Only a small percentage of postdocs remain permanently in academia after the doctorate. Activities in various professional fields such as research and development, management, public relations, foundations, educational institutions and ministries are the rule rather than the exception for doctoral graduates - even though one often gets the impression within the university that a career in academia is the norm and everything else is merely "Plan B".
Is there a "too late" for the change?
The first one to two years after completing your doctorate (early postdoctoral phase) are a good time to change career fields. For a management position in research and development in industry, further research and management experience as a postdoc can also be useful - however, it is then important that you also work on relevant new topics and take responsibility for projects and people. In most cases, the more straightforward the transition after the doctorate or after a short postdoc project, the better. A longer stay in academia raises the question of whether applying outside is really the first choice or more of a stopgap measure.
Biological age also plays a role: some companies name an age limit of 35 years, above which they would hardly hire someone who has just come out of academia. As a rule, the older someone is, the more difficult it is to adjust to a new way of working and company culture.
Therefore: If you know that you will not stay in academia permanently, then tackle the change soon! Every year that you still work within academia should be worthwhile: Either because you learn something that is useful to you outside, or because you enjoy the current work so much that you want to savour it for some more time.
How do I find suitable career options?
Tips for finding suitable career options and employers (beyond job fairs):
- Find out where other doctorate graduates from your field work and ask them about their experiences!
- Use contacts in your field to companies, museums, associations, etc.!
- Are there users of what you have done research on? Whether companies, authorities or NGOs: Who could be interested in your subject or methodological expertise?
- Think about the activities you did during your doctorate and postdoc and what you were particularly good at: preparing and explaining topics in teaching, guiding students, researching, programming, writing, organising, creating project plans, giving lectures...? Where is this needed?
- Find out about the regional job market, for example at the Thuringian Agency for Skilled Personnel MarketingExternal link, at the Job Centre, at the regional Chamber of Industry and Commerce, at JenaWirtschaftExternal link, at company contact fairs or at professional associations!
- An insight into the different occupational fields and career biographies of doctorates is provided, for example, by the brochures "Perspektiven nach der Promotion. Berufswege außerhalb der Wissenschaft: 13 Porträts"External link (Perspectives after the doctorate. Career paths outside academia: 13 portraits) and "Arbeitgeber im Gespräch"External link (Employers in dialogue) or the book "Karriere nach der Wissenschaft"External link (Career after academia).
Support services of Jena University on career options and application strategies
The Friedrich Schiller University offers doctoral candidates and postdocs various opportunities to find out about career options and application strategies or to receive individual advice:
- Career Day "PhD - What's next?"External link annually in autumn
- Career advice for doctoral candidates and postdocs
- Alumni lectures or career events of the faculties, institutes or graduate programmes
- Workshops in the Graduate Academy's qualification programme, for example "Plan B - Alternatives to Academia", "The Written Application for the Non-University Job Market", " How to Convince in a Job Interview"
- Company contact fairExternal link annually in May/June
- K1 Start-up ServiceExternal link of the Service Centre for Research and TransferExternal link (advice on freelancing, setting up a business)