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Careers

Find here career and networking resources for students in our department’s graduate programs. The aim is to help students at all stages of their graduate studies to navigate graduate school, explore diverse careers, develop skills and experience, network, and prepare for the job market. The resources are also for department faculty, staff, and advisors who recognize that it is their responsibility to be informed about the current precarious career landscape for PhDs in the Humanities and to help students shape their career paths. 

The resources were curated by a team of graduate students in the Classical Languages and Literature Program in the summer of 2021: Brittany Hardy, Katie Mikos, Edward Nolan, and Rob Santucci. The team was supported by department funding and reported to the Chair of Classical Studies. 

Academia

Overview

PhD programs in Classics have traditionally prepared students to teach and conduct research as university faculty. While the academic job market was never particularly easy, it has never really  recovered from cuts in university budgets following the 2007-2008 financial crisis, to name just one factor. Students should bear in mind that they will typically be competing with several other applicants for a single job. That said, academia can be an immensely rewarding career path for students who are skilled, dedicated, well-connected, and lucky enough to succeed in the job search, which may take up to a year before yielding initial employment.

 

Career Positions

Many PhD students with academic dreams hope to one day land a tenure-track position. Those with such hopes should keep in mind that more and more of the humanities classes still being offered are being taught by non-tenured lecturers. Nevertheless, our department has succeeded in producing many scholars over the past 10 years who have found success in tenure-track jobs, whether initially or (more commonly) after holding more temporary positions. Overall, students should expect to spend some time in temporary positions, such as visiting assistant professorships, post-docs, or lecturerships, before building the type of research and teaching portfolios that might allow them a tenure-track appointment. Finding a tenure-track job, however, is not a requirement for having a fulfilling academic career. There are many happy and successful long-term lecturers, though not all universities remunerate them fairly. Another important difference in academic jobs is that between Small Liberal Arts Colleges (SLACs) and big research universities such as the University of Michigan. Traditionally, research institutions have concentrated more on applicants’ research, while SLACs have a stronger focus on teaching.  However, given the small number of jobs and large pools of applicants, most jobs now simply demand excellence in both.

 

Using Your PhD

The PhD offers more direct preparation for a career in academia than any other. However, it is useful to keep in mind that some parts of a PhD education will be more important than others when applying for academic jobs. The most important factors for job placement are one’s published research, awards and grants, and ability to demonstrate that they are an excellent teacher. Be proactive in seeking opportunities to develop a strong portfolio.

 

University of Michigan Resources

The Department maintains several useful resources on its website. It also hosts a series of professionalization seminars every year on topics such as how to write CVs and cover letters for academic job applications. In addition to this, we have several useful books on professional development and the academic job search available in the department library.

 

Information Science

Overview

As a field that centers around retrieving and storing information, information sciences offers  exciting career opportunities for PhD students who enjoy research projects, library sciences, and digital humanities. The skills developed through a Classics PhD program are often highly transferable, such as the ability to work independently, conduct research projects, learn new skills quickly, and give presentations. Further, a Classics PhD student is particularly well suited to learning (new) coding languages, given the vast amount of language learning and teaching required by the program. A career in information science may offer flexibility in location and type of job, which is great for students who want to prioritize location in selecting a job after the PhD. 

 

Career Positions

Information science offers a variety of career opportunities. For those interested in working for a college or university, information science offers many job positions, including librarian, digital humanities instructor and/or researcher, digital archivist, as well as jobs in marketing and communications. More and more universities are seeking to hire PhD students with experience in the digital humanities to work with departments on digital research projects. Additionally, information science provides career opportunities in the corporate world as well, since companies often hire PhD students to conduct research.

 

Using Your PhD

Though the label information science may seem far removed from a PhD in classics, the skills developed throughout this program are highly transferable for an information science career. Research, creativity, oral and written communication, synthesizing and presenting information, adaptability, self-regulated projects, collaboration, and quick-learning are all skills developed through a Classics PhD program that make students stand-out candidates during a job search.

