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The Other Path

A life in academia isn't for everyone, and, as the Chronicle of Higher Education notes, graduate students often fear tell their advisors they won't be following in their footsteps.

Maren Wood, a PhD who founded the Lilli Research Group, in a column at the Chronicle says she wishes she could assuage students' worries that they might be labeled 'unserious' or not worthy of attention or funds. Some advisors, she does say, may react badly. If you suspect yours might, she says to consider why you want to tell them you are looking outside the academy for a job; if you don't need a recommendation perhaps you don't need to broach the subject yet.

Most advisors, she says, do want the best for their students.

But before you have the discussion with your advisor, Wood says to do you homework. Research where students in the department and group have wound up, as well as investigate your push/pull factors. Push factors, for instance, could be the state of the academic job market or that your partner has certain career needs, while pull factors could include wanting to teach full time or be a researcher full time. And have a plan for what you are asking your advisor for.

"Whatever your reasons for taking your career outside of academe, stay positive when you're explaining them to your adviser," she adds.