Survival Guide Advice and the Spirit of Academic Entrepreneurship: Why Graduate Students Will Never Just Take Your Word for It

Paul Cook


This essay examines the largely unexamined nature of academic advice, or what I will call mainstream graduate student “advice-knowledge.” For all the advice offered up to graduate students in blogs, books, and brown bag workshops about navigating the increasingly unlikely transition from graduate school to full-time, non-contingent academic positions, few have scrutinized the nature and function of this advice. Taking a theoretical perspective informed by the later works of Michel Foucault and more recent critiques of neoliberalism and contemporary US employment culture, this article explores how advice-knowledge constructs, constrains, narrows, and normalizes the way graduate students think of themselves as individuals constantly in need of introspective work on themselves in order remain, if not employed, then at least employable.

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ISSN 1715-0094  Workplace