UNC History Career Diversity

resources and opportunities on career diversity for History Ph.D.'s

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Upcoming Professional Development Opportunities and Resources

Here are a couple of professional development opportunities and support resources for diverse careers coming up in the next weeks, as well as a couple to mark on the calendar for early January. I’ll also be in touch soon with info on an information session on careers in academic publishing that will take place in early January.

If you’re interested in learning more about a career in the State Department or Foreign Service, then consider attending the information session hosted by the Curriculum in Peace, War, and Defense on Monday, December 3, at 12:00pm in Hamilton 569. They have invited UNC alumnus and Foreign Service Officer, Yaniv Barzilai, to discuss career opportunities in the State Department.

For those of your teaching your own course for the first time this Spring or Summer, you might consider attending the Graduate School sponsored event “Course Development Institute for Graduate Students.” This workshop will help instructors “develop a syllabus, a course plan, model lesson planning, create learning objectives, ideas for student centered engagement, and evaluate students’ learning outcomes.” If interested in attending, you can register here. The workshop will take place from 9:00am to 1:00pm at the Graduate Student Center (211A West Cameron Ave). Coffee, snacks, and lunch are provided.

On January 29, from 12:00pm to 2:00pm in the Graduate Student Center there is a workshop on Resiliency and the Imposter Syndrome, which is clearly useful to learn to navigate no matter your career. You can register here. Lunch is provided!

Hope everyone is hanging tough these last few weeks of the semester. Let me know if you have any questions or suggestions!

Professional Development Opportunities for November

A brief post about some upcoming professional development opportunities for the month of November:

For those of you on or considering the academic job market, you might be interested in Beyond the Professoriate’s free webinar on “How to Write a Research Statement for Academic Job Applications.” The webinar will take place on Friday, November 9th from 2-3pm EST, and will feature tips from UNC’s very own Brian J. Rybarczyk, who is Assistant Dean of Graduate Student Academic & Professional Development. You can register to attend at this link.

A reminder about the 2018 NC Master’s and Doctoral Career Fair that will take place Tuesday, November 13th from 12:00pm to 4:00pm out at the Friday Center. If you’re interested in attending, you can see a list of the employers that will be there and register at this link. If you would like to go but don’t have transportation, please be in touch with me so we can work out some carpooling.

On Thursday, November 15th, from 2:00pm-4:00pm the Graduate School is sponsoring a free workshop on professional networking. The event will take place at the Graduate Student Center (211A West Cameron Ave), and you can register to attend here.

If you’re interested in applying for the Graduate Certificate in Business Fundamentals, the deadline to do so is November 21st at 11:59pm. If this is something you’re considering, I would recommend pursuing it sooner rather than later, as the required courses are offered variably in the fall and spring semesters. For more information and to apply, see their website. If you have any questions, you can reach out directly to Dr. Leah Townsend, Director of the Graduate School Professional Program. Applicants will be notified by December 10th.

As always, let me know if you have any questions or would like more information about any of these events and opportunities.

Guest Blog: Clein Internship Award, Summer 2018

Today on the blog we hear from Emma Rothberg, a 3rd year Ph.D. Student who works on 19th century United States’ history. Last summer Emma received a Clein Internship Award, which supplied summer funding in order for her to undertake an internship of her choice outside of traditional academia. Thanks to the generous support of Mark Clein, the History Department has typically offered 3 of these internships, and last summer they had 4! As we get closer to the call for applications, I’ll be writing more explicitly about some campus and community organizations that folks have interned for in the past. Look for calls to go out in the spring, with applications typically due around the end of March.

Emma writes…

This summer, I used my Clein Internship to work at Wilson Library Special Collections. Most of the summer, I worked on 1) writing blog posts for the library to highlight collections and 2) creating Library Guides for researchers. I wrote the Library Guides for the Civil War and Reconstruction, two large topics that Wilson receives a lot of research traffic for but did not have research aides for. Library Guides (or Lib Guides) are meant to serve as a starting place for researchers coming to Wilson, but they have further applications as pedagogical tools. Generally, Lib Guides will give an overview of the topic or era, list relevant secondary and primary resources, provide guides for further research, and list other databases that might be useful for research. Doesn’t sound too exciting, I admit, but the Library Guides are extraordinarily important for Wilson (as anyone who has done research there can attest) and I was happy to contribute.

