A Comprehensive Roadmap to Life After a PhD

You’ve worked hard to earn your PhD, and now you’re faced with the question: what should you do next? After completing your doctoral studies, there are several paths you can consider to make the most of your expertise and experience. In this blog post, we will explore the key steps you should take after obtaining your PhD, providing valuable insights and guidance to help you navigate this crucial transition in your academic and professional journey. Whether you’re pondering a career in academia, industry, or entrepreneurship, this article will equip you with actionable advice to set you on the right path towards success.

1. Pursuing a Postdoc

If you have recently completed your PhD, pursuing a postdoctoral position can be a logical step to further your research career. A postdoc offers a unique opportunity to gain additional expertise, expand your network, and enhance your research profile. In this section, we will explore the benefits of pursuing a postdoc and provide some practical tips for finding and securing a postdoctoral position.

Advantages of a Postdoc

  1. Specialization and Expertise: A postdoctoral position allows you to specialize in a specific research area, enabling you to deepen your knowledge and become an expert in your field.
  2. Research Collaboration: Postdocs often involve working with renowned researchers and joining esteemed research groups, opening doors for collaborations and partnerships that can significantly enhance your academic profile.
  3. Publication Opportunities: During your postdoc, you will have the chance to contribute to high-impact research papers and publications, which can boost your visibility and establish your credibility as a researcher.
  4. Professional Development: Postdocs provide opportunities for honing essential skills such as grant writing, project management, and mentoring, which are crucial for a successful research career.
  5. Networking: Engaging with fellow postdocs, professors, and researchers from diverse backgrounds can expand your professional network, leading to future collaborations, job opportunities, and invitations to conferences and seminars.

Finding a Postdoctoral Position

When searching for a postdoc position, it’s important to be strategic and proactive. Here are some practical steps to help you find the right opportunity:

  1. Identify Your Research Interests: Determine your specific research interests and identify the key areas where you would like to pursue your postdoc. This will help you target relevant institutions and research groups.
  2. Academic Networks: Leverage your existing academic networks, including your PhD supervisor, colleagues, and professors, to explore potential postdoc opportunities. They may have contacts or be aware of postdoc positions that align with your research interests.
  3. Online Platforms: Utilize online platforms dedicated to postdoc opportunities, such as academic job boards, university websites, and research funding agency portals. Subscribe to email alerts or join relevant mailing lists to stay updated on the latest postdoc openings.
  4. Attend Conferences: Attend conferences, symposiums, and academic events related to your research field. These gatherings offer an excellent opportunity to connect with potential postdoc advisors, establish professional relationships, and learn about open positions.
  5. Networking Events: Participate in networking events organized by universities, research institutions, or professional societies. These events facilitate face-to-face interactions with researchers and provide a platform for discussing potential postdoc opportunities.
  6. Tailor Your Applications: Customize your application materials, including your CV, research statement, and cover letter, to highlight your expertise and align with the specific requirements of each postdoc position you apply for. Emphasize your research achievements, publications, and any relevant collaborations or conference presentations.

Remember, securing a postdoc position can be competitive, so be prepared to invest time and effort into the application process. Stay persistent, maintain a positive attitude, and be open to exploring various postdoc opportunities that align with your research interests and career goals.

Note: Pursuing a postdoc is not the only option after completing your PhD. In the following sections, we will explore alternative paths that you can consider to further enhance your career as a PhD graduate.

2. Producing Science Communication

Science communication is a fascinating field that allows individuals to bridge the gap between scientific research and the general public. If you have recently completed your PhD and have a passion for sharing scientific knowledge, a career in science communication might be a perfect fit for you. In this section, we will explore various opportunities and roles within the field of science communication.

1. Science Writing and Journalism

One of the most common paths in science communication is becoming a science writer or journalist. As a science writer, you will have the opportunity to convey complex scientific concepts in a way that is accessible and engaging to a broader audience. This may involve writing articles, blog posts, or even books on scientific topics. Science journalists, on the other hand, are responsible for reporting on the latest scientific discoveries and breakthroughs through different media channels such as newspapers, magazines, or TV shows.

2. Science Outreach and Education

Another fulfilling avenue in science communication is working in science outreach and education. This involves engaging with individuals of all ages, from school children to adults, to promote scientific literacy and enthusiasm for learning. You can work in museums, science centers, or educational institutions, designing interactive exhibits, organizing workshops, or developing educational programs. This role allows you to spark curiosity and make science enjoyable for people from all walks of life.

