My Honest Takes on Alt-Ac Twitter

tea leaves in a cup

I took 2 months off from blogging to reflect on the whirlwind of content I had expelled in the past 10 months and my experience with it.

If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you know I used to go HAM with the content.

1-2 in-depth blog posts a week, Twitter threads, infographics.

As I’ve said before, I never wanted to become an influencer, paid content creator, coach, sell a service, anything like that.

I’ve never asked for “coffee donations” or put ads on my blog.

Connecting with and helping people through my blog posts and Tweets is all I ever wanted to do, simply because I had such a nightmarish time when I had to go through my own job search.

I’ve always used social media anonymously – even when I had Instagram. I’ve literally never been the type to plaster my face everywhere. Nothing wrong with folks that do.

It’s just never been for me, maybe I’m just more shy or introverted than average.

Clearly, my stuff has been appreciated (and found useful) by a lot of people, regardless of my identity.

I took a step back from Tweeting because I felt like the prominent Alt-Ac Twitter was becoming (or had always been) this weird, lopsided, strange beast that lacked a lot of diversity and perspectives.

I wanted to truly take time to consider how I wanted to move forward in that space.

I’ve been mulling over some thoughts about the types of Tweets and sentiments I’ve been seeing, and finally put them into words.

First off, I feel like the discussions on Alt-Ac Twitter lack nuance.

A lot of Alt-Ac Twitter threads are very generic and don’t recognize how differences in race, geography, job choice, and privilege (citizenship, health, etc.) influence job search outcomes.

Yep, I know from personal experience that threads are major engagement-boosters and one of the best ways to get more followers.

The best-performing Tweets make the reader feel IMMEDIATELY validated and are usually aspirational, encouraging, or are just chock-full of valuable tips.

If you’re a naive, uninformed grad student starting out in the non-ac space, and you keep seeing the same 4-5 users push out threads in your personally curated feed (due to the algorithm prioritizing showing certain individuals), it can make you lose sight of just how vast the non-ac world is.

People tend to give NO context when they share their experiences and tips, but more people really should.

When you read Tweets, look for contextual information on their academic/training background and country (even though I’m anonymous, I provide those openly, and always write disclaimers in my blog posts).

You’re your own person with your own geographic location, skillset, and lifestyle needs. The things people Tweet can be helpful and lead you in the right direction (sometimes), but they’re hardly ever tailored to your specific situation.

And it’s TOTALLY okay to walk your own path in life. That involves actively curating your feed to feature folks that provide insights that are truly valuable to you, personally.

Another thing I see discussed a lot on Alt-Ac Twitter is salary.

Let’s start by stating the obvious:

Folks who make a lot are more likely to divulge their actual salaries.

And just because you keep seeing certain large numbers on Twitter, it doesn’t mean that if you make less than that in your first job, you’re lame.

Salaries vary SO much depending on the field!

Speaking on what I’m familiar with, starting salaries for medical writers in my product area of interest (medical communications/eLearning) and geographic location (U.S., California) are in the $70,000-80,000 range. Yep, that’s what I was seeing with a Ph.D. with 0 years of industry medical writing experience. From there, you can gain a year or two of experience, and then change jobs to get higher-ranked roles (like “senior medical writer”, “principal medical writer”, etc.) and bump up your salary accordingly.

Another major factor is if it’s a contract vs. full-time job.

From what I’ve seen, folks who tout large salaries tend to be in contract roles, which tend to pay more than full-time roles, but have the drawbacks of being temporary and not having as many benefits. You can read more about the differences between contract and full-time jobs here!

You can also read this article to learn about other factors that contribute to salary.

For more nuanced insights, have conversations with folks that are in industries/fields you’d like to learn more about.

An easy way to learn about salary is to share your background and interests, and then ask them how much you should be paid given all they know about that industry – and make sure to be aware of their geographical location, which can influence those values.

I recently had a great conversation with one of my Twitter connections in the Alt-Ac space, someone who also works outside academia now, and we discussed how the things we Tweet are ABSOLUTELY NOT the only things we feel and experience.

Due to privacy reasons, we simply cannot go on Twitter and talk about everything under the sun.

Struggles related to concurrent job searches, mean bosses, annoying coworkers, layoffs, insurance mishaps, etc. are usually simply too personal to share on such a public platform.

That’s just a fact of life, and you shouldn’t expect anyone – regardless of how “genuine” they seem to be – to be talking about everything that’s ever happened to them or crossed their minds online.

There’s always going to be a filter to varying degrees.

There’s nothing wrong with that. Clearly, I do the same!

Combine that with the fact that good news, aspirational Tweets, and highlights simply perform better than hard-to-hear truths and mundane non-zingers?

You might be seeing many great Tweets that are true, but remember, they’re not representative of peoples’ full experiences.

I also can’t ignore the fact that people chase clout.

Being on good terms with people with large followings is well-rewarded (in terms of engagement) in online spaces.

There are plenty of extremely encouraging individuals out there, sharing their experiences, but I’ve also had interactions with the not-so-genuine.

Even in 2022, there are folks sour about diversity, different opinions, and even just the fact that I chose to be anonymous.

I’ve become much more careful of the accounts and voices I amplify with my platform.

The final thing I wanted to say is that your first job doesn’t have to be perfect. Don’t be so hard on yourself.

Your career is JUST getting started.

Plus, like I mentioned in my first point in this blog post, not all of us have the privilege to be able to be choosy about jobs due to financial, immigration, and health-based factors in our lives at the time of our exit from academia.

It’s perfectly fine, and in the grand scheme of things, you’re doing great.

There’s no rush. You’re learning things about your chosen field at your pace.

Some people are superstars, and you can learn useful insights from them, but you don’t have to compare yourself to anyone.

Remember: always consider context and gather multiple perspectives.

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