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ImaginePhD is an online career exploration and planning tool for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences. Humanities and social sciences PhD students and their mentors have long recognized the need for more resources to help bridge the knowledge gap between doctoral education and the realm of career possibilities. ImaginePhD is designed to meet this need by allowing users to assess their career-related skills, interests, and values and to explore careers appropriate to their disciplines. The tool includes a goal setting application that enables users to map out next steps for career and professional development to achieve their goals.

ImaginePhD consists of

  • Assessments: Three online assessments allow PhD students to self-assess their career-related skills, interests, and values. Once the assessments are completed, an algorithm allows users to compare their skills and interests alignments with Job Families.
  • Job Families: PhD students and postdoctoral scholars can explore potential careers by reviewing the Job Families component of the website. Sixteen job families relevant to the humanities and social sciences are contained on this page. Each job family contains detailed information about types of careers and resources to help PhD students explore, connect, build skills, and apply for positions. Sample career packets with job descriptions, cover letters, and resume examples are also contained in this section.
  • My Plan: The My Plan component of the website provides PhD students and postdoctoral scholars with the opportunity to create an individual development plan (IDP) and set specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based goals that will help them advance in their graduate programs and careers. My Plan also provides the opportunity for mentors and PhD students to “check-in” and agree upon the next steps in completing PhD and postdoc milestones.

ImaginePhD was created by an ad hoc committee under the auspices of the Graduate Career Consortium – a professional organization of university administrators leading the career and professional development efforts for doctoral candidates and postdoctoral scholars at their universities. Many GCC members themselves are PhDs from the humanities and social sciences, as well as, STEM fields. For this effort, over 80 individuals from 56 universities and institutions in the U.S. and Canada are currently involved or have been part of the development of ImaginePhD.

To ensure that ImaginePhD meets the needs of humanities and social sciences PhDs, focus groups with graduate students and faculty members are being held nationwide, and feedback continues to be incorporated into the tool.

ImaginePhD will:

  • Provide self-assessment resources to assist PhD students and their mentors in identifying careers that align with their career-related skills, interests, and values.
  • Enhance career exploration opportunities for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences – populations that may receive less attention at STEM-focused institutions.
  • Introduce PhD students and their mentors to the concept and value of creating individual development plans – both to enhance success in graduate school and future career aspirations.
  • Demonstrate support for, and understand the value of, all career paths.
  • Broaden the discussion of the intrinsic value of the PhD in the humanities and social sciences at institutions that support the ImaginePhD project.

Not all PhD faculty mentors/advisors have equal access to information about the broad array of career opportunities available to their PhD students. ImaginePhD seeks to bridge this knowledge gap by providing humanities and social sciences-specific career information.

Exploring career pathways early can help your students create a comprehensive plan for their PhD. Even if your students entered the PhD program with a specific career path in mind, understanding oneself is important to all job searches. Your students can use ImaginePhD to identify skill gaps in communication, networking, leadership, etc. and create plans to build additional learning experiences into their graduate education.

Early identification of careers helps your students identify “transferrable” topics or research methods for their research. This helps them contextualize their research and its value beyond the academic realm.

Finally, Individual Development Plans (IDPs) create opportunities for students and mentors/advisors to “check in” and offer a means for benchmarking. An IDP can help you and your students set goals and map out next steps for successfully completing PhD milestones and exploring career pathways.

ImaginePhD is free to all users.

The ImaginePhD project relies on contributions from institutions of higher education and professional societies concerned about the career well-being of PhDs in the humanities and social sciences. Graduate Career Consortium members have contributed countless volunteer hours researching and developing content and conducting outreach in support of this ground- breaking project. Early in the process, members agreed that they would contribute their time and talent to build ImaginePhD and make it freely available to all graduate students and postdoctoral scholars and their mentors. As part of that agreement, ImaginePhD committee members continue to seek funding in support of the project. Our initial sponsors have allowed us to build the online tool, but given our ambitious plans we seek additional support to ensure that the content will be continuously updated and adapted to changing needs.

We offer four levels of sponsorship that will be acknowledged on the Sponsors page of the ImaginePhD site:

  • Platinum - $20,000 and above
  • Gold - $10,000
  • Silver - $5,000
  • Bronze - $2,500

All sponsors at the Bronze level and above will have their institution’s logo featured on the Sponsors page of the ImaginePhD site for the lifetime of this project. Institutions that contribute at the Silver level and above will receive an annual report containing aggregated data on the demographic information and number of users from their institution for three years.

Sponsors may choose to donate in a single payment or over a period of years to reach a desired level of sponsorship. All donations are greatly appreciated.

To sponsor or contribute to the ImaginePhD project please contact us.

With over 200 members at research institutions across the U.S. and Canada, the Graduate Career Consortium has ready access to experts who will continue to use and evaluate the site. In addition, the User Experience subcommittee conducts focus groups to gather feedback to further refine and improve the tool. We are confident that our membership, as well as the users themselves, will continue to provide feedback to enhance the project. We will use this feedback to continually update and upgrade the site to meet the needs of our users.

Following a similar process that resulted in the creation of the myIDP online career tool for STEM fields, the ImaginePhD team engaged “experts” to complete surveys to gather data to match skills and interests to sixteen job families. To determine the appropriate experts sample size and make-up, Professor Fred Oswald, PhD, Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Rice University, was consulted. Based on his recommendations, the ImaginePhD team identified 30 experts whose qualifications included having been in their role for 5 years or more, having experience providing career advising to PhDs in the humanities and social sciences for a broad array of careers, or were members of appropriate professional societies or organizations, or were themselves PhDs from the humanities or social sciences in a variety of careers.

Our panel of 30 experts include the following people

David AttisEducation Advisory BoardPhD, History
Al AubinUniversity of California, Los AngelesEdD, Higher Education
Joseph BarberUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhD, Animal Behavior,
Rachel BernardAmerican Council of Learned SocietiesPhD, American History
Victoria BlodgettUConnMed, Curriculum and Instruction
Melissa BostromDuke UniversityPhD, English
Stephanie EberleStanford UniversityMEd, Psych & Sociology
Chris GoldeStanford UniversityPhD, Education
Andrew GreenUniversity of California, BerkeleyHumanities PhD
Stacy HartmanModern Language AssociationPhD, German Studies
Alfreda JamesStony Brook University, New YorkPhD, American History
Christine KellyClaremont Graduate UniversityPhD, Communication