We hope that the resources assembled here will offer a starting point wherever you are in the career development process. We urge faculty, as much as students, to familiarize themselves with the wide array of resources and opportunities available both on campus and beyond for graduate student professional development. You may even find something helpful to your own career here!
Save the mechanics of job searches for later. The first step is to consider the types of work you might like to do, and to think about how the skills and abilities you already have fit into the picture. Below are a number of resources to support you in that process.
Career Advising in the History Department
Sarah Stoller will be holding peer advising office hours for grad students by appointment. See Sarah to brainstorm career ideas; learn about career development resources on and off campus; work on a resume, cover letter, or LinkedIn profile; or with any ideas, suggestions, or complaints for the taskforce!
Linda Louie is a recent Berkeley PhD now working as the Professional Development Resource Coordinator for Graduate Division. Linda offers advising under the remit of professional development planning and is a great person to see if you are tossing career ideas around, and wondering where to begin.
UC Berkeley Career Center
John Paulas, a humanities PhD and the former Director of Fellowships and Special Programs at UC Berkeley's Townsend Center, recently founded this business. PhD Matters offers career advising to humanities graduate students and PhDs on a sliding scale.
Another career exploration and planning tool. It includes self assessment resources and other tools for mapping out career moves.
Another career exploration and planning tool. It includes self assessment resources and other tools for mapping out career moves.
Rebecca Lippman's piece "Why Wait? Early Explorations of Career Paths for Humanities PhDs" for Humanists@Work offers basic advice on exploratory job searches.
Talking to people who you already know about their work and expanding your range of professional contacts are two of the most important steps you can take to support your professional development as a graduate student and further your future job prospects. There is no time too early or too late to start.
Our Department Alumni
Berkeley’s PhD alumni are the single best resource available to you as you expand your network. Join our alumni networks on LinkedIn and Facebook. Follow our career development initiative on Twitter @history_careers. Engaging with our alumni community will support your academic and non-academic career goals alike. Many of our alumni are excited to hear from current students via email or in person, and to help students think about and plan for careers. You do not need to be sure that you are set on a particular kind of work to reach out to someone and start a conversation. Networking is about career exploration. Feel free to get in touch with the taskforce if you are looking for contacts who work in a particular field or sector.
A student-run organization at Berkeley which aims to support graduate students and postdocs as they pursue careers beyond the tenure track. They offer numerous career education activities throughout the academic year, including an annual conference, a career fair, and a series of workshops, tutorials, and lectures. Their events frequently feature alumni and recruiters, and are excellent opportunities to meet and network with professionals.
The Career Center sponsors annual career fairs for graduate and professional students. See their webpage for dates and details. Remember that you can always attend a career fair whether or not you are currently looking for a job to get ideas about different kinds of work and to make contacts.
American Historical Association (AHA)
The AHA offers a Career Contacts service that facilitates informational interviews with History PhDs who have gone on to work in a variety of careers beyond the academy.
Whether your goal is to write your dissertation, become a better teacher or public speaker, or learn how to code, there are a wide array of resources on campus and beyond for building skills. Through discussions with historians who work outside of academia, the AHA has identified five key career diversity skills. These include: communication, collaboration, quantitative literacy, digital literacy, and intellectual self-confidence. Foremost among the AHA's findings was that these core competencies mapped very closely to desired competencies for academic humanists. In other words, the skills most likely to facilitate career advancement of historians beyond academia are largely the same as those likely to support their development as academics. Two birds with one stone.
Digital and Quantitative Literacy
Data 8: The Foundations of Data Science Data 8 is an undergraduate survey course designed to introduce students without a statistics or computer science background to basic statistics and Python programing skills.
DLab: Berkeley’s Data Lab provides consulting and advising, and a huge range of software training on everything from Excel basics to programing in R.
Lynda.com hosts training videos for those interested in learning programing, web development, design, business basics, and more. Videos are available free through Berkeley’s library.
Publishing Resources: This handout from Susan Ferber, an executive editor at Oxford University Press, provides guidelines on writing effective book proposals. Her article covers the ins and outs of the publishing process.
The University Library: Berkeley’s Library periodically offers professional development workshops on topics including copyright issues and the dissertation, and publishing your dissertation as a book.
