PhD Career Exploration Fellow Spotlight: Kristian Taketomo (Hosted by Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Penn)

In the spring of 2021, 44 PhD students from a range of academic disciplines at Penn participated virtually in Career Services’ PhD Career Exploration Fellowship (CEF) program, where they were matched with a host organization to learn about different careers beyond academia. Kristian Taketomo, a PhD candidate in History, was placed as a Fellow with Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at Penn. Read about Kristian’s experience in the CEF below!

Describe your experience working with your host:

I was thrilled to be matched with Dr. Gwendolyn Beetham, Associate Director of the Penn Program on Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies, and Dr. Maria Murphy, Interim Associate Director at the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality, and Women for my Career Exploration Fellowship. During our initial meetings, we talked about what I hoped to get out of this opportunity as well as programs, projects, and conversations I might be interested in joining or contributing to. In the process, I learned about curricular development, grant writing, project management, and more.

What did you learn from this opportunity (about yourself, about career fields, the job search, etc.)?

Discussions with other fellows and my hosts helped me define my passions. I discovered how much I enjoy supporting others in their scholarship, from workshopping ideas to assisting in research to connecting thinkers to one another. In terms of practical knowledge, in shadowing my hosts and through informational interviews, I learned about the day-to-day operations of managing academic centers and programs, including the administrative tasks and technologies that keep them running.

How does your CEF experience benefit your future career plans?

When I applied for this fellowship, I was unaware of the wider landscape of career options for humanities PhDs. The CEF introduced me to resources through which I can explore the full spectrum of non-and alt-academic jobs and network with individuals with experience in those fields.

What was the most valuable part of your CEF experience?

It was both interesting and instructive to listen to my hosts narrate their own career trajectories after completing the PhD. It was helpful to hear about the choices and considerations (and the paths not taken) that led them to where they are today.

Top reason PhD students should apply to the CEF:

It equips you with the confidence, knowledge, and tools necessary to reach beyond the academic job market.

By Helen Pho
Helen Pho Associate Director, Graduate Students & Postdocs