How to Prepare for Industry Careers During Your Ph.D.

Photo by on Unsplash

How to Prepare for Industry Careers During Your Ph.D.

Hey there, fellow Ph.D. trailblazers! So, you're knee-deep in your research, but the idea of stepping into the real-world job market is lingering in the back of your mind.

Fear not! This guide is your friendly companion to help you smoothly transition from the ivory tower to the bustling industry landscape.

The Art of Skill Juggling

Picture this: You're a talented circus performer; your research is your star act. But guess what? The industry is the whole circus, demanding skills beyond the academic ring. While your research is crucial, add some juggling skills to your repertoire.

Jane Marvel is a biochemistry Ph.D. candidate at Copenhagen University who mastered her lab experiments and juggled her way into proficiency with data analysis tools. This made her a sought-after candidate for data-driven roles in the pharmaceutical industry.

Networking - Not Just a Buzzword

Let's bust a myth: Networking isn't just for extroverts with a knack for small talk. It's about building genuine connections with people who can offer insights, opportunities, and maybe even a coffee break buddy.

Attend conferences, join industry meet-ups, and don't be afraid to connect on LinkedIn.

An introverted neuroscience researcher, Alex Jefferson, started by engaging in online forums. Over time, he built a network that eased his transition into industry and landed him a job through a connection he made on Twitter.

Internships - Your Gateway to the Real World

Think of internships as the backstage pass to the industry circus. It's your chance to test the waters, learn the industry ropes, and decide if you're more of an acrobat or a lion tamer.

Seek out opportunities for internships or collaborations with industry partners to get a taste of what lies beyond academia.

Sam Steveson, a physics Ph.D. candidate, spent a summer interning with a tech company. This hands-on experience polished his coding skills and revealed his love for applying theoretical knowledge to real-world problems.

Developing Technical Tact

While your research might involve complex algorithms or decoding ancient manuscripts, the industry is interested in how you can apply those skills.

Identify the technical skills in demand within your target industry. It could be coding languages, data analysis tools, or even mastering the art of making killer presentations.

Taylor Danila, a materials science researcher, realized that learning a programming language could complement her research. This newfound skill enhanced her data analysis capabilities and made her stand out when applying for positions in materials engineering.

Staying Informed

It's a rapidly changing world, and industries evolve at the speed of light.

Remember to read industry blogs, attend webinars, and stay updated on the latest trends.

Your ability to speak the industry language and understand its current landscape will make you a hot commodity.

Casey Current, a sociology Ph.D. candidate, subscribed to newsletters and attended webinars on industry trends. This not only made her interviews more impressive but also gave her the confidence to discuss the latest developments in her field during networking events.

Crafting Your Online Persona

In a digital age, your online presence is your calling card.

Spruce up your LinkedIn profile, create a personal website, and showcase your research and achievements in a way that speaks to academics and industry professionals.

Think of it as designing your career billboard.

Morgan Simione, an environmental science researcher, revamped her LinkedIn profile to highlight her academic achievements and project management skills. Soon, she was approached by industry recruiters interested in her unique skill set.

Tailoring Your Resume

Your academic CV is a work of art, but the industry needs a different canvas. Tailor your resume to highlight the skills and experiences directly relevant to your job. Emphasize outcomes and practical skills that showcase your ability to contribute to a real-world work environment.

Riley Santander, a chemistry Ph.D. candidate, revamped his resume to emphasize his leadership in collaborative projects and the successful implementation of new lab techniques. This made him a standout candidate when applying for positions in industrial research.

Alternative Career Paths

Please repeat after me: there is life beyond academia. Embrace the idea that your Ph.D. can open doors to many career paths. Explore options like consulting, science communication, data science, or even entrepreneurship. Your unique set of skills is your ticket to various exciting journeys.

During a workshop, Jordan Goore, a history Ph.D. candidate, discovered a passion for science communication. Today, he runs a successful podcast that translates historical research into captivating stories for a wide audience.

The Mentorship Magic

Don't underestimate the power of mentorship. Seek guidance from those who have successfully leaped from academia to industry. Mentors can provide valuable insights and advice and even open doors to opportunities you might not have considered.

Morgan Korani, an economics Ph.D. candidate, sought mentorship from an industry professional. This mentor guided job applications and shared valuable insights into the corporate culture, making Morgan's transition smoother.

Time Management Wizardry

Balancing your research commitments with industry preparation can feel like juggling flaming torches. Efficient time management is key. Set aside dedicated time for skill development, networking, and job hunting. Treat your career transition as a project and allocate time accordingly.

A physics Ph.D. candidate, Jamie Kuggler, used a time management app to allocate specific weekly hours to career-related activities. This kept Jamie on track and ensured a healthy work-life balance during the hectic final stages of the Ph.D.


Dear Ph.D. rockstars, the transition from academia to industry is an exhilarating adventure waiting to unfold.

Embrace the journey, diversify your skill set, and remember, you're not just a researcher; you're a multidimensional talent ready to shine in the grand circus of the industry.

So, go ahead, dazzle them with your skills, and let the world witness the extraordinary performance that is you!