At the most recent PhD Pathway: Career Conversations event, PhD students and alumni gathered to network and discuss the world of Not-for-Profits. Sharing their experiences were representatives from these six prominent organizations:

  • The Rockefeller Foundation
  • The Fund for Global Human Rights
  • City of New York, Department of Homeless Services
  • Breast Cancer Research Foundation
  • The Clinton Foundation
  • Wildlife Conservation Society

AFTER ACADEMIA: A New Beginning

Panelists shared that many of their roles included “translating jargon” to “galvanize the public interest.”
While some had anticipated always leaving academia, many other arrived at that choice as a result of being unable to attain a suitable academic position. They noted, that the feelings of failure and stigma around leaving academia dissipate quickly upon entering an industry job.

IT’S ALL ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW

A key takeaway from the event was that the Not-for-Profit industry is heavily reliant on connections and networking. While for many networking had not always been easy, the panelists assured students that with time and practice networking is a skill you can develop. They added that an additional benefit of networking conversations was learning what skills resonate with people outside of academia.

LEVERAGE YOUR DEGREE IN THE JOB SEARCH

Panelists urged current students not to view their degree as placing them on a different level than someone with a Master’s. They noted that this approach could easily result in pricing yourself out of opportunities. Instead, they recommended viewing the PhD degree as a Master’s + dissertation. However, the dissertation should be described as more than a paper you wrote, instead, consider it work experience. Additionally, note the peripheral skills that you gained throughout your degree – they are just as important as the diploma and dissertation.

FOCUS YOUR INTERESTS

Narrow down the broad scope of Not-for-Profits and NGO’s by asking yourself these questions:

  • What do I like to do?
  • What issues am I interested in?
  • What organizations do interesting work in those areas?

GAIN EXPERIENCE

Finally, panelists suggested gaining experience and resume signifiers that speak to your ability to work as part of a team. Volunteer, work pro bono, or intern – experience will help you learn about different work cultures and add valuable skills to your resume.

 

For assistance with career exploration and the job search, schedule an appointment with a CCE counselor.