Leaving Academia: How To Get A Job In Industry After Your PhD

Getting a job in industry after your PhD is an honorable alternative to an academic career. Despite its appeal, many PhD students seem terrified to take the jump.

I want to share with you the one thing you have to do if you want to successfully get a job in industry after your PhD.

Warning 1, if you want to stay in academia or aspire to have a scientific career, don’t read this post.

Warning 2, this post is a rant, it contains foul language, if you have a thin skin please check some of the more civilized posts we have in Next Scientist.

Do you want to find a job in industry after your PhD? Read this post. Apart from some occasional name calling, there’s a lot of useful stuff in here.



I got a job in industry! After 3 months hustling for a job in industry after my PhD, I have several new things to discuss with you.

I have a new job. It’s with one of the Big Four consultancy companies. I will do, as I wished, data analysis. So hopefully I will still use some of the hard skills I developed during my PhD.

The summary of interviews and job offers is as follows:

  • 2 final job offers.
  • Interviews with 6 different companies.
  • 4 out of 6 companies I reached the 3rd and final interview. 2 of these gave me an offer, 2 discarded me because they had a better candidate.
  • 2 out of 6 companies I got stopped at the second interview.
  • Bizarre alert! One company, after 3 interviews (that spanned for more than 2 months) and extremely positive feedback in each of them turned me down. The reason: they didn’t like this blog post. They argued that I am an angry person and I would be difficult to manage. They did not ask me directly for a clarification on my meaning. They did not contact my earlier bosses to check if I was indeed unmanageable.
  • I applied to around 20 job offers.
  • I have also contacted directly employees of companies. This was the case of the company that hired me.

In this process I have learned a lot. Here are some:

  • Be flexible and always available for interviews. I went to the first interview with my new employer two days after my daughter was born. I could have canceled, but I wanted the job and I didn’t want to take risks. At the end of the meeting, when asked about my tired faced I let them know that I just had my first sleepless night as a father.
  • It’s important to dress well. As a PhD student you might dress, as I did, in old jeans and sneakers. Buy a decent suit, two good shirts, and a tie. Polish your shoes. A first good impression is important.
  • Appear friendly, not too talkative, not to shy. Demonstrate that despite being a nerd, a bookworm or a crazy scientist, you can still interact socially.
  • Plan wisely when you want to start your new job. Look for a job in early spring, autumn or winter, never before or during summer. Summer is the slow season, not many projects are running and therefore less pressure to hire people. A couple of companies with which I interviewed said they would gladly hire me, unfortunately they had not enough work at the moment (late spring). I had interviews in late spring with the company that ended hiring me, but the contract would only start after summer.
  • Don’t write controversial blog posts (or use foul language) while job hunting. Some interviewers liked my posts and they thought that being active online was a plus. Yet other employer clearly didn’t like it.

End Of Update


You should see an academic position (postdoc, associate professor) just as a regular job. Don’t get obsessed by following all the steps in the academic ladder.

These were the words of a friend of mine and scientist. He was responding to my bitching on how difficult it was to get a good scientific career.

By academic career I mean the classical path in universities: PhD, hopefully n x post-doc (in different countries), hopefully tenure, hopefully professorship.

Too many ifs, too many maybes, too many compromises. I don’t want to switch countries now, I have already done that. I don’t want low-paying high-demanding post-doc positions with the promise that maybe one day I will get tenure as long as I churn papers out like a motherfucker.

I know how the science game is played. Academy is a pyramid with a very big base of PhDs and postdocs doing the heavy work. There are very few spots on the top of the pyramid. These spots, taken by (assistant) professors, have very slow rotation.

Job In Industry After Your PhD pyramid academia

Fuck this shit! I don’t want to be one more in the army slaves of a professor.

In industry you are also the slave of a corporation. But industry pays better.

What happens if I don’t get tenure? Why did I raise my children far from their families in a country where I don’t want to be?

Sorry academic career, we are not made for each other. It was nice while my PhD lasted, but now it’s time to meet other career paths.

Yes, I know, working in a company is also stressful, your career path is also uncertain and less idealistic than a career in science.

I thought academy was a place where nobel people would collaborate for a greater good. Smart people and good ideas would prevail.


Academia, like any other field of life, it’s run by humans. As such, humans are capable of the best, and the worst.

Welcome to the real Academia. Here you also have to suck dicks to progress. It’s not enough to be good, you need to be political. Without “friends” you go nowhere. Without a “godfather” you go nowhere. Exactly the same shit you will find in a company.

I look around for academic groups where I can continue working on the same field. What do I find? 5 or 6 groups worldwide, quite a niche market. How’s that for overspecialisation?

If you want to survive in Academia you’d better update your skills regularly and jump to the next hyped field.

In industry you also have to adapt to new technologies and procedure, true. But industry pays better.

Fair enough, that’s how the world works. But. Yes, in my butt.

If I have to sell myself like a whore, I will sell to the highest bidder. And industry pays better.

Is money the only reason to get a job in industry after your PhD?

You might be thinking that I am only after the money. In part yes. I also have to pay the bills and I like to burn cash to enjoy life.

I am also after the wealth of opportunities you have in industry. There are hundreds of companies countrywide where I can continue my career in case I need to make a switch. There are many alternative careers for PhD students waiting in industry.

Compare that with the 5 academic groups worldwide where I can make a switch. In Academia you spend your years going deeper and deeper in a topic. You end up knowing a lot about a very little thing. While it might be interesting for some people, I prefer variety and change.

getting a job in industry after your PhD will give you wider knowledge

So it’s decided. Bye academic career. Hello industry.

What do you have to offer to industry?

OK, let’s see what you have to offer industry as a PhD. Have you developed any skills during my PhD that are valuable for companies?

In my case, I was busy doing some data modeling. I did two things. I analyzed chemical data to find patterns in the properties of molecules. I built models to classify molecules.

I found out that in industry, there’s a need for data modeling or analytical skills. Financial companies want to find patterns in the stock exchange that help them to make better investments. Companies want to classify their customers so they can provide them with targeted products. The list goes on and on.

I thought I can use my data analysis skills to help companies make better decisions. It seems I can still use my brains to solve a problem creatively. Something like what I did in my PhD.

How the heck do you convince a company to hire you?

The odds are against you. Let’s see why I would not hire you if I was the HR recruiter:

  • You are not a fresh (and young) MSc graduate ready to be groomed by the corporate philosophy.
  • You have little relevant industry experience. And because of your age you are a bit expensive.
  • With a PhD, you get the label “smart guy” (nothing further from reality). This for some people means “he gets bored easily if not challenged”.
  • Economy is fucked up. Lots of qualified (more than me) people looking for jobs, plus few job openings, equals companies can be picky.

You could sit in a corner, suck your thumb and cry in silence. You could go back to your former group begging for a temporary job till the economy improves. You could stuck your business ambitions up your ass.

Let me tell you something: when the odds are against you, victory tastes sweeter.

At the beginning of my PhD I presented my plans to a known scientists. He said “you want to do all this, on your own, in 4 years? Good luck sonny boy, you won’t manage”.

Guess who was wrong? Take that, old fart!

One of my PhD collaborators (a professor) told me “You didn’t look like the kind of guy that would be interested in these topics, much less to succeed in them”. I take that as a great compliment.

I am no special guy. In fact I am an average dude. I am not smarter than you.

Do you want to know why they were wrong and I was right? Hint, it’s the same you need in order to get a job in industry after your PhD.


Hustle To Find a Job In Industry After Your PhD

Hustle is the key to achieve those impossible goals.

