Jump to content
Ballet Talk for Dancers

Ballet and career change


Recommended Posts

It's been a while since I've been on this board, I've been quite busy this past couple of months while I was finishing my phD (wort experience ever), then I needed time off to be able to heal from the mental fatigue, stress (almost to the point I'll call it being injured).

As weirdly as it may sound, here is the only place I feel comfortable talking.

As a newly graduate all I know is I want to change career (my family is supportive about it though, but have no idea about how to do it, as they got their 1st and only job right after graduating a long time ago).

The awful end of my phD made me realize that ballet was an essential part of my life, and I wanted to be involved more in it (not as a dancer obviously :-) ), if it wasn't for ballet, I'm perfectly sure I would have lost my sanity in the process.

As I'm looking for career change (probably in another country as I'm feeling so constricted right now), I thought about being involved in ballet on some kind. First I though about opening a ballet shop, but in my country the amount of paper work involved in horrendous (and then want people to open more businesses!!) banks were also reluctant to lend me money to open a shop as I was currently unemployed (yes but I want to open a shop to have a job !!!). My second though was to work in a theater or something ballet related (working in ballet school for a living is not an option in my country as it's mainly voluntary work). I soon realized that my qualification as a biologist was not going to help me to get a job in the so closed world of theater/arts. I then though that I could maybe find skills I learned during my PhD that could be useful for such a job. Friends and family (and btw my previous bosses too) have always been amazed as how I managed to work near 60h a week, dance for 10h each week, have a happy dog at home and still sleep at night. So maybe I can use my scheduling/planning skills for that matter (for my self as planning experiment involving different people form different team). English is not my mother language so I also got better at it. By practicing ballet regularly I also learn hard work, patience and also sewing (shoes, leotard, skirt, even a practice tutu) and apparently I'm good at saying if someone else pointe shoe is wrongly fitted and what the problem (it doesn't work on me though :-( ). I thought I might put that in a nicely written (trying to be at least) cover letter and send it to a few theater as spontaneous application, staying that I would also accept apprenticeship.

I have no idea if this is going to work or not, but at least I would have tried. It's been in my head for a while but it's just freaks me out, what if not, what if yes, what can I do if nothing work... (my field of qualification if completely full now, so I will have to change again my "career search" ).

I think I just needed to say it out loud with fellow ballet lovers that aren't still in high school... I'm also taking any advice you might have !


And I'm sorry because I have, once again, wrote a novel but it had to get out of my head






Link to comment

I think you should proceed EXTREMELY cautiously right now. Lots of people feel burned out (or worse) at the end of their PhDs. It's not uncommon to have lost perspective on what you like and find interesting and gratifying about your field at that stage! There are definitely other adults here who can speak to that directly. I also find it difficult to believe that your entire field is full (both inside and outside of academia?), especially if you're willing to move out of country. Give yourself time to recover and think and explore your options.


Also, part of why ballet works so well in my life is that it's something I do on the side for exercise, social time/community, artistic expression, etc. One year when I was in class on my birthday, the teacher expressed surprise that I was there that day. I told her I keep coming because I enjoy it - it's not my job. I think the "thing you love on the side" is important and I personally would not want to turn that thing into my livelihood without very, very careful thought.


So, congratulations on finishing your PhD! Take some of the spare time you will inevitably have now that crunch time is over to relax and maybe enjoy some extra ballet classes or performances.

Link to comment

Thanks gav !

Yes caution is the key, I don't plan to only send application to theater but that's the main option. I have already send spontaneous applications to a few lab/university mainly for lab tech and managing opportunities (organizational part were the only thing I enjoyed during my PhD).

It's been already almost 3 months since I finished and I took some time off and even got on holiday twice (family and abroad), I took every performance oppurtinity that my ballet school offered and I'm taking load off ballet classes. The thing is I definitely need to find something for September (money it's going to be short otherwise).

And yes my field is full even more abroad,in academia for sure but I don't want to do that (to disgusted about how

It works there). I worked on something completely outdated with oldfashioned technics. I could explain you more in details by pm but not here for privacy reasons, but to be short my research wasn't original so I'm not attractive for any lab.

I'm kind of stuck with special expertise I cannot use and social pressure expecting you to do a post doc (which I have always been sure I don't want to do, as my applications are answer with you're to qualified for the job you applied) and my really low qualification/lack of experience for non specific skills for any company jobs... It's nerve wracking

Link to comment

Plenty of people who complete PhDs go on to work outside of their immediate field, but that doesn't make it any less nerve wracking when you're doing it... as you well know! Does your school have career counselling services you can use to find out how your skills might be attractive to a broader audience? Maybe you want to transfer your experience into a job/career in science journalism or publishing or project management or management consulting or data analysis or patent agent or something else.


Your experience in your field may be outdated and narrow, but the big picture is that you successfully completed all of the (demanding) requirements of a PhD (like the organizational parts that you liked) and that's impressive and attractive to many employers :) Anyhow, this isn't very ballet-related except to say that my own preference would be to keep ballet separate from my professional life, and there is a range of ways to do that. You may have a different preference, even after considering all of the possible careers available to you, and others may weigh in with different suggestions as well. And good luck... Job searching is the worst!

Link to comment

Unfortunately the school hasn't any career counseling people and other counselor just push you to continue to academia, which I don't want to go to (the unemployment office counselor in my country even told me that they cannot do anything for me I'm overqualified or not experienced enough, they add you're alone for that good luck !).

