Good advice for you if you are a phD and are warming up to join the job market
When PhD students contact IDA, it’s quite clear that they are fully aware that they won't be rolling in research positions. However, they are not entirely sure of the alternatives.
“Most are aware that they will probably have to do something else, and some would actually like to do something other than research. But, in reality, only a minority know what to do to qualify for other types of job,” says Morten Esmann, IDA’s career adviser.
It is therefore a good idea to think about what you can actually do with a PhD in a technical or scientific discipline, and where your skills are in demand.
THE NEXT NIELS BOHR
Morten Esmann points out that – by and large – there are three groups. There are those who have ended up doing research almost by coincidence, perhaps because they were encouraged to apply for a specific PhD. Then, there are those who chose a PhD to put the job challenge on the back burner and postpone the ‘problem’ of finding a job.
The last group consists of those who have chosen the research path because they are ‘in love with’ their field of research. They can't see themselves doing anything else, and rethinking their career poses a particular challenge for this group.
“They’ve usually chosen it because they love it and are passionate about their research. Anyone who considers themselves the next Niels Bohr may feel that it would be tough to apply for a job with a marketing agency – others would be relieved to end up in such an environment,” he says.
Regardless of which group you belong to, it is a good idea to research job opportunities before you complete your PhD – although it can be difficult.
“During the second half of your PhD programme, you’re actually serving two masters. You have to work uncompromisingly on your PhD, write scientific articles and so on. At the same time, you need to take your nose out of your books and look around the job market. It’s not easy,” Morten Esmann admits. It is not merely a question of spending lots of time and energy, there is also a mental barrier to be overcome.
“It may feel as though you’re being disloyal to your research. But it’s necessary, because most PhDs will need to leave the research path. Investigating the job market may be the beginning of the process you need to go through,” he says.
NO DESIRE TO SCARE
Morten Esmann stresses that it is not IDA’s intention to scare anyone away from research. He merely wishes to outline the realistic scenarios, so that PhD students can give some thought to the real world.
“We’ve established that only a small minority succeed in a research career, and therefore it’s a good idea to consider alternatives. We’re not saying you should drop your research, but that you ought to bear in mind that you will probably need to take a different path.”
Save the date! IDA invites Ph.D. students to a day of motivation, inspiration and dissemination. Monday 5/3 2018, IDA, Copenhagen