At the risk of landing in a bed of nettles, I’ve decided to write a post about getting a job after getting your degree. If you have an internet connection, and you read things online every now and then, you might have realized that your degree is not a guarantee for a job.
When both you and your partner are academic, the chance of the two of you being hired at the institution of your dreams, and being able to build up a life together, is fairly small.
You might interview with the industry, only to learn they find you either overqualified or want you to start from scratch, so that your longed for increase in salary after years of living as a student turns out to be really modest.
You might be looking into an uncertain future of jobs as a post-doc for a year here, and a year there and then not being able to set your roots into an institution at all.
Those are the risks of the kind of life that comes with getting a PhD.
But, on the other side, a lot is up to you: try some creative thinking and a dash of pride in your accomplishments, and you’ll go a long way.
Very few students start their studies with the goal of Becoming a Professor. Getting a PhD is much more than simply getting ready to become a professor. My own path is not set in stone – I wouldn’t be surprised if five years from now, I’d be doing something completely different. If you want to know what other options you have on your sleeve, try the following exercise:
- Take some time to asses again why you started your PhD in the first place.
- Then, try some good creative thinking out of the box, and determine which other career paths would satisfy your motivation.
- For every career path, list the skills you gathered during your PhD that could be to your advantage.
- For every career path, list the skills/knowledge that you lack.
- Do some preliminary searches on these career paths, and keep your options open.
- Go out, reach out and show your interest in trying something new. Use conferences and industry events to explore your possibilities.
And keep in mind that, whatever job you take after getting your degree, there’s no such thing as being a “failure”.
Your PhD was not a waste of your time if you turn out to end up in a completely different field.
If you leave your first job after a rather short time, then you certainly learned something about what precisely does not work for you.
But keep iterating until you find something that really clicks with you, so that you can fully lean into your career, wherever that might be.
Graduates from PhD programs end up in a wide variety of different jobs. You can read testimonies on What Are All the PhDs?, as well as on From PhD To Life. Jobs on Toast gives great advice for navigating the job market.
Have you thought of life after the PhD? Where do graduates from your program typically end up?