 

University of Michigan Resources

The University of Michigan offers support for those seeking to conduct digital research. For those interested in incorporating Digital Humanities into their pedagogy, the University of Michigan offers a digital media teaching certification program. The digital studies graduate certificate is a more generalized option for experience in information science, and you can find more info here.

Additionally, the Institute for the Humanities funds up to four graduate students to participate in a Digital Humanities Summer Institute hosted by the University of Victoria, Canada. You can read more information here

The departmental internship program allows students to design and implement their own internship, and a partnership with the library can provide students with experience in the digital humanities and library science. Opportunities such as serving as the departmental librarian and website assistant would help students gain further experience in the relevant fields. The University of Michigan’s library system also routinely hires graduate student workers, and job postings can be found here

 

Instructional Design

Overview

Instructional Design describes a growing field that specializes in designing and implementing educational curriculum. Informed by research on learning and teaching, Instructional Designers work in a variety of settings, including universities, nonprofit organizations, and the commercial sphere. They are experts in pedagogy and best practices for learning and teaching. Their duties may include designing and leading workshops for faculty members and graduate student instructors, creating online courses, consulting with educators, developing training manuals, reviewing and recommending educational materials, and producing learning materials. 

 

Career Positions

Possible job titles within Instructional Design may include: curriculum developer, assistant director of a center for learning, training and development specialist, learning director, or curriculum specialist. 

 

Using Your PhD

Positions in instructional design require many skills that students acquire through their years in the PhD program, including teaching, excellent written and oral communication skills, the ability to learn quickly new material, the ability to work both independently and collaboratively, and a familiarity with the Microsoft and Google suites. PhD candidates from the University of Michigan have a wide range of teaching experiences, from leading discussion sections to teaching their own small courses. Through these teaching experiences, PhD candidates learn to assess and respond to student needs, communicate clear goals and expectations, and use the appropriate tools for teaching. 

 

University of Michigan Resources

Teaching in the department of Classical Studies at the University of Michigan allows graduate students many opportunities to teach a wide array of courses, from writing-intensive seminars to discussion sections to language courses. In their capacities as Graduate Student Instructors, graduate students have the opportunity to work closely with faculty mentors and the department’s Graduate Student Mentor (GSM) to refine their teaching skills and classroom presence. 

The University of Michigan is home to the nation’s oldest center for learning and teaching, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT). CRLT offers workshops and orientations throughout the year for faculty, postdocs, and graduate students, as well as individual consultations and online resources. Through CRLT, graduate students can pursue a U-M Graduate Teacher Certificate, which offers students the opportunity to develop their teaching skills, receive constructive feedback on their teaching and statements of teaching philosophy, and receive recognition for their pedagogical training. 

The Rackham Graduate School also offers the Engaged Pedagogy Initiative (EPI), a semester-long program that allows graduate students to learn about community-engaged learning and to develop their own community-engaged course. 

Management Consulting

Overview

Management consultants act as extenternal advisors to help organizations solve challenging problems. Although this field has traditionally favored MBAs, many firms recognize the value of PhD graduates because of their strong research and problem solving background. For consulting firms, PhD graduates represent analytical thinkers who complement MBAs by taking more creative approaches to problem solving. Consulting careers offer the opportunity to engage with difficult problems in a fast-paced work environment, whether you are hired by a small consulting firm or a large company with in-house consultants. 

 

Career Positions

In consulting, a PhD graduate could be hired either at ‘boutique’ consulting firms, or for ‘in-house’ consulting for a large company. A boutique consulting firm focuses on a particular industry or section, or on a type of project. In-house consulting for a large company consists of research for company-specific projects, and offers full or part time positions. Generally, consulting careers are short-lived career (2-4 years) options that pave the way for opportunities in the company or industry you work in. 

