The Out-Ac Team

Dr. Viviane Callier

Dr. Viviane Callier

Viviane Callier is a scientist turned science writer. She currently writes for the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Communications and Public Liaison, and freelances part-time. Having been a contractor for the federal government for three years, she has a solid understanding of the many options available to scientists in the federal government and in the government-contracting world, which include careers in science writing, policy, diplomacy, technology transfer, regulatory affairs, and program management. She is excited to help recent STEM PhDs pursue opportunities in these areas.

As a freelance writer, she has written op-eds and news articles for a variety of places including Science, The Atlantic, New Scientist, and others. She has written about biomedical training, funding, and workforce issues for Nature, The Scientist, Chronicle Vitae, among others. She is an associate editor for the National Postdoctoral Association’s POSTDOCket newsletter. Using her freelance writing and editing experience, she enjoys coaching recent PhDs of all backgrounds who are interested in becoming freelance writers.

She graduated summa cum laude from Mount Holyoke College; was a Churchill Scholar at Cambridge University, and earned her Ph.D. in biology at Duke University, before doing a postdoc at Arizona State University. She has published several peer-reviewed articles, including first-author papers in Science and PNAS. @vcallier on Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Viviane’s Consulting philosophy:

As scientist who departed the lab bench not too long ago, I have a clear idea of the challenges faced by graduate student and postdocs in the biological and biomedical sciences. My own departure was precipitated by a re-examination of my values and a search for how I could build a life that is consistent with those values.

I believe the key to alt-ac success is to dig deep and understand the motivations that underlie your goals. For example, if your goal was ever to become a tenure-track professor, your underlying motivations might be things like: the freedom to work on questions you find interesting; the ability to control your own schedule; the prestige/recognition; the money (just joking). The thing is, the tenure track is not the only place you can get these things.

In my current life, freelancing provides me with the intellectual freedom that I loved in academia; my government contracting job pays better than a postdoc, provides a steady stream of work and income, and provides networking opportunities on the NIH campus. The approach I’ve taken is to identify the specific things I value (needs that I want my work to satisfy), and then find ways of assembling work from a variety of sources that will fulfill each of those needs.

As an alt-ac consultant, I will help you systematically identify your values, and help you to find ways to build a work life that is compatible with these values. Then, I’ll provide practical guidance and support for making your transition, networking, building relevant experience, applying for jobs. For those interested in freelancing, I will coach you on pitching and writing for a variety of publications.

Dr. Vania Cao

Dr. Vania Cao

Vania Cao is a neuroscientist, strategic communicator and enthusiast in many other fields, with professional experience in writing, reporting, video creation and more.  She received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Brown University and the National Institutes of Health Graduate Partnerships Program in 2013, and is a published writer and illustrator in a variety of mediums.  She has written articles for newspapers, interviewed fellow scientists, deans and ambassadors, authored white papers and product descriptions, written blog posts for startups and recorded voiceovers.  Scientific illustration and 3D modeling are among her professional artistic skills, along with digital painting and video editing.  She sings for fun, and has hosted and MCed a variety of different events.  Vania transitioned out of academia after graduate school, and loves her job managing scientific content and training at a biotech startup in Silicon Valley.  She firmly believes that the value of scientific know-how packaged in real world skillsets is a devastatingly effective way to launch any graduate’s career, but that especially for those who have primarily wet lab research experience, it’s extremely important to begin preparing for possibilities and opportunities beyond the bench as soon as possible!|

Check out my publications and work on my LinkedIn Page:, or tweet me @vaniacao

Vania’s Consulting Philosophy:

When you feel like your research skillsets aren’t able to help you get started in a career away from the bench, this can be frustrating and terrifying, especially when you feel alone in your struggles.  But never fear; you’re definitely not alone!  I’m ready to discuss your background, concerns and ideas, and help you put together a concrete action plan to explore your options in tangible ways.  Let’s improve your writing, interview skills, and most importantly, change the way you think about yourself and your options moving forward.  I have counseled both native and visiting scholars about their career paths and interests, and have edited and coached on how to create effective cover letters and resumes.  Have questions about what kinds of skills employers care about?  Wondering what to focus on in interviews?  Need advice on how to deal with different relationships that affect your career progress?   Curious about the realities of working out in the “real world” with cubicles and coworkers?  Let’s get started!

