Professional Liminality

Note – I wrote this post several months ago (May) and didn’t immediately publish it – then I got a job and life got crazy (it’s now August). For those of you in experiencing professional uncertainty, don’t give up.

In the two years since I finished my PhD in history, I have been at a crossroads, a liminal professional space. It is uncomfortable, yet it has also created an opportunity to reflect. What motivates my work and what kind of work makes me greet each new day with enthusiasm? I recognize I’m privileged to have this luxury. Because I have an advanced education, there is a good possibility that I’ll find a job that is financially stable, intellectually engaged, and – I hope – socially transformative (even in a small way). But it has not been easy. I have a background in science, social science, and the humanities. I have worked in an independent research archives, science library, and community non-profit; I have been a graduate research and teaching assistant, published in my field, and and continue to do research. I’m committed to work that has relevance for local communities and the general pubic. Finding a job that values this range of experiences is difficult, even though I would argue that it helps me think outside the box and collaborate with diverse groups of people. What I’m realizing is that I’ve been focused on a mission – making information accessible in a way that can shift societal power imbalances. Should I be jumping through hoops for specific jobs? There is a logic to my path, but I may not have communicated it well. Still, I don’t want to be confined to a professional box. I want to be at the intersection of research, teaching and community in the humanities, regardless of the specific title. Is there a place for me?

About Heidi Dodson

Heidi Dodson is currently CLIR Postdoctoral Fellow at University at Buffalo.
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1 Response to Professional Liminality

  1. Clifford Chafin says:

    Heidi, it is great to see how you have moved forwards. I struggle with similar questions about my future and ability to use my degree to make a descent living and make important contributions to the world. How wonderful to hear of your success.

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