Soliciting Advice: Non-Academic Careers for Ph.D.'s

By Sean Carroll | May 18, 2011 2:05 pm

While the previous post bemoans the lack of simple world-changing ways to make the career path for aspiring academics more pleasant (other than bushels of money falling from the sky, of which I would approve), there is one feasible thing that everyone agrees would be good: better career counseling for Ph.D. students, both on the realistic prospects for advancement within academia, and concerning opportunities outside.

I always try to be honest with my own students about the prospects for ultimately landing a faculty job. But like most faculty members, I’m not that much help when it comes to outside opportunities, having spent practically all my life within academia. I’m happy to give advice, but you’d be crazy to take it, since I have no idea what I am talking about.

But that’s a correctable state of affairs. So: I’m hereby soliciting good, specific career advice and/or resources for students who are on the track to get a Ph.D. (or already have one) and are interested in pursuing non-academic jobs. This might be particular jobs that are Ph.D.-friendly, or websites with good information, or relevant fellowships or employment agencies, or just pointers to other resources. (For example: do you know the difference between a CV and a resume?) The more specific the better, and including useful links is best of all. General griping and expressions of bitterness should be kept in the previous thread; let’s try to be productive. And there’s no reason to limit it to physics, all fields are welcome. Advice that is useful for only a tiny number of people, but extremely useful for them, is certainly sought. We’re looking for things that have a nontrivial chance of actually helping some specific person at a future date.

Most of all it would be great to have input from people who actually got a Ph.D. and then went on to do something else. But it’s the internet, everyone can chime in.

I will take what look like the most helpful suggestions and collate them into a separate post. Spread the word, let’s get as much input from different sectors as we can.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Academia, Advice, Top Posts

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About Sean Carroll

Sean Carroll is a Senior Research Associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. His research interests include theoretical aspects of cosmology, field theory, and gravitation. His most recent book is The Particle at the End of the Universe, about the Large Hadron Collider and the search for the Higgs boson. Here are some of his favorite blog posts, home page, and email: carroll [at] .


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