Towards Career Clarity: Opportunities for Humanities Students

Originally written by Laura N. Schram (Public Humanities Initiatives, Rackham Graduate School) for the Public Humanities section of the Discover Rackham blog in November 2015

Do you have a career path that you are interested in learning more about? Is there an organization that you would like to collaborate with on a small project? If so, Rackham has a program for Humanities students to pursue short-term career engagement and mentorship opportunities. Looking back at my experiences as a graduate student, I now see how several brief, focused commitments led to more career clarity and important positioning for my current career path.

For example, when I was a doctoral student in the Political Science department, I always found the most joy in teaching and talking about teaching with colleagues. I was drawn to activities like being the Graduate Student Mentor in my department and giving feedback in the English Language Institute’s pedagogy course (ELI 994). At the end the semester, one of the ELI course facilitators asked if I had considered applying to the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) Graduate Teaching Consultant (GTC) program, a program designed to create a safe and confidential space for GSIs to consult with peers about their teaching. I immediately was intrigued, and applied for a GTC position. The GTC group was an amazing group of instructors who cared deeply about pedagogy and supporting other instructors – I thrived in it as a learning community and began to see that I wanted to pursue this kind of role in the next stage of my career. I initiated informational interviews with educational developers at CRLT and elsewhere and attended the national conferences for educational development. It was through this series of smaller engagements that I developed confidence and career clarity.

In my role as Academic Program Officer at Rackham, I now have the good fortune to shepherd a program that provides a structure for Humanities doctoral students to plan their own brief experiences to learn more about the workplaces, projects, research and other opportunities involved in a career context of interest to them. The program began in summer 2015 with specific opportunities at a wide range of sites – from CRLT to foundations. As the program expands, we have decided to also invite students to propose their own sites for career exploration. Once students complete their immersive experience, Rackham also provides the option to consult with a career development counselor to debrief the experience and identify next steps. It is an amazing program for Humanities doctoral students looking to explore career possibilities.

If you are looking to explore a career option or to approach a potential career mentor, please consider applying to the Mellon Public Humanities Immersive program. Applications are accepted year-round. Please submit all materials to Please indicate in the body of your e-mail your name, e-mail address, graduate program, and your Immersive site of choice. Please also attach a current CV.