Less than five years after graduating, alumni of the University of Toronto immunology department graduate program are mostly still working in academia, mostly as postdocs, while those some six to 14 years post-graduation are nearly evenly split between academia, industry, and "other" fields, which include medicine, consulting, and government, according to Yuriy Baglaenko and Eric Gracey, both from UToronto, at Nature Jobs.
"Alumni surveys offer direct insight into the strengths and weaknesses of the graduate experience, which allows for critical and honest criticism on the process," they add. "Although neglected, this information is important to everyone from prospective and current graduate students to the universities and research institutes."
They surveyed the 288 alumni, both master's and PhD students, of the department to gauge where they've gone.
"Despite the damning reports and the prevailing negative sentiment towards academia, 54 [percent] of alumni less than 5 years out of graduate school remain in academia with most employed as post-doctoral fellows," Baglaenko and Gracey say.
Still, about half are entering non-academic careers. "This is striking when considering that universities focus primarily on training research scientists," they add.
They note, though, that it "is difficult to offer concrete advice from these findings. Certainly, by looking at PhD alumni trajectories over time, it is clear that the market has drastically changed over the years."