Think Like an Entrepreneur
Wednesday, February 3, 2016 at 1:38PM
By Staff Writers in Advice, Non-Academic Jobs, Resources, career, entrepreneur, grad student, graduate student, resource, uc santa barbara, ucsb, vitae
As a graduate student, you may think of yourself as more of an apprentice than an entrepreneur. However, intellectual entrepreneurs (such as those engaged in academic research) are those who "take risks and seize opportunities, discover and create knowledge, innovate, collaborate, and solve problems in any number of social realms," according to Richard Cherwitz, a professor in the rhetoric department at the University of Texas at Austin.

In a recent article on Vitae, James Van Wyck encourages graduate students to apply to their career preparation the same entrepreneurial spirit they apply to their academic research. By thinking more like an entrepreneur (or a professional, CEO or revolutionary) and less like an apprentice, graduate students can better prepare themselves for a range of fulfilling and meaningful careers. Van Wyck gives some practical steps you can take:
  1. Begin by evaluating your relationship with your graduate adviser. Even if you have the best of advisers, she can’t help as much when it comes to alt-ac or compatible careers. Run your career search with the help of multiple advisers – an informal board of directors, if you will.
  2. Reject any discourse that figures your career using static metaphors. It’s not all or nothing. It’s not academe or bust. The idea of careers inside, outside, or even beyond higher education may not make sense when you’re in the middle of your career.
  3. Be aware of career choices made by osmosis. If you only hang with one group, you’re likely to absorb the norms of that group. So do a quick diagnosis: Whom do you associate with on a regular basis? Are they a diverse bunch with varying career goals?
  4. Learn to engage with people outside your field and the university setting. If you are going to strike out in new directions, you’ll need to get used to interacting with people who may never have thought of hiring or collaborating with a Ph.D. Familiarize yourself with organizations and people with whom you might like to work by regularly setting up informational interviews.
  5. Don’t only shift your attitude – act like an entrepreneur. Allow for more career possibilities by adjusting your habits, expanding your networks and diversifying what you make. Look up key characteristics of an entrepreneur and then cultivate a checklist of ideas that make sense for you and your discipline.
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Article originally appeared on The GradPost at UC Santa Barbara (http://archive.gradpost.ucsb.edu/).
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