The JDEAS Alumni Chapter held its first online career talk on Wednesday, 28 April. The aim of this event was to give JDEAS students and recent graduates some insight into the steps they could consider when looking for job either within academia or in non-university contexts. Our guests were Autumn Elizabeth, who is the Executive Director of the NGO District Commons in Los Angeles, and Valeriia Perepelytsia, who holds a PhD position at the University of Zurich.
Autumn gave us a lively account of her career path, which took her to her current position as executive director of an NGO. Autumn’s presentation demonstrated the advantages for future career prospects of combining work experience and studying. While she was studying in Bamberg and Paris, she worked at a variety of jobs and this helped her develop a wide range of skills and contacts, thus improving her employability. She stressed the importance of maintaining and developing good networks.
This point was also made by Valeriia, whose presentation included some useful tips on applying for PhD positions and staying on track while working on a doctorate. She encouraged prospective PhD students to participate in conferences, to attend summer/winter schools in their area, to actively seek out researchers in their field and to look out for online reading groups and events related to their topic. Her message was “Remember that PhD is your work and responsibility, so don’t wait for your supervisor to tell you what to do – be proactive”.
From both presentations, it was clear that fulfilling employment opportunities are open to Humanities students. What is required is a willingness to accept challenges, to develop new skills, and to seek out and maintain professional contacts.
Participants from five different countries took part in this online event, our second one for the JDEAS Chapter in the current academic year. The experience of having to find new ways to keep connected has demonstrated that online events are particularly suited to the JDEAS Chapter, whose members are students and graduates of universities in seven different countries. We plan to continue organising such events in the coming academic year. Any suggestions would be welcome!
Text: Nancy Campbell