About a year ago, I made a career transition into professional and academic development support for graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. I have found the work immensely fulfilling, and as with any other new position, I spent quite a bit of time in my first several months trying to catch myself up to speed on the lingo of the profession.
In particular, given the amount of programming that we develop for graduate students exploring diverse career options, I started tuning in more to how people were talking about the career landscape for doctoral students. As I read more of the literature, I started noticing the frequency of references to “academic vs. nonacademic” positions. As someone who obtained a Ph.D. in microbiology and ultimately pursued a career in higher education administration, this terminology was not new to me; I had heard it many times during my own doctoral education as I weighed various career options. That said, I started to realize that this phrase presents a false dichotomy for students who are considering diverse career options. Read more.