A group for MLA members interested in exploring the full spectrum of Connected Academics careers. A space for discussion and debate.


17 replies, 13 voices Last updated by Amanda L. French 8 years, 7 months ago
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    Nicky Agate

    Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about your interest in Connected Academics by replying to this thread.


    Stacy Hartman

    Hello, fellow Connected Academics!

    I am very please to be serving as the Project Coordinator for Connected Academics here at the MLA. As a PhD student at Stanford, I wore a lot of hats to try and figure out what I might like to do once I finished (including: student coordinator, academic adviser, writing tutor, teaching consultant, and general rabble rouser). I encourage others to do the same – yes, it’s time consuming, but you never know what is going to click for you, or what connections might bear fulltime fruit later on.

    I am thrilled to have landed at the MLA and to be working on this issue, which I consider extraordinarily important on many levels. Please feel free to contact me with any questions about the project, and I encourage you to check out the Connected Academics website, if you’ve not already done so. I blog there regularly about various CA issues.


    Nicky Agate


    I’m Nicky, and I’m the managing editor of the Commons. I’m in charge of the Connected Academics Web site (anyone interested in contributing?) and the twitter account (@MLAConnect) and I do lots of non-virtual outreach for the project too.

    I spent far too long getting my PhD in French (NYU, 2013), but that was partly because much of my time was spent on the extracurriculars: I worked as a poorly paid adjunct, a freelance translator, an editor, the author of a grammar book, the volunteer social media coordinator for a couple of scholarly associations, a cataloguer in the library, a student advisor in Paris… But since I realized pretty early on that I didn’t want to be a professor, all that work paid off in terms of the experience and skills I gained along the way.

    I accepted my first full-time position, as community manager at an academic publisher, before I’d written the last chapter of the dissertation (note: I don’t really recommend this! It took me another eight months to finish). Fifteen months later, I started here at the MLA.

    I love talking and learning about the myriad career paths followed by people with PhDs in language and literature and I’m passionate about helping people and stories and ideas connect. Please consider this your community—welcome!



    Carolyn Urena

    Hi, I’m Carolyn, a Ph.D candidate in comparative literature at Rutgers. I’m really excited that the MLA is openly encouraging graduate students and PhDs to explore their options outside of academia. There are so many productive and satisfying ways to put our experiences to use, and there is often a lot of fear surrounding admitting this.

    In conversations with others, I often find that there is a sense that you need to decide right away which “side” you’re on or which path you’re set on taking (academic vs. connected/alt-ac), but I think acknowledging that it’s OK to be curious and open-minded — without closing down either option prematurely — might help alleviate the trepidation surrounding this issue.

    In my own experience, I’ve found that engaging in a variety of different fields/opportunities allows me to express different facets of who I am. As an undergrad I worked as a writing tutor and peer mentor, and between college and graduate school I worked full time for a year in marketing. While in grad school, I’ve taught undergrads, tutored non-traditional students, and I am currently a fellowship advisor working with graduate students applying for external funding. Being able to try out different roles has been synergistic with my teaching and research, and I encourage others to try on as many different hats as they can manage.

    Thanks for creating this space, and I look forward to reading about others’ experiences!


    Rachel Neff

    Hello, I’m Rachel Anna Neff. I received my doctorate in Spanish literature in June 2013 and started working an alternate academic, or altac, job in October 2013.

    I’m interested in helping other folks with doctorates figure out what to do if/when working for the academy doesn’t work out.


    Monica Miller

    Hello! I’m Monica Miller, currently a Brittain Postdoctoral Fellow at Georgia Tech, which is a three year post-doc focusing on digital pedagogy and multi-modal composition. I finished my PhD in English and Women’s & Gender Studies last year at Louisiana State University. My current book project is on the figure of the ugly woman in the work of southern women writers; I really love how much archival research my work has allowed me to engage in.

    I returned to school after working full time for many years; my variety of work and volunteer experiences has made me quite interested in alt-ac possibilities. I’m very glad that this resource is being made available to those of us outside of New York.


    Nicky Agate

    Welcome, all!

    Rachel, I’d love to hear a little more about the kind of work you do, and how you ended up there!

    Carolyn & Monica: what do you think you’d like to do? There’s a thread for people to share their career interests here.

    [Note: I moved Rachel’s reply into a new thread, “Where We Work and How We Got There.” Please feel free to add your story there!]

    • This reply was modified 8 years, 9 months ago by Nicky Agate.

