By Elysse Longiotti, M.A., M.S., Assistant Director, Student Career Advising, serving doctoral students in The Graduate School.
It’s never too early for graduate students to start exploring different career pathways. If you’re considering an industry outside of or in addition to the academic job market, NCA grants you access to many online databases and resources to help you explore your options and develop a focused job search when the time comes to apply to positions. Approaching professional life after graduate school can be daunting; having a strategy in place to treat your career exploration as a form of research can help limit that anxiety. You can find links to all of our (free!) databases on the Internship and Job Search menu under Student Resources.
Hoovers, Vault, and WetFeet are three tools in particular that can help you conduct targeted research. These three resources alone grant you access to various industry-specific career guides and thousands of employer profiles to help you answer questions like: Who are the primary employers to be aware of? What are the current industry employment trends? What are the typical roles available to someone with your level of experience? Hoovers specifically will allow you to make a list of employers according to criteria such as geographic location and industry of interest.
While these are wonderful ways to learn more about organizations and positions within targeted industries, I suggest using resources such as Versatile PhD (also on the NCA website) and LinkedIn alumni pages to learn more about others’ experiences. Not quite ready to contact people for an informational interview? Versatile PhD is an easy way to hear about others’ experiences– providing detailed, first person narratives of PhDs and ABDs who have gone on to successfully pursue careers across more than 20 industries (data science, nonprofits, policy, and publishing, just to name a few). Accounts are divided according to the writer’s former discipline, and further by the industry ultimately pursued.
If this sounds like a lot of work, think about when you applied to your current PhD program and the amount of research that went into that process. You wanted to be in a department with faculty you would want to work with, resources you would want to have access to, and a community that you would want to be a part of. Fit is just as important for the next step you take, regardless of the position you ultimately choose to accept. Keep in mind that none of these tools in and of themselves are the “end-all, be-all,” but when used together, they can help you create a clear picture of the types of positions and organizations that would be a good fit for you.
Overwhelmed by the prospect of determining which industries align with your skills and interests? You can always make an appointment with our career counselors. They are here to help graduate students assess their interests, values, strengths, and skills. Through a series of assessments and reflection, our counselors help students discover different career paths and identify potential industries to research further. If you are unsure as to what the next step to meet your career goals should be, make an appointment in CareerCat today!