edwardjballeisenEdward Balleisen | Duke University
Edward J. Balleisen is Professor of History and Public Policy and Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Studies at Duke University.  His historical research examines key fault lines in the history of American capitalism, such as bankruptcy and business fraud; he also has written extensively on the evolution of the modern regulatory state, and led major interdisciplinary, collaborative research projects on aspect of regulatory governance.  As Vice Provost, Balleisen is responsible for facilitating cross-school collaborations around research, teaching, and civic engagement, and oversees 12 interdisciplinary units that range from the Franklin Humanities Institute and Kenan Institute for Ethics to the Duke Global Health Institute and the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences.  He also provides leadership for several innovative projects related to doctoral education in the humanities and more broadly.  These include:

  • Bass Connections, a university-wide program that each year supports over 60 interdisciplinary project teams involving faculty, doctoral and professional students, and undergraduates
  • Duke Support for Interdisciplinary Graduate Networks (D-SIGN) Grants, which fund interdisciplinary research or pedagogical projects proposed by groups that include doctoral and professional students;
  • the Duke Doctoral Academy, a two-week cluster of more than 20 short-courses to provide complementary skills to doctoral students and post-docs.

Balleisen conceptualized and serves as PI on Duke’s NEH Next Generation Implementation Grant, Versatile Humanists@Duke (described more fully in Maria Wisdom’s bio), and is co-PI on Duke’s current Mellon grant, “Humanities Unbounded,” that is funding departmentally-anchored humanities labs, in which doctoral students play key leadership roles.  Most recently, he co-chaired Duke’s Reimaging Doctoral Education (RIDE) Committee, which has set out wide-ranging recommendations to improve doctoral training at Duke.

Thought Piece–Core Disciplinary Research Skills “Plus”
In every discipline, both within and outside the humanities, doctoral training for the 21st century has to provide more than just grounding in core disciplinary knowledge and research skills.  As I have noted in a recent post for the Versatile Humanities @ Duke Blog that describes the recent report of Duke’s Committee on Reimagining Doctoral Education, “if our PhD recipients are going to be able to adapt to shifting intellectual currents and evolving careers/roles both within and outside academia, we need to provide core research training ‘plus.’  That ‘plus’ involves a set of complementary skills and experiences that will vary from student to student, but that entail leveraging resources across Duke, not just the superb professors and talented peers in a given degree program.”

In some contexts, supplementary workshops or short-courses (on public speaking; or policy engagement; or project management) may do the trick.  In others, a substantive internship experience linked to a student’s research agenda, or rather a sustained teaching apprenticeship, may be key.  For some students, the right “plus” may be a joint degree.  For a significant fraction of doctoral students, I see enormous value in exposure to team-based, interdisciplinary research teams, like those supported by Bass Connections.

This more flexible, student-centered approach to doctoral training will require rethinking of curricula and experimentation with integrating faculty research and student education.  It also will depend on encouragement for students to seize complementary opportunities beyond doctoral programs, and a team-based approach to advising and mentoring.

Focused topic for Symposium 

“Building the Collaborative University” – Drawing especially on the experience of Duke’s Bass Connections program, D-SIGN grants, and humanities labs, Balleisen will discuss the great benefits of doctoral student participation on interdisciplinary collaborative research projects.  When structured well, such participation cultivates a variety of communication skills, provides experience with mentoring and leadership, and ensures that students will not experience social isolation; it also sharpens time management, offers the positive reinforcement that comes with completed projects, and often exposes doctoral students to the potential public salience of research.

