Guest post by Stacy Hartman, coordinator of the Connected Academics Project.
The MLA has received generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to undertake a major project, Connected Academics: Preparing Doctoral Students of Language and Literature for a Variety of Careers. Over the next four years, the project will support initiatives aimed at demonstrating how doctoral education can develop students’ capacities to bring the expertise they acquire in advanced humanistic study to a wide range of fulfilling, secure, and well-compensated professional situations. Connected Academics will help prepare students to consider the broad range of occupations available to them, from careers in universities both on and off the tenure track to careers in business, government, and nonprofit organizations.
The project encompasses several major initiatives. Among them are
● Pilot programs at three partner institutions (Arizona State University, Georgetown University, and the University of California Humanities Research Institute) that will implement recommendations of the MLA Task Force on Doctoral Study to support career diversity for language and literature doctoral students and graduates.
● An annual, yearlong proseminar in New York City for doctoral students, recent graduates, and PhD-holding adjuncts from universities in the area that will focus on such issues as career horizons for PhDs in modern languages and literatures, in and outside the academy; long- and short-term prospects for adjunct positions; and the versatility and reach of humanities research.
● The compilation of data and reports on the career paths of graduates with doctorates in language and literature.
● The expansion of mentoring and networking activities at the MLA Annual Convention and at regional MLA meetings.
● A resource kit for doctoral students, directors of graduate studies, placement officers, and curricular reform committees.
At the 2016 MLA convention in Austin, there will be several Connected Academics sessions. Each pilot program has its own session, and there will be two poster sessions highlighting humanities PhDs working outside the academy. In addition, the MLA Job Center will provide individual counseling for job seekers. Job seekers can meet with experienced department chairs, career counselors, or PhDs employed outside the academy for 25-minute one-on-one sessions to discuss their job search and career options, both academic and nonacademic, and to review any application materials they may have. Counseling is offered on 8 and 9 January at the Job Information Center (Governor’s Ballroom, level 4, Hilton Austin). Individuals may sign up in advance for a single meeting. Sign-up sheets will be available at the Job Center.