1) What skills from your Ph.D. training did you use in your internship? How often did you use them and were they valued by your coworkers or supervisors?

I mostly used my knowledge of relevant sources and search terms when writing the Library Guides. Since they are meant to serve as a starting point rather than an exhaustive list, I called upon my historiographical knowledge in order to present a comprehensive overview of the Civil War and Reconstruction that covered major topics of inquiry. My coworkers and supervisors really appreciated that I had this knowledge, which was why they gave me the task in the first place. They trusted that the way I wanted to present the information regarding the Civil War and Reconstruction and relevant source material was based on good scholarship and an understanding of the field. Basically, they trusted me not to lead researchers astray or to present them a biased viewpoint from the get go.

2) What additional skills did you learn or cultivate in your internship that we aren’t necessarily trained for in the graduate program here at UNC?

I learned how to write Library Guides for Wilson, which is a useful skill if I want to go into archives but not really in another capacity. Mostly I learned how to deal with people who had full-time, non-academic jobs who operated on a different schedule than me. To be honest, there were some structural difficulties that hampered how much I could truly learn for the summer period. I blame that more on the craziness that was Wilson Library this summer (consolidation of 4 reading rooms into 1), but I was left on my own a lot without enough to do, which is a challenge I’ve heard from other people who have had internships in the past.

 3) Do you think that the organization or institution that you worked with is interested in having more graduate interns in the future?

I know my supervisor, Jason Tomberlin, is extremely interested in having other History Graduate students work for Wilson. Mostly, they get undergrads (who do the desk jobs, retrieving books and stuff) and SILS students. However, there are a lot of opportunities to do real archival work there if someone is interested (creating finding aides, organizing collections, writing library guides, etc). While I did not find my experience there as fruitful as it could have been, I don’t think that would be the case going forward. Plus, working at Wilson means you can stay at home, use Chapel Hill Transit, and work on campus with a flexible schedule meaning that the Clein funds really do help you cover summer expenses.


Career Diversity Opportunities for October

Here’s a brief post highlighting some on-campus career diversity opportunities upcoming in October:

1) Hone your elevator pitch by participating in the Three Minute Thesis (3MT) competition on campus, a great way to improve presentation and interviewing skills for a range of different career opportunities, academic and non-academic alike. An information session will be held on Tuesday, October 9, from 4-5pm at the Graduate Student Center. Register here! Preliminary rounds will be held on October 23-24, and registration for competition closes on October 16.

2) On Thursday, October 11 from 2:00-3:00pm in the Graduate Student Center, Niko Pfund, President of Oxford University Press will give a talk about pursuing a career in academic publishing. Register here.

3) On Saturday, October 27 from 9:30am to 3:30pm, the Graduate School will host an all-day Career Symposium for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars. This event will feature a keynote from Fatimah Williams Castro, CEO of Beyond the Tenure Track, as well as several hands-on workshops in the afternoon. More information and a registration link can be found at this link. Cost is $15 per person, but coffee and lunch is provided. Make sure to register by October 22 at the latest.

4) Ongoing opportunity to work as a graduate volunteer for career planning. You can contact Amy Blackburn (amy_blackburn@unc.edu) if you’re interested in building skills in data collection and analysis, communication or event planning, learning about careers in academic administration, or helping graduate and professional students find jobs.

Opportunity: AHA Career Contacts Program

In 2015 the AHA launched its Career Contacts program, one of many initiatives to promote career diversity for history Ph.D.’s. The Career Contacts program pairs current Ph.D. students with Ph.D.’s in history working in a variety of fields, in order to expand awareness of the variety of careers that history Ph.D.’s pursue, and “help junior historians articulate the value of their training and of historical perspectives in a variety of professional settings.”

