What You Need To Know About The Professor Is In

If you have ever considered leaving academia, you probably have heard of The Professor Is In. The Professor is In provides career advice and consulting services for academics that are interested in academic jobs as well as detailing the harsh realities of academia in a range of topics like the publish-or-perish environment, anxiety, and the work-life balance of academics.

The Professor is In In has a large presence on social media on platforms like Facebook (136,000 followers) and X (5,900 followers). The Professor is In also has a related Facebook group called the “The Professor is Out” with over 33,000 members where people can share their job searching experiences in real-time for non-academic jobs.

The Professor Is In is also popular because of the book “The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide To Turning Your Ph.D. Into a Job,” which positive reviews across most review sites. As one reviewer states on Good Reads, “An empowering and disillusioning resource for those who want a tenure-track academic job after finishing their Ph.D. I would recommend it to those in the early stages of their graduate careers, as Karen Kelsky does a fantastic job offering insight on the steps to secure a job as a professor.”

To provide more information about The Professor Is In, I created an overview similar to article about The Cheeky Scientist. In contrast to The Cheeky Scientist, The Professor Is In & Dr. Karen Kelsky has stronger ethical business practices and the reviews are more positive overall in general from what I researched online.

Note: As an Amazon affiliate partner, I may receive commission from purchased books. I was not paid to write this article for The Professor is In.

Who Founded The Professor Is In?

Dr. Karen Kelsky is the founder, president, and face of the brand behind The Professor Is In.

According to her bio, she had spent 15+ years in academia working as a department head at the University of Oregon and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

She has spoken extensively about her personal experiences leaving academia on her website, at various nationally recognized universities, and Tedx.

Karen Kelsky on TedX

In addition to her career services work outside academia, Dr. Karen Kelsky is very vocal about the social realities of academia and power dynamics that harm PhD students, especially women. She created the Sexual Harassment in the Academy Survey and the #MeTooPhD hashtag, which helped share the stories of sexual assault and harassment by faculty and advisors.

What Services Does The Professor Is In Offer?

The Professor is In has several services oriented towards academics. Based on the website, The Professor is In helps PhDs with career pivots AND the traditional career path of a job as a professor.

The prices range depending on the service, but at the upper end is $400 hour.

Contrasted from other career services like The Cheeky Scientist, The Professor Is In is transparent that they charge, but they also have other free resources.

The Professor is In writes that people “complain that I make money from grad student struggles, but in fact, all of my best insights are available entirely for free on this blog.  I receive emails almost daily from readers who thank me for helping them get a tenure track (or post-academic) job, having never paid me a cent. You are free to do the same.” 

Here are a few of the services listed by The Professor Is In:

  • Graduate School Application Assistance
  • Tenure Track Academic Job Application Materials
  • Syllabi/Course Proposal
  • Offer/Negotiation Assistance
  • Ongoing “Retainer” Fee for job market-related queries and consultations

The Professor Is In Service Reviews

While the reviews for the book are overwhelming positive, services offered by The Professor Is In appear to have mixed reviews online. As most of the reviews I found, The Professor is In leans strongly towards provided the best advice for people with a social sciences and humanities background.

Admittingly, the reviews below are dated. The goal of these these type of posts is to provide greater awareness of services aimed at PhDs and academics since finding reviews can be difficult outside of social media and word of mouth.

If you have any more recent experiences you’d like to share that I can update below (without referencing your name), please reach out to afteryourphd@gmail.com.

The Good

” I also paid her for a round of edits on my cover letter, which she promptly eviscerated. Her feedback is harsh, though no more harsh than what I’ve received on journal manuscripts. I think that’s a source of dislike for a lot of people. In her own way, I think she’s trying to prepare students for the cold reality of the market. I paid about 400 bucks for four rounds of letter edits on two letter types, and I would say it was absolutely worth it. ” – Reddit commentor (5 years ago)

” I read her blog on negotiating tt salaries and managed to get a 4% bump on my initial offer.” – Reddit commentor (5 years ago)

“I found the advice in her book very helpful when I was on the job market. I know many recent PhDs who are struggling on the market and trying to figure out what to do instead. Yes what she does is for profit but why do you care? People are paying for a service.” Reddit commentor (2 years ago)

The Bad

“I hired her years ago and felt that she was very expensive for what she provided. We just exchanged a couple of e-mails and she didn’t read mine very carefully. Her responses were kind of ‘phoned in’ too. I couldn’t find someone with experience to ask, so I didn’t have any other real option.” – Reddit commentor (3 years ago)

“I used her services last year, which was my first year on the market, and ended up with one skype interview out of about 25 applications. I think the lack of interviews doesn’t reflect her work but rather my publication record at the time I was applying last year. That said, while she was helpful for things such as cutting my teaching statement down to one page and clarity on my cover letter (she reviewed my letter, teaching, and research statements), I did feel a bit by the end of the process that my documents were more reflective of her process than my own perspective on my work.” – Psychjobsearch forum – posted in 2015.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Dr. Karen Kelsky and The Professor Is In have a wealth of resources for PhDs and offer services that have a high price tag, but seem to lead to actual results if you have an interest in becoming a professor in academia – especially in the humanities.

While The Professor Is In is not strictly about alternative careers for academics, The Professor Is In blog and book are very enlightening about academia and the harsh realities that can lead PhDs somewhere else. The Professor is In Blog is highly recommended. As mentioned before, the The Professor is Out is a great resource to see the lived experienced of academics who have an interest in careers outside academia.

If you are interested in exploring career services, I recommend checking out a growing list of PhD career resources I am building here -> PhD Career Resources

Additional Book Recommendations For Leaving Academia

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