UCHRI and Humanists@Work is a partner in the UC consortium of universities who received an Understanding PhD Career Pathways for Program Improvement grant from the Council of Graduate Schools. Currently, all 10 campuses of the UC system and the UC Office of the President are engaged in surveying UC PhDs at work in the world.
Drawing upon Humanists@Work history in engaging with PhDs at work in non-professorial positions, we have focused on the qualitative aspects of University of California PhD alumni experiences by way of conducting six focus groups across the state. The only CGS grantee to conduct focus groups, we learned much by engaging in a substantive way with our PhD alumni working in diverse careers. Through these focus groups, Humwork interviewed over 30 humanities and humanistic Social Science UC PhDs in Santa Cruz, San Francisco, Berkeley, Los Angeles, and Orange County.
Our focus groups were free-flowing conversations, guided by some of the following questions:
- How many of you began your graduate career wanting a tenure-track teaching position? When did it change? And why?
- What do you foresee as some important developments in the future of work (across industries) in the next decade or two? What does it look like specifically for your industry?
- How did your program prepare you, generally and specifically, for the position (and industry?) you’re in?
- In general, do you see your former professors and friends/colleagues from grad school as a valuable part of your professional network? If not, can you think of anything that would change that?
- How likely would you be, in your current profession, to hire someone who just earned a PhD from a program like yours? What would be your biggest concerns about such a candidate? What factors would you pay the most attention to in determining whether they were a good fit?
- What has most surprised you, or what are the biggest adjustments you’ve had to make, since finishing the PhD and entering the workforce?
- What should we ask you? What questions are most pressing?
Our focus groups included a range of UC PhDs, representing campus, disciplinary, ethnic, cohort, and job field diversity.
For more information about the project, and to read Humanists@Work’s analysis of the focus group data, please visit Stories from the Field. And for questions regarding survey methodology, please contact Humanists@Work.