Beth BoehmBeth Boehm | University of Louisville
Beth Boehm was appointed as Executive Vice President and University Provost at the University of Louisville on September 1, 2018 after a brief term as Interim Provost.  Boehm joined the faculty of the University of Louisville as an Assistant Professor of English in 1987, and has served in the Provost’s office since 2009, serving as Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs, Vice Provost for Graduate Affairs, and Vice Provost for Academic Affairs, in which role she was responsible for both undergraduate and graduate affairs.  She also served as Dean of the School of Interdisciplinary and Graduate Studies for eight years before being appointed as Interim Provost. As Executive Vice President and University Provost, Boehm not only is responsible for setting the university’s course, through collaboration with faculty, staff and students, but also is charged with assuring that it stays on course. The Executive Vice President and University Provost is an advisor to the University President and acts as president during presidential absences. She has served in a variety of administrative and academic roles at the University of Louisville, including as Director of Undergraduate studies in English, as Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of English, as Vice Chair of English, as Vice Chair and Chair of the faculty senate. Boehm twice received the College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award and was selected as a University Distinguished Teaching Professor in 2003. In 2009, she was awarded for her distinguished service by both the college and the university.Her recent research has focused on issues in graduate education such as mentoring, reimagining the dissertation, community engagement in graduate education, masters education, and holistic admissions.
Kelly Anne BrownKelly Anne Brown | University of California Irvine
Kelly Anne Brown is associate director at the UC-wide Humanities Research Institute and manages a diverse portfolio of projects, including the UC-wide competitive grants program, Humanists@Work, and Horizons of the Humanities, among others. She holds a BA in English from Lewis & Clark College and a PhD in literature from UC Santa Cruz, where her scholarship centered on modernist publicness and interwar art and performance. Her professional background includes experience in public policy and administration, with a focus on children and family issues at the city, county, and state levels of California government. Her recent scholarship addresses issues of professionalization, the work of the humanities, and the future of graduate education.Thought Piece
While creating Humanists@Work with graduate students across all 10 campuses, we articulated the following 6 values to guide our work: Collaboration. Deep collaboration, with faculty, campus career centers, departmental staff, professionals in the field, and–most importantly–graduate students, is an essential component of the effort to re-conceptualize PhD education and professionalization. Experimentation. Experimentation with content and structure of programmatic activities reveals key issues to address, new ways to reach stakeholders, and best practices for humanities PhD training. Culture Change. The pervasive attitudes toward non-professorial careers within the academy must change in order to transform how students approach professionalization, faculty members support graduate students, and institutions address the career challenges facing humanities PhDs. Highlighting and Valuing Labor. Humanities graduate students should recognize the work they do has value and be treated as professionals with lucrative skill sets. Wherever possible, their work should be made visible and remunerated accordingly. Community. A wide community of graduate students, faculty members, alumni, and other key advocates strengthens engagement in critical, yet challenging conversations around the role of career training for humanities PhDs. Holism. To acknowledge the many roles graduate students play in addition to being students and scholars (such as family members, activists, and teachers), professionalization activities must address the “mechanical” elements of thriving in the workforce and facilitate critical discussions about graduate student experiences.These values permeate all of what Humanists@Work do and how we work to achieve our goals.
Stacy HartmanStacy Hartman | City University of New York
Stacy M. Hartman earned her PhD in German Studies at Stanford. While still at Stanford, under the mentorship of then-associate vice provost for graduate education Chris M. Golde, she organized the first “alt-ac speaker series,” which brought in staff members at Stanford with PhDs to speak to graduate students about their work. Upon finishing her degree in 2015, Dr. Hartman moved across the country to New York, where she served first as project coordinator and later as project manager for the Modern Language Association’s Mellon-funded program Connected Academics.At the MLA, Dr. Hartman was responsible for running the Connected Academics NYC Proseminar on Careers for New York-area PhDs in language and literature. She also organized intensive versions of the proseminar at the MLA Annual Convention in 2018 and 2019, as well as a department based version in collaboration with Professor David Porter at the University of Michigan in spring 2018. She has also worked extensively with faculty through the MLA’s summer seminars and as an institutional co-author on the Doctoral Student Career Planning Guide. Finally, she assumed primary responsibility for the MLA’s Possible Futures Career Fair in both 2018 and 2019.In November 2018, Dr. Hartman transitioned to the Graduate Center as director of the PublicsLab, a component of another Mellon-funded venture, “Transforming Doctoral Education in the Humanities for the Public Good.” At the PublicsLab, she will be responsible for mentoring and guiding a cohort of twelve Mellon Humanities Public Fellows through a 3-4 year fellowship program that will prepare them to put their degrees to work for the public good in a variety of ways. She will also support and amplify the public work that is already happening at the Graduate Center.She is also co-editing with her graduate school partner in crime Yevgenya Strakovsky, now at the Georgia Institute of Technology, a volume for the MLA on graduate education titled Mission Driven: Reimagining Graduate Education for a Thriving Humanities Ecosystem.