 

Using Your PhD

As a research-based career, consulting is naturally well suited for PhD students. Consulting careers require a variety of skills that Classics PhD students develop throughout their program, such as problem solving, analytical thinking, creativity, research, as well as written and oral communication skills. Networking is another key aspect of getting hired in a consulting career. Through teaching and conference presentations, PhD students gain the skills and confidence to sell themselves convincingly in a networking environment. 

 

University of Michigan Resources

The University of Michigan offers a consulting career overview and advice here

 

Museums

Overview

Museums offer a variety of interesting and creative career possibilities for PhDs. As educational institutions with a public mission, museum careers offer the opportunity to use the expertise and skills acquired through a PhD program to serve a broad audience and make a public impact. Whether your interests lie in education outreach, exhibit design and curation, fundraising, or marketing and communications, the research, writing, and pedagogical skills developed throughout the PhD are well suited for a variety of museum careers.

 

Career Positions

Museums hire PhD students to fulfill a variety of roles, depending on the size and focus of the museum. At smaller museums, which are specialized institutions that focus on a single individual or topic, one person might have several roles: giving tours, designing exhibits, researching artifacts, writing press releases and marketing materials. At larger museums, job positions are generally more compartmentalized and specialized. These positions may include: archivist, donor relations officer, grant writer, digital learning and engagement specialist, docent, educational programs coordinator, curator, exhibit designer, researcher, and digital media and marketing coordinator.

 

Using Your PhD

Many of the skills that Classics PhD students develop through their program are highly valued in a wide range of museum careers. Highly developed research and analytical skills are essential to careers in curation and exhibit design. Teaching, conference presentations, and other pedagogical experiences allow Classics PhD students to develop the oral communication skills that are essential to museum educational programming, public outreach, and marketing. Written communication is also essential for a variety of museum careers including curation, publishing, marketing, and visitor services. Positions in museums often require the ability to synthesize and communicate information about an exhibit or artifact to an audience of non-experts. Knowledge of multiple languages is also important for a variety of museum careers. 

The specific expertise that Classics PhD students develop through their program are suitable for a career at a museum with an ancient mediterranean focus or exhibit. Courses like papyrology, epigraphy, and archeological seminars offer students the opportunity to learn about theoretical approaches to object preservation and handling, the ethics of collecting and presenting artifacts, and methodologies of interpretation. 

 

University of Michigan Resources

The University of Michigan offers a Museum Studies Certificate to current PhD students. This interdisciplinary program requires a year-long two-semester proseminar, six credits of cognate courses, and six credit hours of practical engagement (usually an internship at a museum of your choice, funded by the program). Through this program, students build skills in exhibition design, curation, museum education and research, guest engagement, and gain experience working in a museum environment. More information can be found here

The Kelsey Museum of Archaeology offers object-handling training, the opportunity to give self-designed tours to your classes, and docent volunteer opportunities. 

 

Nonprofit Careers

Overview

Nonprofit organizations can encompass a range of fields, including education, the arts, religion, healthcare, social services, and more. These organizations do not have a focus on generating profit. Rather, these organizations work for the benefit of the public, and they receive income primarily through donations, grants, membership dues, government contracts, and fees for services. 

 

Career Positions

Nonprofit organizations hire PhDs to fulfill a variety of roles, depending on the mission of the nonprofit. These positions may include: qualitative researcher, education director, grant writer, project manager, events coordinator, and fundraising researcher.

 

Using Your PhD

The positions offered by nonprofit organizations require skills that Classics PhD students develop throughout their program. Written and oral communication skills are essential, as well as the ability to convey information to non-expert, external audiences. Nonprofit work may also entail collaborating with others, researching various topics, managing projects, and foreign language skills, all of which are skills Michigan students acquire throughout their PhD. 

As many nonprofits receive income through grants, grant writers are important members of the organizations’ resource development teams. Grant writing involves researching grants, preparing and submitting proposals, tracking past grant submissions, and communicating with funders after the grant funds have been expended. This work requires a background in research and analysis, organizational skills, deadline management, and adaptability. Large nonprofit organizations typically keep several grant writers on staff, and many of them have PhDs in the humanities. PhD students have the opportunity to fund their research through grants, so many graduates already have the necessary skill set and can adapt their experiences in this new context. 