As you also suggest,I would really like to do something in management but I lack the Management Bachelor or the informatics skills. I would have work with informatics I would have found a job fast but unfortunately I don't (and that's not the thing I'm an easy learner). I'm trying my best but companies (at least in europe) are reluctant to take phD (they think we are too theroretical) and prefere ingeneer or MSc, I'm either overqualified or inexperienced...

I though that going for something I like may help to write a convincing cover letter to at least get some attention.

I thought about the scientific journalism but I have not enough publish articles to be considered...

It's nerve wracking... hopefully ballet start again tomorrow (after wibter break) it may help to release my mind ....

It's nice to talk with people from other country with different perspective, different thinking process, I now have more to think about


Link to comment

Congratulations! Achieving a PhD is an amazing achievement! :clapping::party::flowers::bouncing::hyper:


I think those of us who have them, can sometimes take the level of achievement, knowledge, skill, and hard work for granted. I remember thinking that if I could get a PhD anyone could. But that is not true. You've done something special.


But it's an intense & difficult experience. You need time to unwind, and decompress.


I'm based in the UK, and in the humanities. But 3 months after completing a PhD is nothing! I have my (former) PhD students who apply for jobs and postdoctoral posts for up to 3 years before they get the right post. It maybe different in the rest of Europe and in the sciences, but I doubt it. There is no secure road after the PhD - it's still up to you to make the networks and connections in your field. You need to be networked into the organisations and scholarly conferences etc - generally through your PhD supervisor and their research team.


But if you don't want to become an academic or an academic researcher, then you need to think creatively about the transferable skills you have developed while doing your PhD.


JD29, Gav gives great advice. I agree with Gav about keeping ballet as your serious hobby - in intense professional jobs, we all need something that forces us to stop, take a breath, and focus on the present moment. Ballet class does that for me, and it sounds like it does it for you as well.


I think it's not worth letting it add to your sense of being at a crossroads - you need to keep it as a safe haven.


I think the other thing some adult students need to work through is the "I could have been a ballerina" syndrome. I count myself very lucky that I never did have such an ambition, or even a dream of this, but I do hear a trace of it in your first post. From what I've seen of people who find ballet again, this yearning can get in the way of them working out the REAL place that learning ballet & dancing can have in their life. I think that it doesn't help with working out your next step.


Other ways of being involved in the theatre: amateur dramatics & musical theatre? volunteering in a "Friends of the Ballet" organisation?


I work in a university specialism allied with the theatre & was raised in a performing arts/theatre family. I know from the inside that there are so many people who want to work in the theatre. The way that you can actually do what you think you might do as laid out in your posts is by volunteering, doing little bits of what you can, getting to know people: networking, connecting, engaging. Theatre managers get hundreds of requests for work, apprenticeships etc. They can't accommodate them, but if they know someone who is already involved through volunteer groups or special interest groups, they may have opportunities.


But really - tough love here: it's a very long shot, and my advice would be to keep ballet as your safe haven, and seek work for which you are VERY highly professionally qualified.

Link to comment

My PhD ended badly so no network from this side and neo recommendation either which is making things even harder (to complicate to explain without pm). The fact is money wise I don't have 3 years to wait for a job, and unlike in the Uk there is not a lot of volunteering position in here.The most important is in my country having a PhD is not really well seen not even as an achievement, people think we are just were library rats unable to do anythibg than studying. Compare to other countries, I have been to see friends get their PhD, in my country it's worth nothing. I really regret having done it. I'm now like an UFO for companies.

Now I'm completely lost with no help from any career counselor, PhD isn't something they have in their line and have no idea of what I can do with it. I've been applying for managing and event planning jobs (I like making schedule and time table), answer were fast, overqualified or inexperienced, but how can I get the experience if no one wants to hire you (bad circle thing,I don't know the exact name).

PS: I started ballet as an adult so being a dancer has never been my dream, and dancing for a job would completely destroy my love of dance (stressless it's better) !

Again I sound really sad but that's how I feel right now... and the more I'm unemployed the more the social pressure gets bigger , you're not trying that's why you're not working and so on...

Link to comment

jd29, there's not much more I have to say from a ballet perspective. I'm just a bit worried about what you've written and that you're lacking practical support right now. You are feeling stuck and have emotional support from your family, but you haven't mentioned anyone who you can brainstorm or strategize with... Your network is bigger than you think -- reach out far and wide.


Before you change paths completely, I think you owe it to yourself to take the time to really figure out the possibilities on this path; three months is next to nothing in that process, especially when you started it so beaten down at the end of your degree. To make money in the meantime, you might think of things you can easily do temporarily "on the side" of your main career search -- tutoring, editing, working in a cafe. Try to put the social pressure out of your mind. This process is valuable to your long-term development.


And if your feelings go beyond your usual kinds of sad and overwhelmed, please contact your medical professional.

Link to comment

Yes lacking of support for job seeking is the hardest part... I've friends from ballet camp all over the world (that's crazy just to say it) but I'm feeling a bit guilty and ashamed to asked them : «if you see something that might fit contact me» I guess it's not in my culture...

I guess I'll be back to tutoring... I'm seeking for professional support right now,but the wait time is long when you want a real follow-up not just an emergency session (like life danger, which is obviously not my case), except for lack of work I'm happy with my pets and ballet in my life ! And I have even the time to go to see some movies...

But thanks for the «put my ideas back to their place» it was needed.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...