Since many science PhD students go on to careers outside of academia, they and their graduate programs should try to make that as an informed decision as they can, writes Philipp Kruger, a PhD student the University of Oxford, at Nature.
He notes that academia is often seen as the default and that students interested in careers outside academia may have to put in a little more work to determine what's a good fit for them. Kruger recommends students think about what tasks or experiences they enjoyed the most — or the least — during their PhD as well as hone a number of skills, from time management to giving presentations. He also suggests that students seek experiences outside the lab, such as organizing seminars or internships.
At the same time, Kruger argues that graduate programs and lab heads can also help students learn more about their options. For instance, he says they can promote work experiences and help students hone their grant-writing or presentation-giving skills.
"We know that most PhD graduates eventually go on to other careers, but have they all wasted their time? Absolutely not," Kruger adds. "The skills you are acquiring (or have acquired) during a PhD are highly sought by employers beyond academic science."