Academic on the inside?

Who can help you get a job outside of academia when you finish your PhD?

Career counselling professionals with a special interest in PhD student issues are rare. In December last year I was invited to give the keynote at the annual meeting of Australian post graduate careers advisors in Sydney. Naturally leapt at the chance to spend a day with a whole group of professional PhD Job Whisperers.

Screen Shot 2015-01-05 at 3.58.50 pmIn the afternoon there was a panel discussion with three experienced HR consultants – the people who hire PhD candidates into industries other than academia. It was a fascinating and, for me at least, quite an eye opening discussion.

The panel members told us how they worked with PhD graduates and what they thought of them. Since there weren’t any PhD students in the room to offend the panel was, well – frank.

Science students, fresh out of their PhD were described as emotionally unaware, poor team players, bad communicators and inept project managers. The elastic deadlines in academia were criticised for breeding a culture of indifference to the value of time and a certain lack of pragmatism that doesn’t work outside of academia.

It was hard to listen to the panel with a generous heart.

Everything they were saying was contrary to what I had observed in practice. I spend my working life helping PhD students, the majority of whom are working in the sciences. I have enormous respect for the work scientists do. I admire their diligence, attention to detail, creativity and resilience. They tend to have strong communities and extended friendship networks because they often work in large teams.

Contrary to many of the stereotypes in the media, scientists are ordinary people. You would be hard pressed to pick most scientist PhD students I know out of a line up of ordinary young people. Scientists can have pink hair, tattoos, Tshirts with incomprehensible slogans on them and hipster beards. The scientists I have come to know through the years are far from the ‘propeller-head’ stereotype being presented (yes, the panel actually used this term). Ok, some of them are further along the Austism Spectrum than others, but hopefully our community is learning to see the value in those of us who are not neuro-typical.

At the end of the discussion I had to challenge the panel to explain themselves. In typical academic style, I went in at what I thought was the two weakest points in their argument: deadlines and teamwork.

I pointed out that the pressure to get results and publish is intense in academia. Academics must manage ill-defined projects over long time frames. Academic work is often frustrating and needs a high degree of commitment, creativity and enthusiasm. Surely these are the right skills and attitudes for business?

Well, yes and no it seems.

The panel pointed out that in business decisions are often made on partial information. This can be uncomfortable for researchers who like to carefully collect evidence and do a considered analysis before offering an opinion. In fact, careful answers are what most academics hold most dear; you are not being an academic if you skip steps, leave out details or don’t entertain the possibility you are wrong.

What was initially described to be a ‘problem’ of the scientists was looking more like a culture clash – and this feeling only intensified when I asked my next question.

How was it possible for science graduates to be bad at team work? They grow up in a lab culture where sharing and collaborating are the norm. You can’t really DO science without collaborating at some level. After years and years of this even those who are not naturally disposed to play well with others will pick up some team work skills?

Well yes of course, the panelists replied. When you get a team of scientists working together in a non academic setting they collaborate like mad. They are the very model of best practice in team work.

So long as they are with other scientist types.

They just don’t get along with other people that well. ‘Other people’ being non academics and people who are not trained in the same discipline.

Scientists often found it difficult, the panelists explained, to communicate with non scientists. Communication involves much more than merely translating technical terms and concepts into non specialist speech. In the workplace telling someone a fact is not enough; scientists must learn to use the facts to persuade people to adopt a position or a new practice. Scientists do not usually have good skills in this because they get used to dealing with people who think the same way. This made sense to me – there is enough climate denial, anti vaccination crusades and anti-wind farm advocates out there, despite the best efforts of scientists to tell them the facts.

Facts do not, in fact, speak for themselves at all.

If you do not get good at persuading people with facts the communication problems multiply. The panelists gave examples of scientists criticising decisions they thought were wrong and asking uncomfortable questions they knew the other person couldn’t answer.

Basically acting like a normal academics.

This kind of nit-picking, critical behaviour makes most non-academics feel stupid and defensive (it probably makes most academics feel the same way to be honest, but we learn to hide it better). Combative academic behaviour that is perfectly acceptable in a lab meeting just makes you seem like, well – an asshole.

It seemed to me that the problem they were describing is not easily solved. It’s not that PhD students are not socialised properly, they are socialised too well. Everything about the PhD curriculum is designed to generate more academics, not researchers who work in business settings. If we do our jobs as educators, by the time they graduate, most PhD students are very good academics, which means they are likely to be poor at being in most business settings.

