One Academic’s Journey from Philosophy Phd to Scholarpreneur
This guest post comes from Claartje Van Sijl, who runs a fascinating business. Claartje obtained a PhD in philosophy at Utrecht University. About half way through her doctorate, she realized she did not want to continue in academia. She decided to become a professional counselor for early career researchers. But she didn’t abandon her philosophical training. She uses the Socratic method to help her clients understand themselves and achieve their goals. Here is her story.
You can learn more about Claartje’s business at www.vansilj.com
“What are you going to do with your degree in philosophy?” Every philosophy student sooner or later hears this cliche question. Perhaps even more widespread is the assumption that a PhD in philosophy narrows down your remaining work opportunities to the academic job market. Go figure.
Fortunately, as you know, academic skills are transferrable. Philosophy PhDs, for instance, are independent thinkers who can synthesize and handle large bodies of tangled information, write and speak persuasively for diverse kinds of audiences, etc.. There are many ways of transferring these skills to non-academic work. The trick is to know how. Today, I want to share with the Scholarpreneur community how I took them into the wider world as I turned from a philosophy PhD into an self-employed counselor and trainer.
Leaving academia: why and when?
I am particularly fascinated with the way philosophy can elucidate complex problems by fundamentally questioning assumptions and suspending judgment about apparently ‘self-evident’ views. With an academic background of 10+ years in philosophy, it is hardly surprising that the core of my transferable skills is directly related to this.
I did my PhD on Stoicism in its social and cultural context, in particular on the epistemological foundations of its relationship to the Greco-Roman religious and mythical tradition, as represented by figures such as Homer (see more here). About half way through my PhD project I knew I did not want to continue in academia. I had no idea what to do, because all I ever pictured in my post PhD future was a happily-ever-after life as an academic. And so did almost everyone around me.