Thought Piece
Over the past several years, as my work on graduate education has evolved, one of the most disturbing trends that I have seen is how joyless graduate work is for so many people. There is no monetary reward for going to graduate school in the humanities (and, indeed, a lot of cost in the form of lost earnings and retirement savings), so one would hope that people who make that choice do so, in some sense, because of the joy they take in the work. By ‘joy’ I don’t mean pleasure, though I think there are pleasures to be found in humanistic study; no work is pleasurable all of the time. Rather, I mean a much deeper and more lasting satisfaction that is capable with of withstanding setbacks and hardship. This satisfaction comes from different places for different people, but in general, I believe it is related to feeling like the work you do matters not just to you, but to others, and not only for reasons such as hiring and promotion.

And this, I believe, is the source of the joylessness that is present in so much of graduate education in the humanities: the struggle on the part of students to see how their work really matters. This is what leads to existential crises, to floundering; coupled with often unsustainable financial situations and an uncertain future, I believe that this is what leads to the crisis in mental health that riddles all of graduate education, but especially the humanities. Does my work matter? Will my work matter? What is all of this for, anyway? These are the questions that graduate students ask themselves, and which graduate education too often does not help them answer. Those of us who work in graduate education must recognize that many of our students are deeply mission-driven; they care about the world and their communities and they want their work to have impact now. They don’t want to save the work that will matter for their “post-tenure project.” And moreover, they should not have to.

Jenna LayJenna Lay | Lehigh University
Jenna Lay is Director of Graduate Studies and Associate Professor in the English Department at Lehigh University, where she is also a College of Arts and Sciences representative to the Faculty Senate. Her research areas include early modern literature, women’s writing, and religion; her first book, Beyond the Cloister: Catholic Englishwomen and Early Modern Literary Culture was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2016. At Lehigh, Jenna served as the English department’s first job placement officer from 2013-2015, led a university task force on graduate education in 2016, and was the project director for Lehigh’s NEH Next Generation PhD Planning Grant in 2016-17. With Charles Mahoney of the University of Connecticut, Storrs, Jenna developed and led a preseminar workshop for directors of graduate study at the 2017 ADE Summer Seminar and a preseminar workshop on graduate curricula and careers at the 2018 ADE/ADFL Summer Seminar. She has also led workshops on career pathways for graduate students and faculty at a range of institutions, and has written on career advising for The Chronicle of Higher Education. Jenna is currently co-writing an essay with Emily Shreve of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas on graduate education in the humanities, entitled “Collaborative Ethics: Practicing Engagement in our Academic Communities.”
ryan_mcbride_2016Ryan McBride | Tulane University
Ryan McBride is an Administrative Associate Professor with the English Department and the Center for Public Service at Tulane University. For the past seven years he has designed and taught graduate seminars in community-engaged and public scholarship. He is the Director of a Graduate Program in Community-Engaged Scholarship, an interdisciplinary certificate program that brings together graduate students in the humanities, community leaders, and faculty for a multifaceted two-year cohort experience. The program supports participants as they connect their academic interests to new communities and work with those communities to develop cutting-edge, civically informed, ethically grounded, public scholarship.Thought Piece
One of the challenges of connecting academia to the larger world is finding ways to bring community leaders into the process. When we were designing our Mellon Graduate Program in Community Engaged Scholarship a central question was: how can we construct a program that allows graduate students and community leaders to develop meaningful relationships with one another? In the past we had regularly invited community leaders as speakers, but we found that we spent a significant amount of our time together just getting to know one another and just when we reached the point of understanding one another, the visit would be over.

We had a similar issue with faculty, who also visited or seminars as guest speakers. Some graduate students would follow up with them, but that was the exception rather than the rule. Initially the pilot program I developed had a stipend for faculty or community leaders who would be mentors. We have kept that but we now realize that graduate students need advising from a wide variety of sources and they’re not in a good position to find those advisors on their own.

For the past year two years we have had a call for community leaders and faculty to apply to be part of our program. Their positions last for two years and they work with graduate students who are also in the program for two years – they are with them from for their entire experience and together they form a cohort. The backbone of the program is now our monthly group-of-five meetings (three graduate students, one faculty member, and one community leader). We found that scheduling a monthly meeting of five was more difficult than we first realized, so we instituted a meeting once per month at a venue that is off the main campus (easier to get to for community leaders) where we provide food and child care for everyone. We are now working with 24 graduate students, 8 faculty, and 8 community leaders. We’re facing many challenges, but we’re finding this structure to be working better than anything we’ve tried in the past.

