Scholarly Groups Chip Away at Taboo of Nonacademic Careers

Scholarly Groups Chip Away at Taboo Around Nonacademic Careers 1

Photo by Marc Monaghan

Attendees walk through the interview area at an American Historical Association conference. The career fair at next year's conference will include nonacademic employers for the first time.

James W. Cortada, a historian who spent nearly four decades in sales at IBM, sees a stigma fading away.

When, in the late 1970s, Mr. Cortada and fellow scholars working outside higher education told their stories to Ph.D. students and professors, they seemed uninterested. "Arms forward, leaning back," he says, "you'd get the sense that they were ordered into the conference room."

Now rooms sometimes overflow for talks by Mr. Cortada, who earned his Ph.D. from Florida State