Whether you are committed to a career beyond academia or simply exploring the myriad career options available to you, the following resources and recommendations are intended to support you throughout your career exploration.
It is valuable to start your career exploration with self-exploration. We recommend utilizing one of the assessments listed below to gain insight into your interests, skills, and values. This enhanced self-awareness should be used to inform the professional careers or career-building opportunities you explore, and shape how you communicate your background and interests to prospective employers or professional contacts.
- ImaginePhD – Imagine PhD is a FREE career exploration and planning tool for advanced degrees in the humanities and social sciences. In addition to providing skills, interests, and values assessments, Imagine PhD helps users understand how their unique profiles might align with 165 different job families based on national PhD career outcome data. Imagine PhD also includes a tool for generating an individual development plan, job boards, sample resumes, job simulations, and candidate profiles.
- myIDP – This FREE on-line assessment tool provides exercises to identify skills, interests, and values as well as a curated list of 20 scientific career paths based on your skills-interests-values profile. myIDP also provides a tool for crafting an individual development plan. Learn more about your interests and career fit with this tool built specifically for Ph.D.’s.
Career Exploration for Graduate Students | ASC 6000
This one-credit course, tailored to the needs of graduate students at any phase of their programs, introduces skills for discovering a variety of career paths, assessing fit, cultivating necessary skills and networks, and entering a profession. Contact: Dr. Fosler-Lussier at email@example.com.
- Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, chapters 1-5. This book provides a guide for examining yourself and applying design principles to craft a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling. It includes a straight-forward strategy for identifying and solving problems – like what kind of career path could contribute to my life satisfaction.
- “What Can I Do With My PhD?” is the wrong question to ask on Job Search the Smart Way (Episode 8)
- What I really love is teaching… on Job Search the Smart Way (Episode 13)
Through self-assessment you should gain a deeper understanding of your own values, interests and skills. Tools like Imagine PhD and myIDP can help you translate that information to a subset of career paths for further investigation. (If you already have a career path in mind, the self-assessment step may not be essential.)
We recommend identifying no more than two career paths to explore. Through your investigation, you may decide against one or both and return to add additional options. That’s okay! That’s what the exploration stage is for.
At this point, you are forming a research question: I am interested in career path X. What is the reality of career path X and will it be a good fit for me (based on my values, interests, and skills)? The next steps you take should help you answer those questions.
- Once you have identified a career of interest to you, speaking with professionals (via informational interviews) in your field of interest is critical. Their insights should open your eyes to the realities of the profession, help you identify skills or experiences you might need for success in the field, and familiarize you with additional resources and the professional language of the field. Think about this as a means of gathering evidence related to your research question.
- An informational interview is an informal conversation you have with someone working in an area of interest to you. They are a common and valuable tool for gaining insight into a profession and/or a particular organization. When carried out correctly, they can also help you build your professional network.
- Informational Interview Guide from Imagine PhD. Creating a profile with Imagine PhD is free!
- Talk with family and friends about the industry you’re exploring; ask them if they have contacts or other resources they might be willing to share.
- Let your advisor and others who are invested in your professional success know about your career exploration process and the career(s) or industry of interest to you. Ask them if they know of individuals you could talk to. (Be sure to mention your initial contact when reaching out to the referral!)
- Consider talking with professional staff at Ohio State. Professionals in marketing, fundraising, healthcare, tech commercialization and countless other areas are likely to have valuable insights and connections they could share.
Engage with Alumni
As fellow Buckeyes, you have an established connection with Ohio State alumni. You are encouraged to build upon those shared experiences, establishing mutually beneficial relationships for career exploration, professional development, and more.
LinkedIn allows you to search for and invite alumni from Ohio State (or other institutions where you’ve studied) for informational interviews or follow them to passively learn about resources, opportunities, or additional contacts in their field/your field of interest.
- Check for upcoming events featuring alumni
Learn from your peers through LinkedIn groups organized around common areas of interest.
Connect with Employers
Employers can offer industry-specific information on career paths, industry trends, opportunities, and more.
All Ohio State students and recent alumni have access to Handshake, a university-wide position posting system. Employers post tens of thousands of part-time and full-time jobs, internships, co-ops, and other career-building opportunities annually. They also regularly hold information sessions featuring alumni or professionals sharing about their career trajectories and current roles. These events are a great way to learn more about career paths of interest!
Job shadowing provides an opportunity to observe someone in a job or industry of interest.
- The minimal time commitment makes jobs shadowing particularly appealing for busy graduate students and postdocs. Shadowing experiences can range from a full day to multiple days or chunks of time spread over several weeks or even a full semester.
- Leverage your network to identify opportunities to shadow someone in a career you’re interested in.
- Do keep in mind this activity can put a resource strain on the individual(s) you shadow and even the host organization. Be gracious and understanding if they are not able to accommodate you, be thoughtful of their time if you are granted access (e.g., prepare in advance with research on the organization, follow any instructions or guidelines provided, demonstrate your engagement by taking notes and asking thoughtful questions), and be sure to communicate your gratitude following your experience – even if you learn it’s not the career path for you.
University offices as well as affiliated programs offer events that connect you with employers.
- The Erdős Institute offers speaker series that feature PhDs currently work in industry roles.
- The Graduate School’s Accelerate to Industry program (A2i) offers speaker series that feature PhDs currently work in industry roles.
- Versatile PhD provides profiles and interviews with PhDs working in a wide array of careers.
Meeting with a professional career coach to help orient your career exploration.
Buckeye Careers - provides a range of services that support career exploration and preparation of graduate students, including, but not limited to, 1-1 career coaching and regular workshops.
New! ASC Career Success will offer coaching appointments to graduate students and postdocs exploring or seeking non-academic careers. Log into Handshake and select Career Center, then select Appointments.
- Designing Your Life by Bill Burnett and Dave Evans, chapter 7. This book provides a guide for examining yourself and applying design principles to craft a life that is both meaningful and fulfilling. It includes a straight-forward strategy for identifying and solving problems – like what kind of career path could contribute to my life satisfaction.
- Why a job search process is so important for PhDs leaving the academy on Job Search the Smart Way (Episode 17).