Having the skills and confidence to navigate all aspects of your job search successfully is essential for your career development. Career Services is here to support you throughout this process, from helping you present yourself well both on paper and in person to potential employers to equipping you with the knowledge and strategies to help you land your job offer. Click below for more information on your preparation for academic roles and the many careers beyond academia. 

What's On This Page?

Preparing for Postdocs & Faculty Careers | Preparing for Careers Beyond Academia
Not Sure About Which Careers to Pursue? | FAQs


Preparing for Postdocs & Faculty Careers

Careers in academia

If you're interested in applying for faculty positions, it's helpful to start preparing your written application materials a few months before positions are advertised in your discipline(s). Career Services can give you perspectives on how you can tailor your application to specific kinds of institutions and help you prepare to speak about your research and teaching in interviews. Once you are have received a job offer, we are also happy to guide you through negotiations. If you're seeking postdoc positions, we can also help you in achieving that goal. Make an appointment with a Career Advisor via Handshake at any stage of your application process. Click below learn more about preparing your application materials or intervieiwng and negotiating for tenure-track positions.

Application materials

Preparing for Careers Beyond Academia


Whether you're applying for jobs in industry, non-profits, or government in addition to or instead of academic positions, Career Services can help you navigate the timeline and process of seeking jobs in a diversity of fields. We're here to help you translate and communicate the skills and experiences you've gained in graduate school as you demonstrate your fit for different roles, organizations, and industries. We can guide you through the application, interviewing, and negotiation phases to help you successfully land a job in a career field that interests you. Make an appointment with a Career Advisor via Handshake at any stage of your process. Click below for more information about preparing application materials and interviewing and negotiating for jobs beyond academia.

Application materials

Not Sure About Which Careers to Pursue?


No worries! Visit our webpage on making the most of your PhD/Postdoc to learn more about the career exploration process and how you can identify different careers that might interest you. Make an appointment with a Career Adviser via Handshake to discuss your career questions.


Q: Can I apply to both academic jobs and jobs outside of academia?
A: Absolutely! Many Ph.D. students and postdocs who are strongly considering academic and expanded careers apply to both academic positions and jobs beyond the academy. Given the early timeline of applications for faculty positions, some Ph.D. students and postdocs may decide to apply to faculty roles in the fall and then await results of those searches before applying for jobs outside of academia, which tend to have shorter search timelines.
Q: I need help to decide if I'm ready to apply for academic jobs or if I should wait another year.
What should I do?
A: We encourage you to speak with your advisor/PI and other faculty advisors to get their take on your readiness to apply for faculty positions or postdocs. You want to know where your advisor/PI stands regarding their support for your applications. Particularly if you are ABD while applying to faculty positions, many search committees will want reassurance from your advisor/PI that you will indeed defend your dissertation and be able to finish your degree before the position starts. After all, institutions want to ensure that their selected candidate would be able to carry out the responsibilities of being an assistant professor because they have already completed their dissertation. In addition to speaking with your faculty advisors, meet with a Graduate Student & Postdoc Career Advisor at Career Services. We are happy to chat with you about your unique circumstances and provide you an objective perspective on your readiness to go on the academic job market.
Q: I haven't officially applied for jobs before and need help to understand what that process
is like. How can Career Services help me?
A: Whether you're applying for academic jobs or jobs beyond the academy, Career Services can give you a broad overview of the application process and help you establish a plan for achieving your goals to land a job in the fields you're interested in. Working backwards from when you plan to graduate from Penn, we'll help you come up with a timeline for when you should start looking for jobs, explain how networking can be useful, help you prepare your job materials for submission, strengthen your skills in interviewing though mock interviews, and support you through the process of negotiating your job offers. As we get to know you throughout our advising appointments, we're eager to hear the progress you've made in your job search and are happy to answer any and all questions you might have!
Q: Where have Penn PhDs ended up? What careers have they pursued?
A: Penn PhD graduates are employed in a variety of meaningful, challenging, and rewarding careers. For more information about post-PhD career plans broken down by school, program, and graduation year, please see the survey reports here. You can also take advantage of QuakerNet and the LinkedIn Penn Alumni page to see what career paths Penn PhDs have pursued.