What philosophers do … outside the academic world

As Rebecca Rosen says in The Atlantic“The romanticized version of what it’s like to be a philosopher must be one of the most appealing careers possible: read great thinkers, think deep thoughts, and while away the days in a beautiful office, surrounded by books, an Emeralite lamp, a hot mug of coffee, and perhaps a cat curled up by your feet.” But what about philosophers in the real world?

Helen De Cruz of New APPS: Art, Politics, Philosophy, Science interviewed seven philosophy Ph.D.s who have left academia for the private sector: Part 1: How and why do they end up outside academia?Part 2: What’s it like to have a nonacademic job?, and Part 3: Transferrable skills and concrete advice.

As Zachary Ernst, a software engineer at Narrative Science, puts it,  “As a professional philosopher, if you haven’t gotten over-specialized and narrow, then you’ve got really good analytic and communication skills. So you’ve got the ability to learn quickly and efficiently. You’re also in the habit of being very critical of all sorts of ideas and approaches to a variety of problems. And if you’ve taught a lot, then you’re probably pretty comfortable with public speaking. Those skills are very rare in almost any workforce, and they’re extremely valuable.”

 

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