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Here are reasons every PhD should consider a career in the private sector
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A Note from Maren

October 5, 2020

Looking for a meaningful career after your PhD or Postdoc?
Humanities, Social Science, STEM PhDs should consider the private sector

I spend a lot of time each week on the phone advising graduate students and postdocs about jobs for PhDs outside of academia.

From these conversations, and my research interviewing PhDs, I know that we PhDs share a common definition of career success.

We want to be doing work that has a positive impact on society, keeps us intellectually engaged and inspired, and connects us to people and projects that matter.

Often times, PhDs assume that if we want a meaningful career, we should stick to jobs in higher education, non-profits, or the government.

It's why so many of us are drawn to higher education in the first place: we feel that the work we do as academics is moral, ethical, and just.

We worry that leaving academia will mean leaving behind all the things we find satisfying about our work and life.

While it is certainly true that careers in higher education, or other non-profits, can be meaningful and impactful, it is wrong to assume that private sector jobs for PhDs are not.

Smart people work everywhere. So do good people.

Impactful and
meaningful careers can happen in any sector, including in for-profit companies.

Perhaps you're thinking: sure, some PhDs could probably be happy working in the private sector, but I won't be.

I get that. When I was first considering a
nonacademic job, I looked at jobs in non-profits and higher education administration. I had a lot of negative assumptions about business, industry, and corporations.

But that's just it. They were just assumptions.

Now that I've been working as an entrepreneur for the past 4 years, I can tell you just how wrong I was.

I love the work I do at Beyond the Professoriate. And I get to have an impact every single day helping PhDs find careers where they will thrive.

When I was leaving academia, I was worried I wouldn't have the life of the mind; but every day I'm intellectually challenged and engaged in my work.

I worried I wouldn't work with smart people; but everyday I collaborate with the Beyond the Professoriate team to build programming, events, and resources.

I thought businesses were just about making money; but for so many entrepreneurs like m, business is about solving problems and making an intervention in society.

Here''s the real reason I''m pushing you to consider a career in the private sector:

That''s where the jobs are, and will be, after the Covid-19 recession.?

That doesn''t mean working at a giant, soulless, company. Most of the jobs will be at small to midsized companies.

Small businesses are organizations with less than 100 employees, and they make up over 95% of all businesses in the United States.

In fact, 89% of all businesses have less than 20 people. These small businesses generate jobs and are creative and innovative spaces.

After the Great Recession, small businesses generated 62% of all new private sector jobs. Economists expect that will be true for the Covid-19 recession recovery.

And we all know, too well, that higher education, non-profit, and government jobs are being cut. It will take longer for these jobs to come back.

So, if you're looking for a PhD alternative career, think small business and private sector.

I''ve written a long blog post that outlines why I think PhDs should consider careers in the private sector. You can read it here:

Read the Blog Post

For additional resources on job searching during Covid-19, check out these posts on our blog:
  • How to Use Social Media in Your Post-Academic Job Search
  • 3 Things You Should Do to Maintain Momentum in Your Job Search
  • From Maren on Job Searching in Uncertainty

Stay safe and healthy,

L. Maren Wood, PhD
Founder, Beyond the Professoriate
Click here to unsubscribe
Beyond the Professoriate, PO Box 6811, Denver, CO 80206, United States

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