Diverse Careers for PhDs

information for supporting graduate student career choices

How faculty can support diverse careers for PhDs 

  • Maintain the same level of commitment to all of your advisees, regardless of their expressed career interests.
  • Ask your advisees about their career goals early, and encouraging them to set milestones to achieve their goals.
  • Encourage your advisees to talk to other mentors and career advisors on campus about their career interests and goals.

What graduate students can do

  • Have conversations with career advisors and alumni in diverse career fields.
  • Create one to three-year plans with tangible milestones for achieving career goals, even if these goals only include tenure-track jobs. Imagine PhD has a “My Plan” tool that allows students in the humanities and social sciences to map degree completion and career/skill development goals together. For non-academic careers, these goals might include career exploration, conducting informational interviews, or learning new skills like coding or grant writing.    
  • Talk to mentors, your advisors, and your colleagues about diverse careers for PhDs
  • Talk about what you value in your professional life. Consider completing Imagine PhD’s "Values Assessment", so that you can understand what is most important to you both professionally and academically

Career exploration resources at your fingertips

these resources provide additional support when navigating careers

Big Interview

Students can watch video lessons on how to ace an interview, and record mock-interview videos with virtual interviewers who can ask either general or industry-specific questions.

visit Big Interview

Career Advising

Students can meet with a career advisor to discuss careers, set goals, and plan next steps.

learn about career advising

Intersect Job Simulations

An online platform that allows PhD-level students and professionals to explore future career options. InterSECT engages with an individual’s interests and extrapolates these interests to positions in actual professional tasks in industry, academia, and government sectors.

visit intersect job simulations

Navigating Diverse Careers

Truth: Graduate students may feel a stigma attached to seeking non-academic jobs, so advisor support can play a huge role in how early students seek resources, and how they feel about their choices.

Belief: Professors and advisors don’t have any role to play in helping students find careers outside of the academy.

Truth: Students are already anxious about jobs, and not knowing how to prepare is often more stressful than making tangible, small steps toward a future profession.

Belief: Encouraging students to look into non-faculty careers on top of all the things they need to do for their degree will overwhelm them.

Truth: Students are concerned that if they bring up diverse careers with their advisors, their work will not be taken as seriously.

Belief: If professors are not outwardly objecting to students exploring multiple careers, students will know that they support them.

Truth: Graduate education teaches students to think critically and analytically, evaluate sources, conduct new research, and communicate ideas to diverse audiences. We need these skills in all sectors of the economy.

Belief: The purpose of graduate school is to create more professors, and if there are not enough professor positions, there is no reason for students to get the degree.

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