“What is out there for me? The landscape of post-PhD career tracks” (PDF)


A comprehensive guidebook for researchers exploring their options in industry and looking for a new career path. This book combines information about the job market for PhD graduates with self-discovery exercises that will help you make the right choices.

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What is out there? Do you believe in life outside academia?

For researchers who consider a career switch, the open job market often feels as remote and uncertain as dark wood, or as outer space. To be happy at work, you need to find a job that is aligned with your values, gives you a feeling of belonging, purpose, appreciation, and some level of both safety and excitement. There are so many conditions that need to be met to develop a sense of job satisfaction! For those contemplating a transition from advanced studies in academia, an overriding question looms, with far-reaching practical and emotional consequences: How do I navigate and accomplish the change as smoothly as possible and with a minimum of stress?

The purpose of this book is to give you an overview of what you are capable (and might not even think of!) after completing a PhD, and a vista of directions you might consider to develop a happy, fulfilling professional life. It explores not only the scope of high-level employment in which PhDs usually excel, but also provides broad descriptions of the tribes that have formed in the job market and their characteristic behaviors. Do you fit the tribe of corporate denizens committed to the analysis and improvement of operations in accordance with prescribed goals? Or perhaps you are drawn to the tribe of entrepreneurs who create goals of their own? In this book, you will find open questions and self-discovery exercises which will help to clarify your true inclinations and their tribal affinities. You might find something really beautiful in these explorations and their implications for your path into the future!

Dr. Natalia Bielczyk is an entrepreneur, researcher, author, and philanthropist. She graduated from the College of Inter-Faculty Individual Studies in Mathematics and Natural Sciences at the University of Warsaw, Poland, with a triple MS title in Physics, Mathematics, and Psychology. Thereafter, she obtained a PhD in Computational Neuroscience at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behavior in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. In 2018, she launched a public foundation, Stichting Solaris Onderzoek en Ontwikkeling, aiming to help early career researchers find new careers in industry. She also owns Welcome Solutions, a company developing new tools and practices to help professionals in navigating on the job market, and in finding/creating their dream jobs. Even though she chose to work in the open market, she is still a researcher in her free time and has a strong belief in the compatibility of science and entrepreneurship.