PhD careers case studies

What do PhD graduates do?

Career exploration is something of a research project in itself. When exploring the wider picture of possible next steps, many people focus on using search terms such as 'PhD history jobs' or 'jobs for psychology PhD.' Often, these search terms show up very limited results, as many employers beyond academia don't directly ask for a research degree in a specific subject when they advertise a job. That's not to say, however, that you aren't a strong candidate for those roles. You are more than just your research degree!

Spending some time researching what other people with postgraduate research degrees have gone on to do can be a useful exercise in showing you the variety of options out there, the types of work that value researchers' qualities, and the kinds of organisations interested in hiring someone with a higher degree.

Vitae's What do Researchers Do offers a series of publications exploring the destinations and career paths of doctoral graduates and university research staff. There are also a range of other resources you can use to get curious and see what other people have done.

PGR graduate careers case studies      

Careers case studies can help to illustrate the wide range of next steps that people with postgraduate research degrees have taken. Case studies can be useful not only because they give insight into the day-to-day life in different job roles; they also highlight the steps that people took to transition into their respective sectors, and how to go about making these moves. 

  • On our 'PGR Careers Explorer' pages you can find case studies from former Birmingham PGRs now working in a range of different fields
  • Research Careers is a collection of profiles of people who have made the transition from academia to a variety of different sectors. Browsing profiles might help to give you some ideas about wider options. A similar resource is the Think Ahead 'Vista' profiles blog from the University of Sheffield
  • PhDs At Work hosts a 'Week in the Life' blog feature with case studies from PhD graduates now working in a range of different sectors
  • You can also check out Vitae's comprehensive library of PhD careers case studies
  • The ABPI have an extensive bank of case studies for roles in the pharmaceutical industry, including a number from PhD holders
  • Jobs.ac.uk has a bank of case studies from people working in academic roles and in other roles in higher education
  • Other organisations who fund postgraduate and postdoctoral research may have case studies of what people have gone on to do; examples include case studies from the British Academy website and career case studies from the Royal Society
  • Don't forget: you can also use LinkedIn to explore what other PhD graduates have gone on to do and how they got there

    If you would like some help in exploring your post-PGR career options, you can also set up a meeting with the PGR Careers Adviser
Postgraduate researcher at computer

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