Pursuing Careers Outside the Academy

Numerous opportunities exist outside of academia for individuals with PhD's. As you explore career options, you will want to consider what skills you have developed during your graduate work that you would like to continue to use and that will be valuable in settings outside of academia. 

The average person changes jobs and/or careers 4-5 times during their working lives, and that even within one career track, reports on graduate education indicate that graduate students need to develop expertise in more than their area of study. A number of core competencies (transferable skills) cut across multiple careers, many of which need to be developed outside the classroom. 

Strategies for Building Skills and Exploring Alternate Paths

  • Audit classes outside your field, or take some non-credit courses or workshops in anything from Intro to C++ to grant writing.
  • Use your summers well by interning. Pursue experience in areas outside of academia. Internships are invaluable during the non-academic job search.
  • Pursue other interests, while maintaining progress toward your degree.
  • Leverage LinkedIn. Through LinkedIn, you can tap an expansive group of alumni for networking purposes. Listed on the Connections tab is an option for "alumni," which allows you to search for alumni from any institution based on a number of criteria. Reading these individuals' profiles to understand their career paths and reaching out to them to conduct an informational interview can be an invaluable step in assessing your career options.
  • Get involved on campus. Join a club or organization, run for office, or participate in volunteer work. Through these other activities you'll have the opportunity to build transferable skills, such as leadership, teamwork, and interpersonal communication.
  • Useful resources and links for researching career fields

The Non-Academic Job Search Presentation

Websites for PhDs Researching Non-Academic Careers


Humanities/Social Sciences


Think Tanks and Research

Links for Finding Nonacademic Jobs

All Fields - US and Abroad

  • Going Global is an online tool funded by the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development and the Office of International Student and Scholar Services. This is an excellent resource for identifying internship opportunities in the US and abroad. Use the academic keyword tool to help you zero in on opportunities for advanced degree candidates.




  • USAJOBS.gov - The Federal Government job posting site (links to a search for keyword PhD)

International Development




Other Useful Links for Job Openings


The website of the Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development at Binghamton University contains links to other websites as a convenience for its users and is not responsible for the contents of any linked site.

Last Updated: 8/11/16