In ‘10 steps to find a job after your PhD (part 1)’ I shared five first steps to prepare yourself for your next career step after your PhD graduation. Today I would like to add five more to get you fully prepared!
Step 6: Assessment tests
Sometimes, PhD students (such as myself) are not exactly sure of what they really want to do for the rest of their lives. It can be daunting to make a plan or stick with it in face of such uncertainty. Especially, when for the past few years, you are used to having a stable work protocol and a goal in sight. In such a case, seeking out assessment tests or aptitude tests can be advisable. These tests will orient your focus in the direction that you yourself subconsciously are biased towards.
It’s worth it to try the Career Reflector, AcademicTransfer’s self-assessment. It helps you to get a better understanding of your strengths and preferred working style.
Step 7: Talk to a career counselor or an expert
Sometimes, clarity in what to do next can be achieved by talking to a career counselor. For example, in Wageningen University, there is a career services office which houses professionals who guide students and PhDs on career decisions. An in-depth career session can be very beneficial in planning the next step of your life.
Step 8: Reach out to career professionals who you wish to follow
After having some idea of what you want to do in your career, it is a good idea to reach out to people in your network or around them whose careers you are interested in following. If they are willing to talk, they can provide you with key insights into what the work is like, their general experiences and perspectives on the career. The practical day-to-day of any job is often the last thing we'll know before we join and therefore it is nice to have someone on the inside willing to talk to you.
Step 9: Actively searching for the job
When you are almost ready to finish off your PhD work, it is time to dive in the deep end and start applying for jobs. Shortlisting certain enticing vacancies can be the way to go here. Start applying and attending interviews. No matter how the interviews go, you will gain experience in how to attend an interview, how to present yourself, what questions to expect and what questions to ask at the end of the interview. If you are lucky, you just might get an offer or two!
Step 10: Cold calling/ emailing
This is the last preparatory step for finding your next career. If you are not finding any ready-made job vacancies that fit your profile, you can start reaching out to the people who work in universities/ companies/ institutes of your interests and ask them if there are any opportunities available or will be available in the future that you are suitable for. For example, if you are looking for an academic postdoc, reach out to PIs in other universities who are involved with the research topic that you worked on in your PhD.