Dissertation Success Curriculum: The Dissertation Success Curriculum is a 12-week program designed to provide skills, strategies, and support to advanced grad students working on dissertations. It is aimed at helping students to overcome the three major obstacles to finishing: perfectionism, procrastination, and isolation.
The Graduate Writing Center: The Writing Center offers workshops on academic skills ranging from drafting a grant proposal and revising writing to mentoring undergraduates.
Townsend Center: Berkeley’s Townsend Center offers a number of workshops and programs relevant to graduate students. It’s Art of Writing Fellowships support graduate students teaching university reading and composition classes. Townsend also hosts popular public speaking workshops each semester facilitated by an acting coach. In the past it has run the networking event Inside Dope, and various other career skills workshops.
When it comes to looking for jobs right now, there are a number of places to start online. Remember, too, to be in touch with your network of contacts. Outside of academia, many organizations only post job advertisements on their own websites, so knowing someone working in a given industry may help you not to miss out on a great opportunity. In applying for jobs, it is also critical to think about how to present your skills and experience. The way you present your skills and experience will vary tremendously based on the types of roles you are looking for.
To take an example, a grad student interested in policy research work might benefit from presenting their skills as those of a research professional. Seminar coursework, qualifying exam preparation, dissertation research, writing and editing, teaching, and language training could be framed as a story of growing competencies in research, synthesis and analysis, communications (including writing, editing, and public speaking/ presenting), budgeting, project design and management, facilitation, and cultural diversity and sensitivity skills. Organizations in many different fields seek candidates with leadership potential. Academic work including organizing conference panels, seminars, or working groups, and mentoring students can be presented as leadership experiences.
Job Search Tools
Find Current Academic Job Postings:
UC Berkeley’s Career Center offers an annual academic job search series.
Handshake is Berkeley’s recruiting platform available to current students and alumni.
Idealist is the job board for nonprofit work.
Hired is a major job listing site.
LinkedIn: In case you still need a reason to join.
The Berkeley Career Center’s website includes many more subject and industry specific job search sites.
Glassdoor is a platform where employees and former employees anonymously review companies. This can be a useful tool for learning about an organization’s culture and for getting a sense of salary range in different jobs and industries.
Applying for Jobs
CVs and Resumes. Check out the following articles for guidance on writing an effective CV or resume for your job search: Beyond Academia's “From CV to Resume,” Shawn Warner-Garcia's "How I Reimagined My Resume," and Laura York's "Some Dos and Don'ts for an Effective CV and Cover Letter."
Online Profiles and Networking. For guidance on managing your online presence, see Gregg Britton's "Making your voice heard," Mark Carrigan's Social Media for Academics, and Vanessa Varin's "Managing Your Digital Self." Phil Wolgin's "An Academic's Guide to Getting a Non-Academic Job," offers concrete advice on making new contacts and doing informational interviews.
Internships and Paid Work Opportunities
For a number of reasons, you may want to consider doing paid work while in graduate school. In addition to earning money, freelance and consulting work or part-time work in an organization - whether as an intern or an employee - can be a valuable opportunity to explore a career area of interest and to build a wider network of professional contacts. You can find current work and internship opportunities posted on the Career Center’s recruiting platform Handshake, as well as on LinkedIn and other job sites.
The Career Center’s website helpfully lists internship opportunities by field, for instance non-profit or communications. Many large organizations and some smaller ones have recurring internship programs with set application processes - often for multiple intern sessions each year. Local examples include the Oakland Museum of California and SFMOMA, but the opportunities are nearly endless.
If you are interested in an internship and aren’t sure where to begin, consider the wide array of organizations with established internship programs where our PhD alumni work. These span the government, non-profit, and private sectors. While some history PhDs are excited to work in academic-adjacent and public history roles, others are not. Our alumni work in careers as wide-ranging as law, psychology, consulting, entrepreneurship, and furniture design - so it is worth thinking broadly about your interests. If you’d like to make contact with one of our alumni before or while applying to intern or work at one of the following organizations, please feel free to get in touch for their contact information. Informational interviews are an essential first step for any job search.