 

University of Michigan Resources

The University of Michigan is home to the Ginsberg Institute, a community and civic engagement center on campus that aims to facilitate partnerships between the University and its community. The Institute offers many opportunities for graduate student engagement that allow students to work with their communities towards the Institute’s mission: inclusive democracy; thriving, diverse communities; and equity and social justice.

Further, the University of Michigan library has compiled many campus resources for researching, preparing, and submitting grants across disciplines. In addition to these resources, the library also hosts workshops throughout the year to help prepare PhD students and faculty for writing successful grant applications.

 

Professional Researcher

Overview

Research is useful for a variety of positions, not just in academia. Corporations, nonprofits, professional writing (grants, reports, etc.), and many other potential career paths benefit from the careful research skills that typify Classics PhD work. Some alumni, including those working in fields as disparate as scientific research or non-profit development, cite the research they conducted at Michigan as one of the most transferable skills to their current field.

 

Career Positions

Think tanks and professional research centers offer the kinds of careers with the most potential for utilizing research skills. Unlike some other extra-academic career paths, having a PhD is a boon for those seeking jobs in these fields, since these hirers recognize the skills the Classics PhD can bring to the table. Proficiency in a mixture of quantitative and qualitative research, depending on the specific position, can make the difference in getting hired.

 

Using Your PhD

The tremendous amount of discerning and focused research that goes into writing a dissertation is the clearest indicator of the suitability of a Classics PhD for a career as a professional researcher, but writing skills and teaching experience are also valuable, since the articulation and interpretation of research is a key component of this career path. These are all skills that are naturally honed during the Classics PhD experience.

 

University of Michigan Resources

In addition to the research skills you will gain as a PhD student, the University library has resources for getting involved with professional research in the government and non-profit spheres.

 

Publishing

Overview

The field of publishing offers exciting and interesting career opportunities for PhD students. Whether you are hired at a small or large publishing company, or are hired to do publishing and editorial work for a non-publishing based company, non-profit, or university, this career path benefits from the skills developed during a PhD program. A publishing career expects expertise in writing and editing, as well as skills in marketing, communication, and creativity. 

A publisher may be asked to edit, write book blurbs and market books to a diverse audience, give presentations, teach editing courses, conduct research, and more. Many people who work in publishing also do freelance editorial work to continually build their skills and resume. 

 

Career Positions

There are a variety of career opportunities in the field of publishing, such as book or copy editor, publicists, production editor, marketer, or sales positions. Depending on the size of the publishing house, a PhD might fulfil multiple of these roles. Small publishing companies, which often focus on one genre or subject, may require a PhD to be a more generalized employee, while large publishers offer the opportunity to work in a more specialized position with a range of topics and subject matters. Publishing careers are not limited to publishing companies, universities, non-profit organisations, and corporations also hire PhD students for publishing jobs. 

 

Using Your PhD

Positions in publishing require many skills that Classics PhD students develop throughout their program, including the ability to draw broad conclusions from little information (particularly important for writing book blurbs), creativity, attention to detail, written and oral communication skills, and most importantly writing and editing skills. Additionally, careers in publishing often require the ability to work independently or collaboratively, and to conduct and present research on a range of topics for a diverse audience. Knowledge of multiple languages is an added advantage for a publishing career. 

For most publishing careers, experience in editing is a crucial factor in getting hired. The process of writing and revising a dissertation is certainly a starting point to demonstrating these skills; however, consider freelance editing or hired departmental jobs in addition to your own work to be a more competitive candidate. 

 

University of Michigan Resources

The Rackham graduate school offers students the opportunity to design their own internship, through which one of our current students was able to work with The University of Michigan Press. 

Freelance editorial work is a great path to a publishing career, the Sweetland Writing center offers (occasional) editing workshops. Professors in the department often hire graduate students to do their editorial work; these opportunities are a great way to build the skills necessary for a publishing career. 

