Sure, the pay wasn't great and I wasn't using my PhD. But, I met some amazing people. Like my team:
|Tribute 2011, what would be our final event together (minus Mar).|
|Tribute 2012 ... reunited and all working for different organizations.|
I started Struckman Consulting mostly because I needed more flexibility in my schedule. When I was offered an adjunct position at the University of Denver last winter I couldn't refuse it. Being able to teach has validated why I got my PhD in the first place. It's wonderful to be a part of a community of learning again - even if it's only part-time. And I feel like I'm actually using my degree ... to a degree.
And you know what, my PhD is no longer a liability. Now it's an asset. When I started working at MHAC, I asked that my degree be omitted from my business cards. My Struckman Consulting cards proudly display those letters - and they do make a difference with new people I meet.
The long and short purpose of this rant is that I'm using this versatile PhD to carve out my own professional track. I won't be that professor who flies all over the world to conduct research or wins awards or publishes a book (yet). But, I am that professor who has a viable career outside of academia that allows me to explore my identity as a professional, as a professor and a mother without feeling guilty that I'm neglecting specific portions of my life.
Plus, but it's pretty amazing to get letters addressed to Dr. Struckman!