3. Multimedia Production

In today’s digital age, multimedia has become an essential tool for effective science communication. If you have skills in videography, photography, graphic design, or multimedia production, you can combine your scientific knowledge with your creative talents. You can create engaging science videos, infographics, podcasts, or even develop science-based mobile applications. These multimedia platforms enable you to reach a wider audience and communicate scientific concepts in visually compelling ways.

4. Science Policy and Advocacy

For those with a keen interest in the intersection of science and society, a career in science policy and advocacy may be the right choice. In this role, you can contribute to shaping science policy, promoting evidence-based decision-making, and advocating for the importance of scientific research. This can involve working with governmental organizations, non-profit institutions, or think tanks to influence policies that impact the scientific community and society as a whole.

Science communication offers a diverse range of career paths, allowing you to combine your passion for science with your communication skills. Whether you choose to write, speak, educate, produce multimedia content, or shape policy, your role as a science communicator will help bridge the gap between science and the public, fostering a better understanding and appreciation for scientific advancements.

3. Improving Higher Education

In this section, we will explore various opportunities for working other aspects in higher education.

1. Student Services

For those who have a passion for supporting students throughout their academic journey, working in student services can be a fulfilling option. These roles involve assisting students in various aspects, such as advising, counseling, career guidance, and extracurricular activities. By working in student services, you can make a positive impact on students’ lives by providing them with the support and resources they need to succeed academically and personally.

2. Academic Administration

Another avenue to consider after completing your PhD is pursuing a career in academic administration. This entails taking up roles such as department chairs, program directors, or deans within universities or colleges. In these positions, you can be involved in curriculum development, policy-making, and guiding the strategic direction of an academic institution. Academic administrators play a crucial role in shaping and improving the overall educational experience for students.

3. Professional Development and Continuing Education

Higher education institutions often offer professional development and continuing education programs for professionals in various fields. As a PhD holder, you can contribute to these programs by designing and delivering courses or workshops tailored to the needs of working professionals. This allows you to share your expertise with a wider audience and provide valuable knowledge and skills to individuals seeking to enhance their careers.

4. Working at Big Multinational Company

When it comes to considering your career options after completing your PhD, one path worth exploring is working for a big multinational company. In this section, we will delve into the various aspects of pursuing a career in a big company.

Advantages of Working for a Big Company

There are several compelling reasons why working for a big company can be a beneficial career move after obtaining your PhD. Here are some key advantages to consider:

  1. Stability and Job Security: Big companies typically have a proven track record and established market presence, which can provide a sense of stability and job security. This can be particularly appealing if you prefer a structured and predictable work environment.
  2. Resources and Infrastructure: Large companies often boast extensive resources, such as research facilities, cutting-edge technology, and funding. These resources can greatly support your research and professional development, allowing you to tackle complex projects and make significant contributions in your field.
  3. Networking Opportunities: Big companies tend to have a diverse and extensive network of professionals, both within the organization and in their industry. Working among experts and connecting with colleagues can offer invaluable networking opportunities, enabling you to collaborate, learn from others, and expand your professional connections.
  4. Specialized Career Development: Many large companies have well-defined career development programs and structured training opportunities. These programs can provide you with the necessary guidance and support to progress in your career, allowing you to develop new skills and take on challenging roles aligned with your expertise.

Potential Drawbacks to Consider

While working for a big company offers numerous advantages, it is important to also consider potential drawbacks to make an informed decision. Here are some factors to weigh:

  1. Bureaucracy: Large organizations often come with layers of bureaucracy and intricate decision-making processes. This can sometimes lead to slower execution of projects and limited autonomy in decision-making. If you prefer a more agile and flexible work environment, this aspect may be a downside.
  2. Narrow Focus: Depending on the nature of the company and its industry, working for a big corporation can involve a narrower focus in terms of research topics and projects. If you value the freedom to explore diverse areas within your field, a smaller organization or academia might offer more opportunities in this regard.
  3. Competition for Advancement: In larger companies, competition for promotions and advancement can be fierce. With a larger pool of talented colleagues, it may require more effort and time to climb the corporate ladder. It is important to be prepared for the challenges and be proactive in showcasing your skills and accomplishments.

Ultimately, the decision to work for a big company after your PhD depends on your personal preferences and career goals. Consider the advantages, drawbacks, and alignment with your long-term objectives. By weighing these factors, you can make an informed choice that sets you on the right path for a successful and fulfilling career.

5. Thriving at a Small to Medium Size Enterprise

When it comes to considering career options after completing your PhD, working at a small to medium size enterprise (SME) can offer a range of exciting and rewarding opportunities. SMEs are companies that typically have fewer employees and operate on a smaller scale compared to larger corporations. In this section, we will explore the advantages of working at an SME and how it can contribute positively to your professional growth and development.