Interning while in graduate school is by no means the right way to gain professional experience for everyone. Internships may make more sense at early stages in our doctoral program, though there are exceptions - for instance internships at RAND require applicants to have done a minimum of two years of graduate work. For students interested in transitioning to work in the private sector, finding paid part-time or contract work may be a better option. While volunteer work may occasionally be a good way to get a foot in the door at a particular organization, in general we advise pursuing opportunities for professional development that pay. It is an important part of establishing yourself as a professional. At the moment, internships are not eligible for campus tuition or fee waivers, and so are best done over the summer.
Organizations with recurring internship opportunities where our alumni and/or current students work
Work Opportunities on Campus
A number of campus bodies have paid work opportunities for grad students. These may not be available every semester or academic year, so it is worth occasionally checking campus websites as well as keeping an eye out for email announcements. In general, look for jobs advertised as “fellowships” to denote their professional development components as distinct from work/study or job/position listings.
The ORIAS Speaker’s Bureau recruits grad students every fall to develop 45 minute presentations on their research to deliver in schools from the middle school to community college level. Through the process of preparing a presentation in consultation with ORIAS and local instructors, grad students receive feedback on their work. Speaking engagements are paid.
UCDC Although UCDC does not offer internship opportunities for graduate students, it is possible for grad students living or conducting research in Washington D.C. to affiliate with the program. We have heard from at least one of our department alumni that doing so presented important networking opportunities that later supported his job search for policy positions.
UC Press hires student interns on a work-study basis. Many graduate students are eligible for work study, so it is worth completing a basic FAFSA.
Department Financial Support
The department will now consider offering summer stipends to grad students who wish to take on an otherwise unpaid internship opportunity with a partner organization. The aim of this support is to encourage students to gain experience with research, programming, and communications at companies, non-profit organizations, and government or cultural institutions and to expand their skills working in non-academic settings. Students who complete summer internships will meet with the Career Development Fellow on three occasions - once before, once during, and once after the internship period to check in about their progress. They will also be asked to contribute a piece on their experience to our career development blog. It is our hope that this interaction with the department will support students in gaining skills in articulating their professional experience for multiple audiences.
For specific application guidelines, please contact the career development team at firstname.lastname@example.org. In general, you will be expected to communicate in advance with your proposed organization and demonstrate that you have identified a specific project(s) that you will be working on, show that someone has agreed to serve as your mentor, and articulate what that mentorship will look like. You should also be prepared to explain how the project and organization fit with your career or career exploration goals.
While we encourage you to think broadly about potential partners, both in the Bay Area and further afield, a number of local organizations have expressed interest in having a grad student intern:
A number of extended programs and workshops are available to support ongoing career exploration and preparation. Many of these provide funding or financial support to graduate students.
Humanities without Walls is a national, in-residence summer workshop for graduate students interested in learning about and leveraging their skills for careers outside of the academy. The deadline to apply for the Summer 2019 program was 30 September 2018.
The graduate career initiative for the University of California. It runs a biannual graduate student career workshops and also provides internship opportunities. Its web resources include professionalization tools and discussions about critical issues within graduate student training including student debt and mentoring.
In 2017, the Modern Languages Association released a fabulous toolkit for PhD programs and their faculty members looking to support graduate student career development and planning. The toolkit offers advice on a variety of issues, ranging from how to talk to graduate students about their career ambitions, to curricular innovations that support diverse career preparation.
The American Historical Association provides this helpful guide to career diversity for faculty. It includes everything from sample syllabi for professionalization seminars to how-to-guides on workshops that help prepare grad students for a range of careers.
Check out Fordham University English professor Leonard Cassuto's article "Can You Train Your PhDs for Diverse Careers When You Don't Have One?"
Maria Wisdom and Edward Balleisen’s piece “Rethinking Doctoral Education in the Humanities,” in Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning offers reflections based on two years of NEH Next Generation grant funding for career diversity programs at Duke. See in particular the recommendations for faculty and departments on pages 7 and 8.
More faculty and staff resources to come!
John Paulas, "To a Revolutionary Degree: Power to the PhD"
An interview with London Business School professor Herminia Ibarra on the identity shifts and emotional landscape of career transitions