Graduate and Professional Students: Executing the Job Search

College or Corporate: Considering Academic and Non-Academic Positions

Academic positions refer to positions in higher education, the sector that encompasses positions at colleges or universities. These positions include faculty, administration, research professional, and staff roles. Non-academic positions are industry positions, a broad category that encompasses positions from other sectors. These positions may be at corporations, non-profit organizations, federal government positions, and more. Many graduate and professional (e.g., J.D., PharmD) degrees will naturally lead to industry positions. However, many doctoral degree programs will prepare students to pursue academic positions. Pathways will differ slightly depending on the sector you pursue.

Select the topics below for more details.

There are career assessments that support all students in discovering their skills, interests, values, and personality. However, there are several tools that aim at supporting students in graduate and professional programs. These tools are not exclusive to Ph.D. students and candidates despite the title. Please note even though your assessment may convey your skills prepare you to contribute to a specific job type, which does not limit you. Debrief your results with your career consultant to further career planning with a professional.

  • Imagine PhD assessment tools challenge students to reflect on their interests, skills, and values to produce job families that might fit their interests, skills, and values.
  • Beyond the Professoriate is a tool with learning modules to guide you through preparing for each stage of career transitions for academic and non-academic track, in STEM, Humanities, and Social Science fields.
  • myIDP Science Careers tools help those in science careers develop individual career development plans.
  • ChemIDP is a career planning tool for chemical scientists.

Academic Positions: Jobs in Higher Education

The opportunity to enter the job market for doctoral students typically begins after they have become doctoral candidates. Usually, candidacy occurs after a student passes their "comps" (i.e., comprehensive) or "quals" (i.e., qualifier) exams. Colloquially, students are called “ABD” after this defense, which stands for "all but dissertation". At this point, candidates can enter the academic workforce search and convey to employers that they are only 1 step away from graduating. It is important to note that many colleges and universities also employ instructors with master’s level education.

Faculty positions are typically posted and promoted 1-2 terms prior to the term department would like the faculty member to start their position. For example, it is common for a department to post a faculty position in Fall. If so, interviewing will typically occur in the winter to spring months. This provides time for transitioning to a new role before the next academic year which would be the following summer or fall. Remember, this is a general pattern and there are always exceptions. If the department is in need, the hiring cycle may be more expedited. It is important to pay careful attention to the details of the position's promotional materials.

Regarding administrative, staff, and research professional roles, these roles mirror industry positions. These positions are posted as needed in an ongoing manner until they have the role filled. These positions are typically open to any level of post-secondary education.

Steps to Preparing for Academic Positions

1. Explore positions that align with your education, aspirations, and skill set.
Job postings may be posted on the following platforms:

2. Prepare your application package based on the position announcement requirements.
You may need one or more of the following:

3. Apply to the position(s).

4. Prepare for/Execute First Round Interviews.
If you advance to the next round, prepare for any "job talks," teaching demonstrations, and/or research presentations.

5. Prepare for/Execute On-Campus Interview.
There are several tips for executing strategy while interviewing in academia via Higher Ed Jobs.

6. Secure an offer!