Dr. Karen Cardozo

Karen Cardozo first worked in higher education as a career counselor at Harvard in the 1990’s and returned to that field at Williams College twenty years later in 2012.  In between, she completed her Masters in Higher Education Administration at Harvard in 1993 and a PhD in English/American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2005.  Before, during and after the PhD she worked as a dean at Mount Holyoke College and taught a total of 18 discrete courses including ethnic, gender, film, literary and trauma studies across the Five College Consortium (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith and UMass). Currently she is Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies (tenure-track) at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in the Berkshires, where she hopes to model the academic freedom to which all faculty should be entitled regardless of job status.  Karen identifies primarily as a developer of whole human beings, and tries to be one herself by meditating, spending time with her husband and sons, hiking with her dog Sadie, and making music with her folk-rock band (  Read more about Karen’s bio in this autobiographical post.  Contact Karen at  Find her at LinkedIn here.

Karen’s consulting philosophy:

With a Masters in Higher Education Administration and a variety of work experiences on 8 different campuses (R1 and SLACs, public and private, single-sex and coed), I have significant institutional knowledge and expertise on Alt-Ac careers as well as related diversity issues. As a generalist MBTI-certified former career counselor, I’m also well-suited to offer a robust diagnostic approach to broader career change possibilities. And because I’m an interdisciplinary scholar currently located in the tenure system, I am well-placed to help you consider the comparative merits of academic versus nonacademic jobs, as well as the transferable potential of your scholarly background. Finally, as an aspiring yogi, singer-songwriter, and parent, I can empathize with and support your larger efforts to compose a satisfying and meaningful life.

Dr. Maggie Gover

Maggie Gover serves as the Director for Professional Development at the University of California, Riverside.  Her career is dedicated to helping students successfully complete their graduate degrees and then transition into successful professional lives.  As such, she has quite a bit of experience helping students identify industries in which they may be successful and describing their graduate careers in ways that might be attractive to those industries.  While she is most knowledgeable in alternative academic jobs, she has helped students transition into private industry, government, and non-profit jobs as well.  Maggie’s service to students began when she was an undergraduate at the University of Southern California where she served as an intern in the Office of Admissions.  While she was completing her Master’s degree at the University of Oxford she served as a Junior Dean at St. Hilda’s College.  When she was a PhD candidate at UCR she was the Coordinator for Academic Preparation and Outreach and then the Graduate Student Mentorship Program Coordinator. While she is now primarily an administrator, she is still researching and publishing in theories of new media and 19th C visual sciences.  Get in touch with Maggie at

Maggie’s Consulting Philosophy:
I am a strong supporter of graduate education and think that society benefits from having those incredibly creative and analytic minds in diverse industries.  I want to help students find careers that are satisfying to them and in which they will excel.  Remember that no career search is easy!  It will take hard work, knowledge, dedication, and perseverance.  However, the great joy of working with graduate students is that they have dedication and perseverance in spades!  You bring that to the table, and I can help with the knowledge.


