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.
- "Every Ph.D. Needs a Plan B"
- "The Bridge to Somewhere"
- "Straddling Two Worlds"
- "Try On Someone Else's Life"
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:
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.
- 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
- Employers Interested in Hiring PhD Students - A list of employers who have actively sought to connect with graduate students and postdocs at career fairs organized by Career Services.
- Virtual Career Fairs
- Third-Party Recruiters and Ph.D. Candidates - Carpe Careers post on Inside Higher Ed
Resources by Discipline
For PhDs in the Sciences, Engineering and Other Quantitative Disciplines
- Biomedical & Life Sciences Career Fair
- Business Etiquette for Ph.D.'s
- Science Careers - This AAAS site includes articles on a range of career issues for scientists, including grant-writing, academic career advice, career transitions, diversity and work life issues. It also includes position announcements and a site where job applicants can store and post application materials.
- 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
- Articles from The Chronicle of Higher Education and Inside Higher Education
- Opting out of Academic Science
- Following the Non-Academic Career Track
- Alternative Careers within the Ivory Tower
- Opting out of Academic Science
- PhDs.org: Nonacademic Careers
- ScienceAlliance (New York Academy of Sciences) - Career Path Videos pages
- Jobs for Scientists in the Federal Government: https://www.training.nih.gov/events/view/_2/1407/Webinar_Jobs_in_the_Federal_Government. Presented by Lori M. Conlan, PhD, Office of Intramural Training & Education, National Institutes of Health
- Annual NIH Career Symposium
- Get that next job - how to break out of the postdoc trap - article from Molecular Biology of the Cell about science careers outside of academia
- The transition from postdoc to industry
- Non-faculty positions taken by Penn PhDs in STEM fields
For PhDs in Humanities and Social Sciences
ImaginePhD - ImaginePhD 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.
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
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