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The Work Seminar

Author: Jesse Butts

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The Work Seminar is the podcast for people with liberal arts advanced degrees considering work outside their fields of study. Join me for unscripted conversations with MAs, MFAs, PhDs, and the like who made the leap to adjacent or (seemingly) unrelated work after grad school. You'll hear about life's unexpected turns, what guests have learned along the way, their thoughts and advice for finding enjoyable work, and work's role in their lives.
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Christina watched her adjunct spots, and tentative career plans, evaporate as the Great Recession exacted its toll on higher ed. Faced with fewer classes and less income, she opened her job search to larger cities where she’d have a better shot putting her MA in public address and background in graphic design to good use outside academia. And far outside academia she went.Christina landed an entry-level marketing position at a motorcycle aftermarket accessories manufacturer. Self-described as “the least likely person to work for a motorcycle company,” she did make an earnest go of it. In time, the industry (unsurprisingly) didn’t stick. But marketing did. Since then, Christina has found her niche as a content marketer, a subset of marketing that educates and entertains people whether they buy the product or service in question. She’s now a marketing manager at an environmental services firm. And every work day she applies her knowledge of rhetoric, deciphering what the technical experts she works with offer—and what the people who need their help respond to. Books & other resources mentionedDesigning Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave EvansCheck out more from The Work SeminarVisit theworkseminar.com or find @TheWorkSeminar on social media. Sign up for The Work Seminar newsletter to receive updates straight to your inbox.Support the show (https://ko-fi.com/theworkseminar)
Lizz took the well-tread barista-by-day, writer-by-night path after finishing DePaul’s MA in writing and publishing program. When work became heavy on the baristaing and light on the writing, she threw her hat in the ring to teach a section of developmental education at nearby Wilbur Wright College. Fast forward ten years, Lizz is now the dean of community and continuing education at Malcolm X College, one of the other seven City Colleges of Chicago. Every day, she helps students in the West Side develop professionally and personally with programs the community needs and wants. (She knows because she asks and listens.)Her transition from adjunct faculty to administration didn’t happen overnight, or in a clear-cut, linear fashion. She moved through teaching, advising, data strategy, and grant management, having to learn numerous skills along the way, including means to manage work-life balance as her responsibilities expanded and free time contracted. Yet the art of storytelling she honed in grad school has always come in handy.  Books & other resources mentionedStart With Why by Simon SinekThe Renaissance Soul by Margaret LobenstineCheck out more from The Work SeminarVisit theworkseminar.com or find @TheWorkSeminar on social media. Sign up for The Work Seminar newsletter to receive updates straight to your inbox.Support the show (https://ko-fi.com/theworkseminar)
Candi finished her MA in social sciences with plans to continue studying her beloved medieval French peasants in a PhD program. Then the unexpected happened: The sourcing job she took during a year off grew on her. After two or three years of internal debate over the doctoral route, Candi opted to focus her career in supply chain. Since then, she’s enjoyed a string of promotions and professional growth. And she eventually found her way back to academia, earning an MBA in 2018.Candi’s reflections on how her history and social sciences background have shaped her work life and given her an edge as a sourcing professional reveal her gift for analysis and connection. Plus, she offers her take on the media attention her University of Chicago grad program received this summer.“The Master’s Trap” and related reading/listening“The Master’s Trap (Part One)” by Anne Helen Petersen (Culture Study)“‘Financially Hobbled for Life’: The Elite Master’s Degrees That Don’t Pay Off” by Melissa Korn and Andrea Fuller (WSJ)“Law School Loses Luster as Debts Mount and Salaries Stagnate” by Andrea Fuller, Josh Mitchell, and Sara Randazzo (WSJ)“Back to School: Masters mishaps” — The Weeds podcastCheck out more from The Work SeminarVisit theworkseminar.com or find @TheWorkSeminar on social media. Sign up for The Work Seminar newsletter to receive updates straight to your inbox.Support the show (https://ko-fi.com/theworkseminar)
Dave felt destined for life as a jazz percussionist, and he pursued that passion in earnest. The website design skills he picked up thanks to a “misspent youth” were intended to help pay the bills in between gigs and teaching. But what started as a means to supplement his income soon shifted into his main bread and butter. Now the co-founder of Scruples Studio, Dave is immersed in the world of building websites with—you guessed it—scruples, respecting users’ data privacy and finding viable alternatives to big tech for his clients. In ways he wouldn’t have expected, his time earning an MA in jazz studies and his living as a musician prepared him for self-employment.Resources mentioned“Why I'm Losing Faith in UX” by Mark HurstWhere to find Dave and ScruplesScruples.studio @scruplesstudio and @websmyth on TwitterCheck out more from The Work SeminarVisit theworkseminar.com or find @TheWorkSeminar on social media. Sign up for The Work Seminar newsletter to receive updates straight to your inbox.Support the show (https://ko-fi.com/theworkseminar)
Gillian relocated from New York City to Chicago to explore her identity as a creative writer in grad school after a decade in technical writing and corporate communications jobs. Fast forward a couple years after finishing her MA in writing and publishing, the opportunity to work as a content strategist presented itself. She seized it and never looked back.As a content strategist, Gillian has found work that allows her to “lift people up,” a value she aims to live by. She spends her working hours determining what content will help people with varied backgrounds and abilities use apps, websites, and software. Her path to content strategy has required self-advocacy, extensive personal time devoted to learning new skills, and a few contract-based roles that didn’t offer the benefits and security of full-time jobs. All of which Gillian explores generously in this inaugural episode of The Work Seminar.*Please excuse a few minor background audio blips. What Gillian has to say is well worth enduring the occasional snap, crackle, or pop.*Books & other resources mentionedContent Strategy for the Web by Kristina HalvorsonHow to Make Sense of Any Mess by Abby CovertFollow Carrie Hane (@carriehd) on TwitterCheck out more from The Work SeminarVisit theworkseminar.com or find @TheWorkSeminar on social media. Sign up for The Work Seminar newsletter to receive updates straight to your inbox.Support the show (https://ko-fi.com/theworkseminar)
Welcome to The Work Seminar, the podcast for people with liberal arts advanced degrees considering work outside their fields of study. Season 1 is coming soon! Follow the show to hear MAs, MFAs, PhDs, and the like share their stories of finding adjacent and (seemingly) unrelated work after grad school. Check us out at theworkseminar.com or @TheWorkSeminar on social for the latest news. Sign up for The Work Seminar newsletter to receive updates straight to your inbox.Thanks to  guests Dave Smyth, Candi Harmon Kruse, Lizz Gardner, Paul Erdahl, Jaleh Sadravi, Nikki McCord, Caitlin McHugh, and Christina Olson Hendrickson for lending their voices—and stories—to this trailer.Support the show (https://ko-fi.com/theworkseminar)
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