The Versatile PhD

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Find Out What Your Degree Can Do For You!

What is it?

The Versatile PhD lets you create a profile, giving you access to a myriad of tools to explore options beyond academia. The PhD Career Finder, for example, allows you to explore non-academic careers such as consulting, biotechnology, law, university administration, and many more. There are private discussion boards and forums, and The Versatile PhD community is underwritten by a number of academic institutions, including Brown. With 85,000+ members, it is also a great place to network; they even host local meet-ups. In short, The Versatile PhD is an invaluable resource for exploring non-academic careers, connecting you to people, self-help resources, and even jobs.

Brown graduate students, log in to Versatile PhD through the university portal to get full access to the content:

What’s new?

The VPhD Smart Jobs Initiative is a weekly digest of non-academic jobs, designed to empower PhDs and post-docs with new career ideas and opportunities. You can subscribe to their list and receive weekly updates about exciting job opportunities. For example, recent postings include  jobs as a research analyst in urban planning, a financial engineer, and a market analyst, and spans from fields such as public health bioinformatics to clinical psychology, law, and agriculture.

They have recently launched a research blog that analyzes PhD-specific job trends. In this blog, they highlight a small cluster of career opportunities related to the week’s topic. Check out their most recent blog post on how an aging population underpins healthcare employment, or read up on how your much coveted statistical skills translate to other career paths.

Finally, the newly updated Options for Success Career Exploration program is a six-module course developed for PhDs by Dr. Fatimah Williams at Beyond the Tenure Track, a consulting firm that helps find PhDs career pathways beyond academia. In six steps (Orientation, Envision, Discover, Assess, Connect, Explore), the course helps you to understand the link between your degree and the professional world, and to confidently manage the transition from university to professional placement. Watch a preview of the Options for Success Career Exploration program, and take advantage of the tools that The Versatile PhD has to offer!

Great Gifts for Grad Student Job Seekers

If you’re a graduate student with career aspirations on the brain, you may want to forward this week’s post to family and friends who are doing their holiday shopping. Reading career advice may not be the most fun way to spend your holiday break, but finding a book that is a good fit for you can provide some peace of mind.

The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your PhD Into a Job
by Karen Kelsky

Kelsky’s shoot-from-the-hip style isn’t for everyone, but this book has become an industry standard for the academic job market. To own the book is to have access to Kelsky’s clear ideas about each step on the path to an academic job, reaching well back into early graduate school decisions such as choosing your advisers.



So What Are You Going To Do With That?: Finding Careers Outside of Academia
by Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius

Like The Professor is In, So What Are You Going To Do With That? offers some hard truths about the prospects of the academic job market. The objective of this book, however, is not to help you to game that system best you can but rather what opportunities may lay in store should you chose another path. The book covers the gamut from existential (“Soul Searching Before Job Searching”) to highly practical (“Case Studies and Sample Resumes”). With subchapters like “How to Use Your Grad School Years Wisely,” it is never to early to take a look. The best part of this recommendation is that CareerLAB has just received fresh batch of So What Are You Going To Do With That?  Stop by to see Bev Ehrich and get a copy while they last.


Piled Higher and Deeper
by Jorge Cham

All a bit too serious? How about a comic strip version? You’ve probably encountered PhD comics somewhere in your social media life. Jorge Cham’s series Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD) presents the often darkly humorous insights of that comic enterprise in chapter form. Look for “Adventures in Thesis Land,” “Academic Stimulus Package,” “Life is Tough and Then You Graduate” and More.


The Academic Job Search Handbook (Fifth Edition)
Julia Miller Vick and Jennifer S. Furlong

While it is good to have a laugh (even at yourself) sometimes, there is something especially soothing about a snark-free, straight-forward job search guide. That is what Julia Miller Vick and Jennifer S. Furlong have put together in The Academic Job Search Handbook. Originally composed in 1992, the book is now in its fifth edition. While only your advisors can really help you with the particulars of your field, the general guidelines presented here are accessible and applicable in most cases. It goes over the typical timeline, offers sample written materials, and reaches well into your potential future with tips on interviews, negotiations and even junior faculty expectations.

If you’re in the early to mid-years of your PhD, the above suggestions can serve as good texts to acquaint yourself with what lies ahead. If your Interfolio account looks like an Amazon shipping center on black Friday (so many deliveries!), we wish you the best, and maybe you can spend some of your break curled up with a new novel.

Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

Explore Career Fields

From careers in architecture to zoology, and from finance to social work: CareerLAB’s Explore Career Fields site is a valuable resource for exploring careers outside of academia, especially for graduate students. Click on one of the 16 career fields–Business and Management, Government, Engineering, Communication and so forth–to unlock an entire database of everything you need to know about this field and its subdivisions. Many of the categories contain a combination of non-profit, for profit and government opportunities. By clicking on the parent category, you will be directed to job or field specific pages compiled with a variety of resources to facilitate the pursuit of your future career.

You can browse articles, contact alumni, find out what the most important companies are, which professional associations you should know about, and even learn about job openings and internship opportunities! Think outside the box and start exploring today. Whether you are just setting out and learning about different possible job opportunities in the areas of your interest, or ready to apply to specific positions within your field, CareerLAB is here to aid you in that process.

Click here to go straight to CareerLAB’s Career Field exploration page, and enjoy exploring!

2019 Spring Recruiting Events: On- and Off-Campus

Spring semester is a time when employers are eager to meet Brown’s outstanding students and to discuss future job and internship opportunities with you! Below is a list of events taking place both on- and off-campus. This is your chance to shine.


NY Recruiting Consortium – January 11, 2019

Location:  NYC

Invitees: Juniors and Seniors

About: Meet with a variety of employers in New York City to discuss full-time job and internship opportunities. Selected candidates will be notified if they’ve been selected to interview in NYC.

Application/Registration Instructions: Students must apply for opportunities through the NYRC  platform.  Any questions, contact

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Spring Career Fair – January 29, 2019

Time: 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: Sayles Hall, Brown University campus

Invitees: All Brown students (undergraduate/graduate) are welcome to attend.

About: Meet employers from a variety of industries at Brown’s Spring Career Fair. Full-time and internship opportunities are available.


Brown’s Common Good Internship and Job Fair – January 30, 2019

Time: 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Location: Sayles Hall on Brown’s Main Green

Invitees: All Brown students (undergraduate/graduate) are welcome to attend.

About: Attend this career fair to meet with employers who work in nonprofit, for-profit, and government agencies. Discover opportunities for both internships and/or full-time jobs in education, public health, the arts + design, social services, activism, community development, public service, start-ups, social enterprises, international development, sustainability, and more!


Save the Dates:

DC IMPACTlink – February 8, 2019

Location: Washington D.C.

Invitees: Junior and senior undergraduates are eligible to apply for an interview spot.

About: Connect with non-profits and government agencies in Washington D.C. during this off-campus recruiting event. Meet with over 30 D.C.-area employers who focus on public policy, government, think tanks, media and other industries. Transportation will available from Brown’s campus to this event in D.C.

More information will be in Handshake over winter break.

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All-Ivy Environmental and Sustainable Development Career Fair – March 1, 2019 

Location: New York City, New York

Invitees: All Brown students (undergraduate/graduate) are welcome to attend.

About: Connect with organizations in the private, non-profit and public sectors across a multitude of industries in Consulting / Engineering / Environmental Development / Energy / Non Profits and many more.

Look for information in Handshake and around campus after winter break.

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Support is available!

Want help in preparing for recruiting events?

Peer Career Advisor (PCA) Walk-In Hours at CareerLAB:
1:30-3:30 p.m.

Graduate Student Walk-In Hours at CareerLAB:
Tuesday, 3-4 p.m.
Wednesday, 4-5 p.m.
Thursday, 2-3 p.m.

Or make an appointment with a career counselor on Handshake.

Resources for International Graduate Students Building their Careers

This week, CareerLAB will host alumna Jennifer Madden (PhD TAPS ’08) for a discussion about standards of etiquette and communication in the U.S. job market. This event aimed to familiarize international graduate students with the cultural particulars they might encounter in an interview or informal encounter with a potential employer. For example, many employers in the U.S. expect formal, modest attire, a handshake with each member of the interview team, frequent eye contact, and a willingness to speak about one’s personal connection to their work.

It is also important to know that you are not required to reveal your family status or plans, religious affiliation, ethnic background, or sexual orientation to a potential employer.

CareerLAB Graduate Student Services can help you with tips like these as you find your way into your career. We are here every week for Graduate Walk-Ins (Tuesday 3-4 p.m., Wednesday 4-5 p.m., Thursday 2-3 p.m.) and are happy to go over your resume or cover letter with you or discuss strategies for an upcoming interview. You are welcome to make a 1/2 hour appointment with Bev Ehrich via Handshake.