    Mariana Romo-Carmona

    Hello everyone– I’m in the Hispanic & Luso-Brazilian Literatures and Languages PhD program at the Graduate Center, CUNY. I’m also doing a certificate in Critical Theory. Before this life, I was on the faculty of the MFA in creative writing at Goddard College, and then I taught Spanish and Latin American literature (in English) at one of the CUNY colleges– that took 20 years! It was actually wonderful to enter academia at this time of my life, and to do it in Spanish (I was born in Chile). I’ll continue to teach, but I’ve also worked as translator, editor, and in small-press publishing, so I want to keep exploring possibilities. Thanks for this group!


    Nicky Agate

    Hi Mariana! I’m sure your experience in translation, editing, and publishing will be much appreciated by the people in this group (in fact, there is a member looking for advice on getting into publishing here). And please feel free to share your experiences and advice. Thanks so much for joining us!


    Sarah Ruth Jacobs

    Hello there and thanks for the group invite. I’m an ABD student in American literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. After working in academia for about nine years now, I am venturing into other pastures, for both financial reasons and to improve my skillset. I have been applying to a variety of jobs (web editing/publishing, alt-ac, personal assistant) as well as considering starting my own ventures. I think that I am very much in an in-between space, where I haven’t ruled anything out. I am still keeping one foot in academia, as I will be teaching an evening course in the fall.


    Tonya Braddox

    Hello Everyone, I am a doctoral candidate, in the English Department at Michigan State University, interested in AfroAsian literature and cultures.  Currently, I am writing chapters for my dissertation and hope to finish by the end of this year.  I am interested in Connected Academics because I have always looked for ways to combine my literary studies and teaching experience with my professional work experience in the Information Technology field.  After teaching as an instructor to college-level students and working in technology support at major corporations, I feel it is time to see how I can take the skills acquired over time and build a “bridge” between literary studies and information technology, specifically information security policies.


    Nicky Agate

    Hi Tonya and Sarah! Let us know what you would most like to see happen in this group, or go ahead and start new forum discussion threads. We’re keen to make this group serve the needs of its members as much as we can.


    Melissa A. Dalgleish

    Hi! I’m Melissa Dalgleish, and I run the Research Training Centre at the Hospital for Sick Children, which is a teaching hospital in Toronto, Canada. We provide professional and career development training and opportunities for student, postdoctoral, and early career scientists pursuing research at SickKids. I also run the research funding competitions for students and postdocs.

    It’s a very new disciplinary context for me. My PhD (which I’ll be defending this winter) is in English–Canadian literature to be specific–and my previous research administration role was at a humanities-intensive university. There, I managed all graduate student scholarship and award programs and launched the pan-university Graduate Professional Skills Program that served nearly 6,000 students.

    It’s been really great to watch the MLA step up to the plate in serving the majority of its graduate student members, who will not become tenure-track faculty, and it’s been fun to participate in the career and grad panels and workshops at the MLA conference. I’m looking forward to seeing how Connected Academics grows and evolves.


    Laura Lisabeth

    Hello! I’m Laura Lisabeth, a doctoral candidate at St. Johns University in Queens, NY. My dissertation is a historiography of Strunk & White’s The Elements of Style that is inspired by the ideology and material history of Walter Benjamin’s The Arcades Project.

    As many of you have already said, I am very happy to know that there is concern about the shrinking job market for humanities PhD’s, and also to see that the MLA is taking those concerns to the next level by seriously investigating what other options there are.

    I came to doctoral work after twenty years of other kinds of work (including raising a few children!)  I was a managing editor of an education publication and also a book panelist for  The Christophers Foundation’s annual media awards. Particularly while serving on The Christopher Awards book panel, I found the environment incredibly stimulating and intellectually rigorous, and charged with the kind of purpose I find in teaching– so I am very optimistic that we can find fulfilling work outside of academia.  I guess my question at this point is wondering how to keep up with research in my field and not lose the scholarly community connection.

    I’m looking forward to being part of the conversation here!


    James Kelly

    Greetings from someone who fell by the wayside before going too far along the path to a PhD in English literature and discovered academic librarianship as a very fulfilling and satisfying alternative. Along with working as the Humanities Research Services Librarian at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, I regularly counsel and consult with students–undergraduate and graduate–who are interested in finding out about the field. As an adjunct professor for the Simmons College School of Library and Information Science, I have an advantageous perspective on the types of students attracted to library school, how they came to be there, and what former educational and career paths they’d traveled before fetching up in library school. Always happy to chat further about the field and even happier to have people stop by for a day’s job shadowing!


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