A non-academic career can involve anything from a small sideways hop (a research position in industry), to a full leap into something completely different (running your own bike shop). The good news is that you will have lots of valuable skills and experience to bring from your research background, from project management to training students.
We know that choosing to leave academia can sometimes feel like a failure, but when we talk to people who have made the jump, they have found it to be a really positive choice. We want you to make the right choice too. Here are our most frequently asked questions about managing the transition, with some tips on how to get started.
Will anyone want to employ me? The short answer is yes, absolutely! If you check out job adverts or role profiles, you will see that researchers have lots of skills and attributes that are valued by employers. Not all employers will ask for a PhD, but that doesn’t mean to say that they don’t appreciate the benefits of employing researchers.
How will I know if I like it? This is a really understandable question. After all, you’ve had your whole education and postdoc experience to decide whether or not you like academia, and it’s natural to wonder how you’ll know if you like life outside, when you’re not getting to try it out for as long. We’d recommend doing your homework by researching the role and the organisation; maybe going for an informational interview, or even taking a few days to do some work shadowing.
What can I offer? It can sometimes be difficult to unpick your skills, so think about how you spend a typical day. You might be using organisational skills to set up and run experiments; communication skills to negotiate with your supervisor; and analytical skills to work with multiple sources of data. If there are gaps in your skill set, think about your extra-curricular activities. Remember that these are valued by employers and demonstrate that you have more to offer than your academic skills. Consider voluntary work, hobbies, or opportunities on campus, such as running a conference, or engaging with ncl+
Where do I look? That really depends on the role. Why not check our opportunities pages, or come in and see us for some 1-1 advice?
How can I market myself? Sometimes it’s hard to know how to pitch yourself outside academia, as academic CVs and application forms don’t often translate well outside the academe. Check our pages on applications, and come in to see us for some feedback.
How can we help?
Moving out of academia can seem quite daunting, even to the most confident and well-prepared person. Come along to our workshops for PGRs and staff to help you prepare for the transition, or contact us for 1-1 advice, guidance and support.