Life after PhDBy Claire Wickersham

UMass Boston’s newest class of Gerontology PhD graduates are heading out into a world – and a job market – unseen by any of their predecessors.

The good news: As a group, they have their immediate work future well in hand. Many secured post-graduation positions or commitments well before the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Some are working in jobs they had held for some time.

Among the freshly-minted PhDs, Danielle Waldron is the newest tenure-track assistant professor in Healthcare Administration at Stonehill College. She will teach courses in gerontology, disability, and methods, while continuing research in aging with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Waldron is excited for the new adventure and grateful for all her supporters at UMB Gerontology who helped her reach her two goals since her first day of the program—to teach undergraduate students and research topics in aging with intellectual and developmental disability.

Yijung (Karen) Kim has accepted a post-doc position at the University of Texas Austin. Haowei Wang is planning to work on a post-doc project examining how family networks of older adults change over time, focusing on older adults with no living family members the implications of kinlessness on their health.

Hayley Gleason continues to work as an older adult policy advisor for the Colorado Department of Health Care Policy and Financing.

Students said many decision-making processes are slowing down because people don’t know that the immediate future holds given COVID-19. They are also finding that many employers are currently putting a hold on hiring.

“I was accepted by a post-doc position in March,” said Wang. “However, some of my applications that were submitted in January are still on hold. I’ve also received emails notifying me of the hiring process being frozen due to COVID.

“I have no idea what is going to happen with the job market next year,” she said. “However, I do suggest graduate students, especially international students with visa issues, plan ahead.”

Kim was planning to travel to Austin in April to visit the University of Texas campus and talk about future projects. Now that’s being done via Zoom. “I don’t know how COVID 19 will affect my move in the summer, but I pray that the situation improves,” she said.