Maureen McCarthyMaureen McCarthy | Council of Graduate Schools
Maureen Terese McCarthy is the director of Best Practices and Advancement at the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS). She serves as co-PI of Understanding PhD Career Pathways for Program Improvement, a cross-institutional, interdisciplinary effort featuring 65 university partners. Maureen has led CGS projects on broadening professional development for humanities PhDs (#NextGenPhD) and the future of the doctoral dissertation. She recently authored a guide on promising practices and a review of prior work in humanities PhD professional development and has co-authored reports on holistic review in graduate admissions, PhD career pathways, and doctoral learning outcomes. Maureen earned her PhD in English from Emory University.
Molly McCarthyMolly McCarthy | University of California–Davis
Molly McCarthy is the Associate Director of the UC Davis Humanities Institute where graduate education and mentoring have become a key part of the institute’s programming. As a hybrid academic-administrator with a Ph.D. in American History (Brandeis University) and a Master’s in Journalism (Columbia University), McCarthy saw a need for more tailored career mentoring for graduate students in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. In 2014, the institute launched PhD Unlimited, a professional development workshop series aimed at helping students find meaningful careers wherever those jobs might take them. McCarthy also oversees the Mellon Public Scholars program, created in 2015, that invites graduate students to design and execute a community-engaged research project over the summer months. Mellon Public Scholars has proved to be a leading wedge in effecting culture change in UCD’s graduate programs thanks, in part, to the way it knits faculty into the fabric of the program and turns them into champions of public scholarship and new forms of scholarly training.Thought piece
I am often asked how students can explore the benefits of public scholarship if they don’t have access to a program like Mellon Public Scholars at their institutions. Students have begun to understand that they need to seek out more wide-ranging opportunities and get outside of their departments. Public scholarship is just one of many ways to do that. Public scholarship will position you well no matter your career track. Very recently, we heard from a Ph.D. candidate who was interviewed for a tenure-track position and all the hiring committee wanted to talk about was her community-engaged research project.

For those interested in getting a taste of public scholarship, here are a few suggestions:

  • Apply to be a PAGE Fellow through Imagining America.
  • Reach out to local cultural/arts organizations to see if there’s a project you could help with.
  • Visit your state humanities council webpage. California Humanities, for instance, has a Humanities for All quick grants program that is ripe for public scholarship collaborations with cultural and community organizations.
  • Find out where public scholarship is happening on your campus and connect with faculty or project directors.
davidnugentDavis Nugent | Emory University
David Nugent holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Columbia University, and is professor of anthropology at Emory University. He has done extensive theoretical and applied work in a variety of settings, from Latin America to East Africa to North America. His areas of specialization include: political and economic anthropology; race, ethnicity and nationalism; Latin America; agrarian society; and the anthropology of the state. Emory’s “Communities of Practice” initiative: piece
I am interested in exploring processes that would allow us to re-position the university with respect to the broader society of which it is a part.  This would entail moving away from the model of the 19th century German research university, upon which contemporary university structures in the US are based.  It would mean as well establishing pathways by which those who are involved in graduate education—students and faculty alike—can form novel ties with groups located beyond the university.  This in turn would mean exploring new forms of knowledge and knowledge production by taking as a point of departure the concerns of disadvantaged and marginalized populations.  It would also mean establishing mechanisms to ensure that academics are accountable to the populations they work among.  Taking steps that would make it possible for universities to engage directly with non-academic social worlds and interlocutors would help establish a new role for universities in contemporary life.  It would also help create new futures for students and faculty.
Jason PuskarJason Puskar | University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
Jason Puskar is Associate Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and the Associate Dean of the Graduate School. He works on American literature and culture from the late nineteenth to the early twentieth centuries, with emphasis on economic and business history, media studies, and the history of science and technology. He directed UWM’s large and diverse PhD program in English for four years, which includes a wide range of approaches to the discipline, from media studies to creative and professional writing. In that role, he served as PI for a first-round NEH Next Generation Planning Grant, which mobilized a diverse committee to begin reimagining humanities doctoral programs that are more publicly engaged, sensitive to student needs, and successful at preparing students for a wider range of careers. Currently, as Associate Dean of the Graduate School he is continuing those efforts by leading a team of faculty from Architecture, English, and History, who are beginning to implement a new, interdisciplinary Public Humanities Doctorates (PHDs) program that will span all three fields.

