The most recent issue of the MLA Newsletter (Volume 46, Number 2, summer 2014) includes a wonderful article by Rosemary Feal, “Expanding Career Horizons: Possibilities, Pitfalls,” where Feal writes of the need to support expanded and “expand career opportunities for PhD holders” which is additive work with support for tenure track positions, careers in the classroom, employment conditions, graduate education changes, and a great deal of other work. Feal also notes the importance of viewing the work as part of our profession and in ways that help to broaden career horizons:
As a profession, we must support students who pursue these careers, which should be viewed not as ‘alternative’ but as valid options in their own right. (5)
I strongly agree. In my work at the University of Florida on data curation and digital scholarship, I frequently work with folks in many different fields. I’ve only heard the term “alt-ac” in the humanities, despite the fact that PhD holders from all fields have careers within and outside of academia. In my discussions with folks in other fields, jobs/positions are referred to as just that, with further nuance on what a person does given only when relevant for a discussion. This inclusive approach seems very successful in helping connect the opportunities and the community together. Feal’s article helps to do the same important work of clarifying the value and relation of all careers to the profession, and the important responsibility and place of the profession in supporting all members of the profession in their career pursuits.
Thanks go to Feal for a great article that supports all in our profession and our profession as a whole!