You have a clear goal. You have a burning desire to achieve that. You do all what it takes. You fight your ass off for it. You hustle. You succeed.

I have done it before. I can do it again. I know if I hustle I will get a job in industry after my PhD.

Hustling is not about that gangsta stuff you hear in hip-hop songs about drug dealing, being a pimp and burning money on Cristal bottles. You just go out there and annoy everybody in your search for a job.

Job in industry after your PhD, gangsta spoiling Cristal

Use all resources available. Poke your network, former colleagues, friends of friends, everybody.

Keep in mind that having a PhD you are entitled to nothing, nada. It’s no guarantee of landing a corporate job.

Competition is fierce. You have limited time, unless you want to burn all your savings. You have to focus your energy. You can’t just apply to every single job under the Sun. You can’t run around that job fair like a chicken without head.

It’s important to analyze the situation. You need to answer several questions.

  • What kind of job you want? You need to define a kind of job you would like to have. Think in terms of required skills, responsibilities, type of industry. Have a clear definition of your job. This will help you to find the right job offers, to target your application documents and to grow your excitement (try to build excitement in your mind about the job you want, recruiters will notice).
  • What are the keywords? You need to learn the jargon if you want to use Google Search and LinkedIn effectively to find jobs. Figure out under which title or headline the jobs you want are posted in the job boards. In my case this is “data scientist”, “data analyst” or “business intelligence”.
  • What are the friction points that could make you fail? What are the weaknesses of your candidacy? Are you missing some important skills? Maybe the recruiter is skeptical about your background. Sometimes they think people coming from Academia are not good team players or communicators. Think how you can appear more competent in those areas.
  • What skills can you leverage? Most of the times, highlighting your strengths instead of covering your weaknesses is the way to go. Did you learn or gain experience in some area that is highly relevant for that dream job? Show them how it can be applied in industry. In my case this was data analysis and building predictive models (useful in this era of Big Data). I was also good at giving presentations (good for visiting customers and presenting results to bosses) and working in a multidisciplinary project (good for projects that involve different departments within a company)
  • Can you use people to achieve your goals? This might sound a bit unethical. Think of as using your network of contacts. Do you know people (that know people) in some of the companies you are targeting? Ask them for an introduction. Collect also all the information you can: what skills and type of people they are looking for, expected salary, selection procedure, working environment.

Now you know the kind of job you are looking for. It’s time to find job vacancies. Even better, you can convince people to create a job opening for you.

You need to scout both the analog and digital worlds. In the analog world you poke your network. You tell former colleagues, friends and new connections about your ambitions. In the digital world Google and LinkedIn are your friends.

You have decided to hustle, good. There are many things you could do to hustle. Let me share with you some of the things you should do on a daily basis in your hustle to get a job.

You should hustle to get a job in in industry after your PhD

Photo credit: Chris Piascik

6 Ways To Hustle For A Job In Industry After Your PhD

See it as planting a lot of seeds. See it as creating a lot of dots, that once connected will lead to your new job. In any case, many actions will lead nowhere, but you maximize the chances of finding a job in industry after your PhD or a job finding you.

Let’s see what you have to do to find a job:

  • Let everybody know you are job hunting. Let all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family know that you are looking for a job. Not only this, make sure they understand the type of job you want. Like this you will have a lot of more eyes looking for your opportunities. As soon as they come across a job offer, they will recognize it as relevant for you. The more people know your quest, the more (good) things that can happen.
  • Use LinkedIn to contact people with the same kind of job you want. Don’t just rely on the people you know, also contact people outside your network. These people have a wide network in the field where you want to start. That can make a big difference. Since they have the job you want they can give you advice on how to get one, or even look around in their company for job offers. What you are doing is simply an open solicitation, so don’t forget to attach your CV. Contacting via LinkedIn has the advantage that people can immediately see your profile and your face (recommended, add a profile photo and try to have a 100% completed profile, check my LinkedIn profile for inspiration).
  • Contact both recruiters and employees. You will come across job offers (in job boards and LinkedIn Jobs) that mention a contact recruiter. Send a LinkedIn contact request to this recruiter. This will allow her to keep you informed of future vacancies as well as to show your eagerness. Once you find a sexy job offer, you should also contact some of your “future colleagues”. They can give you more inside information on the vacancy. Contacting employees also increases your chances of being invited for an interview.
  • Send reminders and follow-up emails. Sometimes people say “send me your CV and I will distribute it around my company”. Other times you submitted your CV via the company website and didn’t hear anything after a few weeks. A good hustler will send some follow up emails asking for the status of the selection process. The delay can be due to a key decision maker is on holidays or that the CVs will only be reviewed after a certain date. Knowing what to expect when will keep your motivation up. Remember, when sending a reminder/follow-up email be polite. Don’t go saying “you promise me to send it around and you didn’t”. Show empathy, appreciation and acknowledge that they are spending part of their precious time trying to help you.
  • Keep the hustle even if you get invited for interviews. Once you get invited for interviews, apart from yelling FUCK YEAH!! and drinking some beers, it can be tempting to stop hustling in the hope that this time you’ll get the job. Wrong!! Keep sending emails, CVs and contact requests like a motherfucker. Don’t get lazy now. You might not get the job (let’s hope you do). If you keep hustling, you might get invited for an interview for an even better job that you are interviewing now. So keep the hustle till you sign the contract.
  • When they turn you down, hustle more. What do you do when the captain of the cheerleaders turns you down and goes with the quarterback to prom? You cry at home? No. You make a move on her sister! (Remember, nerds will prevail) When a company says “sorry we had better candidates” or “we have made a selection of candidates for interviewing and you are not selected”, keep morale up. You are allowed to have a grumpy afternoon, of course. But tomorrow you keep hustling, sending CVs and poking your network. You need to stay positive and excited. Don’t show up in your next interview all angry because the previous company turned you down.

This is part one of hustling. You know how to make the world aware of your hunt for a job in industry after your PhD. Now let’s move on to part two of hustling, marketing yourself.

Steps To Seduce A Company Into Hiring A PhD

You can see getting a job as a seduction game. You have to push your courtship skills to seduce a company.

I am not talking about dancing bird-of-paradise style. Forget about naughty construction worker quotes. Focus on how you can be an irresistible future employee.

Here are some things you can do to be more attractive job-wise and maximize the chance of getting a job in industry after your PhD:

  • Get a picture of who they are looking for. You need to understand what kind of professional, both in terms of skills and experience, they are looking for. Could you (more or less) fit the profile? If one of the mandatory requisites is to have 10+ years business experience, well, sorry my friend, but this is not your league. On the other hand, if they ask for 2-3 years, you could argue that you spent 2 or 3 years during your PhD using one of the required skills for the job. This might be good enough and count as experience. If you have previously worked in a company (as it was my case) mention that as general business experience. While not a wow-factor, this shows you understand the pace of a company, how things work there, the bureaucracy and the politics.
  • Decide if their work is interesting for you. At the interview you will have to show how excited you are in the job. You should apply if you are really interested or you believe you can fake the interest. Trust me, recruiters can easily figure out if your motivation is just money or you find the job exciting.
  • Customize your CV and motivation letter. Nothing turns a recruiter off faster than generic CVs and motivation letters. You have to mention the precise job offer or vacancy to which you are applying. You should also address your email and motivation letter to the recruiter (if any) that posted the vacancy.
  • Target your speech. Focus on how you bring value to the must-haves of the candidate they are looking for. You need to mention the aptitudes and attitudes they are looking for and how you are capable of fulfilling their desires.
  • Reduce their fear to scientists. A company might be skeptical with a guy that comes with a fresh PhD. They might also judge based on stereotypes of scientist. For this reason, show them you are social person, a team worker and that you can communicate well. It’s not bad to mention that you are capable of making a long project (4 years) work. That you can handle a complex task, split in smaller parts and finish all of them. Let them know that you can work independently and that you can be held accountable.
  • Dress slightly better than they do. This is the best dressing advice for interviews. You need to figure out how people dress in that company and dress a bit better. If you apply to a modern and informal company, where everybody wears shorts and flip-flops, then sneakers, jeans, and a polo shirt will do. They wear suits and no tie? Then you wear it with a tie.

