What is Boot Camp? FAQs

What is Lilli Research Group Boot Camp for Post-Academic Job Seekers?

Boot camp is a 5 module course specifically designed for academic PhDs in career transition. When I left academia, I realized I had no idea how to find a job. Like so many PhDs, I began submitting my resume to postings I found on online job boards, thinking that my PhD would speak for itself. Spoiler alert: that doesn’t work. Submitting a resume works less than 5% of the time. Most people (not just PhDs) find jobs through networking.

While general job search tips and strategies work as well for PhDs as anyone else (network! Use a resume!), we academic PhDs aren’t trained to think in terms of what we do; we are very good talking about what we know. We need additional training to change how we think about what we do, how to talk about how we do, and how to effectively communicate our skills and knowledge to potential employers. That’s what boot camp helps you accomplish.

Boot camp is designed to help you figure out where you want to go next and how to get there. I really want to stress that point: you don’t need to figure out what you want to do with the rest of your life, just what we want to do next. The good news, or not so good news, depending on your personality, is that you probably won’t have one job, and you’ll probably try out a career path or two before you settle on something that feels right for you.

The Conference Board of Canada just released a study that found most PhDs take 3-5 years to settle into a career.   So, you’re not alone if finding a good post-academic job is taking time – that’s pretty normal. Maybe you think all you want to do is teach, but then you find out that teaching high school isn’t for you because dealing with parents is horrid, or that you really miss research. Maybe you think higher education administration is a good fit, but then realize you’re not really interested in managing people or programs. That’s o.k. and it’s part of the journey.

What you learn in boot camp can help you find new opportunities throughout the duration of your career. And, really, the hardest part is the transition from academic research and teacher to your first post-academic career. Once you’re working in non-faculty career paths, it becomes easier to imagine a new life for yourself, and to leverage past work experience into a new opportunity.

This is a lot of money. What exactly am I paying for?  

You’re getting 10 hours of one-on-one time with an expert in the field. While the basic structure of the course is set, you’re getting an individualized course that is specific to your needs and journey. In addition to the coaching time, you’ll work through assignments, which I’ll review and comment on. And, you’ll gain the confidence you need to find your next opportunity.

There are a couple of different payment options to help you afford boot camp.

Who have you worked with in the past?

I’ve worked primarily with social sciences and humanities graduate students and PhDs, although I’ve also worked with STEM PhDs. Former clients include current graduate students, adjuncts, post-docs, and faculty members who are unhappy in their tenure/tenure track jobs or were denied tenure. I’ve worked with people who are late 20s through late 50s.

What clients have in common is a shared uncertainty about how to begin a post-academic job search.   They might be unsure of their career interests; they have never written a resume; they think they have no transferable skills. This is where boot camp comes in.

We work through a series of career exploration activities, including the Strong Interest Inventory. We work together to identify your transferable interests and skills.   (You have the skills for a wide variety of jobs, but you might not like those jobs. That is why understanding your interests is as important as identifying your skills).   Then we craft professional documents, a LinkedIn profile, and how to use social media in your job search. We finish the course with the kicker: networking.   It’s next to impossible to land a job just by submitting your resume. You’ll to meet people and establish a personal relationship with them in order to get your foot in the door. That advice is not just for PhDs; that’s how most people find their jobs. My partner has an MBA from Duke and 15 years of IT experience. He’s someone you’d think could land a job tomorrow.   But, when we moved from DC to Denver, he spent several months networking before he found contract work and then that contract work led to a full time job. 

Wait …. months?

Yup, on average it takes 3-6 months to land an opportunity. It could also take longer if you have a very narrow goal in mind, or if you’re moving to a new city. During that time, you’ll have to network, talk to people, volunteer, and maybe even accept contract or part-time work.

You’re panicking, and I get it. We’ll come up with a plan for how you can pay your bills while you look for a full time job (if that’s what you’re after). But, if you have an adjunct position or a postdoc, it’s best to use the last 3 or so months to start the job search process. I know it’s next to impossible to look for jobs while you’re finishing your dissertation, but if you can carve out even just 5 hours a week, you’ll be that much further ahead when you graduate.

Do people get jobs after boot camp?

The success of boot camp depends on you. Many clients have successfully made the transition. They pound the pavement and network like crazy. Some people have landed opportunities within a couple of weeks, other people have taken longer, and others have chosen to remain in academia, knowing that if they want to leave, they can.   I’m not a recruiter and I don’t find jobs for you. I’m here to teach you the skills to find your own opportunity, so it is up to you to implement what you’ve learned. But I’m here to help you, encourage you, and provide you with support.

What happens after boot camp?

Once you’ve finished boot camp, if you want to keep working together, you can sign up for flexible coaching. We’ll meet for 30 minutes every week or every-other-week. We’ll set goals and I’ll hold you accountable, but I’ll also encourage, strategize, and help. We’ll revise your professional documents and brainstorm ways for you to connect and meet new people. You won’t have to go at this alone.

So, is boot camp for me?

The best way to determine this is to sign up using the contact form below for a free 30 minute consultation. We’ll talk about where you’re at in your job search process and what your goals are.  (It’s o.k. if the answer is “I have no idea …).

If you’re already very advanced in your job search process (you know how to talk about your skills to employers; you have a solid resume; you worked outside of academia before), then you might not need the full boot camp. You can choose selected modules and then we can move into flexible coaching to help keep you on track while you look for a job.