Once you’ve made the decision to leave academia, you will need to consider your financial livelihood. Some of you may have the time and monetary resources to allow you to focus on finding your new “dream” career right away. If so, this is a wonderful time to explore talking to a career counselor, taking a career aptitude test, going back to school, building on existing skills and learning new ones, pursuing additional training or certification, or volunteering. Many others, however, will need a “for now” job that allows you to pay your bills. In our, and others’ experiences, leaving academia can be difficult enough, so we advocate not putting too much pressure to have all your career answers right away. As JC often says, a “for now” job is the perfect way to give yourself the time and financial freedom to consider all your options fully. Plus, you’ll be building new skills, networking, and establishing yourself in a different industry. I know many academics feel like we’re “floundering” when we start searching for new careers, but after devoting so much time and energy to one career path it’s only natural to feel a little “lost” professionally.
Too often former academics are made to feel as though being a scholar or professor is all we can do. We don’t feel ready for the “real world.” We don’t feel as though our past work is relevant to jobs outside the academy. Yet this is blatantly untrue. The skills we developed in our graduate program—writing/editing, research, time management, project management, public speaking, content development— are directly applicable to jobs in the “real world.”
As you begin your career search, there are many tools for identifying different career paths and marketing your transferable skills. And remember, if you are having some difficulty finding a job after graduate school—don’t give up! Although right now it’s difficult to earn a job in many sectors, the odds are in your favor. Simply, there are so many more non-academic jobs than academic ones. Persistence will pay off. Please see the links in this section for additional advice and support as you look for work outside of the academy.