A key step in making the transition to a non-academic career is to develop a clear understanding of who you are, what drives you, and how you can contribute. Alongside that awareness, you can strengthen your skills and refine your interests through training and experience.
The first person who needs to be convinced of the value of your doctorate… is you! Taking a step back from your research to understand all that you’ve been doing over the last few years is essential: what has it taken to achieve what you’ve learnt, published and presented? How have you contributed, in small or large ways, to your field and your working environment? What are the ways in which you stand out from your peers – and not just in terms of the research you’ve done!
Identifying your skills, interests, motivations
DocPro gives a breakdown of the skills developed by early and middle stage researchers, provides interviews with employers, and has a tool to help you create your own skills inventory.
The MindTools site (check under the “Toolkit” tab) can give you some ideas of what’s important, helps you rate where you are right now, and how you can improve.
You can also come to a Career Café and receive your own UNIL Skills Framework designed especially for PhDs and postdocs!
Presenting yourself with confidence
Some PhDs continue to develop their doctoral research outside the university (in R&D roles for example), others say goodbye to their current expertise and move on to a new one. Either way, one thing is clear: you'll need to be able to give any future employer a good reason to understand why it was so important to dedicate at least four years of your life to the endeavour - and the positive reasons for what you want to do next. Learning to talk engagingly about your research and your motivations for your future steps is key.
The Graduate Campus workshop "Engage, Inform, Inspire", the 3-minute thesis competition (MT180) and the workshops offered by the CUSO can help you shine a light on the magic of what you do, and give you the tools to help you make a connection with interviewers and gatekeepers of all kinds. Psychometric analyses like the TRIMA can help you (re-)locate the reasons why you do what you do.
Job boards in Switzerland
ReliefWeb for non-profit and international organisations
MyScience for opportunities in research
Swiss Confederation: sign up for the mailing list for research and science posts.
The Alumnil Network, the network of UNIL graduates, publishes job offers on the ALUMNIL Portal.
The above external sites are suggestions for where you can explore your options. The UNIL Graduate Campus is unable to guarantee their reliability. Please let us know if you find additional resources to share!
It's not all about job ads
Lots of opportunities don't even make it as far as a jobs board. Reaching out and creating your own professional community gives you both access to the unadvertised opportunities, and - more importantly - gives you the knowledge with which to write authentically motivated cover letters and impress potential employers during the interview. Knowing better what they do and how they do it, helps you interact with more confidence.
The Making Connections workshop will help you start that conversation.