Collaboration for Career Diversity: Locating Expertise at the Institutional and National Levels

AHA Session 86
Friday, January 5, 2018: 10:30 AM-12:00 PM
Marriott Ballroom, Salon 2 (Marriott Wardman Park, Lobby Level)
Derek Attig, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Annie Maxfield, Career Center, University of California, Los Angeles
Amy Pszczolkowski, Princeton University
Emily A Prifogle, Princeton University
Anthony Grafton, Princeton University
Mearah Quinn-Brauner, Northwestern University
Derek Attig, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Bernadette So, New York University

Session Abstract

Doctoral students in history are expressing increased interest in broad career options and AHA Career Diversity is facilitating a transformative, discipline-wide conversation about careers for historians. In this changing landscape, departments are hard at work finding new ways to support their students’ career development. In doing so, they face two obstacles: limited expertise and limited resources. First, faculty often exclude broader careers from mentoring because they feel that they are not experts in all of the possible career paths historians might take. They hesitate to start conversations that they do not know how to finish, and students may perceive this hesitation as hostility. Second, with money often tight and time always at a premium, innovative or time-intensive programming can be difficult to organize. These challenges are mutually reinforcing—limited time also constrains faculty efforts to resolve the expertise gap, making further efforts even more costly—which makes it hard for departments to respond fully to their doctoral students’ career needs.

This session will explore a solution to these problems: collaboration at the university level with career and professional development staff who specialize in working with graduate students. These staff are experts in career diversity, drawing on their own experiences with hundreds or thousands of graduate students as well as on the collective expertise of the Graduate Career Consortium (GCC), a national organization of career professionals serving graduate students. They spend their days on precisely the challenges now bedeviling history departments and represent an already existing resource on which those departments can draw to serve their students without overtaxing faculty. Building these collaborations combines staff expertise in graduate student career development with faculty expertise in the work of history, further amplifying efforts to help students identify and articulate the broad appeal and value of their historical skills.

 In order to advance and facilitate these partnerships, this session will explore two key dynamics and offer two case studies. The first dynamic is how notions of “expertise” can complicate attempts at collaboration between faculty and staff on graduate student career development, and how faculty and staff can work together to overcome these complications. The second dynamic is how faculty-staff collaborations can help faculty make small changes to their mentoring that can have big effects for department culture and student success. The first case study is of a particular history department (Princeton) and its collaboration with university-level professional development staff. The second case study is of a specific tool—ImaginePhD, an online career development and planning tool for humanities doctoral students created by the GCC—and how it can be used by departments and faculty. After brief presentations on these four topics, the balance of the session will be devoted to collaborative brainstorming and strategizing among the presenters and the audience.

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