We encourage you to consider also how other campus resources can be helpful in preparing for the job search.

The Global Brown Center for International Students is a resource for student engagement, community-building, and advocacy. While not specifically aimed at career-building, it can be useful to seek community to help one adjust to the stresses of being on a job market. The GCB could be a good place to find other students taking on similar challenges. Be on the lookout also for social and support opportunities through the Graduate Student Council and Graduate Community Fellows.

Whatever your skill as a writer, The Writing Center can help you to fine tune important documents like your cover letter. You can also schedule an appointment with an English Language Specialist through The Sheridan Center for Teaching for consultation on written or spoken communication. If you are an English Language Learner and want to exercise your ability to make small talk in English, you might think about participating in the Conversation Partners Program during the coming semester.

We hope you won’t hesitate to make the most of CareerLAB and other services to support your career advancement.

BrownConnect Undergraduate Signature Internship Programs

BrownConnect Undergraduate Signature internships provide multiple opportunities within a designed program that are exclusive to Brown students and are funded through a stipend from Brown with employers holding positions for Brown University students. Each program has a focus within a single industry, theme and/or geographic region.

Students participating in these programs often receive pre-internship guidance and preparation, guided experiential learning and site visits to participating employers or alumni workplaces. Often, signature programs are collaborations between BrownConnect and other departments/centers within the Brown campus community.

Keep an eye out for updates to the Summer 2019 BrownConnect Signature Programs on the linked pages below:

Business Entrepreneurship and Organizations in Hong Kong

App Deadline: January 3, 2019 

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The Brown University Hong Kong Internship Program offers qualified Brown students the opportunity to expand classroom knowledge to the world of business through an immersive professional experience in Hong Kong. Through this partnership with BrownConnect and the Business, Entrepreneurship and Organizations department, employers in Hong Kong hold an internship position for Brown students to intern over the summer for 8-10 weeks. Brown provides students with stipends to offset travel and living costs associated with taking the internship positions.


Israel Entrepreneurship Program

App Deadline:
February 21, 2019

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Summer internship experiences with startup organizations in Israel provide Brown students the opportunity to expand classroom knowledge to the world of business through an immersive professional experience in Israel. Through a partnership with the Brown Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, employers in Israel hold an internship position for Brown students to intern over the summer for 8-10 weeks. Brown provides students with stipends to offset travel and living costs associated with taking the internship positions.


Sweden Entrepreneurship Program

App Deadline:
February 21, 2019

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The Sweden Entrepreneurship Internship Program, with a focus on startups and technology opportunities, provides Brown students the opportunity to expand classroom knowledge to the world of business through an immersive professional experience in Stockholm, where the startup culture flourishes. Through a partnership with the Jonathan M. Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, employers in Sweden hold an internship position for Brown students to intern over the summer for 8-10 weeks. Selected students receive stipends to offset travel and living costs associated with taking the internship positions.


Germany Entrepreneurship Program

App Deadline:
February 21, 2019

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Summer internship experiences with startup organizations in Berlin provide Brown students the opportunity to expand classroom knowledge to the world of business through an immersive professional experience in Germany. Through a partnership with the Brown Nelson Center for Entrepreneurship, employers in Berlin hold an internship position for Brown students to intern over the summer for 8-10 weeks. Brown provides students with stipends to offset travel and living costs associated with taking the internship positions.
Media in LA

App Deadline:
March 1, 2019

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The Media in LA summer internship program provides students with the opportunity to intern with a media company in the greater Los Angeles area over the summer. The program allows for participating students to gain practical experience within a variety of media fields while connecting to the LA alumni community in the workplace and through structured networking events. Brown provides students with stipends to offset travel and living costs associated with taking the internship positions.
Careers in the Common Good in NYC

App Deadline:
March 8, 2019

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The BrownConnect Careers in the Common Good Summer in New York City program connects Brown students with non-profits, start-ups, and public service agencies (many of whom employ or are run by Brown alumni) in New York City to help Brown students build skills and build a pathway into the nonprofit and public service fields through internships. The students selected for the internships take part in an orientation before leaving campus and a networking event with alumni in New York during the summer.
Brown in Tulsa Kaiser Fellowship Program

App Deadline:
February 21, 2019

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Managed by the Swearer Center for Public Service, the Brown in Tulsa program provides up to seven undergraduate Brown University students with an 8-week summer internship opportunity where they will explore and engage with issues that affect the region.


