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Feedback from Past Participants

Courtney Rong Fu
Department of History

I am very grateful to have been part of the 2016 HWW workshop. It is a creative initiative that addresses a serious problem in academia where humanities disciplines are hit especially hard.

This is what the workshop did for me:

- I realized that I have skills that are valuable to the outside world, and gained a better appreciation of my worth;
- I was exposed to career opportunities that had never come across my mind;
- I got a better idea of the “outside world” and where and how humanities PhDs can have an impact on it;
- I developed a clearer vision of what my future career would look like;
- I was pushed to do informational interviews– which, I learned, is a great way to establish a professional network;
- I developed a support group with other fellows.

All in all, I think the biggest takeaway for me is that a PhD degree is not a liability but an asset in alt-ac careers. I am truly thankful to the Humanities Without Walls organizers. One suggestion which I think they can take into consideration is to include a foreign nationals and/or international jobs component of the workshop. We had some international fellows at the workshop, and they are faced with more restrictions than their American peers in job searches. Also, we should not rule out the possibility that some fellows may not limit themselves to this country only when it comes to jobs, but keep our eyes on the global job market as well.

Aminah Hasan
Department of Philosophy

Overall, the other fellows and I would agree that the workshop was highly successful. We all left Chicago in a positive and informed place in terms of thinking of our future career plans. For me personally, the layout of the workshops and information sessions offered a vast range of career paths to think through in the future–  post-graduation– and during the dissertation process.

The most important aspect of the workshop was the ability to have personal contact with the presenters and to establish a new social network with the various organizations and companies we visited. In addition, the workshop put us into contact with other doctoral students in the humanities who also had similar ambitions but came from different disciplines. Everyone’s perspective added to the experience. I would strongly suggest that any doctoral student who is thinking of alternative career paths to attend the HWW workshop. The only element I would add to the workshop is to offer a career perspective from the standpoint of intellectuals who decided to stay in the academy but whose research is interdisciplinary or is collaborative with organizations outside the university. I believe alt-ac can be attached to creating alternative academic spaces, which can happen within and outside the university.

Desiree Valentine
Department of Philosophy and Department of Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies

The workshop was excellent—an amazing opportunity that I would recommend for anyone eligible to attend. I left feeling confident about my future within or outside academia. What was most helpful, I think, was just being able to think about my work and myself differently in ways that let me reflect about how a range of my past and present activities could translate beyond academia. At the same time, this had the effect of allowing me to build more confidence in the activities I’m doing now within academia. The workshop itself was very well organized, with a great group of speakers and field trips. It was very busy (and therefore tiring at times!) but a great intensive course that allowed me to learn a lot in a short amount of time. 

I would suggest involving more time for reflection throughout, which would involve more time for the participants to engage with each other. I would have loved to have a session with Alison [Alison Cuddy, workshop director], too! Overall, this was a really well-designed and enriching experience and I’m so thankful I was able to be a part of it!

Abigail Kahn
Department of Applied Linguistics

I am so lucky to have been able to participate in the Humanities Without Walls Summer Pre-Doc Workshop.  This program was definitely the best thing I've done in my entire PhD career so far and gave me the tools I've been needing to figure out my post-PhD life, as well as an outlet and people to talk to about it.  I made lasting connections with other students in the program which have helped me transition back into PhD life at Penn State, as well as with some of the presenters with whom I am still in regular contact and who have been immensely helpful in my job search.  These are resources that are invaluable to me, and I'm so glad I got this opportunity.