BEYOND THE IVORY TOWER:
Career Options for PhDs
Ruth Schemmer, PhD
Assistant Dean for Career Development
Graduate School
411 Kirkland
OVERVIEW
• Alternative Careers
• Identify Skills
• Gain Experience
• Explore Options
• Finding Jobs
• Final Thoughts
ALTERNATIVE CAREERS
•
Alternate Academic
Non-tenure track, higher education
Potential Positions: Academic Advisor;
Program Coordinator; Lab Manager;
Development Assistant
Potential Settings: Writing Center; Career
Center; Academic Dept; Research Lab;
Teaching Center; Development Office
ALTERNATIVE CAREERS, cont.
• Non-academic
Business/Industry; Non-profits; Government
Potential Positions: Research Associate;
Curator; Curriculum Director; Data Manager;
R&D Research Associate; Analyst; Consultant
Potential Settings: Government Agencies;
Health Care Organizations; Non-Profits (e.g.,
arts, research, health, education); Consulting
Firms; Think Tanks; Biotech Companies
IDENTIFY SKILLS
• Data Knowledge
Data management: digital data;
quantitative/qualitative; survey
distribution; experiments
Quantitative: statistics; survey analysis;
technical reports
• Organizational
Project management: dissertation;
planning large events
Personal interaction: volunteer work;
leadership; teaching/mentoring
IDENTIFY SKILLS, cont.
• Communication
Written: grant-writing; teaching;
dissertation; newsletter articles; website
development; report for granting agency
Oral: teaching; conference presentations;
leading meetings; invited talks
• Business Knowledge
Teamwork: collaborative research;
leadership positions
Management: lab management;
classroom teaching; training/mentoring
GAIN EXPERIENCE
• Internships
 Paid/unpaid; Business/Government (all levels)
 Project-based
• Volunteer Work
Grant-writing; Assist with events
• Campus/Community Leadership
Exec Boards; Fund-raising; Event Planning
EXPLORE OPTIONS
• Networking: ask for advice, suggestions, tips,
NOT for preferential treatment
 VU Alumni: VUConnect, locate PhDs with
interesting jobs (some are even local!)
 Alumni from undergraduate institution
 Departmental alumni (ask professors)
 Campus Staff (alternate academic careers)
 LinkedIn (groups/discussions, other people)
EXPLORE OPTIONS, cont.
• Conduct Informational Interviews
 People respond best to being asked for advice,
rather than for a job
 Ask to visit about their career
 What skills are needed in their career?
 How did they get started?
 Do they know anyone else who would be a good
contact for you?
EXPLORE OPTIONS, cont.
• Center for Student Professional Development
www.vanderbilt.edu/career
 Your Toolbox  Online Resources
 WetFeet Insider Guides: e.g. Consulting for
PhDs, Lawyers and Doctors
 Going Global: international job search
information
EXPLORE OPTIONS, cont.
• Chronicle of Higher Education
www.chronicle.com
 Advice Columns: 1st-person accounts
 VU has site license
• Chronicle of Philanthropy
www.philanthropy.com
 News of non-profit world
 VU has site license
EXPLORE OPTIONS, cont.
• Versatile PhD www.versatilephd.com
 Premium access paid by VU (CAS) for all students:
login through CSPD website
 Discussions, career panels (Humanities/Social
Sciences and STEM)
• Science Careers
http://sciencecareers.sciencemag.org
 My IDP (Individual Development Plan)
http://myidp.sciencecareers.org
EXPLORE OPTIONS, cont.
• Personality Assessments
 Keirsey Temperament Sorter (KTS II):
www.keirsey.com (free to take the sorter)
 Strengths Finder 2.0: strengths.gallup.com
(Access Code w/purchase of book, < 15.00)
 My IDP: http://myidp.sciencecareers.org
(focus is physical and life sciences)
FINDING JOBS
• First Step: create resume from CV
 Focus on transferable skills, rather than
content knowledge
 2 pages only
 Tailor each resume to job description
 Examples available with resume handout
FINDING JOBS, cont.
•
•
•
•
•
Networking, networking, networking!
Versatilephd.com (job listings)
Sciencecareers.sciencemag.org
Indeed.com (web aggregator)
Chronicle.com (alternate academic)
 University websites, too
• Philanthropy.com (non-profit jobs)
• Idealist.com (non-profit jobs)
FINDING JOBS, cont.
• Usajobs.gov (Federal Government jobs)
 Pathways for Students and Recent Graduates
 Unique job search—seek additional guidance
• State, City Government websites
• Professional Associations, applied focus
subsections; e.g., Sociological Practice of ASA
• Book of Lists (Owen School of Mgmt Library)
 Lists of companies in selected metro areas
• DoreWays: CSPD job listing system
FINAL THOUGHTS
• A degree of serendipity in any career journey
• May start well below skill level,
w/commensurate pay level
• Applying on websites is necessary, not sufficient,
condition for job searching
• Never too early to start—create resume, start
networking, research career options
CAREER DEVELOPMENT SERVICES
GRADUATE SCHOOL
Ruth Schemmer; 411 Kirkland
[email protected]
Appts: Wednesdays, all day; Friday mornings
Call 615-343-2727 for appt
Walk-ins: Thursdays, 2:00 – 4:00 pm
15-minute short consultation (e.g., resume review)
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Beyond the Ivory Tower: Career Options for PhDs