Changing this academic formula to produce more ‘business ready’ graduates is dangerous. I don’t just say that to be conservative. The way knowledge is built in science communities – and in other ones for that matter – relies on criticism and those extended timelines to make sure the conclusions are as right as they can be. We wouldn’t BE academics if we didn’t work this way – but we could work on being nicer to each other when applying this criticism.

If you want to move outside of academia when you are finished – and 60% of you will – you will need to be prepared for the possibility of culture shock. It probably wont be an easy transition, but does this mean you shouldn’t do it?

I asked the panelists if any of the people they placed ever found the culture shock too much and went running back to academia. They claimed none of them did. Once they had accustomed themselves to the new culture, which happened pretty fast most of the time (we are good learners remember?), most PhD graduates find non academic settings quite comfortable. And they certainly like the pay!

How about you? Have you had experience of working on the outside in a research role? Or are you thinking about it? Do you have any tips for people looking to make the jump? Love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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65 thoughts on “Academic on the inside?

  1. Jill says:

    I would love to hear how a science PhD student goes about getting a non-academic job? I am nearing the end and I don’t think academia is for me.

  2. Rock Doc says:

    I think it helps science PhD’s to take on a little bit of consulting work when they’re still students. It helps lessen the culture shock in terms of deadlines and presenting to company staff or executives who may be highly educated, but not scientists.

    Just my $0.02.

      • James says:

        As someone that is going about it “backwards” (I have spent the past 15 years in “service” orientated science [mainly consultancy]) and am now planning to return to University to pursue a PhD, I think this is invaluable advice!

      • Rock Doc says:

        I think it’s good advice for both those considering leaving academia AND those considering staying in academia to be honest. Funding from government grant schemes is limited, and a lot of research these days is funded by industry, so learning how to work with companies early on will be beneficial in the long run for those planning on staying in the hallowed halls as well.

  3. badblood says:

    I was thinking about this earlier today in relation to Stephen Pinker’s writing about ‘academese’ and the ‘professoriate’.

    Apparently he thinks academics use jargon too much.

    I think arguments like that encourage people to see difficulty in understanding things as a failure to communicate simply rather than having compassion for the project of communicating about difficult things. I worked for a long while in multicultural health within a centre that did training on cultural competence for clinicians, and their message was that you can communicate anything as long as you use simple English… it completely ignored the conceptual domain of communication — the way language doesn’t just communicate statements of fact but also structures for thinking with.

  4. Deeae says:

    Corporate culture was a killer for me. If you don’t have the desire, will or ability to accept that any inkling of intelligence is now a liability and learn how to dumb down fast, you will be judged to be (by the small minds or weak spines or suffocated hearts who dominate the managerial and sometimes corporate – especially HR – leadership pool) the enemy to be killed and your persecution will begin in earnest.

    I will never go back. My health broke down over the course of six years because I refused to believe the reality of the chicken coop, especially with all the fantastic PR and media the company received. (Note: I braved two separate corporations in that time. Now I’m an independent small business owner contracting out my research skills, earning far, far less income but much, much happier and healthier, stress notwithstanding.)

    Don’t even go there. An utterly demoralizing experience that will make you wiser – but sadder.

    If you do choose to enter Fantasyland, always see the PR for the sophisticated seduction that it is – and never let yourself fall prey to believing that this is real life. The risk is that you will turncoat without realizing it and degrade yourself into impotence and meaninglessness, too.

    Life is freedom and freedom is where the truth is – seek and you will find.

  5. Susan says:

    Great article, and something different to what is often on Thesis Whisperer. Those HR professionals sound like they have quite insightful views – I’m glad you challenged them to explain yourself. Thanks for writing this.

  6. formeracademic says:

    Hi Ingrid, what an interesting post! I think your point about the difference between academic culture (and all that that entails) compared to non-academic organisations is important. This doesn’t just affect those in science, but also – perhaps especially – PhDs from the social sciences and humanities. Having worked in law enforcement, both operationally and in policy areas, understanding the mechanisms of research is crucial to doing the job. What is different, however, is that these agencies want specific, tangible outcomes, and there can be serious consequences if the wrong decisions are made. In academia (perhaps humanities especially?) there are less likely to be such immediate or dire consequences (not always, I admit).

    On communication styles, I would agree that PhDs need to learn and use ‘simple English’ (as Badblood mentions) and also to remind themselves that not everyone knows the jargon. This is also related to culture; all organisations have acronyms and jargon for their particular industry, it’s just knowing when and where to use it.

