4 Ways to Empower Academics in their Quest for a Job: Nurturing Success with Support and Positivity

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By Dani Babb, PhD

Understanding Their Journey

Appreciating the Expertise of the Academic in your life. Likely, he or she has spent countless hours in college and preparing for this transition into higher education.. Academic scholars dedicate years to honing their knowledge and skills. Acknowledge and value their expertise, even if the nature of their work may seem complex or specialized. Take the time to understand their field of study and the broader impact it has on society. Celebrate their contributions and be an enthusiastic advocate for the value they bring to the world. While you are at it, try not to discount the work that they bring to journals and the academic community. While academic research may appear abstract or perhaps even irrelevant, it often holds practical applications that can benefit various industries and organizations. Recognize that scholars possess invaluable skills, such as critical thinking, research prowess, and the ability to navigate complex information. You may find yourself asking a scholar one day to interpret something you read (many friends and family ask me to do this all the time, and almost always, their interpretations of the data are incorrect). Help them articulate and showcase these transferable skills to potential employers, emphasizing how they can bring a fresh perspective and contribute to innovative solutions in the workplace. Show them how they helped you, so they know how to present themselves.

Offering Unwavering Support

Try to avoid discouraging your academic colleagues, friends and family. The challenging job market and the disparities in treatment between full-time staff and adjunct professors may lead to discouragement. Instead of suggesting alternative career paths, be a source of unwavering support. I remember when someone close to me said "you have a great job in IT and worked hard for it. Why are you doing this again?" It's hard enough to get a job, much less repeatedly explaining yourself to others. Encourage them to stay true to their passions and remind them of the invaluable contributions they can make within academia and knowledge-based industries. In that same area, be present and engaged with your friend or family member. Ask your academic friend how you can assist them on their journey. Offer your moral support by being present and engaged. Extend invitations for meals, accompany them on walks for mental well-being, or simply spend quality time together. These gestures of care can provide a much-needed respite from the stresses of job hunting. Stay informed about conferences, journal opportunities, and fellowship applications in their field. Introduce them to your network and help them stay connected to their academic community. Invest in Yourself.

Your friends and family will likely still wish you could attend events, while you are busy applying to jobs. Consider investing in professional services to expedite your career goals with tools such as CV writing, LinkedIn profiles and applying to teaching jobs on your behalf. These investments can alleviate some of the burdens and prevent burnout during the transition from student to professor.

Ask Your Academic How You Can Support Them

I hear the complaints from colleagues who are seeking jobs - "my spouse doesn't understand why I am doing this, so I have to do it fast so he/she doesn't get angry." "I can't take time away from the family to look for jobs so please help." "I got my first job and the pay was so bad my friends think I should quit. What do I do now?" It is perfectly normal to question someone's sanity if they quit a 6 figure job for a $1500/semester job working at an online school. But this is just the start. Ask your friend, family or colleague academic what his or her goals are, help them figure out a way to track those goals, then ASK how YOU can support him or her! Remember it's very stressful to start a new career, much less one where your colleagues and fellow candidates are a bunch of doctors! We need all the support we can get! Let's embark on this journey of support, making a positive difference in the lives of our academic friends and family, one uplifting step at a time!

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