Explore Career Options

Whether you plan to pursue an academic career or not, one of the best career development moves you can make during your graduate training is to stay actively open to the range of career possibilities and prospects open to you. Allow yourself to explore career development opportunities based on your broader skills, interests and values. The purpose of this page is to introduce resources and practices to help you do this,

N.B. See also our Explore Career Fields (Masters students) page for a concise rundown of our recommended approach to this preliminary phase of the non-academic job search.

ONE. Getting Started – Know Thyself

The first step toward successfully exploring your career options is self-assessment – defining what it is you’re looking for and what skills and assets you bring to the table. Brown graduate students have access to sophisticated tools designed just for this purpose.

Imagine PhD is an excellent, free career exploration and planning tool that can act as a one stop shop for every step of career exploration and job search – from assessment and network building to finding the right position, going through the application process, and nailing the interview. Imagine PhD is funded by a number of leading research universities (including Brown), and was designed by the Graduate Career Consortium, an independent group of career development experts from research and medical universities in the U.S. and Canada. It was developed to help PhD’s in the Humanities and Social Sciences find successful and fulfilling non-academic careers, but its powerful assessment and planning tools will be of great use to anyone considering a career transition beyond their specific field –– including STEM PHD’s and master’s students from all disciplines. For PhD’s in STEM looking for science related careers, MyIDP offers many similar services and resources, including assessment and planning for job searches in twenty different potential career paths in the Sciences. Versatile PhD is another useful assessment tool for all disciplines (requires a Brown login).

Once you have a better idea of what you do and what you are looking for, your next steps will be to familiarize yourself with the specific career fields and job markets you are interested in as you translate your CV into a focused and tailored resumé and hone the essential job search skills on this site.

TWO. Learn the Field

Armed with a deeper knowledge of your priorities, interests, and skills, you can move on to explore the specific career families that interest you while you begin to build a professional network within them – tasks which often go hand in hand.  If you begin with the assessment tools provided by ImaginePhD or MyIDP, you will have actionable steps for how to proceed. It will be useful to familiarize yourself with what jobs are being advertised in your ideal fields, including the skills that employers are looking for and the specific language used to describe them – which will come in useful when constructing your resumé.  

Knowing where to look for job postings and other information is of paramount importance. Unfortunately, there is no one centralized place for job postings…

The Explore Career Fields page on the CareerLAB main site features curated lists of top companies, trade organizations, and select job postings grouped by career family. These resources are a good place to start, but you should also do some digging on your own  –– start by finding job postings and researching leading companies. One of the best ways to go get vital information while building your professional network is to request informational interviews with Brown alumni. Using Brown Connect and the Brown University LinkedIn Alumni page, you will be able to find alumni in fields that interest you. The informational interview is THE essential networking tool. if done right, it can give you a foothold in your chosen career field. On its Job family resources page, ImaginePhD also provides a number of great tools and resources for self-assessment and preparing for informational interviews by developing effective questions based on your interests and priorities.

See also the Explore Career Fields page in our Masters student section for a concise rundown of our recommended approach to this preliminary phase of the non-academic job search.

Additional resources for finding general information and job postings include:

  • Handshake (Brown login required)
  • Job search sites like Indeed, ZipRecruiter, etc.
  • LinkedIn, where you can find a variety of companies, job posting and contacts. The Brown LinkedIn alumni page is a great resource, and can connect you with Brown alumni for networking and informational interviews.

Imagine PhD – Career development tool for humanities PhD’s looking for careers outside academia

Versatile PhD – Career resources for non-academic careers

MyIDP – Resources and Assessment for Careers in the Sciences