English & Writing StudiesWestern Arts and Humanities

Alt-Ac Careers

"Alt-ac" is the short name for "alternative academic careers"--forms of employment that mobilize the skill sets you develop in a graduate degree to work within universities in a range of positions beyond tenured and tenure-track faculty jobs. Several graduates of the Department of English's Master's and PhD programs have gone on to pursue exciting careers in the alt-ac stream and we have featured a few of their stories below.

To search for academic jobs, the following databases may be of use:

Academica Group's database of job postings within universities (not solely tenure-stream jobs): http://www.academicacareers.com/

Staff Positions at Western: http://uwo.ca/hr/working/staff/index.html

Aisha Haque, MA, Language and Communication Instructor, The Teaching Support Centre at Western
Alisha Haque

Alternative academic careers encompass both staff and administrative positions within the academy.  These positions fall outside the realm of traditional tenure-track faculty careers and can vary significantly in their roles, responsibilities, and required qualifications.  Most alt-ac positions include the following responsibilities: project management, communication with various groups across campus (students, faculty, administration, stakeholders, etc.), and program evaluation.

Many alt-ac jobs even require graduate level degrees and include a teaching, research, and publication component.  One example of an alt-academic field that bridges teaching, research, and administration is Educational Development – the advancement and support of teaching and learning in higher education. This is the area that I have pursued in my career since February 2013 when I returned to Western as an Instructor at the Teaching Support Centre after teaching at the college level for 3 years.

I was drawn to Educational Development because of my background in teaching and my desire to support pedagogical excellence in the university setting.  My graduate degree in the Humanities has equipped me with many of the core competencies required in my career, such as the ability to develop resources, write reports, and effectively conduct and present research.  In my role as coordinator of the Lead TA Program, I am further able to draw on my own TA experiences to better understand graduate student concerns.

If you’re interested in a career in educational development, get involved with the teaching centre at your university and sign up for the Society for Teaching and Learning in Higher Education (STLHE) listserv to keep up-to-date with job postings.  There have been over a dozen positions in Ontario alone this summer! If you have any questions about how your English degree can lead to a career in educational development or instructional design, feel free to contact me at ahaque23@uwo.ca.