Career Services’ interest in our students doesn’t stop at graduation. In fact, we’ve surveyed recipients of Penn PhDs awarded between 1998 and 2003 to find out where they’ve gone in their careers (both academic and non-academic) and what advice they have for current graduate students and postdocs. We recently analyzed a lot of our data and posted the results to our 8-13 Year Out PhD Survey website. All of it is worth a read, but here are a few tantalizing tidbits:
The best laid plans
- When they entered their PhD programs, 47% of respondents expected to go directly into a faculty job upon graduation, while another 18% expected to conduct postdoctoral research in academia upon graduating.
- Approximately 24% of respondents indicated they did not originally intend to pursue higher education positions, and their career plans included industry, public sector and nonprofit work.
- Interestingly, while the majority had some idea of what they would pursue after their education, 5% had no plan in mind.
- At 8-13 years after degree, 69% of respondents say that they are doing what they originally expected; 31% saw their original plans change.
- TAKEAWAY: Attitudes about the various career fields open to people with PhDs can change over time—this is perfectly normal. You should take advantage of your time and the resources at Penn to explore different career fields of interest. Once you have done the background research on career options, it can be just as helpful to eliminate a career field from your list of possibilities as it is to add one. Career Services can help you to explore different careers, help provide you with approaches that can connect you with alumni in different industries, or support you as you aim for the career that you have always wanted.
Where in the world are Penn PhD’s?
- About 56% of respondents report working in higher education (either as faculty or administrators). The next-largest industry represented is healthcare (11.5%), but there is great breadth to the career fields represented by the remaining 32.5% of PhDs.
- PhD alumni who work as faculty report working in 40 of the 50 United States and 18 other countries.
- 51% of the faculty positions held by respondents are located in six US states: Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, California, Virginia, and Florida.
- Of respondents who are faculty in the US, 54% work in public institutions and 46% work in private, not-for-profit institutions.
If They Were in Your Shoes…
Respondents shared extensive advice for current grad students. Advice for those who aspire to faculty positions is currently posted; check back soon for advice on other industries. The major themes: (1) Publish; (2) Choose advisors and mentors carefully and use them as a resource for research and professional ambitions; (3) Cultivate and maintain relationships with faculty, Penn alums, and scholars and students from other institutions; (4) Get teaching experience; (5) Start thinking about your career plans now. You can begin by reviewing the resources available at Career Services and making an appointment to speak with an advisor!