EXAMINING CAREER PATHS FOR DOCTORAL STUDENTS REVEALS A WIDE RANGE OF OPTIONS
Recent national discussions about growing numbers of doctoral students vs. dwindling numbers of academic jobs seem to have missed an important point: Opportunities for doctoral students exist in a variety of fields outside academia.
"People within higher education tend to focus too much on the outcome of doctoral programs in terms of whether students are successfully placed in academic jobs," says Peter Englot, assistant dean of the Graduate School. "There are graduate programs that have always sent a fair percentage of their students out into non-academic jobs. There are departments and programs that are considering how to adapt their curriculum to better prepare people for non-academic jobs."
Chemistry doctoral students, for example, find work in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. Students in the biology department often enter non-academic fields as well. "Particularly in the pharmaceutical industry, there are excellent opportunities in drug research and development," says Professor H. Richard Levy, chair of the biology department. Jobs also exist in government laboratories and state institutions, he says. "People who are interested in environmental biology can find jobs in national parks and aquariums and Sea World, those sorts of places."
There is also a misconception among doctoral students who think they can do only one thing, says Michael Wasylenko, associate dean for academic administration in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs. "If you open up your own thinking to other professions, even with graduate degrees, you can pursue virtually anything you want."|
Doctoral students in the Maxwell School's economics department, for example, land in privately sponsored foundations, think tanks, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector to do economic forecasting. "The overwhelming majority of economists do not work in academia," says Wasylenko, noting the roles economists play in government, banking, and on Wall Street. "Most people at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank have Ph.D.s in economics," he says. "So this is not a foreign concept."
Barbara Butricia, who recently earned a doctoral degree in economics, works as an economist with the Social Security Administration. "I never wanted to go into an academic position," she says. "When I started graduate school I was pretty sure I would go into a non-academic position."
Among other examples of doctoral students pursuing careers outside academia are a history student serving as the director of a historical museum, and geography graduates who work at consulting and environmental firms, and in government. The School of Management places a good percentage of its doctoral students in non-academic jobs as well, says Englot.
"In an era like this when, in some fields, there are growing questions about how many doctoral students should be produced in a particular discipline, we need to examine the assumption about where these students go when they graduate," he says.
SENIORS SERVE UP FINE DINING AS A FINAL COURSE
For one delicious spring evening, the Nutrition Dining Room in Slocum Hall was transformed through warm candlelight, soothing piano music, and delectable food into an Italian bistro, Ricordati la Mia Cucina. As students and faculty socialized and savored a lively menu, the James Beards and Julia Childs of tomorrow scurried about in the pressure-cooker environment of the kitchen.
For the graduating seniors from the College for Human Development's Restaurant and Foodservice Management (RFM) Program responsible for the transformation, the evening represented the climax of four years of study and an opportunity to showcase their skills. The senior dinner, now in its third year, is the presentation segment of a semester-long class. The 17 seniors split into three groupseach one creating its own hypothetical restaurant with a business plan, advertising strategy, individualized menu, and specialized clientele. "The dinner is part of our overall assessment activities," says Professor Norman Faiola, chair of the RFM Program. "The goal is to have students in their final semester bring together all their coursework to organize something very real."
The groups also pitch their plans to a panel of hypothetical investors composed of faculty and local restaurateurs who serve on the RFM advisory board. Competition among the groups is fierce, since only one receives an "A" and wins the panel's bid for the investment. Additionally, the groups are graded by their peers every week on the quantity and quality of their work and on their overall attitude. "It was really exhausting," says Kimberly Matthews '98, who majored in nutrition. "Because we did most of our work outside of class, we needed to coordinate our schedules, learn time management, and learn how to communicate well with each other."
| mike prinzo|
Group member Jon Thering '98 was largely responsible for selecting and preparing a tasting menu that included bruschetta, tomato and mozzarella, tortellini insalata, essence of rosemary lamb, fettucine romano, broccoli bianco, cannoli, and campania pie. Thering and his peers sampled recipes several weeks in advance, chose the most delicious ones, and began preparing the most labor-intensive selections, such as the desserts, several days before the dinner. "We felt a lot of pressure to live up to expectations of the past and expectations that we had for ourselves," he says. "We just tried to make everything run as smoothly as possible."
Says nutrition professor Jean Bowering: "The creativity shows through. The dishes they came up with are amazing-and where else do you get a meal like this for $12?"