The world belongs to those who hustle

Other Things You Need To Know When Job Hunting

Here you have a few other things that you need to keep in mind. Some will reduce the disappointments in the interview process. Others they will maximize your attractiveness as a candidate.

  • What you did in your PhD doesn’t matter much. Only matter those things that you did that will allow you to do a better job, to be a better colleague, to be a great investment. Your fantastic cell culture protocol? Jackshit. Your spreadsheet with the inventory of lab supplies? Crap.
  • People don’t care about your publications. While you might beat your chest proudly when talking about your publication record, recruiters might not be so interested in that. In fact, companies usually don’t give a damn about your publications. They just want to know if you can do the job. So forget to mention your 5 publications in PLoS One because you strongly support Open Access publications.
  • Show enthusiasm, eagerness. Most of the times, it’s more beneficial to hire a highly motivated and enthusiastic person that lacks some experience, than a highly experienced yet uninvolved professional.

Recommended Books (They Helped Me To Search A Job In Industry)

Career switching and job hunting can be quite scary. You need to figure out first if you really want to switch. Then you will find (hopefully) many job offers. How can you decide which one is a good career choice? How do you discover what your strong and weak points are?

You have decided to hustle for a job in industry, but like me, you like to read some books to prepare yourself for the battle.

Luckily there are tons of books out there that can guide you through. Let me mention some books that I have read recently and that I think they can help you to find a job in industry after your PhD.

The Start-Up Of You

This book was written by one of the founders of LinkedIn. So expect sound advice on how to push your career. This book will teach you how to take control of your career by focusing on three ideas: your assets, your aspirations and values, and market realities.

One important message I derived from the book is how to decide if a job offer is interesting: you have to focus on the learning potential of the job. In other words, choose jobs that (while badly paid) allow you to learn a lot and have more responsibilities. You must read this one if you want to understand how the job market is evolving due to technological disruptions.

You can buy The Start-Up Of You here.

Business Model You

This book provides you a framework to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses on how you approach your career. It also provide valuable examples of different career paths and how people achieved success in those careers. The key learning is that your career is like a business, and as such, it can benefit from a business, aka career, plan.

You can buy Business Model You here.

Strengths Finder 2.0

One school of thought about self-improvement is to focus on your strengths. Forget improving or being better at your weaknesses, that takes a lot of time and yields poor results. Instead, you should spend all your time improving and maximizing your strengths.

Don’t you know what your strengths are? Very few of us do. Luckily, this book will help you to discover them. It also allows you to do an online questionnaire to uncover all your talents.

You can buy Strengths Finder 2.0 here.

How To Win Friends & Influence People

You have read how important it is to network to find a job in industry. Unfortunately, we are not born knowing how to get people to help us. How can we convince known and unknown people to spend time on us?

Dale Carnegie wrote many decades ago the ultimate networking book. This book has been the networking bible for several generations of businessmen. At the time were technology could not help you much to network, Mr. Carnegie focused on human interactions. The advice he distils in this book is as valid today as  it was in 1936. A must have.

You can buy How To Win Friends & Influence People here.


I have a collection of recommended books for PhDs, and alternative careers here.

Job-Hunting Homework For You

If you have read this far (sorry for the loooong post) you might be seriously considering a job in industry after your PhD. You have balls and hopefully some burning need inside you to find a new job.

This is why I would like you to take action today. I want you to do the following things:

Define your dream job. Find the titles under which your job is usually posted online. Learn the keywords and important skills that are demanded in most of the jobs.

List 10 companies where you’d like to work. Find those companies that might have your dream job. Think also if consultancy companies or recruiting agencies could also provide you with those jobs.

Find people in those companies. You have to find one recruiter and one or two employees (working in similar positions as the one you aspire to). Add them on LinkedIn. Ask them about vacancies in your area of interest. Propose to send them your CV (and a motivation letter if needed). What you are doing now is an open solicitation.

Create 2 CVs. A short CV where you list your education and experience. A long CV where you list and give some detail of your projects, accomplishments and all your publications. You can use the long CV if you still decide to apply to more “scientific” jobs and the short CV for regular companies or to hand out at job fairs. Include a headshot photo of you on a white/light background. Export your CV to a pdf (this is the format you will use).

Pimp your LinkedIn profile. Make your LinkedIn profile as complete as possible. Try also to add in the text fields (interests and descriptions of educations and work experience) as many keywords as possible. This will make you appear in more often in search results. Try also to use the same profile photo as the one you included in your CV. If you need help, you can hire me to improve your LinkedIn profile and your online presence in general.

Create an Alert in Google. Go to Google Alerts and create multiple search queries using the keywords you identified before (add also “job offer” or “vacancy” or “we’re hiring”). You will receive a weekly summary of what’s new on the web concerning those words. This will allow you to detect new job offers.

Search daily in Google and LinkedIn jobs. Use your keywords and the name of the companies you are targeting to search for new vacancies. After a few days, order them for recency, so you only check the new ones.

Hustle. Hustle. Hustle. And when you are tired hustle some more. Hustle when you are sick of it. Hustle when you want to quit. Hustle while you wait.


Now Back To You

How did you manage to get a job in industry after your PhD? What was the key factor that got you hired?

Do you have some extra advice for those that just finished a PhD and are looking for a job in industry?

Leave us a comment below.

About Julio Peironcely

Julio Peironcely, PhD is the founder of Next Scientist and a PhD by Leiden University. He helps PhD students to stay motivated, be more productive and finish their PhDs. Follow him on Twitter (@peyron) or read more from him on JulioPeironcely.com.


  1. Well, Julio, your latest post here just cracks me up. I think the profanity was actually quite refreshing- it’s pretty much the kind of wording that was running through my mind while I was a grad student and then a postdoc (x2). Moving on to some of the points you made about getting into industry…I have found that the work assets we desire (besides money) can be found in all kinds of work environments, not just strict academia. Ownership of a project, immortality, authority, respect, lifelong learning- this can come from industry just as easily as from academia. And sometimes even more so, because in industry you are always being asked to set goals and prove your worth. In academia, and depending on your mentor, you might languish in obscurity for months, if not years, doing that same Western or ELISA forever and ever until that mentor’s funding finally dries up.

    Anyway, thank you again for the great read.

    • NextScientist says:

      Halina, I think the same, some of the assets that fulfill your work life cna be found in academia and industry. What I also like about industry is the fast pace and the diversity of the projects.

  2. Isabelle Vea says:

    Thank you for this post. I think it came exactly right on time for me. We definitely do not have enough information from graduate schools on how to transfer skills and competence we acquired during our Ph.D.

    What I liked about this post is not only you defined the problems in academia and gave us what we say in French a “coup de gueule”, but most importantly you provided some advice and potential solutions to get out of it.

    Finally, I think we should not be ashamed of wanting to earn money, especially if we are going to work and struggle during our whole career. Research has always been a kind of fantasy job for people and it is perceived as “we love so much what we do we don’t need to earn money to do it ” (maybe this is my personal opinion only), but we are human beings, we need more than love and water!

