Adventures in (Post) Gradland

Thoughts on life after the PhD


I started this blog in 2009 as a place to write and reflect on the day-to-day realities of getting a PhD in literature.

I managed to finish my dissertation and my PhD in 2012, but my academic job prospects were bleak. From 2011-2014 I was happily employed by a Japanese company that made educational products for children and adults, and though I tried to remain connected to the academic world through blogging, doing guest lectures, and keeping up with the latest research in my field, I generally considered myself post-ac.

Then in mid-2014 a university position became available, I applied, and I got it. I’m now happily employed at a university in Tokyo teaching a variety of classes and catching up on neglected research.

These days I hope this blog can just be a window into the life of someone who got a PhD but hasn’t exactly followed a traditional academic path. I try my best to keep up with the current (really, long-running) “crisis in higher education” and frequently post links and commentary related to that subject. You can also find my work on, Midnight Eye, the Electronic Journal of Contemporary Japanese Studies, and Eiga Files, a Japanese film website that I co-founded.

If you are considering applying to a humanities grad program, I recommend clicking on the “Good Reasons to Go” and “Bad Reasons to Go” links in the “Pages” section. I do my best to give it to you straight–something that isn’t often true of humanities grad program recruiters.

If you’re a grad student who’s stressed about about finding a job or just trying to figure out what your options are beyond academia, check out the “Grad Life” category, in particular a series of posts entitled “Alternative Academic Careers.” “Postacademic” is also one of my favorite blogs, sadly discontinued now, but a great archive of information for PhD’s employed inside and outside of academia. The Versatile PhD is also a great resource.

Comments and questions are more than welcome. You can also find me on Twitter (@NewsfromNihon).

6 comments on “About

  1. Anonymous
    April 25, 2012

    I like reading your blog. I’m an anthropology grad student from the Philippines and I’ve been trying to blog on grad life too. 🙂

  2. gradland
    May 19, 2012

    Thank you, good luck with the blogging!

  3. Erika
    July 23, 2012

    Hey I just saw your blog the other day and really like it! I’m trying to start a blog as a public health student in grad school but am struggling for topics during the summer. How do you come up with each of your topics?

  4. gradland
    July 23, 2012

    Hi Erika–good luck with your blog as well! I tend to choose my topics on a whim–if a particular article or media frenzy really grabs my attention then I’ll usually write about it, or if I feel like I genuinely have something to contribute to a discussion (if it’s a discussion about Japanese lit or film, or a discussion about non-academic jobs for PhD’s, for example). Other than that, though, I don’t have any detailed guidelines. These days I usually stay away from topics that have been discussed to death and that I really can’t offer any expert opinions on. I seem to be focusing most of my recent posts on fiction reviews and tidbits about post-PhD life–I do try to keep my posts SOMEWHAT focused on academia and books, but there are plenty of tangential posts. I have a backlog of posts on a lot of random subjects that I’ll get around to writing someday. ^_^

  5. Brooke
    September 30, 2014

    I really appreciate your blog. I’m currently an MA student in literature and while I’m not planning to go the PhD route, it’s really nice to see someone going the non-academia thing. Your blog is super helpful and interesting. Any tips for those planning on getting away from academia in marketing their literature degree?

  6. gradland
    October 1, 2014

    Hi Brooke! Hmmm…I guess it all depends on what job you’re going for. If you’re applying for a non-academic job (or a job that doesn’t specifically require a literature MA), think about the skills you gained, the tasks you performed, and the responsibilities that you had as an MA student and emphasize THOSE on your CV rather than the degree itself. Non-academic hiring committees may not care about your advanced degrees, but if you mention that you know your way around various kinds of software, or that you’ve put together conferences or book festivals, or that you’re an experienced researcher, that will likely make them look more favorably on you.

    Another thing I’ve learned is that the need for good writers and editors is vast, because so many otherwise intelligent and ambitious people are TERRIBLE writers–like, to the point that their writing is incomprehensible. So playing up your writing skills will almost always work in your favor.

    Good luck!

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