Last week, our own Max Lazar took advantage of this resource offered by the AHA. He spoke on the phone with Dylan Reudiger, who is the Coordinator for Career Diversity for Historians and Institutional Research at the AHA. Max said that he and Dylan had a substantial chat, exploring not only Max’s intellectual interests, but also the type of work and activities that he finds most exciting and fulfilling. With this information in mind, Dylan then spoke about some careers (in addition to the traditional academic path), that he thought Max might find interesting. At the conclusion of their talk, Dylan followed up with Max and passed along the contact information of a person who works as a Faculty Instruction Consultant and Assistant Director Graduate Student Professional Enhancement. Max can now set up an informational interview with this contact in order to learn more about how their position and how it utilizes or complements their historical training.

If you’re interested in participating in the AHA Career Contacts program, read more on their website about becoming a Junior Contact. This is an excellent free resource, and a way to make the exploration of diverse careers for History Ph.D.’s more tangible.

What can University Career Services do for you?

This morning I sat down to speak with Amy Blackburn, Senior Assistant Director for Graduate Students at University Career Services (UCS). Amy has extensive experience mentoring both undergraduate and graduate students in the humanities and social sciences as well as STEM fields through various stages of career decision making, professional development, and the job search.

When posed the question “what can UCS do for graduate students in the humanities and social sciences exploring career paths outside of academia,” Amy could point to abundant on-campus resources at free or little cost to current graduate students. In other words, the opportunities are there for the taking, but what is required on the part of graduate students is the initiative to seek them out. Putting aside for the moment the challenge and frustration of adding yet another professionalization task to daunting to-do lists, according to Amy, grad students considering non-academic careers should begin to developing relevant professional skills early while they’re still in coursework. One resource she mentioned is the Graduate School Professional Development website, which offers (among other things) a Professional Development Guide. This guide outlines core competencies that grad students should be developing at the early-stage, mid-stage, and late-stage of their graduate student careers, as well as actions, resources, and events on campus to facilitate this development.

Amy also spotlighted several upcoming activities of interest for graduate students exploring diverse career options. First, there are still a few spots available for the Gallup Strengths Workshop for Graduate/Professional Students on Thursday, September 27. This event, which leads students through an assessment of their professional strengths, will take place in the Graduate Student Center from 2:00pm to 3:30pm. Registration is required. Second, on Saturday, October 27, UNC is sponsoring a Career Symposium for Graduate Students and Postdoctoral Scholars. This event will run from 9:30am until 4pm in the Aquarium Lounge of the Carolina Union. There will be 3 panels, including one for grad students in the humanities and social sciences, as well as a series of workshops in the afternoon. The keynote speaker is Fatimah Williams Castro, who is the founder and CEO of Beyond the Tenure Track, a firm that specializes in professional development and career planning for graduate students, faculty, and Ph.D.’s . The cost of this conference is $15, which includes lunch. You can find more information and register to attend at this link. And third, on Tuesday, November 14 from 12:00pm to 4:00pm, UNC will host the 18th Annual NC Master’s/Doctoral Fair at the Friday Center. No registration is required, and graduate and professional students from all fields are encouraged to attend.

For graduate students interested in gaining some practical professional experience in higher ed, Amy suggested three opportunities available through the University Career Services offices. First, Amy Blackburn is always looking for volunteers to help with a variety of essential tasks in facilitating career services at the graduate student level. This includes data collection and analysis, departmental communication, event planning, listserv management, social media and blogging, as well as helping to facilitate SHARE, the graduate student-led group about career decision making and the job search. Second, there are yearly opportunities to volunteer in pre-graduate advising with William Taylor, who is the Assistant Director of Pre-Gradate and Pre-Law Advising. And third, consider working as a Career Peer, a paid position (10hr/week) that pairs graduate students with undergraduate and MA-students who come to drop-in hours looking for assistance resume building, searching for internships, or exploring careers options. All of these opportunities are a great way to develop program building skills and gain mentoring experience, which are relevant professional skills for those considering jobs in higher ed.

Please keep your eyes peeled for posts and emails about upcoming career diversity events sponsored by UCS and Graduate School Professional Development. I will attempt to make those opportunities known via this site, a bi-weekly email, and on Twitter. If you’d like to join the UCS listserv that offers relevant articles, resources, events, and job opportunities for graduate and professional students, please send an email to listmanager@listserv.unc.edu with subscribe grad_prof_careers in the body of the email.

