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 encourage 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

  • Explore the extensive resources for career development featured on this page.

  • 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

Click on each dot to learn more about select resources for navigating your career search, then check out OGS’s full resource list below.

Big Interview

Watch video lessons on how to ace an interview, record mock-interview videos answering either general or industry-specific questions and receive feedback from the AI Feedback tool.

visit Big Interview


Assess your career-related skills, interests, and values, explore potential career paths, and map out your next steps for career and professional development. This career exploration and planning tool is designed for PhD students and postdoctoral scholars in the humanities and social sciences, but its resources are useful for graduate students across disciplines.

visit ImaginePhD

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


WashU’s official online community for networking and mentorship. Use WashU CNX to connect with alumni, ask for informational interviews, and learn more about job opportunities in your areas of interest.

visit WashU CNX

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.

Additional diverse careers resources


career-planning tool tailored to meet the needs of PhD students and postdocs in the sciences

Imagine PhD

a career exploration and planning tool for the humanities and social sciences

Versatile PhD

online resource designed to help members of the graduate community who are interested in exploring non-academic career options

Big Interview

an online tool for improving your interview skills through lessons and mock-interviews

InterSECT job simulations

an online platform using job simulations to offer insight into the real-life duties of various career paths


WashU’s official online community for networking and mentorship

Center for Career Engagement

CCE’s resource page for graduate students and postdocs, including resources for non-academic career searches and academic career searches

Career Advising

schedule an appointment for career coaching or mock interviews with WashU’s career advisors at the Center for Career Engagement

Pivot 314 Fellowship

WashU’s year-long fellows program for mid-career PhD students to explore possible career pathways through engagement with the St. Louis entrepreneurial community, presented by The Graduate Center and the Skandalaris Center

CTL Professional Development in Teaching Program

formalized training in pedagogy for graduate students and postdocs from across all disciplines, designed to be a starting point for a career that includes teaching, presented by the Center for Teaching and Learning

CTL Resources for the Academic Job Market

access the Center for Teaching and Learning’s resources for developing a teaching philosophy statement or teaching portfolio and/or schedule a consultation

National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity (NCFDD)

offers resources and webinars to support research productivity, academic mentoring, and career development. All WashU graduate students, postdocs, and faculty can enroll in a free membership through WashU’s institutional membership

Need more information or have questions?

Contact Us