Thought piece
I received my doctorate from what amounts to a vocational training school, for it prepared its graduates for only one career, the professoriate. In terms of the breadth of professional training—and despite its Ivy League credentials—my doctoral program (like most others) may as well have been a welding academy. Today, comfortably situated as a research professor, I often have reason to decry attempts to vocationalize higher education too narrowly, but it is impossible to deny that my entire field has been narrowly vocationalized already. The vocation just happens to be my own.

My goal over the last few years has been to acknowledge this as the intellectual and practical impasse that is, and to persuade my colleagues here and elsewhere that the humanities will be better and stronger if we begin to reconceive our disciplines thoroughly, and to turn outward toward broader publics. Against those who object that doing so will endanger the humanities, I respond that the humanities already are in danger, but mostly from the inertia of conventionality.

At UWM we concluded that bold strokes are necessary, and soon. We need far more than alumni networks or better career counseling, though those will help. Through our NEH Next Gen planning grant, we became convinced that meaningful change will only happen with changes to the curriculum, and not just in ancillary measures like optional certificates that add time to degree, but in the core coursework requirements for the doctorate.

This can be a challenge, as some faculty perceive changes to the curriculum as an existential threat to the discipline. Fortunately, we have encountered surprisingly little resistance, so have felt emboldened to move rapidly. We are fortunate that UWM has a long tradition of embracing new approaches. UWM helped create the field of film studies almost a half-century ago, long before it was the norm, and the term “postmodernism” was coined in our walls. When the tradition is a tradition of adventurous change, everyone is a little less afraid about what might be lost.

So we have been working hard for two years to plan an interdisciplinary and publicly engaged doctoral program that includes Architecture, English, and History. Starting this spring, each of those departments will begin to develop special concentrations in what we are calling Public Humanities Doctorates (PHDs) that will leave no part of the curriculum untouched: new required and elective courses, required internships, modified language requirements, and even more flexible dissertation formats. Many of the details still have to be ironed out, but we already have begun implementing key components. Architecture’s “Field School” already involves students in collaborative neighborhood projects in which students work with local residents to better understand some part of our built environment. English recently created an innovative new PhD program in Rhetoric, Professional Writing and Community Engagement, which includes new courses and new faculty hires. And History has had been strongly committed to public history for many years, with almost a half dozen faculty working in that field, also including new faculty hires. On this solid foundation, we plan to build a more integrated, interdisciplinary, and innovative program that will preserve the very best of humanistic inquiry, make it more accessible to a broader public, and give our graduates more options in their careers.

It all starts with curriculum. Faculty own the curriculum, and once implemented, the curriculum justifies other structures of support. Alumni networks, career services, data gathering initiatives, and closer institutional ties to the broader community will be easier to justify once we have a curriculum that demands them.

kathryntempleKathryn Temple | Georgetown University
Kathryn Temple is an Associate Professor and former chair of the Department of English at Georgetown University where she has taught since 1994. Her research interests include law and humanities, law and emotion, and the history of emotions, mostly in the eighteenth-century Anglo-American context. She has contributed to humanities graduate and undergraduate education reform from a “Humanities for All” perspective. On the undergraduate level, this has included outreach to veterans and to the incarcerated through the Georgetown Loyola Castle and Pivot programs; on the graduate level, she has advocated for the humanities as the principal investigator for the Mellon-funded grant, Connected Academics at Georgetown, aimed at increasing career diversity for graduate students in the humanities. Recent projects include the launch of the Georgetown non-credit Graduate Certificate in the Engaged and Public Humanities, and the development of a Georgetown MA program in Engaged and Public Humanities.
Maria WisdomMaria LaMonaca Wisdom | Duke University
Maria LaMonaca Wisdom is the Director of Graduate Student Advising and Engagement in the Humanities at Duke University, and program director for Duke’s NEH Next Gen PhD grant (2016-19), Versatile Humanists at Duke. In her role as a supplemental advisor and mentor for 400+ doctoral students in the humanities and humanistic social sciences, Wisdom draws upon the full spectrum of a varied academic career, including her activities as a scholar of Victorian women’s writing, a tenured professor of English (Columbia College, SC), and executive director of the humanities center at UNC-Chapel Hill. Beyond advising, Wisdom is the lead administrator for the Versatile Humanists at Duke internship program for humanities PhD students, and a PhD innovation fund to foster graduate curriculum innovations.  She also co-directs the Mellon-funded Humanities Unbounded Teaching Fellows program, which pairs Duke humanities doctoral students with Durham Technical Community College instructors to enhance community college curriculum and pedagogy.

