**Part of our ongoing series on Carleton PhD alumni who are working in non-academic careers. To read other stories in this series, visit our Alumni Success Story archive.
Jessica Haynes says her PhD (2012) opened doors for her as the skills and knowledge she acquired in the PhD History program “are respected and valued….a PhD demonstrates commitment, intellect and energy.”
She is currently working as a Policy Analyst with the Human Development and Gender Equality Division in the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada. Until recently, she worked for the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) which merged with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade.
“I help to shape and articulate development policy as it relates to gender equality in the department,” explains Haynes. “Within the Human Development and Gender Equality Division, we deal with a range of issues, including health, education, gender equality, women’s economic empowerment and child protection.”
Haynes says that her PhD research, which focused on gender and women’s history, prepared her to work in gender equality in a development context. Her thesis examined the impact of the birth control pill on married, Canadian women who took the pill when it was first released in Canada in the early 1960s.
The alumna says completing her thesis while having her first child was a challenging balance act. “I have discovered that work/life balance is an ongoing issue so I am glad I got experience with that during my PhD.”
Through seven years of graduate studies, Haynes says she felt encouraged and challenged by Prof. Dominique Marshall. “Because of her, I became a better researcher and writer, eager to engage with my own discipline as well as relevant work in other fields. I firmly believe that she positively shaped my PhD thesis and continues to influence my work today.”
Through her interactions with faculty members, including Marshall, Haynes was able to establish contacts which helped in her job search.
For current PhD students, who are starting to think about employment once they graduate, Haynes has this advice: “Keep an open mind. Identify what you like doing from your academic work (research, teaching, etc.) and explore any position or avenue that allows you to do something you like and find important. While I identified during my graduate years that I would like to work in government and contribute to society that way, I did not necessarily focus on what was then CIDA as a likely employment area. But because I was open to the possibility, I found a position which I really enjoy and one that matches well my skills and interests.”