Episode #40

Choosing to Leave Academia and Create Something New: An Interview with Jane Jones

Dr. Jane Jones has had the “golden ticket” job, and she will be the first to tell you: it’s not for everyone. She may have landed a tenure track job her first year on the market, but after 3 years she knew it was not for her. Racial inequity, lack of creative freedom and the constraints of academia led her away from the professor life she had always wanted, and toward her own entrepreneurial venture. 


As an editor and academic writing coach she is still in the world of academia, but is navigating it solely on her own terms. She exemplifies the truth that academic womxn don’t have to follow a “traditional” path, and is helping to break down barriers around what academics ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ do. 


Key points discussed:

  • Jane’s “nerdy” childhood full of books and learning interests led to college and grad school to debate and talk about ideas [4:00]
  • Getting a tenure track job immediately, and discovering it was not for her [10:00]
  • Culture shock of leaving big city culture to teach at a small college that did not adequately address failings in racial equity [13:00]
  • Taking a fellowship with a non-profit organization as a way to ease out of her situation and avoid some of the shock at leaving the academic community [19:30
  • Deciding to leave academia altogether and starting her own business [21:00]
  • Growing an editing business through hustle and networking [22:30]
  • How academia on the inside differs from what it looks like on the outside [27:00]
  • The lack of creative freedom that can come with the academic life [35:00]
  • The differences in perception between changing careers inside and outside of academia [37:30]
  • Differences between editing and coaching for academic writers [44:00]
  • Realistic timelines for writing an academic book [53:00]


Key Quotes:

  • “I didn’t have a lot of mentorship around [things] like what’s the best program… who do you want to work with.” -Jane Jones
  • “…as a sociologist who studies race, I’m even more concerned about this.” -Jane Jones
  • “That was one of the points where I was like, ‘This is not it. This is not what I signed up for…’” -Jane Jones
  • “If I could go somewhere, where would it be?” -Jane Jones
  • “I knew that if I wanted to be an academic I had to go on the job market immediately, because ‘that’s what you do’”. -Jane Jones
  • This idea that… if I do ‘x’ then ‘y’ will never happen is so ingrained in academic culture.” -Cathy Mazak
  • “I don’t want to keep giving my power to other people… If I’m gonna mess things up, I’m going to mess them up.” -Jane Jones
  • “You think you have a lot of freedom, and you don’t.” -Jane Jones
  • “There is a narrative that if you leave academia you must be a failure or a punk in some way.” -Jane Jones
  • “No one teaches you how to do any of this.” -Jane Jones


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