Help for PhDs to Achieve a Smooth Transition into the Business Sector
Imagine you are in your car. Driving without purpose might be fun at first, but when you run out of fuel, it’s not much fun anymore. Driving with a purpose but without setting intermediary steps is certainly not efficient and you might feel lost at some point: Which direction should I take now?
Well, the rules are quite similar when it comes to your career development. You’re at the wheel of your professional life, so don’t drive on autopilot. Make sure you decide for yourself what your professional destination will be.
Easier said than done, you might say. Here is some advice to help you take the right direction.
1. Fill Your Tank
Before starting your journey, you should ensure that your car is not running on empty and that you have enough fuel to reach your destination.
Your fuel will be your motivation (what you like or love, your values, your expected achievements, etc.), your experience and skills, your education.
OK, now you’re ready to go. But where?
2. Find Your Destination
How exciting it is to be on vacation! But sorting out where you’re going can be stressful: seaside, mountains, or countryside? Which country or city? A relaxing or active holiday? There are so many options you have to explore by reading travel guides, or by getting advice from people who have already visited the country or city you’ve chosen.
The same goes for your professional goals. Get advice from professionals working in your field of interest and get a concrete look at what a specific position entails (tasks and responsibilities). That’s the best way to determine whether the position is the right one for you.
3. Set Up Your Navigation System
If you want to avoid being lost or wasting your time in getting to your destination, you might need a navigation system. You can save some specific preferences (highway or back road, the shortest or the quickest route, etc.). It helps you to focus on your goals.
Planning your career is like setting up your navigation system: You decide where you’re heading, which intermediary steps you need to take (e.g., developing a specific skill or knowledge by engaging in postdoctoral studies), and which concrete actions you need to undertake to implement your job search strategy and in what timeframe.
4. Be Guided by Your Navigation System But Remain Open to Opportunities
One great thing about using a navigation system is that it enables you to be prepared for each step. That way, you don’t turn left at the last minute, or you know you can’t stay in the passing lane because you have to take the next exit. It helps you to anticipate your next move.
But being guided by your navigation system doesn’t mean you can’t explore paths less traveled or make a detour to do some sightseeing.
When it comes to your career development, don’t wait until the end of your contract or until you are bored to think about your next step. Anticipate these events as best you can!
And even if you set up specific goals, remain open to each surprising opportunity you might find along the way. Many great things happen through serendipity.
ABG Helps PhDs
Association Bernard Gregory (ABG) is a French non-profit organization that was created in 1980. It aims to connect doctorate holders with employers from both academic and economic sectors. Because public research in France (as in many countries in Europe) has been facing some challenges such as fewer permanent positions, an increase in temporary contracts and a limitation of their duration, ABG is especially focused on helping PhD holders to achieve a smooth transition into the business sector. That is why it has developed many tools and workshops to implement an efficient job search strategy (speaking the same language, marketing your research experience outside academia, knowing recruiters’ expectations and the recruitment process, etc.).
ABG is becoming more and more active in the international scene. A Franco-German branch has been created with the support of the Franco-German University, and ABG is also part of a European network of career advisors (CARE).
Author: Bérénice Kimpe, Association Bernard Gregory (ABG), France ([email protected])
Also of Interest
- Chemists Talk About Their Jobs
ChemistryViews.org interview series where a broad range of scientists explains what their jobs are about