What can I do with a PhD?

A lot, depending on what you want! Although many PhDs enter academic careers, many more have pursued a range of fulfilling and meaningful careers beyond academia. Whether you’re preparing for a faculty position or looking to find what other career options are out there, it’s important to spend time to understand yourself, your values, and what skills and interests you have before diving into a job search. After all, you want to make sure that whatever job or career you pursue will be one that you find satisfying, rewarding, and challenging!

Having the skills and confidence to navigate all aspects of your job search successfully is essential for your career development. Career Services is here to support you throughout this process, from helping you present yourself well both on paper and in person to potential employers to equipping you with the knowledge and strategies to help you land your job offer. We advise PhD students and postdocs to follow a 4-step career exploration and planning process to help them find a meaningful career. Click on the steps below to get started.

Taking time to reflect on and understand your work values, skills, and interests allows you to pursue a career that is meaningful, challenging, and rewarding before you launch into a job search. This provides a solid foundation for your next steps.

Networking is simply talking to and building relationships with professionals in careers that interest you to help you learn what it’s like to work in a particular role, field, or industry. Think of it as talking with people to research and gather information about careers.

Use your time as a PhD student or postdoc at Penn to pursue activities related to your career interests and develop yourself professionally. These opportunities will allow you to demonstrate the skills, experience, and professionalism for a successful job search.

Once you’ve spent time reflecting, exploring, networking, and gaining experience to prepare for your future career, you’ll be ready to take action and make decisions about your post-PhD professional life. Career Services is here to support you throughout this process, and so feel free to reach out to us at any time with your career-related questions.

On the academic job market?

Career Services can give you advice on all your application materials (see our resources here) and perspectives on how to tailor your application to specific kinds of academic institutions. We can also prepare you to speak about your research and teaching in interviews. Once you have received a job offer, we are happy to guide you through negotiations.

Faculty Job Search Prep Camp 2024

If you’re planning to go on the faculty job market, either now or in the future, please join Career Services for our Faculty Job Search Prep Camp, done in partnership with the Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning & Innovation (CETLI), the Grad Center, and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs (OPA). Through a combination of workshops and faculty/alumni panels, we’ll help you understand how to best prepare for each step of the process, from evaluating different kinds of opportunities, to crafting your application materials, to preparing for interviews and job talks. Click here for more details.

The Job Search is a lot like….baseball?

Ah…failure! Nothing like reading about failure during your day! The job search is a LOT like baseball. If you may or may not be familiar with baseball, it is certainly a sport of failure. A .333 batting average has been …

By Dustin Miller
Dustin Miller Associate Director, Engineering
Read more

PhD Career Exploration Fellow Spotlight: Arielle Hardy

Hosted by the Kleinman Center for Energy Policy

This summer, we will be featuring blog posts written by PhD students who participated in Career Services’ Career Exploration Fellowship (CEF), a program that helps doctoral candidates explore their career interests through …

By Alison Howard
Alison Howard Associate Director, Graduate Students & Postdocs
Read more

ATTENTION Incoming Students!

We’ve been hearing a lot from incoming Penn students – undergrads, grad students, and transfer students alike! We share your enthusiasm and we look forward to meeting and working with you in the fall!

Incoming students served by our office …

By Michael DeAngelis
Michael DeAngelis Senior Associate Director, Communications & Technology
Read more

PhD Career Exploration Fellow Spotlight: Amy E. Guillote

Hosted by the Penn Center for Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Innovation (CETLI)

This summer, we will be featuring blog posts written by PhD students who participated in Career Services’ Career Exploration Fellowship (CEF), a program that helps doctoral candidates …

By Alison Howard
Alison Howard Associate Director, Graduate Students & Postdocs
Read more

The Idealist Career Advice Guide to Starting a New Job

Between meeting colleagues, mastering skills, and tackling new responsibilities, the first three months at a new job can feel invigorating to say the least! But, of course, it will take time to build up the confidence to accomplish everything you …

Read more

Location

Phone
(215) 898-7531
Address

McNeil Building Suite 20
3718 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Service Hours

Monday 9am-5pm
Tuesday 9am-5pm
Wednesday 9am-5pm
Thursday 9am-5pm
Friday 9am-5pm