This guest post comes from Marcia Yudkin, who is coming up on 35 years since she left the academic life. After earning her philosophy Ph.D. from Cornell and teaching at Smith College, she left it all behind in 1981. Over the decades she has learned all sorts of ways to transfer her academic skills to earning a good living on her own.
These include everything from corporations paying her over $10K/day to run in-house technical writing sessions to becoming one of the first editors at the Chinese government’s English language publishing house in the 1980s. She has also been a project manager, conference speaker, and group coach.
Here is her story.
You can learn more about Marcia at www.yudkin.com
Ask an anxious parent to name the most practically useless kind of degree they can think of, and they’d probably cite one of the humanities, such as art history, literature or philosophy. My experience says otherwise, however. I received a B.A. in philosophy from Brown in 1974 and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Cornell in 1978.
After teaching 2 1/2 years at Smith College, I quit the academic world. My liberal arts education, advanced training in philosophy and teaching experience prepared me surprisingly well for 35 years of successful self-employment. Here are the skills that I developed or reinforced while taking and teaching classes in philosophy and that transferred nicely to non-academic earning opportunities.
- Curiosity. Wanting to know, questioning and wondering drove me to philosophy in the first place, and once I left the subject behind, I continued to make good use of my urge to ask “why” and “what.” The very week I left my college teaching job, I had my first freelance article published, and for several years after that, writing articles for national and regional magazines was my biggest source of income.
Although my first several articles were “think pieces,” derived mainly from my thoughts, ideas or experiences, I learned to gather information for articles from experts and those affected by issues that interested me, which ranged from childhood sexual abuse and getting married abroad to cross-cultural relationships and a possible return of the death penalty in my state of Massachusetts. To better understand the concerns and constraints of the editors I worked for, I took a fabulous college-level course on editing that paid off for me many times over in the decades that followed.