Brown in Washington Summer Fellowship

App Deadline:
February 21, 2019

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Managed by the Swearer Center for Public Service, The Brown in Washington Summer Fellowship is a paid opportunity for up to 10 undergraduate students to spend a summer in Washington, D.C., where they intern with a public agency or think tank. Students selected as fellows spend 10 weeks in Washington and take part in co-curricular programming that will provide them with rich learning experiences, valuable peer-to-peer support and deep professional connections.
iProv in Providence

App Deadline:
March 8, 2019

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A joint project between BrownConnect and the Swearer Center for Public Service, the iProv Summer Internship Program provides a stipend for undergraduate students to work with nonprofit organizations based in the greater Providence area. Every iProv internship has been carefully developed to include a clear job description, a deliverable project or key task, and regular meetings with a supervisor. iProv interns also gather as a learning community 4-5 times during the summer in a program coordinated by the Swearer Center for Public Service.
Careers in the Common Good Winternships

App Deadline: Typically October of fall semester

CCG Winternships are “mini internship” programs providing opportunities for student interns to work on engaging projects for two weeks during winter break within social enterprise and nonprofit organizations. Students have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience working with innovative social change organizations and companies as well as build concrete professional skills through the completion of a tangible project. Opportunities are offered in Boston, New York City, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Make sure to visit BrownConnect for continued updates to the 2019 Signature Internship Programs!

Succeeding in Graduate School

Wondering how to manage your time, choose your courses, build relationships with your advisors, or get involved with organizations on campus? CareerLAB Grad Student Services can help you develop the tools and strategies to succeed in graduate school so as to prepare yourself for the job market–academic and non-academic–in the best way possible.

Upcoming Events

On Wednesday, November 14, CareerLAB will host two events called “Succeeding in Graduate School for the Sciences and the Humanities/Social Sciences audiences. Panels of your peers–advanced graduate students–will share what they have learned about how to make the most of the time here at Brown. Join the discussion on how to manage your time, build relationships with mentors, and carefully build up your CV. These events will be held at CareerLAB, 167 Angell Street (across from Brown Bookstore side entrance) for graduate students in the Sciences from 12:00-1:00 p.m. and for graduate students in the Humanities and Social Sciences from 4:00-5:00 p.m. Pizza will be served at both programs.

International Graduate Students are invited to an event on how to communicate effectively when looking for jobs in the US: International Graduate Students: Understanding Communication and Etiquette for a Successful Job Search in the US. Join Brown alum Dr. Jennifer Madden PhD ’08, who will share her expertise in effective communication in this interactive and dynamic presentation. Come to get answers to important job search questions as you prepare to successfully move beyond Brown! This event will be held on Thursday, November 15 from 5:30-7:30 pm. Registration on Handshake is required for this event.

Online Resources for Doctoral Students

One way to measure your success in grad school is how well prepared you are for the job market. We have compiled some essential resources to help you assess your skills, interests, and talents as you continue to map out your unique career path. These free online resources are designed to bridge the knowledge gap between your graduate education and the realm of career possibilities: check out our introduction to online resources for doctoral students which includes Imagine PhD (Humanities/Social Sciences), The Versatile PhD (all fields), and My IDP (Life and Physical Sciences), and start using them today!

Office Hours

Drop by during Graduate Walk-In hours for personal feedback on how to improve your resume or CV! Discuss the best ways to prepare for that important phone interview or conference presentation, and get tips on how to make yourself more marketable through networking. Find us at CareerLAB (167 Angell St) on Tuesdays 3:00-4:00 p.m., Wednesdays 4:00-5:00 p.m., and Thursdays 2:00-3:00 p.m.

Staying Calm about Summer Plans

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Well, the weather is getting colder, the days are getting shorter, midterms are in full swing, Winter Break seems kind of far away – this can be a stressful time to be a student! On top of all that, you might be hearing about friends who have already received summer internship offers for next year, or you might be getting calls from family members asking what YOUR summer plans are. So, sit back, take a deep breath, close your eyes and repeat the following phrase in your head 10 times:

“It is completely OK and normal that I don’t have a summer plan yet.”