Dr. Darcy Hannibal

Dr. Darcy Hannibal

Darcy Hannibal is a behavioral biologist, primatologist, and anthropologist working in applied
primatology on the welfare of captive primates. Her non-traditional career path, post-PhD, started with a continuation of the data consulting work she began while in graduate school, followed by a staff job as a data analyst and laboratory manager at the University of California Davis. She is currently an Assistant Project Scientist in the Department of Population Health & Reproduction at the University of California Davis. Darcy loves working in an on-campus academic job outside of the tenure track, where she gets to work with interesting people and monkeys on a variety of fascinating projects. Along with writing publications and grants, she manages behavioral research projects, which includes recruiting, hiring, and supervising laboratory staff. In addition to mentoring the staff she works with on their career goals and development, resumes, and cover letters, she has reviewed hundreds of job applications and conducted interviews as a prospective supervisor. Darcy sees the mistakes PhDs make when applying for non-academic jobs and she can help you avoid them. Find Darcy at:  @DarcyHannibal and Linkedin:

Darcy’s Consulting Philosophy:

Our academic training, hobbies, and other experiences provide us with skills that can translate to non-academic jobs, but it takes some preparation to re-orient yourself and become a contender for these jobs. Your plan B is someone else’s plan A, so you need a B-game brought up to an A-game level. If you are feeling confused and reticent about how and where to start, I can work with you to identify potential career paths and develop an individualized career strategy based on your background, interests, and skills. I am here to help you re-craft your CV and academic letter into a resume and cover letter that will get you interviews for the jobs you want. The best cover letters, resumes, and interviews come from a combination of succinctly presenting who you are as a professional and doing your homework to find out what and who are behind the job ad. There are probably at least a handful of niches you could fill in any one job and love it, but there is one niche a prospective employer most wants to fill and it usually is not obvious from the ad alone. Your best shot at filling a position for a job you would love, is to fine tune your application materials and interviewing skills to make you an obvious top choice for it. Whether you are from a science, social science, humanities, or other background, the principles I employ to help you shift from an academic to a non-academic career path are largely the same. Working with you on your next step forward will be a rewarding and fun venture for both of us.


Dr. Lisa Munro

Lisa Munro holds a PhD in modern Latin American history from the University of Arizona (2015). She considers herself a historian-practitioner, editor, and writer. She recently made the leap to full-time self-employment. She provides editing, writing coaching, and teaching for academic and non-fiction writers.

In addition to helping writers tell their stories, she also helps people in transition tell new stories about themselves and envision new futures. In her post-ac life, she blogs about the emotional process of transitioning out of academia and the discovery of creative, joyful, and fulfilling career possibilities outside of academia.

She has a particular interest in supporting people through emotional process of healing after grief and trauma. She has worked with people in Guatemala traumatized by decades of state violence and with victims of violent crime as an advocate. Both experiences have led her to expand public conversations on  issues of identity loss and trauma inherent to leaving the academic life, as well as sparked a deep interest in how people tell their personal stories and integrate new experiences and unexpected journeys.

In addition, she has held a number of non-academic jobs, including being a veterinary technician, a Peace Corps volunteer in Guatemala, a patient representative in a bilingual hospital office for uninsured patients, a study abroad assistant, a temp in non-profits, a crime victim advocate, and most recently,  a disaster mental health responder in Puerto Rico.

In 2018, she’s organizing writing retreats, online classes, and dedicating more time to her own writing. Current projects include writing an emotional guide to the writing process, several unfinished novels, an academic book manuscript, and a weekly blog about trauma, transitions, and healing. Her focus word for the upcoming year is THRIVE.  See more about her philosophy in this guest post: Leaving Academia: Learning to Grieve and this one:
Leaving Academia: The Trauma of Identity Loss (Website)  @llmunro (Twitter) @lisamunrophd (Facebook) (LinkedIn)

Coaching Philosophy

I strive to create empowering and safe spaces for people to explore new options and ideas. I believe that people are their own best experts on their work, lives, and experiences. I’m at my absolute best when I’m helping people get into the driver’s seat of their lives and supporting them in their efforts to make decisions in their own best interests.

I believe that self-knowledge is self-power. Too often our deep values, beliefs, and talents become crushed under our academic personas. Only by rediscovering who we really are and what we really want can we move forward to become the people we were meant to be. I want to know who you are, what you value, and what you want.

