A few weeks ago we reported on the bleak career future for humanities PhD holders. Our post concluded on a rather pessimistic note, sharing the advice of Thomas H. Benton who warns humanities students against pursuing higher degrees in the humanities.
Recently The Daily Pennsylvanian expressed a glimmer of hope on the otherwise rather depressing subject of humanities-related career opportunities.
The article, entitled “With declining job opportunities humanities grad students remain optimistic” (a positive title), begins like this: “A massive decrease in scholarly job opportunities—especially those in languages and literature—has brought the challenges doctoral candidates in these areas face into the national spotlight.”
Not a very optimistic start to an article on optimism that then continues to talk about a past New York Times article that expresses the same pessimistic view of the humanities-related job market.
So where does the optimism come in?
The Penn students express their ambivalence about their post-grad job prospects with a refreshing burst of passion.
Penn students understand that the job market today may not be the job market in six or seven years, the amount of time it takes many students to finish their PhDs. Who’s to say they shouldn’t pursue their dreams because of where the always-fluctuating job market is today, or even where it’s been for the last few years?
“We’re all here because we want to be professors,” says one English graduate student. “The likelihood, though, is that we’re not going to get exactly what we want in terms of the type of job we’re looking for.”
That same student concludes the article by saying, “Your subfield is what you’re passionate about. I don’t know anyone who doctored their interests based on getting a job.”
Optimism is always appreciated; but in today’s economy, I think people have “doctored their interests based on getting a job,” even if it meant putting their passion-driven PhDs on hold for a while.
- “Writing Your Statement of Purpose,” 10 Do’s and 10 Don’ts
- Five Fatal Flaws to Avoid, a free ecourse
- Financing Your Future: Winning Fellowships, Scholarships and Awards for Grad School, an ebook
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