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Navigating Your Future: Considerations for Non-Academic Jobs

by Anthony Pugh

Finding Work Outside of Academia: Dr Anne Krook’s advice for Graduate Students

Anne KrookOn Wednesday 21st October 2015, Anne Krook gave a lecture for Queen’s graduate students on how to find work in the non-academic job market. Dr. Krook is an experienced consultant who has worked for both corporate and non-profit employers. She began her career as an assistant professor at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, which gives her equally strong insight into the academic world. Her impressive background in the corporate world, not-for-profit organisations and academia means that she offers a unique perspective on how graduate students should approach a job-search.

Dr. Krook is a highly effective presenter who strikes the right mix between encouraging graduate students and fairly representing the amount of work involved in finding a career. While a job-search can be long and occasionally emotionally draining, Dr. Krook shows that it is manageable for each student in the room and is something that will eventually end in success. She does this by recommending a long but methodical process involving the identification of skills, document preparation and networking. Each step builds logically onto the other and her methodology imposes structure on a process that may initially seem daunting and chaotic.

One of the most helpful aspects to Dr. Krook’s lecture was that she recommends a skills-based approach to graduate students. She says that all jobs require skills but many do not require specific credentials. This is encouraging for students who may not have much experience working outside of school or who may think that they are boxed into a very specific group of jobs because of their degree. The skills that students have can be learned through prior experiences at school, in employment or through extra-curricular activities or volunteering. By completing a comprehensive spreadsheet on skills learned through every experience, a student seeking a job in the non-academic market will learn that they have a great deal to offer to prospective employers. This means that they will apply for job opportunities that they might not otherwise have considered and that they will be more confident and effective at finding work.

Another useful feature of Dr. Krook’s lecture was her ability to break down common myths about the non-academic job market. One of these is that for-profit companies are worse places to work than government or not-for-profit organisations because the profit motive trumps work-environment or ethics. Dr. Krook uses her own experience to show that this is not true and that graduate students should not be prejudiced against these opportunities. Another myth is that a graduate student would not be using their degree by taking these non-academic jobs. Instead, by looking at the experience of getting a degree as the acquisition of skills, Dr. Krook shows that people who complete graduate studies will always be using their degrees regardless of the job title.

This article has only highlighted a few of the ways that Dr. Krook’s lecture was helpful. She gave further useful insight into the use of LinkedIn, resume writing, and the interview process.  In total, the lecture was useful and encouraging for any student worried about finding work after degree completion. The non-academic job market may at times seem like an impenetrable haze but this lecture went some way towards breaking that fog.