I encourage people to think bigger than academia. I urge people to get out into the world and volunteer, do informational interviews, and  think hard and deep about what they really love and want. I want people searching for new career options to use their deepest desires to create a life and career that they love more than they loved academia.

Leaving academia and stepping into the post-ac life often requires a period of grief, adjustment, and healing. The aftermath of leaving the academic life for the unknown is often confusing, messy, and full of unexpected turns. However, our greatest moment of crisis often turns into our greatest moment of opportunity.

I’m passionate about supporting people through difficult emotional processes. Working with victims of violent crime and state-sponsored violence showed me how the stories we tell ourselves are often the most powerful. I don’t believe that we ever get over loss or trauma; we’re healing and moving forward when start to tell our new post-ac stories in ways that empower us.

Storytelling also influences my approach to crafting  job materials, which, after all, are just stories about ourselves. I work with job seekers to tell their stories (especially the scattered ones) in ways that make sense to employers as coherent and powerful narratives that highlight people’s originality and strengths.

I value compassion, critical thinking, and creativity.

Dr. Margy Thomas

Margy Thomas, Ph.D., helps people distill their knowledge and skills into cohesive, articulate, distinctive stories. Since early 2013, she has run her own academic writing consultation and editing service, ScholarShape, LLC, where she works with academics around the world and across disciplines on turning their research into compelling publications. Through TPII, she applies this same skill to helping academics articulate, in written form, the work they do (and want to do) beyond the academy.

Margy’s consulting philosophy:

In one-on-one out-ac consultation with Margy, she’ll help you define and articulate the unique value you have to offer the world. You’ll work together to plan, draft, and revise copy for your website, marketing emails, and other important documents that communicate your urgent and authentic message to the world outside the academy. She’ll help you find just the right words to connect with potential clients, customers, and contacts, and move your out-ac career forward.  NOTE: Services with Margy are typically booked 6 – 10 weeks in advance.

Dr. Jessica Langer

Jessica Langer holds a PhD in English and is CEO of ideas in flight, a social media and digital marketing agency that specializes in strategy, training and implementation for SMEs. A veteran marketer with a decade’s experience in the field and a seasoned lecturer who’s been teaching since 2006, Jessica currently runs her business full-time and teaches in the Department of Marketing at the Schulich School of Business at York University and in the McMaster-Syracuse Master of Communications Management program. She is also devoted to helping her PhD-holding peers find paths out of academia and into fulfilling, sustaining work in the ‘outside world’.  Check out some excellent post-ac content on the ideas in flight site above, and find Jessica on Twitter at @DrJessicaLanger

Jessica’s Consulting Philosophy:

I’m a marketer by trade, and I’ve been doing it for a long time; I’m also an entrepreneur who runs a successful, profitable and growing company. And I’ve done it all while balancing family life. My goal is to help you market yourself to get where you want to go, and to help you find and secure the opportunities that will help you get there. Whether you’re looking for a job or looking to start your own business, particularly if you have other aspects of your life that you need to include in the bigger picture, I can give you expert advice from someone who’s been there.  Thing is, though, I don’t do nice. I tell it like it is. If you’re barking up the wrong tree, I’ll tell you. My goal for you is to help you find something to do for a living that’s both attractive and achievable for you.

Dr. Allessandria Polizzi

Allessandria Polizzi is a certified coach who currently leads education for 7-Eleven in her role as the Dean of 7-Excel University. She has been in corporate education, change management and organizational development for over 15 years, earning several honors in her field including a 2012 ”Best Place to Learn in Dallas” award from the American Society for Training and Development, a “Top Innovator Award” from Chief Learning Officer magazine, and Training magazine’s ”Top 40 Under 40? award. She serves on the board of directors for the DFW Learning and Development Director’s Roundtable and participates in the Network of Executive Women and Women’s Foodservice Forum. She has a PhD in English with a specialization in 20th century American literature from the University of North Texas (2001).  She lives outside of Dallas with her husband, son, daughter and rescued pug. Read more about Allessandria’s path in this autobiographical post.  You can learn more about her experience by visiting her LinkedIn profile  and by following her on Twitter at @FromProf2Prof.