    • NextScientist says:

      Hi Isabelle, thanks for your words.

      Many PhD students think that graduate schools, or their professors, or karma will help them get a job or postdoc after the PhD. The truth is that nobody gives a shit about your career. Everybody is trying to push forward their own careers, so should you.

      There are still some idealists in academia that would pay to do research. I am not one of those. We are living in an era where information and knowledge drive businesses. Why such a big factory of new knowledge like scientific research should not be compensated with money?


  3. Dipen Vyas says:

    Great read, Julio. I am finishing up my 4th year oh PhD and still at least a year away from starting to look for jobs. I have zero desire to stay in academia and articles like this will only help me make myself more marketable for industry jobs.

    Thanks again.

    • NextScientist says:

      Hi Dipen,
      If you know that in a year you will need a job, start networking today. Contact people that have the jobs you will want. Add them on LinkedIn. Start a conversation with them, be helpful, useful or just interesting to them. It takes time to grow a network and to have a nice LinkedIn profile.
      If you start today, something good for sure will happen in a year.


  4. Ha thank you so much just looking for an exit strategy myself … guess what? Found myself bored out of my freaking mind in an academic position and stuck on top of it!

  5. Old Guy; New Doc says:

    I would also add to your book list: What Color is your Parachute?

    The book helps you assess your preferences (as does Strengthsfinder 2.0…I’ll second that recommendation) in the context of careers and jobs.

    I enjoyed your article!

  6. dorina kotoni says:

    Excellent article Julio! I absolutely agree, hustling (polite hustling that is) does get you a job. I was initially timid to use the strategy but it did eventually succeed in getting me in.

    • NextScientist says:

      Thanks Dorina and congrats for getting a job. Can you share with us what you did that enabled you to get the job? How did you hustle?

  7. Mohit Kashyap says:

    I loved the article, really good pointers, i am actively seeking industry scientist positions after my post-doc but not getting anywhere. I think your point of “what makes me different” from the 1000 applicants is looking to be the sticky point i need to think about before my next application. Also, i am thinking of volunteering to get acquainted with some of the techniques i was not exposed to during my post-doc, which might come in handy for the industry positions I am looking at.

    Great pointers which i will definitely be using!! Thanks again!

    • NextScientist says:

      Hey Mohit,

      that’s another good approach, although a bit painful. Offering to work for free, so you get experience and also you prove to others that you are fit for that job.

      Best of luck!

  8. Supreet says:

    Is PhD always require to start in the field of biotechnology? How are the opportunities in Europe after doing Master’s in life sciences in the biotech/pharma industry?

    • Morris Bolinger says:

      Actually, and please note this has been my experience in the U.S., your odds are better at finding employment with a Master’s than a Ph.D….now. Preferably one of the newer Master’s of Science in Biotechnology. I hit the job market after completing my Ph.D. just as the economy crashed and biotech companies were firing their Ph.D.s rather than hiring them. Before then the situation was summed up at one of our pre-Doctoral career fairs as: “is a Ph.D. really required to enter the biotechnology field?” answer “No, not really. But they want you to have one anyway.” Now your opportunities are greater without the Ph.D. But as is stressed here: hustle, hustle, hustle. Make connections. It’s not what you know but who you know. Unfortunately my hustling was with the wrong people…the ones who got fired or who’s companies filed for bankruptcy after the crash. LOL

  9. Hi Julio

    This was an inspiring article. This brought me back to business :D of searching jobs again. Thanks.

  10. Hi Julio, I´d like to say that to me it is a very honest article. Some “romantic” ones would say that some of your comments are exagerated or they just do not define clearly the truth, but to me, after completing a PhD in a public research institution, the things you say here are direct, true and I can´t agree more with you.

    The thing is what happens when you have done a PhD which its topic is narrow and not focused in anything relevant in the area where you worked?. This last year searching for a job was the harder one I ever had, I can´t find anything that fits with my experience and background. I was so desperated that even I started to remove the PhD from my CV but it still did not help me because I´m too old to get a job as BsC or MsC.

    I made a great effort during last 4 years to obtain positive results in my thesis and now I feel like I have wasted my time: I have no options to get a job neither in academic nor industry unless I refresh or recycle myself, but how I could do so when I´m 35 and spent the main time of my life studiying and giving up so many things just to get a better future? I am really tired.

    • NextScientist says:

      Javier, I feel your pain. I have some friends in the same situation.

      Now I can only think of two options for you (please readers contribute other options for Javier):
      – Work for free at the beginning: I know this won’t help you to pay the bills in the short term. It can help to show industry or possible customers (if you want to go freelance) that you can do the job and are committed to make a sacrifice.
      – Study more: also painful because you have studied your fair share during your life. There are free online courses from Harvard and Stanford that can help you prepare for a change of fields. You can always think of an MBA to learn business and management skills, but that is long and expensive.

    • Javier, let’s say you have a PhD in something obscure like Botany. If you’re still interested in the field then you’ll have to be persistent, have perseverance, be tenacious, and be determined to make it in your field. See if you can get a post-doc position in the area you wish you make it in. You can develop additional skills during the post-doc. The pay will be comparable to a teacher’s salary and you’ll have a job.
      I wouldn’t start from scratch. You have a PhD. you can become a teacher in less than a year with the right certification. If you are interested in industry (not pharmeutical or biotech) then you could follow the advice in this blog.

  11. Mirza Yawer says:

    waooo i was totally disappointed to find a job in industries as i am finding a job since 2009 but still can’t .Any ways reading this article bring me a new sensation, now Hustle Hustle and only Hustle once again….

  12. Karolina says:

    wow, that was a great read! I like the brutal style of your post. And let me tell you, as a PhD looking for a job in industry right now reading your blog gave me the kick I needed! Honestly, you have made my day!

  13. Anti-Academia says:

    I must confess, “angry” might not exactly be the right word but something pretty close!! LOL!
    Motivating write up too!

  14. Great article! Stumbled upon this as I am currently looking to get my foot in the door. It seems ironic when people ask for prior industry experience???
    I’ve heard this time and again “Nobody cares about how much you published in academia or your leadership skills etc.” Well I think publishing does speak about your research capabilities and team+leadership skills, being part of organizations etc gives you the transferable skills that will come in handy when being part of a team under any setting.
    In the bigger scheme of things maybe these do not matter to industry jobs (I still don’t understand why), but nevertheless, in academic setting this is how PhDs/graduate students gather transferable skills/people skills and I think unfortunately, for what its worth, these experiences are undermined.
    How can one be convincing that they can adapt, have the transferable skills that will enable them to do well in the industry, especially when they are making a conscious choice to go from academia to industry?

    • NextScientist says:

      I think that having a good track record of publications only shows two things to industry: that you were successful in your scientific life and that you can write. However, writing a scientific paper does not guarantee that you can write some business document, let’s say, a sales letter.

      Some other transferable skill that can be of value to industry is giving presentations. More precisely, organising your information and presenting it in a logical way.

      Example: in an interview I had to prepare a presentation in 30 min to solve a problem a hypothetical customer might have. I approached it like a scientific presentation. First introduction of the problem, then a description of the possible solutions to the problem (methods) and why I would choose each one. Then the expected results of that solution (results) and a summary (conclusions). It worked out well.

      About being convincing that you can adapt to industry. You need to develop social skills, this is, talk and interact like you are not a weirdo. It sounds harsh and stereotypical, but that’s the stereotype some people have of scientists. You need to show them they are wrong. They know you are very smart. Can you show them you can be smart outside of your field of research? Can you understand a new problem easily?


