Calling All Humanities and Social Science PhDs!

Helen Pho, Associate Director

Looking back at my time in a doctoral program in History at the University of Texas, I recall having conversations with my peers about what you could do with a PhD in History if you didn’t become a professor. It’s like the question I pondered when I was in college about what I could do with a history major, but instead of writing a 50-page senior essay, I’m now writing a multi-year dissertation that seemed to have no end in sight!

Although many of us were working toward the goal of achieving a tenure-track job, there were also some of us who wondered: What else can you do with a PhD in the humanities? How can you translate the skills of researching and writing a dissertation into a rewarding and meaningful job? How do you find jobs that would value a PhD in the humanities? How do you even begin to think about your priorities when it comes to world of work outside of academia?

Beginning this week, ImaginePhD–a new, intuitive, and beautifully-designed career exploration and planning tool created specifically for PhDs in the humanities and social sciences–is available and free to all users to help grad students, postdocs, and PhD alums get at those questions. Created by the Graduate Career Consortium, ImaginePhD offers students the opportunity to reflect and understand their own skills, values, and interests, explore 15 different “job families” (such as advocacy, consulting, and entrepreneurship) through stories and articles, and create a concrete plan to outline specific goals for completing your doctoral program and pursuing your career goals. To learn more about how you can take advantage of ImaginePhD whether you’ve completed your PhD or you’re at the beginning, middle, or near the end of your PhD program, check out this blog post from Carpe Careers.

While ImaginePhD was not around for me to use as a graduate student (I did manage to find my way out of my dissertation and into interesting, challenging, and fulfilling roles after I defended through networking and learning about careers widely), as a graduate and postdoc career adviser, I’m looking forward to chatting about what ImaginePhD can do for you as your explore and pursue your future careers! Visit to create an account and get started today!

“Makes ‘Em Laugh:” A Comic Strip a Day Gets the Dissertation Written

by Julie Vick

"Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham
"Piled Higher and Deeper" by Jorge Cham

Are you deep in the middle of writing your dissertation and feel you are far removed from normal life?   Or might you be an undergrad wondering what graduate school is really like (or at least want to appreciate the funny side of academic endeavors)?  If so, take a break and have a laugh with Piled Higher and Deeper, a comic strip written about life in the trenches of graduate student-hood.  Jorge Cham, the author of Piled Higher and Deeper got his PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Stanford University, and was a full-time Instructor and researcher at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) from 2003-2005.    His strips have been collected into three published books and a fourth is due out soon.  Jorge spoke at Penn last year to an overflowing room of more than 200 people.

If you’re a first-time reader, there’s a page to check where you can find out about the characters and link to the most popular strips.

Not only are the comics themselves great to read but so is the fan mail:

“Oh God, it hurts! It’s all so true, and so evil! I can’t tell whether I should be laughing or crying in sympathy” -Chemistry grad from Caltech

“Your comic strip rocks. I’ve decided not to go to grad school.” -Elect. Eng. undergrad from Yale U.

“Everybody in my lab loves your work. The songs help soothe the hurt when my experiments fail and I think about the next 6 yrs here” -Microbiology grad from NYU

Give yourself the gift of laughter and spend a little time with PHD!