When I earned my Ph.D. in Spring of 2010, the first thing I did was to finally get myself a full-time job in a digital marketing agency. I have worked freelance, and a lot, in this industry long before I got my Ph.D., and the focus and the goal of earning a doctorate for me has always been getting a job outside of academia. My vision was to bring the academic rigor and discipline in the domain of real world's problems. (I have soon discovered that the abovementioned rigor and discipline are only useful when combined with social savvy, which is something that academia doesn't teach you). Digital marketing field, when I started working in it in 2006, attracted the brightest people and had the most interesting and challenging problems. And I want to be part of it.
I have studied things like flat organizations, organizational responses to uncertainty, complex networks, the interplay of technology and organizational forms, complex adaptive systems, socio-technical networks, economic sociology and behavioral economic a good 10 years before professionals in my field started paying attention to these issues. At the same time, I am keenly aware that the entire wonderful body of work within the walls of academia has not been - and is still not - available to those same professionals who can benefit from it the most.
Thus I consider myself one of the lucky ones. While at school, I enjoyed the wonderful world of learning from the best, the freedom of etnographic research, the delight of confirming or denying a hypothesis. When one of my fantastic dissertation advisers asked my why did I do a doctorate if I don't want academic career, I replied "for the knowledge." For the knowledge that I can take to the outside world.
The smartest and most forward people I ever met are in academia. I miss them incredibly sometimes, as well as our conversations and them making my brain work better. I wish they were more part of the world that I am in now.
This is a great NYT article talking about the dual problem of the academics existing behind the walls of academia and the simultaneous attitude of anti-intellectualism that tends to keep them there.