In the spring of 2022, 34 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 the professoriate. Tayeba Batool, a PhD candidate in Anthropology, was placed as a Fellow with the Museum Library at the Penn Museum. Read about Tayeba’s experience in the CEF below!
Describe your experience working with your host:
My experience with the Penn Museum Libraries was great. Over the course of several conversations with my host, I learnt about the different ways that library systems interface with academic outputs and the public. My host connected me to several other professionals across different departments at Penn, which provided useful insights on how individuals recognized and prepared for non-academic careers during or immediately after their doctoral studies. This was also an excellent opportunity to engage with concerns and possibilities to democratize and decolonize the way that knowledge production interfaces with historical and social systems and learn how these conversations worked through the libraries and different academic-adjacent systems.
What did you learn from this opportunity (about yourself, about career fields, the job search, etc.)?
The CEF was a well-rounded opportunity to understand the mechanics of the job market (such as conducting informational interviews, identifying transferable skills, and resume development) as well as the specific dynamics of library systems and policies. Additionally, I learnt about different tools that are essential to highlight scholarly work as well as evolving concerns around data management for research scholars and open access. I am also grateful to the CEF coordinators who created the space and opportunities to connect with other PhD students.
How does your CEF experience benefit your future career plans?
The CEF experience has inspired me to look more closely at the institutional role of libraries in the wider network of how we produce and circulate information. On a skills level, I am better equipped to do online career research and motivated to work on my LinkedIn profile.
What was the most valuable part of your CEF experience?
I appreciated the chance to observe and hear how individuals prepared for their different roles and what inspired them in their daily work schedules. I was also happily surprised to learn how their career roles did not emerge as drastic shifts but rather as gradual transitions. One of the practices that I am inspired to take up post-CEF is to maintain a log of my thoughts, inspirations, and skills through the different stages of my program.
Top reason PhD students should apply to the CEF:
The CEF is an excellent opportunity to expose yourself to other institutions and pathways that share your incumbent interests and motivations. The program’s structured approach guides you through skills and information that are crucial to prepare for life beyond your program.