    • Thesis Whisperer says:

      I’ve often thought law enforcement – or more precisely investigation – would be a good sideways move for a humanities researcher. It’s interesting to hear this experience. If you have the time/desire to write more about it please contact me – I’m sure others would be interested to hear about it.

  7. wmartindavies says:

    There are several separate issues being conflated here:

    1. Are academics employable outside academia? Demonstrably so, although not all of them are — some I would not hire myself — and it depends on what is meant by ‘outside academia’. For example, working for a government agency — e.g., Defence — is probably not a whole lot different from working within academia (after all, they write and present theoretical papers to each other all the time). But working for a Widget factory is probably very different. The last thing most companies want is an employee with a PhD — who think they are pretty clever — prattling on about subtle academic distinctions and philosophical puzzles. Most just want to make a profit.
    2. Do the skills that an academic acquires transfer to corporate and other non-academic domains? Again, yes, but it depends on the skill and the domain. Most people like clear writing when they see it. But companies — and academics — use vague language purposefully to obfuscate their meaning, to sound impressive, and/or to advance a political agenda. Bureaucratic/managerial ‘weasel words’ are widespread of course, but academics have their own wacky jargon too. We are not all clear writers. See the “Bad Academic Writing Contest” which ran from 1995-1998:
    3. Can academics be acculturated better to working outside the academy in non-academic professions? Clearly they can, and they should be. Universities should have training programs to advance this aim. I wonder why it is assumed that getting a PhD is a necessary and sufficient condition for being employable? The days when that was the case are long gone — and they won’t be coming back.

    PS: I object to the Americanism “asshole”. Please use “arsehole”!

  8. Susan Mayson says:

    Yes very interesting article Inger. It is a view from the ‘outside’ I have heard as well. Too bad industry/business/politics do not appreciate what academia brings to it. A young PhD I know has just returned to the academic fold after a stint with a large consulting firm. One of my PhDs it just about to start with a large Australian bank and I wonder how he will go. I will share the blog with him.

  9. Jo says:

    I too have come to academia after a lifetime in education, health and community, so I have always had to communicate ideas clearly and take people through a chain of unfamiliar concepts.
    My university encourages us to communicate our ideas as if to an intelligent non-specialist, which is a very useful guideline which enables communication between disciplines and also helps the many postgrads from other countries.
    On balance, I think coming to a PhD later on gets around some of the culture shock, but it brings other problems, for example, we may have very good working knowledge of our field and have kept up professional knowledge, but not read all the scientific journals. Or we have a very broad understanding of our field and are used to networking across agencies, but have never had the lixury of time to take one issue and tease it out – which is probably why we have come into the academic arena. Any recognition and knowhow we have gained in our field probably does not transition easily into academia.
    Picking up the more academic thought patterns and jargon often feels like fudging the issue – hiding behind a cloud of obfuscation rather than identifying and solving real problems.
    But the most difficult aspect of culture shock in my return to academia is the expectation that there is nothing else going on in life besides my study. I did attend a very useful seminar on returning to study. It included a review of all the activties of a typical week, and then the question, so where are you going to find the hours for fulltime study? That’s the one I am struggling most with.

  10. Vickie says:

    I had been working in the corporate environment all my life while studying, but when I changed to full-time PhD studies, I was in for the shock of my life at the lack of accountability and relaxed attitudes towards deadlines and completing projects from academics – many of whom were supervisors.

    There is pressure to publish in academia, but not the daily pressure of the corporate world. If you take a week, or two or three to edit a paper in university, no one seems to care. In business, everything needs to be done yesterday.

    There are downsides to both: having someone demand at 5pm the night before that you create a full presentation and discuss a highly complex idea at tomorrow’s meeting is awful, but having an academic supervisor who takes numerous weeks to give you feedback and goes on holidays and conferences and is unavailable for months is hideous, too.

    • Emma Friesen says:

      Well said. I’ve worked corporate and health care positions. Keeping the organisation ticking over each day (and each hour within each day) means very short, tight deadlines. Spending hours, days or months agonising over wording of a report or paper just isn’t an option.

  11. Ella says:

    Even inside academia you have to socialise with non-academics. The post reminded me of a couple of *discussions* I got (too) involved in at Xmas parties

  12. Andre says:

    Inger, I’m glad to see you wrote a blog about this, esp. as I watched the Twitter conversation touch on some issues I have blogged about in the past with regard to my personal experiences and cultural/training deficiencies within health science academic research at the postgraduate level. I’d like to elaborate on my experiences in cotext of you blog post.

