How to Apply Entrepreneurship Principles to Your PhD Job Hunt


Even if the business world is not the end goal of your PhD job hunt, there’s still something you can learn from the “entrepreneurial spirit.”

In fact, drawing inspiration from its core principles can provide you with an extra edge as you enter the next phase of your professional life, whether you plan to jump on the startup bandwagon or not.

Here are five easy ways to deprogram your academic brain and train yourself to think more like an entrepreneur in your PhD job hunt:

Ignite Your Passion

Entrepreneurs are, by definition, tremendously passionate about their work. So, if you’re spending most of your time wondering if you might be better off doing something else, it might be time for you to start considering how to “pivot” your career. If you’re not as passionate about academia as you once were, or if you seriously doubt you’re passionate enough to spend the next few years struggling on the job market, there is no reason for you to feel stuck. Instead, think about how you can apply your skills elsewhere.

Make “efficiency” your new mantra.

Aren’t you getting increasingly annoyed at yourself and your colleagues for passively sitting around and relying too heavily on the academic system for approval or rejection to move forward? Entrepreneurs have zero tolerance for inefficiency. Is your PhD job search strategy 100% efficient? Look for flaws in your PhD job search and consider how you could implement solutions to improve it.

Become a Risk Taker

As cliché as the phrase “more risk, more reward” might sound, there is an undeniable truth to it. What distinguishes entrepreneurs from most professionals is their appetite for risk. Yes, putting yourself out there isn’t easy, but entrepreneurs know the importance of trying—and trying as many times as needed. Believe in your own ideas, and don’t shy away from challenges that might take you out of your comfort zone. The potential payout of taking risks in your PhD job hunt is huge!

Get Creative

Constant innovation is crucial to long-term success, and entrepreneurs are not afraid to open their minds to catch the next big idea. If you struggle to let your mind loose, or if academia has killed every ounce of creativity you once possessed, set aside some time to get in touch with your creative side by trying out a few brainstorming exercises. See what you come up with. And, remember to have fun doing it!

Think Across Boundaries

The most inspiring aspect of the entrepreneurial spirit is that it sprawls beyond boundaries. Graduate school might have conditioned you to be realistic, practical, even pessimistic—but what’s so wrong with having hopes and dreams that are bold and big? Yes, you might have to work a little harder and push yourself further, but isn’t that what life should be all about?

So, apply entrepreneurship principles to your PhD job search, forget boundaries, and align your career with your biggest and boldest dreams!


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