Why You Shouldn’t Stay in Academia

leaving college

I was on the verge of graduation in the spring of 2012, and I was weighing options for graduate school. I was leaving my university with two bachelor’s degrees–one in political science and one in gender studies. I knew I couldn’t afford law school, and I felt strongly that my only option was a PhD. I felt this way because I couldn’t imagine leaving behind the readings of Kimberle Williams Crenshaw and bell hooks. I barely understood Foucault and Derrida, and I wasn’t ready to give up trying. My experience in the academy was largely positive (sparing the finances). I learned a lot and made lifelong friends. I didn’t think I could immerse myself so deeply in feminism anywhere else. I was positive that I couldn’t handle jobs outside of the incredibly supportive network I had cultivated at the University of Utah.

I was wrong.

And I’m glad I didn’t choose either route.

I mean no disrespect to anyone pursuing a law degree or PhD. Those are damn worthy pursuits. My best friend is earning her doctorate in sociology right now, and I couldn’t be happier that she’s rocking our alma mater’s graduate program. In fact, I’m in graduate school pursuing a master’s degree, but the difference is this: I will work in the for-profit sector. I used to think I’d always work for non-profits, but I’ve quickly learned that there is a true need for my feminist multicultural perspective in alternate work spaces. If feminists don’t move out of the halls of universities, then our ideas stay insulated in those halls. The fact of the matter is, it’s a cold cruel world out there for women, especially WoC, trans* women, women with disabilities, etc., etc. We need feminists in every organization, because if I wasn’t there to tell my boss that his weekly email was classist and bit racist, my company might still be sending it out.

If you’re panicked about moving from the university into a day job, and think that the only choice is to segregate yourself by major–think again. The world needs some of us to break away and into board rooms, shops, stores, and the like.

How are you changing the world in your day job?

 

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