First why would you want to apply for this program? You are pursing a PhD in the humanities and you want to go onto the tenure track and be a professor, right? Well, maybe. Perhaps you have realized that research isn’t your thing. Or maybe you don’t like teaching. While you may love research and teaching, reports from recent PhDs about the challenges of the tenure track job market may have you thinking that you need a plan B or there may be something that has changed in your personal circumstances and pursuing the tenure track career trajectory is no longer the right thing for you to do. What are you to do? In your PhD, you have been trained to teach, research, and write. Are you qualified to get a job doing anything else? Yes, you are qualified and an opportunity such as the Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program can help you to explore non-tenure track options and prepare materials for non-tenure track jobs.
Second, what is this program about? The Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows program is a great opportunity for recent PhDs in the humanities to explore non tenure track career options and for employers to see first hand the contributions that humanities PhDs can make to their organization. Whether you plan to go onto the tenure track or not, this is a great opportunity for a new kind of work experience.
Third, who would you be working with? Each year, a different set of organizations apply to host a fellow. Here you can see the list for this year’s competition. When you apply, you are applying to a specific organization for a specific position. Review the list carefully and consider the opportunity that most interests you.
Fourth, how do you apply? The application period is open and the deadline to apply is March 22, 2017, through the ACLS website. The application process in itself is a good reason to apply if for no other reason that it will give you a chance to practice writing non academic job application materials. The application package includes writing a resume and cover letter and submitting 2 letters of recommendation. You may have practice in crafting a CV but a resume may be new to you. There are a lot of good resources online to help you understand the difference between a CV and a resume and how to craft a resume. The cover letter should be written specifically for this application and this is your opportunity to explain to the reviewers why you are interested in the position and how your training has prepared you for the experience. During our meeting with the Program Director, he shared some excellent advice. Use the letter to make the case for why you are the best person for the position. Explain your motivations and experiences in a way that it will make sense to the reviewer that this would be the next step in your career trajectory.
Finally, if you are still early on in your PhD and this opportunity interests you, what can you do now to prepare to be a competitive candidate in a few years? In addition to your graduate program of study and gaining teaching experience, it would be a good idea to seek out other work program opportunities that would expose you to working in administrative capacities. Examples of the kind of work that you could do include applying to participate in the PLDI program or applying to work with GradFund as a Peer Mentor or Fellowship Advisor.
If you do plan to apply for the program this year, start your application now. It is due on March 22nd and you want to give yourself enough time to write the most competitive application that you can.