Thought Piece–My Philosophy
The longer I am engaged in the work of graduate education reform, the more convinced I am that empowering students and building community are at the heart of every effective intervention we’ve made. There are many talented faculty and staff engaged in this work, and as the NEH and Mellon projects show, there are many fantastic ideas out there. But nothing inspires and informs me more than what I see so many of our doctoral students at Duke already doing—through internships, interdisciplinary opportunities, pedagogy, public scholarship, the digital humanities. In so many cases, it is the students who lead the way, insist on what they need, and show all the rest of us what a graduate student can do and be. So often, graduate students are the best models and mentors for each other.Secondly, all of our best work has required community-building: collaboration and communication across university divisions, and empowering graduate students to identify and cultivate networks across (and beyond) the university. Too often graduate culture reinforces isolation, however, coupled with extreme dependency on a single advisor or subset of faculty. More intentional community building (and in more strategic ways) is needed.

Glenn WrightGlenn Wright | Syracuse University
Having worked variously in educational assessment, academic publishing, and higher ed administration since completing his PhD in English at the University of Michigan in 1997, Glenn was “alt-ac” before “alt-ac” was a thing. In his current role as director of programs for the Syracuse University Graduate School, Glenn develops programs and initiatives to support the professional development of graduate students. He provides oversight for Syracuse’s TA Program, English Language Proficiency Services for international students, and Future Professoriate Program (with roots in the national PFF effort). Glenn directs SU’s graduate-education-themed book publication program, the Graduate School Press, and is the editor of The Mentoring Continuum: From Graduate School through Tenure (2015).

Thought Piece–Taking the cantilever stairs to a rewarding career
When I was a graduate student in English in the late ‘90s, I needed summer employment and supplemental income. So I signed on to serve as a reviewer of writing portfolios submitted by incoming undergraduates at my institution, to see if they needed to take the freshman writing sequence or not. On the referral of a grad student friend, I began writing author profiles for the Contemporary Authors biographical digest series. Having corrected approximately 10 zillion undergraduate essays as an English TA, I aced several academic publishers’ editing tests and began taking on freelance copyediting (and later content editing) assignments.After two unsuccessful forays on the academic job market, I found myself in upstate New York, where my spouse had found employment. On the basis of my undergraduate writing portfolio assessment experience, I was able to get a temporary job as Chief Reader for the State of Massachusetts’ 8th-grade writing proficiency test (MCAS). I took a third and final run at the academic market, but was also looking for other jobs. With two campus visits pending, I was offered a job with the Assessment Unit at Regents (later Excelsior) College, paying $12K more than a faculty job I had recently not gotten. And since it was within walking distance of my home, I didn’t even need to buy a car, much less relocate from my infant son. Farewell, faculty career!Two years later I was laid off, and had to reactivate my connections in academic publishing for freelance work. I dipped a toe in the academic market and was offered a job at a community college in New Jersey. But at the same time a job as Acquisitions Editor at Syracuse University Press opened up, and since my freelance activities had made me a strong candidate, I was again spared relocation.In the fullness of time I was able to position myself as the ideal candidate for a job with the Syracuse university Graduate School that combined my English language assessment experience and my publishing background. This quickly metamorphosed into a higher-level position, as I absorbed the duties of colleagues who left.At this point, my professional career is pretty much on par, in terms of salary, respect, etc., with what it would have been had I landed a faculty job out of grad school, at the sort of institutions that were considering me. This is an encouraging tale for current PhD students, who have the opportunity to be more intentional about the process of providing themselves with varied career options than I was in my haphazard rooting about for a summer paycheck.Among the most elegant stairway designs is the cantilever stair, which allows one to ascend with the support of the preceding step, not any vertical foundation. It’s an apt analogy for the kind of incremental professional development that worked in my case—a modest opportunity put me in the running for something a bit better, and in three or four steps to secure a meaningful professional position utilizing the skills I had developed in grad school.There is a lot of interest now in internships for humanities PhD students, and that is a terrific idea. But internships are hard to create; they require a lot of work up front to design them well, and, unless there is funding involved, only a minority of PhDs will be able to prioritize such an experience over paid work. Departments, colleges, and Graduate Schools could be much more active in identifying and connecting PhD students with already existing or easily created work opportunities that touch, even if only peripherally, on employment sectors attractive to humanists. And we should encourage students to be strategic in pursuing a broad range of such experiences, especially in the context of their need for summer employment, from the moment they enroll.