Anthro Grads Share Paths to Careers Outside Academia

April 4, 2023 by Glenn Howard

Many people think that the only option for newly graduated Master’s or PhD students is entering the academic job market. However, graduates of the Department of Anthropology dispelled this idea at a recent event, sharing how they’ve used their education in Anthropology in careers outside of academia. The event was organized by the Department’s Graduate Professionalization Committee and chaired by PhD candidate Walter Callaghan.

Dr. Letha Victor is an award winning writer, anthropologist, and educator with over 10 years of experience in qualitative research. She completed her PhD in the Department of Anthropology in 2018, and she now works as a Policy Analyst for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. As a Policy Analyst working in international protection policy, Dr. Victor and her team liaise with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, particularly around diplomatic issues for refugee protection and forced displacement. Her job can mean writing briefing notes for senior management in government, consulting with civil society, and leading projects. She spends a lot of her time speaking with former refugees and other people with lived experience of forced displacement, trying to solicit ideas about how government can be more inclusive of those. Dr. Victor mentioned that her current role has a better work-life balance, pay, and benefits than her previous academic positions, including as a tenure-track assistant professor. Plus, she is still able to have meaningful conversations about topics related to her research, and she is still publishing research related to her thesis.

Dr. Emma Aiken-Klar is a PhD anthropologist with over 15 years of industry experience applying human-centered methodologies to complex innovation and organizational challenges. Using a range of social science, design and strategic foresight methods, Emma uncovers insights about human beliefs and behaviour and then works with organizational leaders to apply these learnings to make meaningful transformative change. In addition to her work for clients, Emma is an Executive-in-Residence at the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto, where she teaches the MBA Design Research and Data Storytelling course, and is faculty in the Leading Change and ESG Executive Programs. At the roundtable event, Dr. Aiken-Klar said her non-academic work allows her to be a part of team, continually solve new problems, and work remotely.

Dr. Joseph Youssef is a Behavioural Strategist for Evoke MicroMass. He completed his PhD in the Department of Anthropology in 2019. In his current role, Dr. Youssef does qualitative research  and uses a patient-centric approach to help pharmaceutical companies understand the lives of people who live with various conditions. Working in areas like terminal illness, sexual health, immunology, and optometry, Dr. Youssef helps companies understand how they can improve the quality of life for their customers. He said that the benefits of working outside of academia include higher pay, clearly defined schedule, and projects which vary in subject matter.

You can listen to the entire “Careers Outside of Academia” roundtable here.

Interested in learning more about careers outside of academia? Read the following interviewees in the Department’s “Careers after Anthropology” series: