The Work Seminar

The Work Seminar

The Work Seminar is the podcast for people with liberal arts advanced degrees considering work outside their fields of study. Join me for unscripted conversations with MAs, MFAs, PhDs, and the like who made the leap to adjacent or (seemingly) unrelated work after grad school. You'll hear about life's unexpected turns, what guests have learned along the way, their thoughts and advice for finding enjoyable work, and work's role in their lives.


October 19, 2022 2 mins

And once again, a semester of The Work Seminar comes to an end. We’ll return with Season 4 after the break. 

In the meantime, here’s hoping you’ve learned as much from these conversations as we have. See you back here in 2023. 

Don’t be a stranger in between seasons

Send your questions, thoughts on the show, and guest suggestions to

Wanna leave us a tip? Treat us to a virtual coffee on our Ko-fi page


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Zakiya's debut book Dump Your Degree is a practical guide for thinking beyond academic credentials as you pursue a new career. And she’s followed her own advice, transitioning from the professoriate (with a PhD in religious education) to full-time author.

We delve into her methodology through a step-by-step example of:

  • considering different work after or during grad school
  • reflecting on and discovering your natural interests,...
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Judith finished grad school with a passion for increasing student retention. As she spent more time — and moved up the ladder — in higher ed administration, she became equally committed to expanding access.

And she did, indeed, make retention and access top priorities in positions across student affairs, development, and international education. But what appeared to be a perfect career progression on paper was not in practice. 


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A self-branded writer/poet, Austin relished the opportunity to hone his creative skills in grad school. And he was open to divergent work after graduation.

Just as he found his footing as a copywriter and social media strategist at a small marketing agency, the Great Recession reared its head, ending his gig six months after he started. 

And that marked Austin’s last full-time job.  

The freelancing he began during a rough economy mor...

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Jackie held down six (six!) part-time jobs after grad school. But a couple years into her first full-time gig, her art and career hit a lull. 

That’s when she started devoting her commute time to learning everything she could about digital marketing. In relatively short order, she secured a full-time marketing position at a small agency. And she started focusing on her art in the early mornings, soon joining a shared studio space wh...

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Jesan pivoted from student affairs leadership to entrepreneurship in a novel fashion: He started with revisiting his grad school curriculum. 

After combing through the syllabi from his master’s program, Jesan thought, “I could take that topic and turn it into a product.” And so he did, marketing his conflict resolution and reconciliation skills to business audiences willing to pay for them.

From his early solopreneur days o...

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A future of intellectual exploration and research drew Tory to grad school. But two seasons of an unfruitful tenure-track search prompted her to question what she wanted out of work — and where she wanted to do it.

After 40 or 50 informational interviews with anyone willing to chat about their careers, Tory landed a data science role in Silicon Valley. She soon discovered a passion for coaching as she mentored her employees.

In May 2...

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July 27, 2022 2 mins

And once again, we’ve reached a temporary end.

After a little rest, The Work Seminar will return with Season 3. 

In the meantime, here’s hoping you’ve learned as much from these conversations as we have. See you back here this fall. 

Don’t be a stranger in between seasons

Sign up for The Work Seminar newsletter to find out first when Season 3 drops.

Check out our store for all the books mentioned in our first two seasons.


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Jon taught guitar lessons — including to, once upon a mid/late 90s time, yours truly — while finishing his liberal arts degree. Not long after graduation, his passion for animal rights drew him to leave teaching music for advocacy, and he’s worked full-time in the field ever since. 

In his first 10 years of advocacy work, Jon played guitar and wrote tunes on the side, telling himself one day he’d take music more seriously. Then in 2...

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Amie studied fine arts with no intention of working professionally in the field. She took office jobs during college, and shortly after graduating parlayed that experience into a full-time job for a clinical research company. 

Without a technical background, she was moved to the company’s quality team. And she’s flourished in that discipline ever since.

Amie graciously walks us through the ins and outs of moving to a technical career...

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Before Brian hired employees to support his three businesses, he was a solo practitioner in the payroll and financial services space for six years. 

And in today’s bonus episode, we’re tapping into Brian’s 10+ years of experience helping self-employed clients get off the ground. Brian dives into the realities of starting your own business, including: 

  • How to prepare for entrepreneurship before making the leap.
  • Passion vs. practica...
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Laura’s multipotentialite mother inspired so much in her life: a love of learning, culture, language, and academic achievement. 

But a few years into her PhD in Victorian literature, Laura doubted that a tenured professorship was within reach. Or that it was the lifestyle she wanted. 

Thanks to intensive soul-searching and working with a coach, she gained clarity into potential careers, finished her dissertation earlier than the bulk...

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Halfway through her doctoral program, Megan knew pursuing a professorship wasn’t the right path. She loved her studies, but seeing how her work could be applied in industry cemented her decision to look outside higher ed for career prospects.

Enlightening conversations with friends and colleagues in the tech scene led Megan to discover the then-nascent user experience (UX) field. One particular chat crystalized UX research as the pe...

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Before Joe founded and sold Content Marketing Institute, wrote six books, and returned to entrepreneurship with The Tilt, he exemplified the liberal arts stereotype: a master’s in hand and uncertainty ahead.  

After earning his MA, Joe decided against a PhD and opted instead to find work in internal communications. But that plan hit a snag when hiring managers balked at his lack of experience. 

He turned to temping, and six months la...

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Dr. Chris Brooks was in the thick of his dissertation when he co-founded Brown Venture Group, a venture capital firm exclusively for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous technology startups. On top of that, he worked a full-time job and took his commitments as a spouse and father of four seriously. 

But what sounds like extreme sacrifice to us was “being obedient to my calling” to Chris. And that calling? Creating a new case for human flou...

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Boredom at her job, coupled with aspirations to become the next Maxwell Perkins, inspired Heather to enroll in an MA in writing and publishing program. 

While she spent time in educational publishing during grad school, a move to the West Coast after graduation meant fewer employers in her field of choice — and field of study. 

In short order, Heather landed at Amazon, which serendipitously served as her intro to marketing. She soon ...

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Jonathan’s pursuit of an MFA was “totally mercenary.” After making little headway in his career or with his oil paintings post college, he realized his penchant for writing could be lucrative (and creative). 

Several years later, with his master’s finished, Jonathan was at a work party when his boss made an offhand remark that sparked another epiphany: If he kept working for others, he’d likely never get a larger piece of the prover...

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A self-described “case study in never deciding what I wanted to be when I grew up,” David found himself working in counseling before and after completing his MA in religion. It wasn’t the right fit, but at the time, he couldn’t quite articulate the underlying reasons why. 

Then four years after grad school, his career moved in mysterious ways. The state changed its professional licensure requirements for counseling, meaning David co...

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Amanda’s passion for public finance harkens back to her undergrad days. Yet before grad school, she had never intended to pursue applied public policy work. 

Her interest in social theory and the effects of capitalism in international aid and development led her to pursue an MA in geography. After finishing her thesis on post-earthquake reconstruction efforts in Haiti, she landed a job researching Illinois’ public pension systems.


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Anthony had every intention to work as a professional anthropologist. But after finishing his PhD and teaching for a few years, that desire changed. 

His decision to leave higher ed led to a different higher calling: joining the priesthood of the Coptic Church. 

Once again, Anthony thought he’d found meaningful work he couldn’t imagine leaving. But three years after his ordination, serving in the Coptic Church turned out not to be a ...

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