Careers Service

New direction

There are many other career areas you could consider in addition to research in higher education or other organisations. This section gives you some ideas.

Using additional expertise

Throughout your PhD you’ll have been involved in activities in addition to your research. You may have enjoyed doing these activities and have developed some expertise. To help you reflect on these here are some ideas.

  • Did your PhD require you to develop skills in software programming?
  • Did you help organise a seminar series or conference?
  • Were you involved in public engagement activities such as Edinburgh Science Festival or bringing your research into schools?
  • Have you written articles, book reviews, or blogs?
  • Did you informally supervise Honours or masters students, or spend your time demonstrating some technique you were the resident ‘expert’ in?

Many PhD graduates have in the past taken this additional experience and built on it to develop their career in a different direction, e.g. software development, conference organiser, science communicator, technical writer or journalist, research staff trainer / developer - to name a few linked to the examples above.

Important questions which may help you to decide if you would like to pursue a new direction are:

  • Are there things you do as part of your PhD that you enjoy perhaps more than the research?
  • Do jobs exist that match up with what you are doing?
  • What do they require in terms of qualifications, experience and skills?
  • How much experience do you have in your additional area of interest or how well-developed do you feel are those specific skills?
  • Are there opportunities to get more involved or further develop skills to fill any gaps in your experience? You may wish to look at some of the training courses offered by the university or other providers.

Using your subject knowledge

The subject area of your research may link naturally to other industry sectors, giving you the opportunity to keep an interest in your research subject but perhaps apply it in a very different way. There may be obvious links you can make but others may be less clear. To help you consider what opportunities may be available here are some examples.

  • History of Art leading to the museum or gallery sector – examples of roles could include arts administrator, education officer, or curator.
  • Cancer or other health-related research leading to relevant voluntary sector organisations (e.g. Cancer Research UK or British Heart Foundation) or the NHS – examples of roles could include communications officer, policy adviser, health promotion specialist.
  • Geosciences leading to the oil or renewable energy industry, or to a museum or visitor experience, such as Dynamic Earth.
  • English literature or language leading to careers in the publishing or advertising sectors.

Ask colleagues in your research group or department if they know of any organisations which could link to your subject area in this way or talk it over with a careers consultant.

Graduate recruitment

Many employers in the UK recruit graduates on the basis of the skills and interest / motivation they bring to a job rather than the level or subject of qualification. You could therefore consider a wide range of career areas unrelated to your experience to date but which match the skills you have developed and in which you are interested.

  • Use the making career decisions pages to find out more about what may interest you.
  • Explore the type of graduate jobs available by looking at vacancies on MyCareerHub and graduate job sites such as Prospects.

Useful resources

For information on a wide range of careers, including the skills, experience and qualifications required for entry, check out the Occupations part of our website.

For information and resources about job search strategies please go to the Looking for Work section of our website.

To consider what you want from a career and approaches which will help you generate career ideas look at the making career decisions section of this site and / or discuss your ideas with a Careers Consultant

Making career decisions

Develop your skills and experience by booking onto relevant courses offered by the university.