1. Diverse and Dynamic Environment

One of the key benefits of working at an SME is the diverse and dynamic environment it offers. SMEs often foster a collaborative and close-knit atmosphere where employees have the opportunity to wear multiple hats and work across various departments. This exposure to different aspects of the business allows for a well-rounded skill set development and a broader understanding of how organizations function as a whole.

2. Increased Autonomy and Responsibility

In contrast to larger corporations where tasks may be more specialized and hierarchical, SMEs often provide individuals with a higher level of autonomy and responsibility. As an employee at an SME, you may have the chance to take on challenging projects, make important decisions, and see the direct impact of your contributions. This level of autonomy can greatly enhance your professional growth, as it encourages resourcefulness, creativity, and innovation.

3. Opportunity for Rapid Growth

SMEs are known for their agility and ability to adapt quickly to market changes. This agility often translates into opportunities for rapid growth and advancement within the organization. Unlike larger companies where promotions may be more hierarchical and time-consuming, SMEs offer the chance to climb the career ladder at a faster pace. This means that your hard work, dedication, and achievements can be recognized and rewarded sooner, providing you with a sense of fulfillment and progress in your professional journey.

4. Exposure to Various Roles and Industries

Working at an SME can expose you to a wide range of roles and industries. SMEs often operate in niche markets or emerging industries, allowing employees to gain valuable experience in specialized areas. This exposure to diverse roles and industries can broaden your skill set, expand your network, and open doors to future career opportunities.

6. Making the World Better in a Non-Profit

In addition to pursuing traditional career paths after completing a PhD, such as academia or industry research, another fulfilling option to consider is working in a non-profit organization. Non-profits offer a unique environment where you can apply your expertise and make a meaningful impact on society. This section explores the benefits and opportunities that come with working in a non-profit organization.

Making a Difference in the Community

One of the most rewarding aspects of working in a non-profit is the opportunity to make a real difference in the community. Non-profits are mission-driven organizations that focus on addressing social, environmental, or humanitarian issues. By leveraging your expertise and knowledge gained during your PhD, you can contribute to the organization’s mission and help create positive change.

Utilizing Your Expertise

Working in a non-profit allows you to apply your expertise in a way that directly benefits the organization’s cause. Whether you specialized in environmental science, education, healthcare, or any other field, non-profits are often in need of individuals with specialized knowledge to drive their initiatives forward. You can utilize your research and analytical skills to develop innovative solutions, design programs, or contribute to policy changes that align with the organization’s goals.

Collaboration and Networking Opportunities

Non-profit organizations thrive on collaboration and teamwork. You’ll have the opportunity to work with like-minded individuals who are passionate about the same cause. This collaborative environment can provide a valuable network of professionals in your field and create opportunities for future collaborations or career advancements. Engaging with diverse colleagues who share a common goal can also broaden your perspective and enhance your understanding of the issues you’re working to address.

Developing Transferable Skills

While working in a non-profit, you’ll develop a wide range of transferable skills that can benefit your long-term career prospects. From project management and leadership skills to communication and fundraising abilities, non-profits offer a platform for personal and professional growth. These skills can be valuable assets that complement your academic background and make you a well-rounded candidate for future opportunities.

Working in a non-profit organization after completing your PhD can be a gratifying choice that allows you to apply your expertise, make a difference in the community, and contribute to a cause you care deeply about. The collaborative environment, transferable skills, and fulfilling work-life balance are all factors that make working in a non-profit a compelling option to consider. So, if you’re looking for a career that goes beyond traditional paths, exploring opportunities in the non-profit sector may be the right choice for you.

Note: Remember to tailor your application and research specific non-profit organizations that align with your interests and values.

7. Advancing at a Start-Up

Working at a start-up after completing your PhD can be an exciting and fulfilling career choice. Start-ups offer a unique and dynamic work environment that can provide valuable learning experiences and opportunities for growth. In this section, we will explore the benefits of working at a start-up and provide some tips for making the most of this experience.

Embrace the Fast-Paced Environment

Start-ups are known for their fast-paced and ever-changing nature. This can be both exhilarating and challenging, as it requires you to adapt quickly and handle multiple responsibilities. Embrace the fast-paced environment by being open to new ideas, taking initiative, and being willing to wear multiple hats. Your PhD experience has equipped you with the ability to think critically and problem-solve, which are essential skills in a start-up setting.

Take Ownership of Projects

Working at a start-up offers a unique opportunity to have a significant impact on the company’s success. Unlike larger organizations where responsibilities may be more fragmented, start-ups often provide employees with the chance to take ownership of projects from start to finish. This level of autonomy allows you to put your skills and expertise to work, and see the direct results of your efforts. By taking ownership of projects, you can showcase your abilities and demonstrate your value to the company.