 

Secondary Education

Overview

Working at the secondary education level is a popular and fulfilling career for PhD students who enjoy the teaching and pedagogical development aspects of graduate school. This field offers flexibility in terms of geographic location and type of school (i.e. public, private, magnet, charter). The field of secondary education can include careers both inside and outside of the classroom, including teachers, tutors, pedagogical development consultants, and administrators.

 

Career Positions

The field of secondary education can include careers both inside and outside of the classroom, including teachers, tutors, pedagogical development consultants, and administrators. There is also space for advancement, especially for PhDs. Successful teachers who assume leadership roles in their departments may become principals or work at the district-level in other administrative capacities.

 

Using Your PhD

Positions in secondary education require many skills that students acquire in a PhD program, including teaching, management, the ability to learn quickly new material, the ability to work both independently and collaboratively, and a familiarity with the Microsoft and Google suites. PhD candidates from the University of Michigan have a wide range of teaching experiences, from leading discussion sections to teaching their own small courses. Through these teaching experiences, PhD candidates learn to assess and respond to student needs, communicate clear goals and expectations, and use the appropriate tools for teaching. 

 

University of Michigan Resources

The Department of Classical Studies offers an annual course in Latin pedagogy in which students learn about different approaches to teaching the language, critically examine common Latin textbooks, review research on the Science of Teaching and Learning, and discuss critical issues in teaching Latin. Additionally, the Department offers a Masters in Latin with Teaching Certification, which works alongside the Department of Education to develop students’ knowledge of teaching and learning at the secondary level.

Further, graduate students at the University of Michigan have the opportunity to teach a wide range of classes on a variety of topics. This versatility and flexibility translates well in a secondary education setting, where you will be able to teach classes on topics including World History, English, Latin, and more.

 

Software Development

Overview

Software development is a large and growing field. Salaries are high, and new programmers are consistently in demand. Those who love the attention to detail and logical thinking required for solving complicated philological problems may also enjoy the style of thinking demanded by the programmer’s craft. While a computer science degree is a big plus, many developers enter the field without one. The most important thing is for prospective employees to have the correct technical skills and the proven ability to teach themselves as needed. PhD students can acquire the necessary knowledge in a number of different ways, either by taking courses during the course of their PhD, by attending a coding bootcamp after or during the PhD, or by teaching themselves, including through free online courses such as those offered by edX. Often, aspiring developers pursue all three avenues.

 

Career Positions

Employees working in software development bear a number of titles, including but not limited to software developer, software engineer, and computer programmer. Among different fields of programming, perhaps the easiest to enter for newcomers without a formal computer science background would be web development, though developers may switch fields after a year or two of experience, after which one’s educational background is of much less importance. Most software bootcamps are targeted at web development, so students may want to take a look at what is taught in those courses before planning their independent studies. Popular programming languages and frameworks come and go. Particularly popular for web development at the time of writing this are Node.js and React. Anyone interested in frontend web development will also need to know HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. A knowledge of SQL will also come in handy for dealing with backend databases. 

 

Using Your PhD

UM Classics PhDs who have gone on to become developers have found that their graduate work provided them with several transferable skills. Being able to teach themselves new skills and content quickly and independently was one. Also helpful were strong language and close reading abilities that have helped them read code, which is often as important as being able to write code. In some cases, experience with languages in general may be attractive to recruiters. Finally, the same time management used to juggle the many commitments of academic life will also serve students well in handling shorter and longer-term projects at the same time, should their particular position require it.

 

University of Michigan Resources

Michigan Online offers many courses related to software development, including this popular introduction to python programming taught by Dr. Chuck in the School of Information. Students may also be interested in taking the introductory programming courses offered in-person separately by the UM School of Information and the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS). Note that most EECS classes beyond the first two (EECS 180 and EECS 280) are gated behind a math requirement that may present difficulties for some students.