  15. Last evening, I got two rejects.. from a big tech company and one of the big three consultancy. While soaking in the rejection, I came across this article which I thought was just another ’10 ways to pimp up résumé shit’. But I was wrong.. and after reading the article I found it as a reflection of all my thoughts and it really brought me back from my sunken feeling. Thanks!

    However, I am still double minded about hustling.. as forcing yourself upon HR (who btw don’t even understand half of our résumé) which is the only way to recruitment process will make things only worse. For those of us who are a bit old-fashioned and don’t rely on the social networking, an emphatic cover letter and a clear-cut résumé is the only way to go.

    It’s been only three weeks that I have actively started job search and this is four-and-half months before my PhD finishes. I know It can take a while but I am sure I will get a job I really want without any compromise. I will come back that day to share my experiences.

    • NextScientist says:


      maybe you should give social (media) networking, it allows to avoid HR in some cases. You can contact directly the head of a department and catch his interest, even if they don’t have a job opening at the moment.

      It took me 4-5 months of job search till I got a job in industry.

  16. Hi – good blog, very honest. I have finished my doctorate (social sciences) and am totally unsure of the level of job i should be applying for. Should I go for graduate training programmes or should I aim higher? What level did you go for on average and what did you get in the end? Thanks!

    • NextScientist says:

      I didn’t want the same job a fresh MSc would get. I mean, c’mon I have been 4+ years doing a PhD, that has to count somehow like a bit of experience.
      In my current job in industry I started in a level similar to that of a MSc with 2-5 years of business experience or PhDs without business experience.

  17. Hello Julio, your article was exactly what I needed to hear. I have started my PhD wondering if I would like it and thinking I have enough time for trying before settling for my career. After the first year, I can say that I am sure I don’t want to continue in Academia. Now, my biggest doubt is whether I should spend 2-3 more years finishing the PhD or start working in the industry as soon as possible. I am 25 now and I feel that every year passing makes me a worse candidate for the job market. What would the advice of someone who has been through both be: to do it or to drop it?

    I have started applying to jobs in different countries in Europe to see what would my chances be. The results aren’t too encouraging. While you got 6 interviews from 20 job applications, I got none from almost the same number of chances. So I would like to ask you some things that might be relevant as “control variables”: is your PhD country your native one? Did you apply to jobs in any of these countries or to a third one?

    Thank you for your article and, hopefully, for your advice!

    • I’m more or less in the same boat as you. I’m currently in a Msc program, I’ll finish when I’m 24. At completion, I can apply for the PhD program which could translate to another 4-5 years. My reasons for wanting the PhD is that I want to do high level research in the pharmaceutical/biotech industry at a company like Genentech. I’m also not interested in academia b/c as Julio mentioned it’s essentially a “rat race”. Instead I want to focus on meaningful research that could eventually help cure cancer. Don’t get me wrong… I want to make a name for myself and contribute to scientific literature but I don’t want to feel like I’m on a competitive timeline to get tenure. Also, I want to make at least $100K (I live in the US — I’ll be happy w/ six-figure salary). I’m debating whether or not I can do all this with a Msc.
      I guess in your case, you have to ask yourself what are your reasons for getting a PhD. I listed mine above. I would also research the job market. See what career you actually want. Before anything you should see if your university awards a Msc for students who have completed a good portion of their PhD. You don’t want to walk away with nothing to show for it. You’ll have to weigh your options after you find that out.

      • Tread carefully. A PhD is a significant time investment that generally doesn’t get you enough to land you those big pharma jobs. There are A LOT of PhDs in pharmacology/biochemistry/cancer biology etc out there (myself included) and there are NOT a lot of industry post docs. I know probably 20+ recent grads from these types of programs – only two of them have a CV that is likely to even make them a viable candidate for a position to get them in the door at a big pharma company. One because he made a MAJOR, impactful, amazing discovery that changes the game of genetics, the other because he *already worked in industry* before he got his PhD and got 3 patents during grad school, one for a marketable drug. He’s well into his 40s at this point.

        Your best bet is to try to land an internship in industry while you do a PhD. Which means finding a PhD advisor that is okay with you leaving them hanging at some point if you get an internship. Truth be told I’m not sure they exist, but that’s what you want. On top of that, look for an advisor who publishes prolifically in high-impact journals and is making the types of discoveries that generate patents. Get your name on these… 3,4, or 5 first author drug discovery type papers and your name on a few patents and you’d be marketable.

        If you don’t have your eye on the prize from the beginning, and work your ass off, and get lucky along the way, those high-level big pharma research jobs are a pipe dream.

        What’s your MSc in?

        • NextScientist says:

          Susan has good advice here. I would only add that you should be careful with patents. While they look fancy later on in your CV. A patent takes 2-3 years to filled. In the meantime you cannot write publications about your findings. That could lead that after 4 years of PhD you have patents in preparation and few publications, which depending on the rules of your grad school might not be enough for graduation.

          But good points here, great advice.


      • NextScientist says:

        Hey Samuel,

        I started my PhD when I was almost 26 :-)
        I think that if you want to have a career in pharma/biotech, having a PhD will help you greatly. Specially if you want to be involved with the R&D, for purely managerial a MSc would suffice.

    • NextScientist says:

      I think after a PhD you can still switch to industry. With some effort, that is doable.
      Even if you don’t want a future career in Academia, do you like what you do know in your PhD? In my case the answer was (most of the times) yes. I don’t see a problem in doing a PhD you enjoy even if you don’t want to become Professor.

  18. As far as I can see I m a bit late for writing a comment on this as the article was written a while ago. However, I still want to do it because there is one major idea behind the article which I find completely disturbing. It is basically the idea that you are worth little and the company position is worth everything. I believe this is one of the major problems some people have when they start applying for jobs. They don’t look for the perfect match but for how they can become the companys perfect match. This is not the idea behind it! It reminds me of those shared flats applications you have to run through in Germany. You can say a thousand times you’ll be the clean, friendly, open-minded housemate they always wanted, it’s not about that. It s about being a proper match, you feeling well with the people surrounding you and bringing value into the team. For this purpose, you don’t have to change your CV! Of course it’s about selling yourself properly make your position stronger, not weaker! This is why I strongly disencourage the idea of working “for free”. It’s up to you guys, but don’t believe this will instantly strengthen your position.
    There are things in the article I completely agree with as applying on things you are interested in and showing your interest. However, I would go even further, I prepare myself with some proper research on what is being done exactly in the job profile and get 1.) some very good ideas about it 2.) prepare some questions of which I would really like to know the answer. A job interview without asking questions yourself is definitely not a good one.
    In principle, I would recommend a change of mindset. Leave the idea “how do I get this job” and go to “how do I find the job I will like to do, for which I will be excited when I go to bed in the evening. What are the parameters I need for that and how do I find out, that the job offer might provide this”. Think about it, you are applying for jobs for how long? A couple of months? Maybe a year? Well then compare that to how much time you’ll spend there…easy call folks! And if you worry about the money, just do some small thing in part time, you ve got a PhD, you ll find a small thing to earn enough to get over a couple of months.
    And the entire hustle thing…well of course one needs to buckle done and get some work done. But please take breaks too. If there is one thing I find terrifying then it’s mistakes that are being made because people wanted to “hustle” as much as possible. It’s about being smart, not extremely hard working. Usually a thoughtful approach is better than 15 poorly prepared ones.
    Just me 2 p

    • NextScientist says:

      Hey Simon, thanks for the detailed reply.

      My reasoning is that I liked what I did in my PhD. I looked for jobs where I could do similar things in industry, thus I expected I would also like those jobs. And yes, I think you’d better be working in something you really like. Life is too short to waste it on something you don’t enjoy!

