ASOR, now renamed the American Society of Overseas Research (a meaningless name intended to preserve a stupid acronym), just announced an “Ask a Professor” webinar. According to the email I received from the essential and enduring Agade listserv:
The panelists will address topics such as choosing advisors, schools,
dissertation topics, building CVs, what skills to acquire as an MA,
PhD, post-doc etc. and the current status of the academic job market.
I can save you some trouble with several of this topics. First, don’t go to grad school in Near Eastern studies. The job market in that field has never been great, but right now it’s downright awful. I have counted twelve jobs announced on the Agade listserv since the summer, all but four in foreign countries. Of those four domestic positions, one is senior and the other three are Hebrew Bible jobs. Egyptologists, Assyriologists and archaeologists are out of luck entirely.
As for skills to acquire, I recommend programming and data analysis, as they seem to be in demand in the private sector. Certainly I wished I’d learned those things as a student. In a similar vein, one might as well learn bricklaying or how to coach volleyball, as these skills are also more likely to lead to employment than a PhD in Near Eastern studies.
I have an earlier post that addresses some of the remaining topics, which you can read if you really want to.
I don’t mean to bash a well-intended effort on the part of ASOR. But it’s akin to offering a fire safety course inside a burning building.