For those of us interested in pursuing careers outside the academy, how do we learn and practice the skills required for these positions, find mentors, and create a network of others with the same goal? How do we take the values of the American Studies field - interdisciplinary scholarship, commitment to social justice, and resistance to systems of oppression - and apply these ideals to careers in K-12 education, public history sites, nonprofits, etc.? How can universities best support graduate students and faculty members interested in these positions? What resources and strategies for job hunting are most effective? How can ASA members who choose alt-ac paths maintain connections with fellow scholars?
This session hopes to discuss these questions in a dialogue format, bringing together those who are just beginning to search for alt-ac positions alongside those who have successfully made the switch. With panelists representing a variety of American Studies alt-ac careers, we will go beyond merely encouraging graduate students to consider alternative paths, and will present strategies for how to identity and practice skills for alt-ac careers, such as public speaking, presenting to general audiences, fundraising, and data analysis.
The ASA's 2019 theme, "Build As We Fight," must extend to and include scholars who have chosen non-traditional paths. We hope to further conversations about how to incorporate values of resistance and community, as well as pedagogies of interdisciplinary work, outside the academy.