So you’re coming to the end of your PhD.
After so many years of studying, it may feel difficult to find your way into the world of employment. Over the last few years you may have discovered that there are a lot of potential opportunities for people with a PhD, and it’s not that easy to pin down all of your options. Not to worry: we’ve listed 10 things you can do now, whether you want to get straight into your career or have a bit more time to think it over.
1. More research (sorry)
You can, you can, you can! As you’ve been researching for a fair few years now, the prospect of doing more for your career might not be that attractive. However you are in the unique position of probably being pretty incredible at researching, so use these skills to figure out which career is right for you.
2. Academia: research
An academic research career is one of the most obvious paths once you’ve completed your course. Many of you will have started your PhD with the full intention to go into research, and we can help you get into this.
The library in the careers resource centre has several books that can help you get into an academic career, and don’t forget to check out our website which has lots of resources to get you started.
3. Academia: teaching
Teaching at university level goes hand-in-hand with research, and many academic roles have a teaching element. This can be massively rewarding, and may be preferable to some than straight research.
Getting teaching experience before going into an academic teaching role is a great way to both improve your applications and see if this would be right for you. Our website has a specialist section on gaining this experience and gives advice on qualifications for this.
4. Attend a careers event
You can talk through your options with our PhD Careers Consultant, Catherine Reynolds – appointments are available throughout the year. In the Autumn our specialist PhD careers events start again from 9 October. Look out for: Career options after your PhD; PhD alumni panel; preparing for an academic career; CVs for academic posts; and working outside academia – booking opens on CareerHub soon.
Consulting is a popular choice after a PhD and some employers target people with PhDs specifically. Our consulting page can give you some ideas for routes in, and if you have any questions about whether consulting is right for you, feel free to book an appointment with us and talk it over.
6. Go freelance
Going freelance can be scary, but it’s not as bad as it sounds. While you don’t have a regular salary, you have freedom to do anything you want, including doing work in a slanket eating cheese.
During your PhD you probably got used to having a large amount of autonomy over your work, in addition to gaining the skills to manage your workload with ease. Working freelance can be an extension of this, and can be a very fulfilling option.
A good number of our PhD students have gone into freelance work, so try connecting with them either through LinkedIn, or join the Alumni office’s alumni groups to see how you can expand your network.
7. Have a break
Chances are you’ve worked extremely hard the past few years. While you knew that you’d have a lot of work, it doesn’t change the fact that you might be quite exhausted now it’s all done.
Once you’ve completed it can feel like a huge anti-climax as everything that you’ve done is suddenly over, so you definitely have good reason to take a bit of a break. If you’ve got the time, then it may be a good idea to have a short rest. See friends, catch up with family, do some London tourism that you never had the chance to before. Once you feel refreshed you’ll be much better prepared to move onto the next step.
8. Go travelling
If you’ve got time and/or money, then why not? Going away is a great way to both take a break and broaden your horizons. Whether you go and visit friends or just head to somewhere that there’s sun and a beach, getting out of the city will help you clear your head and get out of the research frame of mind.
Volunteering is a great way to go somewhere new. We have a large number of volunteering opportunities both abroad and closer to home during which you can continue to expand on your experiences and hopefully have some fun.
9. Take an interim job
Doing a PhD can be mentally, emotionally, but most of all financially draining. Taking a job that isn’t necessarily linked to your PhD is a good way to sustain your bank balance and further your CV while you figure out what would be your ideal career.
10. Book a careers appointment
One of the best ways to figure out your next move is to talk it over. We have a specialist PhD and academic careers consultant, Catherine Reynolds, who can give you some informed advice and help you lay out your options. These appointments can be booked in advance from CareerHub and last for half an hour.