Life and Lessons After PhD, Beyond the Academia
February 21, 2017

I wanted to be prepared. While pursuing my Ph.D., I made it a point to participate in as many career preparation workshops as I could – within the University and in Professional Conferences. There was not much support available for careers outside the academia, except for the emerging versatile PhD (VPhD) membership. That didn’t worry me because I was prepared for anything, or so I thought.

Let’s just say that I was a little too optimistic with my prospects despite the warnings.  The Survey of Earned Doctorates shows that the number of students getting a Ph.D. degree continues to increase while the job prospects do not. The primary job market and perhaps the most sought after landing spot, the academia, continues to take in less and less of the graduates.

After completing my Ph.D., my job search hit wall after wall. That was my wake up call. In my quest for answers, social media became a boon for me and on Twitter I found an academic and a career coach for PhDs and Graduate Students. Her posts were a breath of fresh air. She talked about the alternatives of life after a Ph.D., ones that expanded beyond the tenure track jobs and the academia. In fact, her fresh perspective came from one that did not pit academia against non-academia, rather her posts were about personal choice.

Today, I bring you my conversation with Jennifer Polk, Ph.D. Jen has 17K twitter followers and in addition to her site FromPhDtolife, she provides career advice on her award winning University Affairs column.

Almost after three years since completing my Ph.D. and looking at both at academia and at the world outside academia, I have come to appreciate the importance of being able to consider both the perspective and then to make a decision that is unique to you. It has been such a pleasure knowing and learning from Jen and I wanted to share some of her insights.

You’d want to listen to this conversation if:

  • You are pursuing a Ph.D.
  • You are thinking of pursuing a Ph.D.
  • You have completed a Ph.D.
  • You’re just curious about the life of PhDs

Some of the takeaways from this interview:

  1. It’s Ok to not want or get a tenure track
  2. Publish or Perish: The Myth
  3. When is the best time to hire a coach?
  4. Why does mindset matter? Do you have gremlins that you need to take care of before you ask for help?
  5. Why Jen says informational interviews are important? She even gives some tips on what questions to ask.
  6. The world is changing, are you adapting?
  7. An opportunity to attend The Beyond Professoriate: The Career Conference for PhDs is for graduate students and recent PhDs from PhDs who have been living it.

What was YOUR takeaway from this interview? I’d love to hear it.

About Sudiksha Joshi

A Learning Advocate and Founder of, I am on a mission to give ourselves to think bigger and bolder to forge our way forward and change the world.