Career Diversity Opportunities for September

Here’s a brief post highlighting some on-campus career diversity opportunities upcoming in September:

1) September 5 at 4pm in the Graduate Center, Dr. Robyn Schroeder will host an information session about the Humanities for the Public Good (HPG) Graduate Fellowships. You can RSVP here and you can read more about the role of HPG Fellows at this website. In our correspondence, Robyn said: “Because two of these HPG fellowships are for community history–with the Town of Chapel Hill’s civil rights commission, and with the Jackson Center–I deeply hope there might be some interest from you historians, and not only the Americanists. These are intended to be simultaneously opportunities for exploring methods of engaged scholarship, as well as career diversity opportunities–meaning they’re meant to work for folks considering aiming for careers within the academy or beyond.” Seems like a great opportunity!

2) On Friday, September 14 from 2:30 to 4pm in Hanes 312, SHARE, which stands for Social Science and Humanities Activities and Resources for Employment, will hold a Job Search Circle and LinkedIn Workshop. SHARE is a student-led group for graduate students currently exploring career options both in and outside of academia. Be sure to bring your laptop in order to receive peer feedback!

3) On September 25, from 12:00 to 1:30pm at the Graduate Center, the Graduate School will hold a workshop on creating an Individual Development Plan, or IDP, which can help assess skills, explore career options, and create goals to work towards your desired career path, whatever that may be. You can register at this link. Lunch will be provided!

Look out for a new post on the website next week about my conversation with Amy Blackburn. In the meantime, don’t forget to follow @UNCHistCareers on Twitter!

Alt-ac, Non-ac, or Post-ac?

Whether you’re just joining the career diversity conversation, or whether you’re a seasoned veteran, the terminology surrounding careers for humanities Ph.D.’s outside of the professoriate can be a bit confusing at times. In this brief post I’ll elucidate some of the vocabulary used to describe the various career paths that humanities Ph.D.’s take.

Non-Academic Career (NAC)

As the name suggests, the non-academic career, or NAC, are careers outside of traditional academia. In other words, Ph.D.’s who do not get tenure track or fixed term jobs at colleges or universities. This is an umbrella term that encompasses a number of more specific tracks outlined below.


The term “alt-ac” typically refers to careers within the academy other than the professoriate. Some examples might include working in university development, at a Title VI center, in program management, or some other former of higher ed administration.


In contrast to “alt-ac,” “post-ac” indicates career opportunities completely outside of academia. The variety of careers that humanities Ph.D.’s pursue is continually expanding, but some examples include consulting, federal or state government employment, or working in non-profits or start-ups.


The #withaPhD hashtag is one used frequently on Twitter and represents an attempt to frame non-academic Ph.D. careers more positively. Instead of being “alternate” to a traditional academic career path, #withaPhD highlights the range of worthwhile and fulfilling careers humanities Ph.D.’s can have without (unintentionally or not) perpetuating the idea of a tenure-track job as the golden standard of post-Ph.D. employment.


Welcome to the UNC History Department’s new blog on Career Diversity for History Ph.D.’s!

The History Department has been working toward understanding what would be most helpful to prepare its Ph.D.’s for the varied career paths they take. As such, for the 2018-2019 academic year they have created the position of Career Diversity Coordinator in order to offer creative input, provide organizational assistance, and serve as an institutional liaison as the Department works to integrate their efforts into larger on-campus initiatives.

As your Career Diversity Coordinator for the year, I will be collecting and further disseminating information about non-academic and “alt-ac” career paths. This will include blogging weekly about on-campus resources and opportunities supporting career diversity, writing profiles about UNC alumni who have pursued non-academic careers, as well as featuring off-campus organizations and institutions with helpful information relating to career diversity.

In an effort to reduce the number of emails you receive in your inbox, most communication about new blog entries or upcoming opportunities will be communicated via Twitter, Facebook, and the graduate student Sakai site. If you would prefer to receive email notification of new posts, please let me know and I will add you to a list.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me via email with any questions at stiglich@live.unc.edu.

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