It is okay to feel...
Embarking on the final stages of a Ph.D. or postgraduate program can evoke a feeling of uncertainty and vagueness. The absence of definite instructions and direction on what lies ahead, as well as what steps to take after completing the program, can cause bewilderment, nervousness, hesitation, and concern. Such uncertainty may also hinder your decision-making ability when it comes to seeking career opportunities.
Upon completion of a lengthy project such as a Ph.D., one undergoes a significant transformation, prompting a need to re-evaluate, redefine, and reinvent oneself while reflecting on their current position in life. Parting ways with a long-term commitment can be emotionally challenging, and adapting to a new reality may seem daunting. However, it is essential to focus on the opportunities that await and to approach the future with optimism and enthusiasm.
For a long time, there were only two viable career paths available to individuals who held a Ph.D. These paths were either within academia or in industry, specifically within research and development. However, in the present day, it is increasingly evident that not everyone is suited for these traditional roles. Fortunately, there are numerous alternative options available. Many Ph.D. holders have secured employment in fields outside of academia and industry, such as jobs that may be indirectly related to their research area, or completely unrelated sectors that capitalize on their distinctive skill sets.
There is a common misconception that pursuing an academic or industrial career after completing a Ph.D. is a one-way street. This is not the case, as there are numerous alternative career options available to Ph.D. holders. It's okay to try out an academic or industry career path, and if it doesn't feel right, there are plenty of other opportunities to explore. The first job you take after completing your Ph.D. is just the start of your career, and you have the flexibility to change course or return to academia/industry under the right circumstances. It's also possible to have one foot in each sector, creating a hybrid career that meets your needs and goals.
Even stats is on your side:
It's important to have faith in the journey. Statistically, the majority of Ph.D. graduates secure full-time employment within 15 months of graduation, with a success rate of 70-80%. However, it's essential to consider not only finding a job but also seeking a career that brings joy and satisfaction. Avoid settling for just any position. Remember that the first career move may not be the perfect fit, and it's okay to reassess and make changes if needed. The first decision is not necessarily the final decision, and you have the flexibility to pivot your career at any point.
Never forget to dream big and strive towards your aspirations, no matter how challenging they may seem. Prioritize constructing the life you desire, including selecting a career that holds significance for you. Self-confidence and flexibility are key, as job market opportunities will always be present. Stay engaged, keep learning, and be ready to adjust your trajectory as your objectives and desires shift.
Written by Anastasiia Kirilenko
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