In academia, we define ourselves by what we study. People will introduce themselves as an historian, a literary theorist, an anthropologist, a geologist, a physicist.
And, of course, we''re actually way more niche than that. I was an historian of gender and sexuality in early America, studying print culture.
In the process of becoming an expert, you have developed a range of incredible skills.
You''re managing multiple projects with competing deadlines, mentoring students, collaborating with your lab mates, writing, publishing, presenting
your research, and managing your own time.
Often, grad students and PhDs are doing all of this with little structure or guidance.
PhDs are nothing if not self-motivated and driven to succeed. Successfully landing a job outside of academia requires a big mental shift
: rather than seeing yourself as an expert with a defined subject matter expertise, you need to see yourself as a highly educated individual with an impressive range of skills.
Outside of academia, you''ll apply the skills you developed in graduate school that allowed you to be successful. You''ll just be harnessing these skills for new challenges and projects. Employers won''t hire you
because you have a PhD.
They''ll hire you because you have skills that you can apply to projects in their organization.
So, this is good news if, like me, your subject matter expertise has no direct pathways out of academia. It won''t matter.
What if your subject matter expertise is applicable in industry? You will still need to talk about how the knowledge you have can be applied to solve an employer''s problem.
It won''t be about your research anymore. It''ll be how your knowledge can be applied in my organization to help me solve my problems. What matters is the skills you''ve developed while earning your degree.
There are opportunities beyond the professoriate for PhDs, regardless of what you studied.
Consider our Beyond Prof team:
- I did my PhD in History, and now I spend my time running a business.
- Malisa did her PhD in English Literature and now is a digital and content marketing strategist.
- Diane did her PhD in Kinesiology and now is an instructional
designer and product manager.
- Susan earned her PhD in History, works full-time as a teaching and learning specialist, and right now, she''s managing Beyond Prof''s social media accounts.
See, our current careers have nothing to do with our subject matter expertise. We''re successful because of our skills and our desire to learn new things.
You are not your degree, and your subject matter doesn''t define what you do next.
Organizations face a range of challenges, and they hire a diverse team. In different organizations, and across sectors, you will find data analysts, communication and marketing strategies, sales associates or fundraisers or grant writers, customer success representatives, managers, and C-suite executives.
You''ll find people who can lead teams, while other team members will implement ideas, building process and creating structure.
So, what can you be doing right now
in graduate school, during your postdoc, or while you''re a temporary faculty position, to ensure you have the right skills to be successful outside of academia?
This month, we''re focusing on the skills PhDs should
have by the time they graduate.
What skills do employers look for in candidates?
What skills do you already have?
And what additional skills should you consider developing so that, if you end up applying for nonfaculty jobs, you''ll be set up for success?
Join me on December 11th at Noon Et for a free webinar: 3 Skills Every PhD Should Have When They Graduate.
Because understanding your skills is so important for a nonacademic
job search, we have several articles on our blog just about skills.
- The Value of Soft Skills: 5 Transferable Skills for PhDs in STEM
- 10 Transferable Skills from your PhD that Employers Want
- 5 Terrific Transferable Skills in Teaching
- What can I do with my Social Sciences PhD
- What can I do with my Humanities PhD
- What can I do with my STEM PhD
Stay healthy and safe,