ImaginePhD Project

A Career Planning Tool for the Humanities and Social Sciences

The ImaginePhD project seeks to bridge the knowledge gap between PhD training and the realm of career possibilities for humanities and social sciences PhDs.  To achieve this goal, ImaginePhD will provide advanced degree holders in the humanities and social sciences with an online tool modeled after myIDP, to encourage and inspire them to take the immediate next steps in their individual career exploration, to enhance their professional development, and to create related self-defined goals to achieve these steps. 
ImaginePhD will be an online tool that facilitates career exploration by inviting users to evaluate and reflect on their own skills, values and interests and to investigate related career options with unobstructed paths from the PhD (i.e. not requiring additional academic degrees or academic training, although on-the-job training may be appropriate in some cases).  An equally important component of the tool is its goal setting application, which enables the user to map out next steps for career and professional development.
After completing a self-assessment, users will be presented a set of related job families that complement their top skills and interests. Information will be provided about each job family to not only illuminate available career options but also to share resources that help prepare for the job search. These resources will help answer the common question “What Next?” and encourage users to plan ahead and hold themselves accountable to the ideas generated from using the tool. ImaginePhD will not be prescriptive but rather offer information and insights to facilitate career exploration and search process. Addition features will include: note-taking that becomes part of the user profile and available to draw on for goal setting, resources about the sixteen job families and career exploration strategies, as well as a guide to help users better identify and understand the transferable skills acquired throughout doctoral training. As career exploration and goal setting are iterative processes, the ImaginePhD project aims to provide a starting point rather than to facilitate closure on the career decision making process.
Project Deliverables:

  • Formation of nation-wide ad hoc committee under the auspices of the Graduate Career Consortium.
  • Development of 16 “job families” to encompass many of the career possibilities for humanities and social sciences Ph.Ds.
  • Creation of skills, interests, and values lists focusing on the needs of humanities and social sciences Ph.Ds.
  • Completion of experts’ survey to analyze the importance of the skills and interests in relationship to the 16 job families.
  • Commencement of site production on October 15, 2016. Click here to view the site mock-up. 
  • Preliminary funding of $25,000 secured. Estimated cost to build the complete tool is between $130,000 - $150,000, plus ongoing upkeep and maintenance costs.

Involvement Opportunities

Content and Resource Development:
Sarah Peterson, Chair |

  • We hope ImaginePhD will be a highly interactive and meaningful tool for users. As a GCC-driven project, we are hoping to leverage the strengths of our collective expertise as graduate career administrators to identify and curate existing resources among the membership, and as appropriate, create new content and resources. This group will be responsible for contextualizing the assessment element by providing information about career exploration, career decision-making, goal setting, career options, and industry trends/expectations for PhDs in the humanities & social sciences.

User Experience: 
Annie Maxfield, Chair |

  • This group acts as a feedback loop between potential users, tool designers and content creators to enhance usability, design, function, content and resources. Interest and access to humanities and social science PhDs to conduct focus groups, interviews, participant observation and surveys are a plus. This group will create platforms for stakeholder feedback, and communicate changes to the tool based on that feedback throughout the creation process, leading to stronger stakeholder buy in once the tool is launched.

Sponsorship Development: 
Teresa Dillinger, Interim Chair | | 530.752.7566

  • Identifies and connects with organizations and individuals who could provide financial support to build and maintain the tool. Assists with or writes grant proposals, creates connections, and contacts and meets with potential sponsors in support of the project.

Project Lead: 
Teresa Dillinger, Chair | | 530.752.7566

  • We appreciate your continued interest in the ImaginePhD project and look forward to hearing from you. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you have additional questions.

GCC Liaison:
Mike Matrone, GCC Executive Board Treasurer

Sponsorship Opportunity:
Additional funding is needed to build a personalized, dynamic, and interactive tool that benefits humanities and social science PhDs. Sponsorship is available at the following levels:

  • Platinum: $20,000
  • Gold: $10,000
  • Silver: $5,000
  • Bronze: $2,500

For additional information, please contact ad hoc committee chair, Teresa Dillinger,

Recent Presentations:
Annual GCC conference 2016

About the Project:
The ImaginePhD project is organized as an ad hoc committee under the auspices of the Graduate Career Consortium (GCC). For more than 25 years, the GCC has been the professional network of staff and administrators who provide professional and career development for PhDs and postdoctoral scholars at their universities and institutions.