Learn from Diverse Experiences

Start-ups often attract a diverse group of individuals with varied backgrounds and skills. This presents a great opportunity for you to learn from your colleagues and expand your knowledge beyond your academic expertise. Take advantage of the diversity in the start-up environment by engaging in cross-functional collaboration and seeking out opportunities to learn from others. By embracing different perspectives and ideas, you can broaden your skillset and become a more well-rounded professional.

Be Resourceful and Adaptive

Start-ups are typically resource-constrained, which requires employees to be resourceful and adaptive. This means finding creative solutions to challenges and being flexible in your approach. Use your PhD training to think critically and find innovative solutions to problems. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone and adapt to new situations. Demonstrating resourcefulness and adaptability will not only contribute to the success of the start-up but also showcase your abilities as a valuable team member.

Build a Strong Network

Working at a start-up allows you to connect with like-minded individuals who are passionate about innovation and entrepreneurship. Take the opportunity to build a strong network within the start-up ecosystem. Attend industry events, participate in conferences, and engage with relevant communities to expand your network. Building strong relationships can open doors to new opportunities and collaborations in the future.

8. Becoming an Entrepreneur

In today’s fast-paced and ever-evolving world, many PhD graduates are exploring new career paths beyond the traditional academia route. One exciting avenue that awaits them is entrepreneurship. By leveraging their unique skills, knowledge, and research experience, PhD holders can make a significant impact in the business world. In this section, we will explore the possibilities and steps involved in becoming an entrepreneur after completing your PhD.

Identifying Your Passion and Expertise

The first step towards embarking on an entrepreneurial journey is to identify your passion and expertise. Your PhD experience has likely equipped you with specialized knowledge in a specific field. Consider how you can leverage this expertise to solve real-world problems or create innovative products/services. Reflect on your research interests, skills, and the problems you are passionate about solving. This self-reflection will lay the foundation for your entrepreneurial venture.

Conducting Market Research

Once you have identified your area of expertise, it is important to conduct thorough market research. Determine if there is a demand for the product or service you intend to offer. Identify your target audience, competitors, and potential customers. This research will provide you with valuable insights into the market landscape and help you tailor your product or service to meet the needs and preferences of your target market.

Developing a Solid Business Plan

A well-crafted business plan will serve as the roadmap for your entrepreneurial journey. Outline your business idea, target market, marketing strategies, operational plans, and financial projections. A comprehensive business plan will not only guide you through the initial stages of setting up your venture but will also be essential when seeking funding from investors or financial institutions.

Acquiring Business Skills

While your PhD has equipped you with valuable research and analytical skills, becoming an entrepreneur requires a whole new set of skills. Familiarize yourself with the basics of business management, marketing, finance, and sales. Consider enrolling in workshops, courses, or online programs focused on entrepreneurship and business skills development. Acquiring these skills will enhance your chances of success as an entrepreneur.

Building a Support Network

Entrepreneurship can be an exciting yet challenging journey. Building a strong support network can significantly contribute to your success. Seek out mentors who have experience in the entrepreneurial world and can provide guidance and advice. Connect with other entrepreneurs and join networking events or communities where you can collaborate, share experiences, and learn from others. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals will provide a valuable support system as you navigate the world of entrepreneurship.

Securing Funding

Funding is often a critical aspect of starting and scaling a business. As a PhD graduate, you may have the advantage of accessing various funding opportunities tailored specifically for researchers-turned-entrepreneurs. Explore grants, fellowships, or venture capital firms that specialize in funding startups in your field. Craft a compelling pitch that highlights the unique value proposition of your business and demonstrates the potential for growth and profitability.

Taking Calculated Risks and Embracing Failure

Entrepreneurship inherently involves taking risks, and it’s important to embrace this aspect of the journey. Understand that failure may be a part of the process, but it should not deter you from pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams. Learn from failures, adapt, and continue to iterate your business strategy. Embrace a growth mindset and view challenges as opportunities for learning and improvement.

Becoming an entrepreneur after completing your PhD can be an enriching and fulfilling career path. By leveraging your expertise, conducting thorough market research, developing a solid business plan, acquiring essential business skills, building a support network, securing funding, and embracing risks and failures, you can embark on a successful entrepreneurial journey that makes a meaningful impact in your field of expertise.


Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution after completing your PhD. It is important to assess your own goals, interests, and values in order to make the best decision for your career. By taking proactive steps and considering a range of possibilities, you can set yourself up for success and make the most of your hard-earned doctoral degree.

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