Monday, June 8, 2009

Who knew

Cruising about the blogosphere I noticed 'leaving academia' (let's not read too much into that... just thinking about some upcoming blog posts) has a list of people who left academica and did alright. I found this gem:
1. Miuccia Prada. This is the academic-leaver that can make us all proud. As the head of the Prada fashion house, Dr. Prada has a Ph.D. in political science.

Say what?

-- Second Suitor


Anonymous said...

The Chronicle of Higher Education forums also have a section for those who are considering leaving academia or have already done so. It contains a great deal of bitching/complaining, but also useful tips for putting together a resume.

the spice is life said...

Just curious:

Any ideas of how many people are looking outside of academia AND still planning to go on the market this coming fall?

Anonymous said...

I was going to say Terrence Malick, but apparently (according to wikipedia), he did not end up finishing his PhD as a result of bickering with Gilbert Ryle, his advisor. He did subsequently teach philosophy at MIT before becoming a filmmaker.

Anonymous said...

I've got a TT position and I'm going on the non-academic job market next year, just to see if I can get a job with a higher salary and less take-home work.

Leaving Academia said...

Thanks, Anonymous! I'm going to add Terence Malick to the list (since Leaving Academia doesn't discriminate on the fussy little detail of a finished dissertation or not)!

Anonymous said...

Is one actually leaving academia if one takes a professional position as a non-faculty member at a university? E.g. Director of Research Ethics; Grant Writing; Assistant to the Director for such-and-such?

Anonymous said...

I've worked in the business world before taking a TT job, making 3-4x as much as I am now as a tenured professor. The big misconception in this thread (7:55 anon) is that you can make more money AND have less take-home work. There is no job out there that pays big bucks and does not demand big responsibilities that often mean long hours. Every day.

Even the stories of 20-somethings striking it rich during the boom is (1) a relative rarity and (2) still involve long hours in starting the business and even longer hours running it, looking for funding, selling product, ad nauseum.

Those who leave a TT job are generally leaving a crummy institution or work environment or town, or they are simply misinformed about the lures of the business world. Burnout is possible too, but fairly uncomon if it's not caused by an oppressive work environment (but from your own lack of motivation). Having a stronger passion for something else is more plausible and a respectable reason for leaving the academy.

In this economy, you'd be a fool to leave a TT job unless you had to.

diomedea exulans said...

Anon 6:49 is right, I think, about all of what he says. It doesn't necessarily mean that you lose your philosophical interests. My experience has been that there are a number of professions that struggle with genuine philosophical issues (some deeper than others).

For me, I find academic work isolating and lonely. I'm pretty sure no amount of co-publishing would change this for me. I also enjoy the feeling of having produced something of value (to me). Nice philosophical treatises for some reason just don't cut it (again, for me).

Hopefully I'll finish this dissertation soon (I'm close to within striking distance), and then I'll get to work WITH people instead of merely alongside them.

In retrospect, I should probably have gone into one of the sciences. Maybe I still will.

Anonymous said...

For Anon 6:49: I can’t speak to the existence of non-academic jobs that pay better than academia and require fewer hours. I know it is true, however, that there are PhD-level jobs with pay on par to academia that require fewer hours. I am a new PhD in experimental psychology (I found this entry through a “leaving academia” search I have on my Google Reader), and I work for the US government. I make about as much as a beginning assistant prof makes in my field, but I only work 9-5 and do not take work home with me. I do work that feels more meaningful to me than does what I did in academia, and I live in a city that I love. Although there is no such thing as tenure outside of academia, as a government employee I feel that my job is relatively secure, and is certainly more secure than the post-doc I’d probably be doing right now had I stayed in academia (and is also certainly better-paying than a post-doc!).

Again, I’m not a philosopher, but for some philosophy PhDs there does exist non-academic work that will suit them better than academic work. There are also philosophy PhDs that work for the govt—see