After introductions in the morning we started discussing what it means to be a “professional” digital humanist, and how we present ourselves online. Online presence is something many cringe about, but in this modern digital age we’re all already online, somewhere, for something. What that “something” is might be decided by others, unless you curate your own digital presence. We need to Google ourselves and see how we’re presented online. Ideally this is done from a computer you’ve never used or a private/incognito browser window. On your own computer the search results might be catered to you specifically, and it would be best to see your results as others see them. Ranking near the top of page one on Google can be really important for finding jobs, as committees are very likely to do some research about you online. Making sure that you’re visible and presented in the best light requires some work with building online profiles, adding photographs of yourself, and also taking a look at search engine optimization (SEO).
Many academics have a sense that tenure track positions are the only ones to shoot for, but “alt ac” careers can be rewarding as well, possibly with better hours and pay. As early career digital humanists we’re uniquely positioned to work in a variety of industries. Keeping ourselves open to possibilities outside or perhaps alongside academia is important. The vast majority of PhDs are able to get work, but only a small sliver finds a tenure track position. Even with a tenure track job there’s no certainty that tenure will be achieved. Moving forward as digital humanists we should keep our research front and center, and also look toward the horizon for new developments in social media and digital technology.
In the later afternoon we started working on our “elevator speech,” which is a short and precise verbal communication about a major project you’re working on. The idea behind the elevator speech is that if you found yourself in an elevator with a person offering a job, you could quickly explain yourself and your work before the doors open at the next floor. The elevator speech idea comes from the business world, but it’s also very helpful for explaining digital humanities projects or dissertation research in a clear, concise, and friendly way — definitely a good skill for grant writing too.