    I’ll start by saying that I never, for once, saw myself as an academic, and that 3 factors conspired to force me to “see the world” beyond what I knew.

    This was due (in part) to the fact that I’d always seen myself as an engineer outside of engineering research, in another field which happened to be the health sciences. It meant that conversations with my peers within my institution were quite limited, we shared few things in common with regard to the nature of our work. Secondly, my organisation was very “forward-facing”, in the sense that we were based within a teaching hospital – the problems we tackled weren’t derived from “what-if” exercises, they were real problems experienced by real people. Finally, exposure to the commercial world of new technology development and commercialisation opened my mind up to networking beyond my organisation, and apply the curiosity I had in science to an area I knew would be important for non-academic career development. It also taught me that the demands were certainly more stringent, and the time frames for delivering things were shorter, and that processes were often undertaken with a certain level of risk – to an extent, the question science left unanswered would be entertained by technology start-up CEO’s, but they would have to make quick decisions or risk strangling their company, running out of cash or losing out to competitors.

    In understanding this commercial culture and ecosystem, I realised I could have real impact on society and in healthcare by being a C-level individual. So I took it upon myself to *actively* view my PhD as a commercial project, where I was CEO, CFO, CTO, project manager, HR manager, marketing guru and regulatory compliance officer. I started to read blogs to learn about challenges healthcare start-ups face, and how their entrepreneurs demonstrated leadership and tenacity to support their ideas, their teams and themselves through difficult times.

    What all this did was to change my attitude to how I saw my PhD within myself – the PhD became an exercise in learning how to lead a company.

    Before, I stated a laundry-list of roles I filled going through my postgraduate experience – I have clearly-defined “life-episodes” of how I fulfilled those roles as I made concious effort to recognise these (often unfavourable) circumstances, put on the hat of the person that would deal with it within my “company”, and move toward a more favourable outcome. I wish more PhD students realised that this is the best way to learn about their own leadership strengths and weaknesses.

    As I transition out from my PhD and academia, I preferentially brand myself as anything else BUT a PhD student. Sure, there are times when I do say I’m a PhD student under-examination, but this is only within academic circles. To my commercial colleagues and counterparts, I am a healthcare technology professional with a strong grounding in data analysis and innovation, and have a solid understanding of regulatory affairs, IP asset utilisation and demonstrate leadership qualities. The way I talk about my PhD background follows more along the lines of showing that the PhD has influenced my “DNA” as a professional in this area, where the project I worked on helped me build a strong capability in driving data-based decision making (something a non-PhD professional would be less likely to have, or have in a less refined sense) and given me an opportunity to learn more about my area of profession. I now have numerous commercial opportunities in the pipeline, all of them very exciting, and all will require my collective PhD and ecosystem knowledge.

    As to how we imbue this commercial mindset into PhD grads reading your blog, and others more broadly, I’m not sure. Academic culture is difficult to shift, but my initial thought is that both the commercial players and academic institutions have a collective responsibility to shine light on the non-academic roles PhD graduates can take, and provide meaningful resources and paths to assist graduates in getting there.

    • lindathestar says:

      The project management approach you describe, Andre, sounds like a great way to build skills and make progress. Having to do all the roles in the project would help in developing empathy with people who do those roles in the business world, from the perspectives of efficiency and building positive working relationships with colleagues.

  13. britdodson says:

    Thank you for posting this. I am a 3rd year PhD student who has always had the goal to go into a non-academic career after I finish. However, students and faculty very rarely ever discuss what those careers could be. Finding articles like yours greatly helps me and those like me prepare for future careers.

    • Andre says:

      I’m glad you find the articles useful, Brit – I write them specifically for people like you (and others in this situation), because this sort of knowledge shouldn’t be monopolised! One thing I should mention is that I chose the “CEO” role as one to identify with, as fundamentally, I knew what my personal values and guiding principles were. It made my subsequent decision processes more straightforward, as the underlying career strategy was derived from how I wanted to have impact in an area I was passionate about. But this takes time, so start now 🙂 Oddly enough, this type of strategic approach is one used the world over in a commercial setting!

  14. maelorin says:

    As a ‘high functioning’ Aspie (high ‘IQ’, ‘low’ ASD) trying to transition from ‘industry’ into academia, I have found culture to be far more important than pretty much anything else.

