10 Reasons Why I Hire History PhDs - Skip Vichness (FSU History PhD 1975)

Why I hire History PhDs graphic

Over the forty years of my career in business, I have interviewed and subsequently hired several PhDs to work in our company.  Even though their areas of study had little, if anything, to do with our business.  In two cases, they ended up becoming equity partners and retired after having very successful careers. 

What did I know about these PhDs even before I hired them that were important to me in making the decision to employ them?

  1. They were smart.  I did not need to interview them to know that they were smart- after all it does require a certain amount of intelligence to get a PhD.  Also, I was able to tell them at the start of the interview that they did not need to prove to me how smart they were.  This made for a much better discussion!
  2. They would work well under supervision.  Getting a PhD requires a willingness to listen and learn from a mentor/supervisor (aka Major Professor).  This is a trait often missing in many entry level employees.
  3. They could work independently.  While PhD students receive a certain amount of supervision, they spend most of their time working and studying independently.  In our business this is a vital and often hard to find skill.
  4. They understand work is time sensitive and the need to meet deadlines.  In business work needs to get done in a timely fashion – just like assignments in graduate school!
  5. They are quick learners.  The ability to absorb significant amounts of information quickly is very important.  After all time is money!!!
  6. They have a facility with languages.  They are fluent in at least one, and often two foreign languages which proves their ability, if needed, to acquire additional languages.  In a business where we have many foreign clients this is a particular asset.
  7. They can write properly.  This is an increasingly lost art and supervisors spend far too much time correcting and often rewriting material produced by younger employees.
  8. They have patience when it comes to career advancement.  Entry level academics expect to spend at least six years of their early career before receiving their first promotion.  Most young people today expect a promotion within months of starting to work.
  9. They are goal oriented.  Earning a PhD is a major accomplishment.  It takes a significant investment in time and requires the student to keep their “eye on the prize.”  Understanding the need to work towards an identifiable goal is a trait often lacking in today’s work force.

And finally…………

  1. They are attractive to employers because they have realistic expectationsTheir original goal of academia tells me that money is not their primary motivator.  They understand an entry level salary, and have the patience to “pay their dues” to eventually, if successful, earn significant compensation. 

Skip Vichness, PhD ’75, earned his degree at FSU while studying under Professor Donald Horward.  In 1979 he entered the children’s summer camp industry.  Since 1990 he has been the CEO of Quality Camping Properties, Inc., and Managing Partner of Greypine, LLC.  In these positions he oversees day and resident camp operations throughout the Northeast.  Skip is one of the largest private camp operators in the United States.