Graduate school of arts and sciences

Alumni fellowships address pandemic-challenged academic job market

The final year of graduate school is a critical time for doctoral students. It is when most are finishing and defending their dissertations while simultaneously putting feelers out into the academic job market. In the best of times, a tremendous investment of time, energy, and effort is devoted to job talks, conferences, and employment applications domestically and internationally. As they approached spring 2020, many Yale graduate students had reason to be optimistic about their prospects.

Then COVID-19 proliferated and shut the world down. Many academic job postings were consequently frozen, and some job offers that had already been extended were rescinded.

The Graduate School responded by collaborating with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the Poorvu Center, and other campus partners to create an Alumni Fellowship for newly minted PhDs unable to land academic jobs as a result of the pandemic. The fellowship is currently under way and requires recipients to teach sophomore writing seminars and classes in their home departments. They also participate in professional development and administrative assignments in the Graduate School and across the university to augment their skills and expand their possibilities for future employment.

Employed by the university, Alumni Fellows are building their resumes and gaining valuable experience to be more competitive in the job market as academia adjusts to economic fluctuations. It is another way in which Yale graduate students will have an edge with applications for higher education administration and teaching posts in the years to come.

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