    I spent a decade and a half in a wide variety of roles across ICT, biomedical services, and legal services: almost always below my level of education and experience – one of the well recognised, but rarely addressed, joys of ASD in the job market.

    The culture of “having to be persuaded” is a fundamental choice in ‘business’ settings. It is one that has value when discussing potential alternative business directions. In that context it can elicit strong discussions, deeper examination of business premises and data.

    The loss of ‘scientific’ reasoning skills, and appreciation of how science works, amongst ‘non-scientists’ leads many to apply the same decision-making processes to science and engineering problems as they do to social and cultural ones. A potentially fatal, often absurd, occasionally amusing mistake.

    I have put a lot of time and effort into learning ‘EQ’ and other inter-personal skills. Along the way it has become apparent to me that a big challenge for us all, socially and culturally, is to appreciate the difference between social/cultural decision-making and scientific/engineering decision-making.

    A fact-focussed, ‘rational’ approach is important to understanding the ‘real world’; the implications and effects of the physical world. Most business decision-making emphasises people-centric thinking, which makes different uses of ‘facts’. Humanities graduates often find it ‘easier’ to transition into corporate, bureaucratic environments because they have more experience with people-centric thinking of the kind common in business culture.

    Science/engineering PhDs could be better prepared for commercial cultures by more exposure to them, and also by specific education in the different kinds of decision-making and problem-solving skills and cultural assumptions of ‘non-scientific’ groups. The same is also true of students in any discipline: we spend a lot of time inculcating and enculturing students within disciplines – it would also be very valuable to encourage cross-cultural skills and experience.

  15. Melissa says:

    Thank you for writing this interesting post. I work in the Careers Centre of an Australian university in the role of helping graduates develop and articulate their employability skills, or soft skills. Most of the students I work with are PhD students. Often they feel that this has been lacking in their undergrad and post grad degree content.
    I would encourage PhD candidates to use their careers centres as we do have regular contact with employers and an understanding of the job market. Some of us have even completed PhDs and Masters by Research.

  16. Francis Norman says:

    A really interesting article, thanks for posting it.

    Much of what you describe is similar to comments expressed about regular (i.e. non HDR) graduates from science courses, they are not good with ambiguity and tend not to play too well with others.

    Having worked for most of the past 35 years in Engineering I have seen my fair share of graduates and experienced professionals virtually paralysed when faced with making a project critical decision based on 80% or less information and I have seen the consequences of this paralysis play out in schedule delays and cost overruns.

    After discussing this with a few university lecturers I realised that it is an unfortunate product of our education system that rewards precision in answers and punishes anything less than perfection. In much science education you are simply right or wrong, no “shades of rightness”, yet in the world of practice there is rarely a single right answer, more a continuum where many answers are “right”. This desire to find the only right answer leads many to stall when trying to progress on anything less than perfection, when perfection is frequently impossible to achieve.

    However, I would say, again through observation, that these issues are not PhD specific, they occur at all levels, it may just be that the employers expect better (or maybe just different) from their PhD hires than from their BSc or MSc hires.

  17. Catherine Hamrick says:

    “Science/engineering PhDs could be better prepared for commercial cultures by more exposure to them, and also by specific education in the different kinds of decision-making and problem-solving skills and cultural assumptions of ‘non-scientific’ groups. The same is also true of students in any discipline: we spend a lot of time inculcating and enculturing students within disciplines – it would also be very valuable to encourage cross-cultural skills and experience.”

    Well said! And balanced.

  18. Brian says:

    I am not a scientist, and not doing a science degree. i did start my masters and EdD journey with an eye to academia, but have come to the realisation that we may not be suited to each other. I come from an emergency services environment where decisions are made within a “high-stress, low-information” environment (as one paramedic described his working environment). I trained as a police officer and an intelligence manager. I can and have made decisions on limited information, only assessing and re-adjusting as new information came in. So, now I am looking out the commercial application of my research and where it may take me outside of academia. Which is a shame really as I would have liked to give back something to a system that has given me so much.

  19. Anne-Laure says:

    Thanks for a great article! I would actually open that post to certain “non-Science” disciplines like philosophy, where number of graduates have to consider a non-academic career once they are done. Just like the scientists, they are to deal with the culture shock and “attitude adjustment”. However, they also have to deal with a potential employers not seeing their expertise as “useful” for business. I am actually not sure how someone with a PhD in philosophy (or related disciplines) can sell himself/herself to the “real world”, especially given the comments from the panel you mention in your post. Any thoughts?