      What I found out is that currently it’s a buyers market. Lots of candidates for few job openings. That’s why I think one needs to make himself attractive for employers.

      Smart preparation is key. It can save you a lot of time. From my experience though, I found that I learnt the most about the match with the job at the interview and not just by doing research on Google. Going there and having the chance to feel the environment and ask your questions gives you a much better impression about the job.


    • I’m also really late to this post, good article and great presentation too!
      But I think I’d agree more with Simon’s thought process. It’s true that job hunting can be a long, stressful and occasionally depressing process, but there is greater danger in falling into the ‘let me just land anything’ mindset. Such thinking gradually erodes your sense of self-worth as well as self-confidence especially when one gets rejected, which in fact hurts your future chances of securing jobs, which then further damages self-confidence, eventually locking the person into a vicious cycle of defeat. As you mentioned in your post, enthusiasm does reflect in the interview processes, and it’s difficult to be enthusiastic when you don’t really belong in that particular job. We all know we have to hustle for anything we want, even your PhD was most likely a bitter struggle, but we must balance it with preserving a fresh and hopeful outlook, even when things look quite bleak. No hiring manager wants to bring aboard a bitter/jaded candidate!
      My suggestion for getting jobs after the PhD is more relevant to those just beginning or are in the middle of their doctorate program. My recommendation is that if possible try to get internships during the PhD in companies were you truly want to work because you are attracted to what they do and you genuinely feel you can bring real value to the team (please this is a very important criteria!). The second and third year summer is a good time. Try very hard to get these internships – it’s easier because you’re under less pressure since you’re still a student anyways, and the recruitment process is usually a bit more relaxed. Chances are that the team would want to have you full time after you graduate, simply because you are a known and proven quantity – and you’d likely have performed well because you really vibrated in what you were doing. You’d probably get an offer even before you graduate (I’m talking from personal experience here). There is also the benefit of having a taste of life as a regular ‘worker’, so you know ahead if it’s what you can live with for another 25-30+ years (assuming you choose to remain as an ‘employee’).
      Just my opinions based on my moderate experience. All the best to the PhDs, you’re all special even if no one but you and your advisor believes that! :-)

  19. Hi Julio,

    So here’s the deal. I’m a recent PhD graduate and I have been looking for a job for almost 2 years now with no success. From the start, I was looking into industrial positions because I want to get some industrial experience under my belt. I don’t mind going back sometime to academia one day but I don’t want to do it right now. I did all what you outlined above but to no avail. Every time I get interviewed for a position I am told that I was not the best fit (which is a cliche if you ask me) I’d rather get some details as to why and how to improve my skills if I lack some. Even positions where the advertised skills where exactly mine and far from reach from other candidates I have seen, I was still not the best fit (maybe the PhD had to do something with it ? The rest of the people where MSc’s). Even sessional teaching positions I have hard time getting into. Once a deadline for one of these passed and because no one applied but me, they extended the deadline. And I’m guessing they had only two candidates for it and guess whom they chose ? Not me ! haha. You might think that there’s a problem with me given all that but I assure you ask anybody who knows me and they will tell you that I’m competent, likable and personable. The problem for me is what to do now ? It’s easy not to lose hope after 6 months or a year, but 2 years ? Come on, I should have found anything by now. The only job I found was a postdoc with my PhD adviser which he was kind enough to offer me . Now when it’s over in a few months what do I do ? I won’t be able to afford the rent in the near future. I keep hustling but at one point it just become daunting.

    • NextScientist says:

      Hey John,

      That’s a tough situation to be in. I don’t have a magic bullet for you here. I can only recommend two things to try to get you back in business:
      – At interviews ask for feedback. Why didn’t the choose you? Not like they have to justify themselves, just phrase if they can help you and give you some advice for future job interviews.
      – Get a job at something, even if it’s not too close to what you want. The longer you stay with a job the more difficult it gets to find one. They see a 2 year gap in your CV and that’s not appealing.

      I hope you get something soon. Keep it up!


  20. nikhil-petro . says:

    hi Julio ..
    ……….first of all thanks a billion for such a honest post…i have done MS in Process design engineering from petrochemical bag-round and was in dilemma about Phd. But thanks for opening my eyes at right time because nowadays with my post graduate only i am facing so many problems like people think that i am highly qualified and will demand more salary .

    Brother i really had worst time in last one & half year in job hunting…there was a time when i was looking at ceiling fan for long time and thinking something weird because of frustration. now finally got a small job on contract basis in my desired domain.

    thanks again for such a hustle orientation and make me aware that i am not the only person who is suffering.

    thanks again

    • NextScientist says:

      It’s great that you got a job you like. It’s true that sometimes it’s difficult to stay optimistic. It’s easy to say stay positive and keep hustling. Doing it is way more difficult. I was even close to start looking for other types of jobs and I was only searching for a few months (not a year and a half like you).


  21. Violet Tong says:

    Hi, I’m Violet. I’m a PhD graduate with no working experience at all. My 1st love would be to get an industrial job; and all I have are rotten luck. It is not only tough to get a job in the industial world but academic as well for me; due to my lack of experience. Its very hard to stay positive after having to face countless number of rejections. It is so frustrating and depressing. So far i have rejected the only university who is willing to hire me because I thought this particular company was going to hire me (i have positive feedback from them). From then on, its a down hill trip for me for all the jobs i have applied.

    • Hi Violet,
      I am in the same situation as you are. I’ve graduated for almost 6 months, and at least applied online for 150 jobs, but at least 90% you don’t hear back from them. The ones that do are scarce, and the lack of industrial or post-graduate experience is very hard to overcome. It is very frustrating and depressing, hard to keep the motivation going.

      • Violet,

        Don’t rely only on online job postings! Huge mistake! Find a professional trade group in the area you are working to get into. Every industry has them. Start attending meetings. Find business groups that get you out into the community and meeting people, volunteer, etc. The advise around adding LinkedIn folks is great, but try to have some conversations with those people as well. A few emails and try to get just a quick phone call about the industry.

        Those are the things that will keep you motivated and meeting people. Otherwise if you just sit and post resumes online, you will get frustrated.

        • NextScientist says:

          Great tip Rob!

          You can try to find meetings (using meetup.com) about your desired job. There you can network with people that work in the companies you should be targeting.
          You can also contact via LinkedIn people that have the type of job you want and ask if they would have any vacancies.

          Good luck!!

  22. Just an observation. You make it sound tough even though you applied only for 20 places and already had two offers. Its 6 months since I finished a phd in one of the top univs in europe. I applied for 75 job offers so far with no success, not even interviews. Just 2 phone interviews so far.. And I have extremely good publications including journals like Nature and Science. My people skills are above average too..So sometimes its just bad luck.

    • NextScientist says:

      Sure, it can always we worse. It can also be better. In my case I felt I had to work hard for it and leverage my network.
      Keep it up. Finding the first industry job after a PhD is tough. Second will be easier.


  23. Hi Julio,

    This is brilliantly written; I liked your R-rated language which is fresh, brutal and honest. :-) There are a few points that I second with you based on my experience. Industries don’t give a damn about your publications. Very true; unless your work has some direct implications to develop a new tool, technique or protocol that could be marketed as “product”. I remember my neighbouring lab made some practical improvements in the existing nanolithographic technique used in digital circuitry design and the people that made them (one PhD and two postdocs) moved to the semiconductor industry. If you don’t have such ground breaking result, chances are very difficult.

