Prep 101: Mapping Out Your Plan B (Part 3)
We often hear from Phds who enter the non-academic job market they wished they had done things differently in graduate school. In the third installment of our 4-part blog series, we provide you with advice on how to prepare to be competitive on the non-academic job market by bolstering your EQ.
YEAR 3: Now that you have broadened your network. It’s time to narrow your focus.
- Become a leader. By now, you should have shown clear advancement in your studies and expanded your reach on campus in terms of your involvement and responsibilities. You should be well advanced in your dissertation, and your visibility should have increased because you have demonstrated that you’re an excellent team player and problem solver. You should use this year to transition from being a mere participant to holding leadership positions in the various organizations you have been involved with. Look for roles that entail the management of projects and of other people. It’s time for you to stand out and lead. This experience will be extremely valuable when time comes to write your resume. Keep in mind that extracurricular activities can make up for your lack of work experience.
- Clarify Your Post-Academic Goals. Take this year to think deeply about what you would like to accomplish in the future if you do not secure a tenure-track position. Based on your recent extracurricular experiences, what have you particularly enjoyed? Identify skills you have recently honed that could help you transition into a new industry. Speak with mentors or people who have a career that might interest you, ask them about their skills, and most of all look for opportunities to expand your skill set. Don’t hesitate to share with your non-academic network that you are looking at all your options post-Phd. Keep in mind that people can’t help you if you don’t ask for help.
- Kick start your alternative career exploration. Career exploration can be daunting. And most of all, it takes time! Yet, you need to do it. How do you do that? First of all, connect with your university career center and look for programs geared toward graduate student employment. Attend workshops, participate in events, start collecting information. Secondly, start exploring possible career paths. Have you ever heard of the Vault (www.vault.com)? Glassdoor? (www.glassdoor.com)? Versatile Phd (www.versatilephd.com)? Ever heard of MOOCs? MOOCs are a great way for you to acquire new skills AND gain insight into different career pathways (for more info click here)
The Bottom Line: While finishing your Phd is important, you must also apply your research skills to other things than your dissertation. Search for ways to distinguish yourself from others as a leader, and start investigating potential career paths that could be of interest to you.