    • Thesis Whisperer says:

      I suspect sectors like banking have yet to see the value of hiring humanities graduates, although I take comfort in some of the hiring practices in places like Silicon Valley. Perhaps the sheer number of graduates moving outside of academia now might help create a sea change of attitude.

  20. Shari Walsh - Resilient Researcher Program says:

    Great post Inger and a really relevant issue to highlight. As a career counsellor and psychologist who specialises in working with PhD and Post-docs, I come across this issue regularly. It would be great if employers would challenge their pre-conceived ideas re PhD’ers and also if PhD’ers would develop skills which would allow employers to change their perceptions! Bit like the chicken and the egg really.

    I find I often challenge my clients to think about how they can leave academic language and behaviour in the university and use their excellent research skills to understand and develop industry language and behaviour. Some manage it quite easily and others not so well. In my experience, the people who make the transition easiest are those who have developed or remained linked with the broader community either by doing some consultancy or casual work, being involved in relevant industry bodies and organisations, attending non-academic events in their discipline e.g., seminars or networking events, and having a mentor who works outside the university sector.

    I would expand on the comment “It’s not that PhD students are not socialised properly, they are socialised too well.” to state they are socialised too well in academia. This is similar to anyone who has spent years in one environment and is looking to change organisations or industry. Developing the ability to transition between environments throughout the research degree will make it much easier if and when the time arises to look for industry roles.

  21. the-study-owl says:

    Hi Inger,
    Again, a great post and it reflects what I have experienced – in reverse- coming from the workplace to academia. As a result I enjoyed the research part but not the academic-style critique. I now mix my work as a PhD psychologist in both clinical and academic capacities.
    I was wondering if these comments applied only to PhD’s who have a direct path from school or does it apply to those of us who have extensive work experience before we take on a PhD?
    With respect to academic critique – I found some academics were better than others at delivering critique in a way that was helpful to the student and I learned a lot from them. I found that those who did this well addressed their comments to the writing rather than to the student.

    • Thesis Whisperer says:

      I suppose the people were employing people from the STEM disciplines where people tend to go straight through and do their PhD earlier in life. I suspect the humanities might be different – but I suspect there is less recognition of the value of the PhD in the humanities in sectors like banking.

  22. aninfjslife says:

    Thank you for the article. I am a fresh PhD graduate in science, taking a break to flush my “academic-ness” and will be starting my job search soon, and I will keep your article in mind.

  23. Kat says:

    I keep meaning to comment on this. Over the past year (in my newish non-academic job..) I have been doing some research and work around the idea of what work skills are (broadly, not just for PhDs) and how we can actually measure those transferable skills like problem solving, good communication and so on that everyone goes on about. There is actually some interesting recent research and a framework commissioned by teh federal government that has mapped these (for Australian workplaces). Part of what this research says is that these ‘generic’ work skills are both transferable but also context-specific. Anyone who moves jobs (especially if they move industries), will find they slip back a bit and have to learn how to apply their skills in a new environment (i.e you might be a great communicator but it can take a few months to learn how communication works in your new office, what the etiquette is and so on). If you have good skills already you will probably learn fast, but everyone will experience some time of feeling like a bit of an ‘beginner’ again.

    Anyway my basic point is that people transferring out of academia should expect (and employers should also understand) that there will be a transition period, someone who was an expert problem solver in academia will need some time to work up to expert again in a new area, but they will learn faster than someone who has never developed any decent problem solving skills.

    The framework is here if it is of interest It seems to me that much of the focus is on how it can be used with new jobseekers but it might have some relevance to thinking about how people move from academia to other industries.

  24. CJohnson says:

    This is a great article. I have struggled personally to convince non-academic employers that the skills I gained as a PhD student are transferable — and that I am not “over qualified” but “under-experienced” to get a job! For me, the key to transitioning from academia to industry was to get an applied post-graduate training certificate in project management. This gave me the credentials that the industry recognized and valued much more than my PhD.

  25. Kemi says:

    This is interesting! I’ve worked in the corporate world for over 10 years and now going into academia to do a doctorate in marketing. I’m trying to do the reverse of what is written here. I think I’ll always have a foot in the business setting. But I love research and teaching – always have. In the corporate world, I didn’t have the time to explore or to think. Thanks for writing!

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