Tackling the professional world (especially the academic one) is already challenging enough, but doing so while you are writing your dissertation is just a bad idea—or is it? Melissa Dennihy recently did just that, and wrote a detailed article about her experiences doing so with Inside Higher Ed. Though the issue is a tricky one, here are a few main points from Dennihy’s article about why putting yourself on the job market as an A.B.D. might be a smart move.
1. It Can Revitalize Your Dissertation.
Writing a dissertation is hard, and it is common for graduate students to loose focus and momentum. After years working on your dissertation, you may have a hard time believing that the end could really be in sight. Dennihy insists that the tangible end-game of an actual job prospect can inject much-needed energy and perspective into the dissertation-writing process.
2. You See Your Dissertation Work in New Ways
When you have to discuss your academic work in a professional context, the “murky shape [of your dissertation will] take on a fuller and clearer form.” Interviews require you to discuss your work with clarity, precision, and both tangible goals and results. This necessity will force you to see your dissertation in a new way—and benefit the writing process.
3. Financial Stability Helps with Dissertation Writing
Dennihy’s article unabashedly admits that writing a dissertation while applying for—and working—a tenure-track job is very stressful. However, the financial stability that comes with working a full-time job can alleviate much of that stress, resulting in an overall stress-decrease. In fact, Dennihy’s teaching load was actually lighter as a first-year tenure-track professor than it was as a teaching fellow/adjunct graduate student. Less stress coupled with more motivation is a perfect recipe for productive dissertation work.
4. Applying for Jobs Earlier Helps You Develop Much-Needed Skills
The skills required of the professional world do not always match up with the skills required of the graduate student. As a graduate student, you are probably either rusty or unfamiliar with many of the styles of communication required by an academic job interview. Dennihy found that beginning the job application early gave her a chance to hone the skills she needed in order to excel “later in the job market season, after several months of practice.”
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