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March 8, 2023, by pcxha8

I Don’t Want To Stay in Academia…What Now?

By Hiba Azim, PhD researcher

An increasing number of postgraduate students are choosing to take their skills elsewhere and not pursue academia after they graduate. However, transitioning out of academia can be a daunting task, and it may be challenging to determine how to make your CV appealing to other job types.

The truth is that most postgraduate students do not stay in academia, and your doctorate will open many more doors for you than you think. With a little faith and preparation, you can land yourself a dream role.

When exploring the job market, there are numerous non-academic roles to consider. Some industries are particularly interested in sourcing PhD holders, and they can be a good place to start researching job descriptions that interest you.

Medical communications

One industry to consider is medical communications. Completing a PhD requires communicating complex information from a variety of sources to multiple audiences, which is an invaluable skill in the world of work. Even with a lab-based chemistry doctorate, medical communications could be a potential career path that allows you to use your scientific knowledge in a creative way. There are various types of medical communication, such as preparing speeches, slide-decks, scientific conferences, clinical governance documents, patient information leaflets, and technical specifications.

Project management

Another role to consider is project management. Completing a PhD demonstrates your project management skills. Over the course of your doctoral project, you have likely executed several different projects that tie together in complex ways. Planning a body of work, identifying milestones, and anticipating challenges becomes second nature over the course of your postgraduate studies. This is a key skill that is highly sought after and can be applied to essentially any industry you’re interested in.

If you enjoy having a bird’s eye view, collaborating with multiple people to achieve goals, and are highly organised, project management is a great alternative to academia. Keep in mind that most companies require a project management certification such as Agile or Lean Sigma Six to be considered. This can vary from industry to industry, so it’s a good idea to do some research in your areas of interest.


Working for a start-up is another way to use the skillset that you built during your PhD – problem-solving, data analysis, and effective research. There are several directories with daily updates on the latest start-ups hiring around you. Find a company with a cause you’re passionate about, and make sure you do your research about the people you’ll be working with. You could even consider becoming a founder yourself. There are also numerous accelerator programs that offer funding and support to talented individuals looking for a cause to dedicate themselves to.

Networking and CVs

When it comes to tailoring your CV, try to take a step back and think of the core skills you developed during your studies rather than the day-to-day detail. Describe your output as numerically as possible, as this makes a bigger impact. When networking and seeking opportunities, reach out to people on LinkedIn with your dream role and see if they will offer an informational interview. This can help you gain insight into what those roles are like and the different ways to reach them. People are often more willing to help than you think, and the worst they can say is no. When you begin to get an idea of the role you’d like, try to find some opportunities that can be put on your CV or discussed in your interview to show that you have had an interest in the field for some time.

If you’re still not sure where you can take your skills after finishing your doctorate, why not book in for a chat with the Careers team? They can help you identify the types of roles that you are well-suited for and provide support towards perfecting applications or interview techniques.

Remember, there is an art to extracting the right information from your experiences and selling it on your CV. With a little effort and the right approach, you can successfully transition out of academia and find your dream job.

Explore our dedicated webpage for guidance on Applying for jobs outside of academia.

Posted in Choosing Your CareerCVs and Cover LettersPhD Students