It's worth taking the time to assess what kind of career you want It's worth taking the time to assess what kind of career you want

There are many options out there for highly skilled and qualified individuals so it is worth taking the time to assess what kind of career you want.

Academic Career Resources

Thinking of research related roles?

Another popular career route for PhDs is to find research positions outside of the HE sector. For example, this includes scientific research within commercial companies, research posts for non-governmental organisations or public sector roles.

  • The most common occupation for biological science and physical science PhD graduates is scientific research, analysis and development (35% and 25% respectively). Scientific research roles can be found within companies on research parks, for example, such as the Cambridge Science Park within the Eastern Region. PhD graduates from UEA have also gone on to non-research related roles such as Business Development Manager for a Pharmaceutical Company.
  • Arts, Humanity and Social Science PhDs may choose to use their research skills in a different employment sector. Many DEV PhDs choose to work for non-governmental organisations or choose consultancy work. Social scientists including economists, education PhDs, and politics PhDs apply for research posts with think tanks. Research careers with government departments and local government are also popular areas to work.

Useful Resources

Returning to previous career routes and consultancy

For some, completing a PhD is part of a bigger career plan. For example:

  • DEV PhD students have often already worked in the field of development prior to coming to the UEA to undertake a PhD and commonly return to work for such organisations following graduation.
  • Education PhDs may have been teachers planning to return to that role or a different role within the education sector. 
  • PhDs from the Faculty of Health are likely to have a clinical background and roles they can return to within the NHS.

Often, these graduates may return to UEA as associate lecturers and keep strong links with the university. Consultancy is another common career pathway for graduates with this kind of background.

Useful resources

What else can I do with my PhD?

Reaching the end of your PhD or research contract and deciding it is time for a change of direction happens more often than you might think - 50% of PhD students do not stay within academia long term.

If you want to change direction it is important to think about using your research skills to uncover other potential job markets out there for you. The reality is that PhD graduates go into a vast range of roles including teaching, business, industry and HE related roles.

There are far more vacancies advertised for first degree graduates than for PhD graduates specifically. It is worth looking at these as many graduate level roles and graduate training schemes can be good career starting points for someone with a PhD. Whilst this may seem a step backwards by not directly using the postgraduate qualification you have worked so hard to achieve, you should not let this put you off applying as there can be faster career progression for someone with a PhD and the most difficult part is getting that all important first job in a new industry.

For those wishing to change direction completely it is worth noting that many jobs do not require a specific degree - half of all graduate jobs are open to any discipline.

If you would like to speak to someone about your options you can book a guidance appointment.

Getting experience

Once you have identified the career or potential careers for you, you then need to consider whether you need to supplement your current skills and experience to ensure you have a good chance of getting a job.

Making the most of your time while you are at UEA will give you a headstart in the hunt for a job. There are many things you can do:

  • Faculty PPD programme is a really good way of gaining extra experience you may not otherwise gain in the course of your research. For instance, the Business Skills for PGRs programme offers a bespoke range of employer led workshops from the business world and public sector to help you learn new skills and gain insights into what it might be like to work in different areas and organisations. Business skills are an essential part of working life whether you are choosing to stay in academia (yes, the University is also a business) or moving into a more commercial environment. Business awareness and commercial nous are key skills looked for by employers when they are recruiting.
  • Consider work experience or an internship. UEA runs an internship programme which PhD graduates are eligible to apply for.
  • Volunteering can be a good way to gain new skills and experience, and in some cases to see if you are suited to working in a particular industry.