Non-faculty Careers

Doctoral education can be thought of as a program of research, teaching, scholarship in which you develop a broad skill set applicable in a wide variety of career paths.  PhD students often focus on an academic career, however the current economy may call for casting a wider net. The benefits to doing this are:

  • you will learn more about yourself
  • you can lay the groundwork for potential options
  • you will learn that many other opportunities can be pursued concurrently with an academic job search

Resources for Learning about Career Options

NEW! Externships in Academic Administration - gain hands-on, real-world career experience in administrative offices across Penn's campus

Expanded Career Opportunities Narrated Presentation - get ideas on how you can go about seeking out alternative career paths

Career Exploration - This webpage has useful self assessment tools you can utilize to better understand your skills, interests and personal preferences.  

Employers Interested in Hiring PhD Students - A list of employers who have actively sough to connect with graduate students and postdocs at career fairs organized by Career Services.

Carpe Careers - a fortnightly blog on the Inside Higher Ed website written by career advisors specifically for graduate students and postdocs, focusing on different aspects of the job search and career exploration process.

Articles from The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Ed

Advice from your PhD Peers - Recent graduates share lessons learned from their job searches

Career Plans Surveys - Find out what other PhDs have done after graduating, and read their advice

Career Field Resources - For learning about opportunities; information includes internet resources for advice, links to industry and professional associations, links to job and internship posting sites, sample employers and more.  Here is a sample of fields that you will find on this page:

  • Actuarial Science
  • Archives and Libraries
  • Associations
  • Bioethics
  • Biotechnology
  • Broadcasting & Entertainment
  • Computer Science / Technology
  • Cultural Resources, Museums and Arts Management
  • Data/Digital Analytics
  • Defense / Government / Military
  • Education & Teaching (K-12)
  • Energy
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Environment and Conservation
  • Environmental Systems and Engineering
    • Epidemiology and Biostatistics
    • Federal Government
    • Foreign Affairs
    • Forensics and Criminology
    • General Finance Resources
    • Government and Political Consulting
    • Healthcare Consulting
    • Healthcare Management
    • Higher Education - Academic Careers (Faculty)
    • Higher Education - Administration
    • Human Resources and Organizational Development
    • Intellectual Property/Patent Law/Tech Transfer
    • International Development
    • Journalism
      • Marketing
      • Medical & Science Writing
      • Medical Device Manufacturers
      • Nonprofit
      • Pharmacy and Pharmaceuticals
      • Physics
      • Policy Research (includes Think Tanks)
      • Politics and Local Government
      • Private Equity
      • Public Health
      • Publishing
      • Quant Careers
      • Resources on Consulting for PhDs and Post-Docs
      • Robotics
      • Scientific Research
      • Start-Ups
      • Translation and Interpretation

      Networking and Mentoring - meet people in fields that interest you; use informational interviews to research prospective careers

      Listservs - Information about jobs in many fields, program and workshop announcements and funding opportunities.

      Books and Online Subscriptions

      • So What Are You Going to Do With That: Finding Careers Outside Academia by Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius
      • "Exploring the Expanded Job Market," chapter 23, The Academic Job Search Handbook by Julia Miller Vick, Jennifer S. Furlong and Rosanne Lurie
      • Nontraditional Careers in Science by Karen Young Kreeger
      • The Versatile PhD is a web-based community dedicated to helping PhDs, ABDs and MAs apply their skills and interests in a wide variety of fields. Career Services is a founding subscriber and pays for student access to The Versatile PhD's premium content (Career Autobiographies, Hiring Success Stories and Archived Career Panels). To access the site, click on the link and use your PennKey and password. You will find the Versatile PhD linked at the end of the alphabetical list of online subscriptions.

      Calendar - Workshops and Panels

      Connect with us - one-on-one advising through Walk-ins and Appointments

      Career Fairs

      Employer Information Sessions

      Guidelines for Using Recruiters and Search Firms

      Resources by Discipline

      For PhDs in the Sciences, Engineering and Other Quantitative Disciplines

      • MyIDP - A feature of the Science Careers AAAS website. myIDP provides exercises to help you examine your skills, interests, and values along with a list of more than 20 scientific career paths with a prediction of which ones best fit your skills and interest. THe myIDP tool also has a useful tool for setting strategic goals for the coming year, with optional reminders to keep you on track, together with articles and resources to guide you through the process

      Overview of the myIDP tool

      Self-assessment using myIDP

      Explore Science Careers using myIDP

      Set goals for Career success using myIDP

      For PhDs in Humanities and Social Sciences

      ImaginePhDImaginePhD is a free online career exploration and planning tool for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences. On ImaginePhD, you'll be able to assess your career-related skills, interests, and values; explore career paths appropriate to your discipline; and map out steps for degree completion alongside career and professional development.

      Research Skills in Professional Settings

      Non-academic positions taken by Penn PhDs in the Humanities and Social Sciences

      Digital Humanities

      Connected Academics: Preparing Doctoral Students of Language and Literature for a Variety of Careers

      Articles from The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education, including:

      Finding and Applying to Jobs: Promoting Yourself

      Job Listings Resources (also includes information on finding internships)

      Employers outside of the academy do not necessarily understand everything involved in doing your job as a teacher, researcher, and scholar.  It is up to you to identify your skills and then present those skills in terms that employers understand and value. 

      To know why employers might hire you, you must be able to articulate:

      • your skills, interests, accomplishments and aptitudes in relation to the position
      • your personality, values and goals, and how they will be an asset for an organization

        Job search materials  - you can find guides to writing job search materials, as well as samples here. Your job search materials should clearly articulate the match between you and the positions you seek.

        Interviewing - advice and practice questions

        Negotiating and Deciding on Offers

        Tips for increasing opportunities while you're still at Penn

        • Get involved, take initiative, be a leader, and find opportunities to participate in team-based research or projects
        • Attend professional conferences and take advantage of public speaking opportunities to practice your communication skills
        • Connect with people: get to know alumni through QuakerNet and LinkedIn; find role models and mentors
        • Job shadow, get involved in campus groups, find an internship or volunteer - all good ways to get hands-on experience and to develop transferable skills. Career Services offers externships in academic administration for PhDs interested in exploring non-faculty university careers.
        • Think about short term and long term goals - where do you see yourself in 5-10 years time, and what do you need to happen to get there?
        • Use your research skills and tools like LinkedIn to answer your questions about different career fields
        • Use your Career Services resources - meet with an advisor to plan out your career development next steps, especially if you are in the middle or end of your program