NAVSA’s past professionalization opportunities are discussed in a recent podcast interview through New Books Network about post-PhD career tracks. The interview is with Pamela Gilbert, a longstanding member of NAVSA’s Advisory Board and Executive Council.
In the interview, Gilbert talks candidly with her interviewers, both current graduate students, about the state of the academic job market: “I came on the market for the first time in the early 1990s, which were pretty bad, actually. It was a bad market. It’s worse now. The longstanding practice of relying on precarious employment had been going on for a while.”
While being realistic in acknowledging the delicate nature of post-Ph.D. employment, Gilbert is hopeful about the benefits current grad students can receive from both personal mentoring from faculty and alumni and mentoring opportunities offered by organizations.
“I belong to an organization called NAVSA, which is the North American Victorian Studies Association, and over the last decade and some-odd years, they’ve added a professionalization seminar that covers everything from the job market to grants to networking. A lot of students don’t know how to network. I certainly didn’t. I was a first-generation student. I had no idea how to do it. And nobody in my department told me it was important or taught me how to do it, so we’ve tried to do more of that.”
Interviewer Erica Bennet, a current M.A. student, asks Gilbert what advice she wished she had received early in her academic career. Gilbert responds, “When I was thinking of my career and what I wanted to do, I was very focused on the university. I believed that that was the place where you did the thing I wanted to do. And that was largely true. But I wish that someone had told me to think about the things that I wanted to do in broader terms—to think that this is not the only institution out there where you can use some of the skills and talents that we associate with being at the university.”
Listen to the complete interview (35:49) on New Books Network.
Pamela K. Gilbert is Albert Brick Professor of English at the University of Florida. Her most recent book, Victorian Skin: Surface, Self, History, focuses on the history of the body, medicine and realism in the nineteenth century, with special attention to skin and surface.