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My Vocational PhD

August 31, 2010

Yesterday we got acquainted with the DGS. This is a curious enough acronym and commonly used in my program. Drain Goo Scrubber? Perhaps Don’t Go Stupid? Or is it Don’t Go, Stupid. Which, really, is more appropriate for a long doctoral program? Maybe that’s a question on the GMAT, and since I never took it, I never knew. But all the business people did. They stopped at the MBA and got on to making money. Smart (not stupid).

Anyway, in the illustrious Fordham English Department the acronym stands for Director of Graduate Studies. I thoroughly enjoyed meeting her and also thoroughly enjoyed the food selection, especially the sesame loaf with brie and olives. I enjoyed that so much that I repeated the spread this evening. But I digress.

She talked about the need to not just read stuff and wax eloquent about it in our writing, but to figure out what professional skills we need to make it in this rather depressingly depressed job market. I guess the market isn’t depressed per se, just oversaturated, and its funding sources are changing.

I need to know who to know, what fields are hot to research and how I fit into them (fortunately, some of my interests in sound and interdisciplinary studies fit this description quite nicely). I need to know what conferences to apply to, which journals to try to publish in, who to work with for letters of recommendation, how to network. I need to make myself marketable by being able (and willing) to teach in multiple areas, having subspecialties, working on publishing early, etc.

You don’t just hafta think. You hafta have the skills. Maybe I’m in some happy delusion to think of the trade-like aspects of my career path, like I’m a bespectacled, tweed-clad academic apprentice. But as esoteric as much of my field can be, it was strangely comforting to swallow a good dose of practicality.

And now I should probably start looking over my theory texts.

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