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Wayne State University

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May 17 / Sarah Sheesley

Top 5 Career Advice Websites for PhDs

by Lauren Tanabe

PhDs are exceptionally good at doing the research needed to propel their projects forward. Now, it’s time for you to put that same effort into your career development. Here are the top five sites you should be regularly visiting for guidance and resources.

1.  Versatile PhD – If you choose just one site to visit, make it this one. Devoted entirely to helping graduate students and PhDs figure out how to excel at non-academic careers, Versatile PhD contains free content available to anyone who registers, as well as premium content available with an institution subscription (Wayne State is a subscriber). The site currently has a community of over 75,000 active members.

Divided into two sides, there are resources specific to STEM academics and humanities/social sciences academics. Go to the Career Finder tab to learn about all of the sectors available to PhDs beyond academia. Each area of interest contains invaluable examples of real-life resumes from PhDs who were hired for specific positions, as well as Q&As, and “Career Autobiographies” of former academics who have found success and happiness in a new position. There’s also a section for job postings.

If you are looking for more than a virtual community of forums, there are member meet-ups in cities all over the country, including Detroit. Join the Facebook meet-up page for Detroit for the most up-to-date info and to connect with other like-minded individuals in the area.

 

2.  Cheeky Scientist – Founded by Isaiah Hankel, CS is geared towards graduate students and postdocs looking to break into industry. But, the myriad resources are fabulous and applicable to any STEM PhDs looking for a non-academic career. You can sign up to become a CS Insider for free or you can pay a fee to join the CS Association, which boasts an extensive support network of professionals who can help you to develop the strategy and skills necessary to get noticed by recruiters and land that dream job. The membership will give you access to the exclusive “CS Training Dashboard” and content not available on the main site. This includes a personalized training plan and transition map that helps you to identify the best jobs to apply for given your unique skills and background.

Even if you don’t want to make the investment to join the association, have a look at the articles. Each week they post the best industry transition articles published around the web. There are also loads of helpful blog entries written by PhDs. Here, you’ll get advice from those who have been through the process of leaving academia. They discuss what constitutes a successful resume and job-interview (and what doesn’t), networking, and ways to cope with your current situation. Read through their “Success Stories” on those days when you’re feeling a bit down.

 

3.  Academic EQ – A career consulting service site devoted to helping PhDs thrive in careers beyond academia. Try their free 15-minute consultation to identify your strengths and abilities, as well as to learn how to best present yourself on the job market. Or, if you crave more assistance and support in making the transition to a new career, they offer several one-on-one consulting packages tailored to your needs. Services include interviewing prep, resume and cover-letter writing, social media navigation, and more.

But there is also plenty of free content. Download the resume template, resume writing guide, and job interview guide, to get started. The blog is chock full of short and captivating articles that run that gamut from how to be a versatile PhD to how to overcome the psychological obstacles that keep some of us stuck in academia when we crave more.

 

4.  From PhD to Life – Headed by Jennifer Polk, a life coach specializing in helping graduate students and PhDs find meaningful careers. In her blog, she regularly posts about career advice and interviews PhDs who have transitioned to fulfilling careers.

You can also hire Polk for one-on-one coaching sessions in dissertation writing or careers. She offers a free initial consultation. Her approach focuses on helping clients clarify and prioritize goals and identify any obstacles that may be holding them back. Periodically, she offers online classes and conferences.

 

5.  PhDs at Work – An online space for making new connections and sharing experiences. Michelle Erickson cultivates a “Week-in-the-Life” series with PhDs working in various work sectors. Over the course of one week, guest bloggers share their work days, along with personal reflection and advice. The posts showcase how skills learned during the doctoral process are drawn from and utilized in different career settings. With a comprehensive repertoire of stories, you can explore “Week-in-the-Life” by work sector, company or organization, degree field, or author. On this site, visitors can catch a virtual glimpse into the PhD afterlife and hopefully, gain insight into where they want to go next.

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