Adventures in (Post) Gradland

Thoughts on life after the PhD

Some Good News: Google Hiring Humanities PhD’s

Via The Times Higher Education, we learn that there is at least one place on the planet where humanities PhD’s have some value.

The article claims that Google specifically wants to hire thousands of humanities PhD’s, who among other things “had learned stamina and how to focus and listen” during the course of their degrees.

On the one hand, I’m thrilled that a major corporation like Google is acknowledging the value of high-level, long-term research and learning. For the many PhD’s out there who decide to seek work outside the academic sphere, I sincerely hope that other companies will begin to recognize the value of a PhD and not just dismiss doctoral students as overqualified eggheads.

I’m not sure that a lot of humanities PhD’s are going to want the jobs that Google is offering, though. Developing user interface? A vital and essential job, to be sure, but not for me. Creating all those daily Google “doodles” that “have spelled out the firm’s name with fragments of Salvador Dali’s paintings or dance movements by Martha Graham” and “invariably drew on extensive academic research”?

That actually sounds awesome, now that I think about it.

All in all, very happy that Google is hiring, and hope that the jobs in question offer PhD’s the chance to be creative, challenge themselves intellectually, and make a living wage. But this quote, from a successful technologist who went back to school to get a PhD, made my skin crawl:

“‘There is little you can do that would be a surer path to leaping dramatically forward in your career’ than doing a humanities PhD.”

Uh, no. Sorry. Thanks for the good news and all, but no.

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This entry was posted on May 23, 2011 by in (post) Grad life and tagged , , .
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