Allessandria’s Consulting Philosophy:

With over 15 years in corporate positions, I can providing career transition coaching focused on any and all stages of the process, with advice from both a former academic’s and a potential hiring manager’s perspective. This includes:

  • initial exploration of options based on your area of interests and passions
  • detailed coaching on how to begin the process, including translating your experience and skills into something marketable in the corporate space
  • guidance on approaches for networking and finding positions that would be a good fit
  • interview preparation & practice
  • position & corporate culture evaluation

As a certified coach with years of experience in leading teams and mentoring others, I will partner with you throughout the process. My goal is to help you uncover and unlock your potential, no matter which path you choose.

Dr. Jason Tebbe

Jason Tebbe is a former academic who has been teaching for three years at an independent high school in New York City.  He received his PhD in German History from the University of Illinois-Urbana/Champaign in 2006, and went on to be a visiting professor for two years and an assistant professor for three years after that before seeing the light.  He is the author of the blog Notes from the Ironbound  (KK: where he has excellent post-ac content) and still maintains active research projects on the history of memory and travel.  Find him on Twitter at @wernerherzbear.

Jason’s Consulting Philosophy:

I am a former academic with experience on both the contingent and tenure tracks who has made the transition to teaching at an independent high school in Manhattan.  Having recently made this change, I have a lot of expertise in applying for jobs at private schools, and plenty of advice on how to navigate the culture of private schools, which differs quite a bit from the academic application process.  I can provide tips for finding jobs, fashioning application materials, interviewing, and adjusting to life in a new profession.


The Out-Ac Team — 7 Comments

  1. Does anyone have a good “elevator speech” for explaining to non-academics — succinctly and somewhat objectively — what is wrong with academia? I am leaving academia because I hate it for all the reasons most post-acs do. I have a lovely elevator speech ready for job interviews that reveals none of the problems we know so well and does not in any way bash academia. But when close friends and family find out I am leaving, I would really like to be more honest. I’d like to be able to warn them away from sending their own child going to a large public R1 by saying helping them understand how little teaching is valued there, how the pressure for grant dollars is all-consuming and how many times we are told to cut corners with students. I’d like people to understand about the pyramid scheme that PhD programs have become, and the adjuncting crisis, or the scam that is academic publishing. I’d like to disabuse others of the notion that I am walking away from a job where I work just a few hours a week and have summers off, or will get free tuition for my kids, etc. In essence, I’d like to be able to tell people, in a nutshell, how broken academia is — because I think it is important for voters, and taxpayers, and alumni donors, and parents of college students to understand it. My husband used to work on Wall Street and the main reason he left was he saw so much that was unethical. When he left, I remember he had a hard time articulating to anyone the ugly things he’d witnessed. Mostly people thought he was crazy for walking away from a “great” high-paying, glamorous job. He kept saying to me, “I feel like I should write a book. Regular people need to understand what is happening.” Then about five years after he’d left, the financial crisis happened — and suddenly, regular people began to understand. I feel like the same thing is going to happen at some point in academia… but until then — is there any way to express what is wrong in 60 seconds or less? If you have such an elevator speech, please share!

  2. Pingback: Ask the Post-Acs: “What happens to my scholarly work after the transition?” | The Professor Is In

  3. Pingback: Would You Like a Career With That? History Beyond Traditional Teaching | history is central

  4. Sixty-seven-year-old (Ph.D. 2014) postdoc (and former student of KK–Transnational Anthropology class Fall 2000) needs help prioritizing for an inevitably short career. ‘Tried using the option above, but it greyed out after I began entering my information.

  5. I am looking to leave academia or go alt-ac. I’ve been an academic in one form or another for 9 years. I need to shift my CV and figure out what else I can do. I am in Canada. Who do I contact for consultation when I make the final decision?

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