Non-Faculty PhD Career: 4 Things You Need to Know Before You Jump
As a PhD, a quick glance at the current academic job market should tell you that, unless you want to become an adjunct, you must come to terms with the fact that you very likely will have to modify your professional goals and consider non-faculty careers. The good news is that you’re not alone, and that, with the appropriate amount of preparation, a career switch is highly achievable. It is very important to also prepare for the consequences that come along with pursuing a non-faculty PhD career.
Here are 4 things you need to know:
- You might have to leave your ego at the door.
As you’re pursuing a new career, you might have to settle for an entry-level position. Even if research has equipped you with many transferable skills, entering a brand new field, means that you will be coming in with limited experience. The good news is that, as a PhD, you possess the grit, the resilience and the intellectual acumen that guarantees a quick, professional growth. Be patients and humble and it will pay off.
- You might need to acquire new skills
Although you possess strong analytical and critical skills and are very likely know how to manage your time and synthesize vast amounts of information, you may need to learn new tricks or bolster the skills you already possess. You may need to enroll in a few courses or even shadow a professional in your new field for a while before you apply for certain positions. The sooner you take active steps to prepare (it’s never soon enough!), the smoother the job search process will be.
- You don’t necessarily have to rethink your lifestyle
While it is true that different careers have different cultures, a non-faculty PhD career don’t necessarily mean that you’ll have to spend the rest of your life slaving away in a soul-crushing job. Coming to terms with the fact that the famous “flexible schedule” and “summers off” usually associated with being an academic are a myth is an important part of your professional growth. So is the idea that taking on a non-faculty PhD career condemns you to work 9 to 5 in a cubicle.
4. You will need to learn how to spin your academic past
Leaving academia doesn’t mean that you are running away from a bad situation. Neither should it flag your confidence. Although it might be hard at first, you must take a positive outlook on your transition. You not only have to change the way you see yourself and your inner motivation, but you also need to tell an empowered and positive story about your trajectory and your worth.
The sooner you perfect your narrative or “pitch,” the easier a time you’ll have transitioning out of the ivory tower.
Keep in mind that career switching doesn’t have to be a negative experience. It might be the best decision you ever make. The key is to have a clear idea of what you’re getting into as you navigate this next chapter of what should be an extremely important and exciting moment in your life.
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