Now, here a few key things to remember about summer plans:

  • You can receive funding for unpaid summer internships through the BrownConnect LINK Award Program, and for summer research with Brown faculty through the UTRA Program.  (also, you can apply for a LINK award even if you haven’t yet secured your internship)
  • Most summer internships posted in BrownConnect are posted between February and May so you still have plenty of time to find a great internship in any industry. Most students won’t actually secure a summer internship until the second half of Spring semester, and some even later than that. Bottom line – don’t stress about the internship search.
  • It is not necessary to have a summer internship or research position, especially if you are a first-year student. You will not ruin your short or long-term career prospects by not having a summer internship, seriously.
  • In considering an internship, think about it as an opportunity to explore a career path that intrigues you, to do something that will develop new skills and expand your horizons, and/or to take a risk and try something that you never thought you would. An internship doesn’t have to be a direct stepping stone to a post-grad job, it can be something eye-opening, rewarding, challenging, fun, exciting, and energizing.
  • CareerLAB is here to help you! Come meet with a peer career advisor or counselor to talk about summer possibilities. Also, over the next two weeks, we will be hosting two “How to Find and Fund an Internship” workshops (on November 1 and November 7, 2018). You have time, there are lots of internship and research options to come, so please see us in the coming weeks and months to get started.

Graduate Student Networking Tips

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With research to be done, papers to write, and courses to teach, building a network of potential future colleagues or mentors is often a piece of graduate career-building that falls through the cracks. This week, we build on the theme of networking and focus on some resources that can ease the task of reaching out.

Brown’s Online Alumni Network

Grad students  — use Brown Connect! Go to and log-in using your Brown sign-in. You can now search a vast database of former Brown students (Grad and Undergrad) and send them emails through this portal. You can search for alumni who received your same degree or enter specific job titles or employers that interest you. If you only want to see alumni in a state you are relocating to or who have a PhD in your field, see the “Advanced” search option to set multiple criteria at once.

When you find someone you want to contact, you can do so with one click. The default email even prompts you to personalize your correspondence.

Tip: Not everyone you reach out to will necessarily reply. Try to cast a wide but reasonable net.


Did you know there are multiple Brown alumni sites on LinkedIn, including specific grad student and alumni sites?

Brown University LinkedIn Alumni Site

Brown Graduate School: Humanities and Social Sciences

Brown Graduate School: Life and Physical Sciences

There are many academic groups on Facebook. You should only participate in them if you intend to keep your social media presence professional. There are some prominent scholars who will post academic job openings to Facebook or Twitter so following them can be helpful.

In Person
It is useful to remember that on-campus events are networking opportunities. You needn’t fear connecting with a speaker if your interest is genuine and your desire to learn from them them sincere. Showing up, however, isn’t enough. Ask an informed question and follow up after (ask for a business card or email address). See if you can be invited to more personal aspects of their visits, like lunch or coffee. When the time is right, don’t neglect to tell them a bit about yourself and your interests. (NOTE: Practice your elevator pitch for networking opportunities!)

Knowledge is Power! Know the Recruiting Do’s and Don’ts

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Recruiting season is in full swing and in the rush to get involved, students may not realize that there are rules for student and employer to follow.  In order to maintain excellent relationships with the firms that want to recruit Brown students AND in order to manage firm’s expectations with students, we’ve developed some policies for Brown students and Employers to adhere to.

  • Student Policies:  Know them.  In the policies, we outline basic student behavior expectations and decision timelines with deadlines (which often helps students get more time to make a decision). Be sure to read the first two pages.  The number one student violation is missing an interview with a recruiter and that means student suspension from all recruiting, which is not something any of us like.  

Illness can throw a wrench into anyone’s recruiting plans – so if it is a fast-onset migraine or a pesky long-lasting flu you thought you’d be over before your interview, please 1) let our office know ASAP and 2) provide us with a note from student health services.

  • Employer policies: Yes, employers have policies too. The deadlines are the same but it is helpful for you to know what we expect from employers, too, so you know if they are treating you the way we expect them to.
  • FINALLY, Fraudulent employers. We do our very best to screen all the thousands of jobs / opportunities / employers that come into Handshake, but nefarious employers do slip by with fake job postings. If you received a suspicious-sounding email that starts out with: I received your email from your CareerLAB (they didn’t – we don’t do that) that should be your first red flag. Also, if the job wants you to deposit a check into your personal account and then wire money elsewhere (but keep the several hundred dollars difference) – DON’T.  The check is fake and convincing enough that it takes a bank time to figure that out – well after you’ve deposited the fake money and wired REAL money.  Then, you don’t get the wired money back AND you’re in trouble with the bank as well. It can be a costly mistake.
If you need to reach us for employer issues, scheduling conflicts or general questions, please contact us using any or all of these methods:

Knowing the policies and staying on top of your recruiting schedules helps us all!