    I was hoping that I could also do the transition, but that never happened during my PhD (with good first author publications). I’m a postdoc now and despite being productive (by that I mean publishing a research article in a reasonably good journal), I might lose my contract soon. Guess what? The funding agency thinks that I shouldn’t have published in ‘that’ journal, which according to its classification has a ‘low’ impact factor. So it’s not only a matter of publishing, but it’s WHERE you should be publishing. We’re told that research is to unravel the unknowns; an inquiry into the natural phenomena. Not any more. It has been replaced with grants, impact factors, citations and so forth. I’m not against the journal ranking or reputation or other criteria, but that cannot be the primary motivation to do research. I’ve had enough of this crap. I’m taking another shot at the industry now – and the odds are stacked against me, I’m 37 this year. :-) Hustle, yeah!

    I also thought about serving an useful warning to those who are sitting on the fence and contemplating the graduate school. I really hope they know what they’re getting into. If you think you’re so motivated and committed to doing a PhD or research for that matter. Think about this carefully. Can you sustain that over the long term? We’re talking about decades here, if not your entire life time — not your PhD years or postdoc tenure. Heck, I thought I can too – but that took a lot from my career and personal life. Worse, the issues you’d be dealing with are not readily apparent before starting the PhD. And I’m not the only one. THINK! If you’re smart and hard working (which I assume you already are), try getting into the industry with a BS or MS and gain experience in the real world (and the pay is reasonably more than graduate stipend), which is far easier and more valuable than when you try with a PhD.

  24. Hi Julio, thanks for posting. I hope you like your new job in consulting and make a shit ton of money. Whoever turned you down for swearing is an asshole. You might as well suck dick and get paid, plus the benefits are sweet. I’ve found that industry is actually much better than academia; at least you are recognized for your work both in the company (sometimes not) but definitely in your social circle. 98% of people don’t know what graduate school is, and even think I’m still taking out loans and studying in the library all the time. Fuck them. Hatred is the root of ambition. You will go far!

  25. Hi Julio

    Thanks for a great and very honest blog.

    We hope we are able to help a little by listing the jobs in many different European countries for PhDs in science – on EuroScienceJobs.com – the jobsite for Research scientists and postDocs. OK, there are a lot of university PostDocs on the site, but also a lot of industry jobs… Hopefully helpful. For all the Biochemistry/Biology/Pharmacology PhDs out there, you might also want to check out EuroPharmaJobs.com – the European PharmaJobsite.

  26. Manoj Mridha says:

    Hi Julio, what are your views regarding doing a MBA degree after a Master’s in Sciences? Does it helps in strengthening one’s position in Industry?

  27. Budhaditya Bhattacharyya says:

    hi Julio, I have gone through your post. I must say, you have told the exact facts about life after PhD. I am also pursuing a PhD in Engg discipline. I am on the verge of completion of my thesis writing. i want to switch over to Industry. I did had the oppurtunity to work in MNC’s. But at that time I was only a graduate . Could you please suggest few company names in relation to Telecomm sectors,


  28. Hi Julio, thank you for the solid verbal coaching and practical tips. I could not agree more with you about frustrations with academia, although in fairness, it has its up-sides. Anyways, been unemployed and keeping up the job-search marathon for 5 months now. Wife is bringing in just enough so all is ok for now. The job openings-to-applicants ratio for pharm/biotech MS/PhD jobs is ridiculous (from what I’ve been told by HMs, its about 1 job to 300-1000+ applicants, and half are legitimately decent applications). They (academia and industry) say there are too many Ph.Ds (yet government says there’s not enough…. even more testament that they generally have no idea what’s going on in the world). I can’t imagine why having a ton of PhDs should EVER be a bad thing for the course of humanity, but what do I know. That said, we are now at a point where one has to network around to everyone they could possibly know and learn as much as they can from this process. We ARE Ph.D’s after all, and we should look at this as a ‘learning’ experience and a time for deep self-reflecting. Of course beyond, I’d say, 7-8 months of unemployment as a scientist and you really should consider more extreme measures (like unpaid internships to learn more about a hot technique) or, say, a less sexy career move. I think a lot of us fuck ourselves because we wait too long for our *dream* job and inadvertantly let some nightmares come true — and you’d rather have a less sexy job so long as it affords you an actual life-style.

  29. This is an excellent article! I’m having a dilemma at the moment where I am rather fresh out of university and have been in the industry for just over a year. I am now contemplating whether or not to go and do a PhD to ‘complete’ my education. Although in the long run – is there an advantage to having a PhD once you’re in the industry?

  30. Hi Juilo,
    I really enjoyed the article a lot. Was a nice slap of reality that I needed. Thanks!!!

  31. A friend of mine got a PhD but never thought the jobs he held afterwards were worth the effort. Its a little different skill set. In industry the emphasis is on making a product and a profit and everything is time critical. It’s a different approach.

  32. binukot says:

    Hi Julio! Fun and honest article. I guess my question is, “When do you start hustling?” Hah. If you are a year away from your expected graduation, is it completely acceptable to apply within that year (granted you have your adviser’s blessings…), and possibly get people who know that you are not yet done with your work (committee members for example) as references? I’ve read in your comment below to start networking. But how about apply?

    • NextScientist says:

      You can let them know early on that you will be looking for a job. That helps you to be “top of mind” once they have a vacancy. So go ahead and do it.
      Some companies have fixed times of the year when they let people in. Contact them in advance if you know you would like to start after the summer, for instance.

  33. Radhika says:

    I am a student of Ph.D. biochemistry from India. And i also agree with this post, not much guidance here if i would be hired in industry, i also want to feel variety and experience.. and with a stuck up PI, who hardly gives any freedom to work, my so called dream to work in a system like that has crashed already. I want to earn money now and feel financial independence. I also have limited skills, not sure, i also have to learn raising my self esteem… And the word of the day “HUSTLE”

    • NextScientist says:

      Hey Radhika,

      Cheer up! You are doing a PhD, that means you have lots of skills, guts, and that your are smart. That has value!

      Doing a PhD in biochemistry should open the doors of companies in the biotech/pharma world I would assume. So don’t despair.

      If you have trouble with your PI, check this post on <a href="http://www.nextscientist.com/domesticate-difficult-phd-supervisor/"how to communicate better with your PI. Remember that is up to you to change your situation and let your PI know that you want a change (don’t just present the problem, come up with solutions as well).


  34. samurai says:

    Hi julio,
    Thanks for the really great post. i tried searching for this kind of posts in google but didnt not find post like this at all :) Iam from india. your post is like omg it frightened me a lot.
    i finished my undergraduation in computer science in india from one of the top most colleges in the country. after that i got placed in some well known company. and being continuing it for about 2 years. my brother insisting me to do phd in usa having no idea of what my carreer path will be after doing it. and i have no problem in doing that if you answers my queries below. my age is 24 now. and if at all i go for phd it would turn 25.
    can you please please suggest whether should i go for phd. and i am not interested in teaching rather wanted to get job in industry. please give me reply. these are the queries i would say why iam afraid. and iam very much open in saying all this by looking at your post and reading all comments.

    1) i donno in which field i need to pursue phd in computer science because i dont have which subfields are booming for the next coming years. you can suggest me :(
    2) 5 years omg and how phd will have value in industry next 5 years
    3) how difficulty( rate out of 10) i find i will find a job in industry after phd considering iam an average guy.
    4) many people tend to do M.S but due to financial problem i would like to go for phd.
    please julio, waiting for your reply so that i can take step further.

    • NextScientist says:

      There is a lot to answer here so I will be brief at every point. I don’t have any good answers, only my opinion. Take it with a grain of salt. Ask also people with an opposite opinion to mine. Then build your own opinion.

