Philosophers who work outside of academia – part 3

A couple of weeks ago Helen de Cruz conducted in-depth interviews with philosophers who work outside of academia. This is a selection from the interview she had with me. Helen published the complete interview series at the New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science group blog: part 123.

Philosophers who work outside of academia – Part 3: Transferrable skills and concrete advice

The burning question of academics who want to leave academia is: What transferrable skills can they bring to the private sector? The responses of the seven people I interviewed clearly indicate that the skills that are transferrable are broad and fairly high-level. […]

Claartje van Sijl (self-employed counselor): “My education as a philosopher has taught me to continue inquiring at levels where others normally don’t; to question (hidden) assumptions and implications; to suspend judgment; and not in the least it has familiarized me with the greatest philosophical thoughts of 2500 years of history that I can now use as a sounding board for my clients’ and my own reflections. PhD research experience has offered a chance to learn things like complex information-, project- and time-management; writing (in English); independence, responsibility, pro-activity, perseverance. I use the personal PhD experience to recognize and empathize with my clients.” […]

Advice for seekers of non-academic careers

Claartje van Sijl offers specific advice for academics who are thinking about starting their own business “hone the entrepreneurial skills you already have as an academic: you are a creative thinker, self-starter with perseverance, used to positioning and presenting yourself as an expert. Most important of all is your great capacity for learning new stuff quickly: allow yourself to be a novice and make a lot of mistakes. Then just go and expand your horizon.” […]


Helen de Cruz concludes the blog with interviews with a word of caution she heard from several of the informants. Do not take a job outside of academia as a sign of failure or a fallback option: there are many ways to a successful and meaningful professional life. I could not agree more.


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