These are the 4 main takeaway messages:
1. The academic and non-academic sector differ in many ways
It is important to realize that the non-academic sector is very different from the academic sector. For example, assessment is not based on number of publications, impact factors, and your university’s reputation, but on your experience, transferable skills, personality and professionalism. Moreover, the recruitment and application process is often very different. A company is not interested in a 10-page CV with a list of all your publications and conference presentations, but wants a clear-cut CV summarizing your skills.
2. You develop more valuable skills during your PhD than you think!
This brings us to the second point: PhD’s often feel like their degree is not valuable or that they lack the skills to work outside academia. However, you develop more valuable skills during your PhD than you think. A good way to assess what your skills are, is making a list of the tasks you do during your PhD, and what skills these tasks entail. Before you know it, you have a long list of skills that you can easily use during interviews. Moreover, if you want to extend your skills, think about doing a training or getting experience outside academia.
3. Explore your options
A lot of PhD’s actually don’t really know what their options are and have a hard time identifying with all those different function titles outside academia. Therefore, it is never too early to start exploring job websites, get familiar with the different possibilities outside academia, and check what other alumni’s jobs look like. Moreover, finding a mentor or using job-coaching can really help to find what your passion is and what type of career you want to pursue.
4. Activate and extend your network
Very obvious, but also very important. During your PhD, you mostly build a network inside academia. If you are not sure whether you want to stay in academia, it is very useful to start building and extending your network outside academia as well. You can do this by visiting networking events, using LinkedIn to connect with people and by actively letting other people know what your goals are, and using your existing network to ask for help and extend your network. You know more people than you think!
If you want more guidelines on how to create a CV, write motivation letters or get job-coaching, visit: www.focus-research.be