      I started my PhD when I was almost 26 years old. I have met older people doing PhDs.

      1) We cannot see the future, first of all. If I had to guess I would say go for fields like machine learning, artificial intelligence or anything that helps to handle and analyze larges amount of data in better ways.

      2) In a PhD you work so much on the cutting edge, that by the time you are done, you are still on the cutting edge of your field. During a PhD you will also develop some skills that are timeless and not field specifi. You just need to find companies that value these skills.

      3) If you do a PhD in Computer Science you will find a job, I score it as 9.9999 out of 10. If you do a PhD in anthropology of a remote island in the Pacific, then your changes are thiner.

      4) If you want to do a MSc or PhD in USA you might end up in financial problems, unless you have a very good scholarship (or unless you develop smart ways of generating income while doing a PhD)

      Good luck and share your opinion when you start making up your mind,

  35. Hi Julio,
    Thank you for this article. I am in the final year of my PhD and writing up my thesis. I definitely do not want to take the academia path further but not sure what other options I have after spending the last 4 years studying malaria. What would be the best way to start networking with people in the financial sector and what kind of questions should one ask?

    • NextScientist says:

      Hey Sapz04,

      The best way to start networking is to start as early as possible. You cannot expect to start today in order to get results tomorrow morning. This one of those things that match the “connecting the dots backwards” idea of Steve Jobs. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/463176-you-can-t-connect-the-dots-looking-forward-you-can-only

      But hey, if you have to start today anyway, this is what I would do (suggestions from readers are welcome here):

      – Go to Meetups that are related to the field where you want to jump in. Mingle with the people there.

      – Join LinkedIn groups on that field. Comment on their discussions. After a while, send invites to some group members.

      – Look for people in LinkedIn that are doing the type of job you want to do in the type of company that you want to look for. Contact then in LinkedIn and/or email and/or social media.

      – Do informational interviews with some of your new contacts. Ryan Raver has a great post and book on this.

      – Ask you current network for help, tips, introductions and shameless plugs. Several people in your current network will for sure know other people working in finance.

      Cheers and good luck, let us know how it turns out for you.

  36. No idea if this will illicit a response as this is an old post, but it is very relevant to my interests at the moment. Julio, congratulations on eventually landing the job at Deloitte – it’s been almost a year now, so how’s it going? How was the transition from Chemistry to Data science? Deloitte (UK) are one of the companies that I am looking at myself so it is encouraging to know that ‘hustling for jobs’ can result in a positive outcome!

    I finished my PhD (Astrophysics) in 2013, and will be leaving my first year of post-doc in around one months time…. Time to start the hustle! With regard to the LinkedIn hustle, I’m curious about the tone and demeanour you used when contacting recruiters/employees. What sort of message did you initially contact them with? Were you up front with the purpose of the connection (i.e., that you wanted a job, and were using them as a route in to the company) or did you approach it as an informal interview about the type of job it was? and then edge in with a CV during the conversation?

    • NextScientist says:

      Hi Jasong,

      Thanks for your comment. As you point out, it’s been a year since I started as data scientist consultant. I’d like to share my experience in a post format, so I can be as detailed and helpful as possible.
      I would just say that so far it has been an intense year. There were ups and there were downs. And certainly I learned lots of things. Working at a Big 4 company is very different than doing a PhD. So I hope to expand on this in future posts.
      If you have a PhD in Astrophysics, or a PhD in anything analytical, mathematical or engineering related, it’s possible to find a job in data science. Most of the people I meet doing data analytics have those backgrounds.

      I went to the archive and searched for the InMails I sent to people via LinkedIn when searching for a job. I hope they answer your question:

      – Dear ???, I am about to finish a PhD in computational life sciences and looking for a job as data scientist. Do you know of any opportunities in your department? – Julio Peironcely
      (this email opened the door for an interview at m current employer)

      – Hi ???, I am looking for a job in data science / analytics. I have experience with machine learning for chemistry in a scientific environment. I am about to finish a PhD in computational life science. Can I send you an email to describe my interest in your work? – Julio Peironcely
      (this person also invited me for an interview)

      – Dear ???, I am about to finish a PhD in computational life sciences. I have experience in machine learning and data analysis. I think these skills are valuable for a company like ???. Do you have vacancies for data scientists / business intelligence? – Julio Peironcely

      (this email didn’t get me anywhere)

      These emails are short, so I don’t take too much time from the person. If he might have an interest, he is one click away from seeing my full profile. That’s the beauty of LinkedIn.


  37. Hi Julio, great article, thanks for your honesty. I have fallen here because I was searching “how to get a job in industry after your PhD” and boom! Your page… I want to tell my history because maybe it can be different and useful. I’m 33 years old and I’m doing my last year of PhD in France (in combustion). I really agree with you when you say “Academia, like any other field of life, it’s run by humans. As such, humans are capable of the best, and the worst” so I decided write. I arrived academy after 8 years working in international companies (but located in my own country, Chile) because I thought that I needed to have a varnish of science and to learns specials things to help me to get a “different” job. I began my professional career as a “Supporting Engineer” in KOMATSU (4 years) and then I moved for 2 years to Ingersoll-Rand as a “Project Engineer”. Then, meanwhile doing a master I met a professor who invited me to work with him and his group as an “Energy Project Engineer”, after 2 a half years with him I took the decision of pursue a PhD, and voilà! the summary of my professional career. Now, after some years in research-academia I begin to search what is my next step, in industry of course.

    Do you think that my previous experience can help me to come back to industry? And also I would like your opinion of my situation because is not common but sometimes the different can works.

    Thanks you very much.

    Pd: I know that this article is not new but I saw some new answers of you (18 days ago).

    • NextScientist says:

      Hola Jorge, gracias por tu comentario.

      Your story is not so different from many technical PhDs. In my former lab we had several PhD students that were previously lab technicians for several years.
      I certainly think your background is perfect to land a job in industry in the same field you have been working.
      It would be more difficult if you wanted to follow a radically different profession, let’s say investment broker.


  38. Grant Harwell says:

    Julio. You could have summed up this article with one sentence. If you want to do industry get a few years of biotech/pharma temp experience after undergrad, get your masters and learn everything you can about everything, apply again to industry, and get a nice paying job somewhere in southern calfornia or the east cost. The end. If you want to get saucy, get your JD so you can be apart of the IP and always be needed by the company.

  39. Grant Harwell says:

    Also, the company to work for is Novartis….Ive worked for all three giants ( Roche, Novartis, Pfizer). Novartis has the European customs that allow them to treat their employees like human beings, unlike American based companies such as Roche and Pfizer.

  40. Scaredshitless says:

    Hi Julio,

    I am in the 2nd yr of my PhD in India. I worked extremely hard for being here, at a National level university. I am a reasonably smart person. My anxiety about landing a job is increasing exponentially everyday. And I unwillingly have to agree with your post. Competition is stiff. Tenured positions are drying up here. More and more contractual, low-paid positions are available. I am interested in teaching. But I just don’t see myself hanging around for a tenured position and working meanwhile in a low-paid job. I would like to earn, spend and save. But I am again not sure if it is my poverty :) speaking or my career goals. I am frankly, secretly ashamed to take up a job in the industry. I am scared that it would shock my friends, my supervisor and a million other people. At this point, I am incredibly worried that I would just remain unemployed after my PhD. Do you think I should just try out the teaching career? Or try out a million well-paid industry options? I know industry means hectic schedules and working with teams. I work nearly 13-16 hrs atleast 4 days a week for my research. Working in teams with a boss would definitely be a new experience. What do you think? Did you find it irritating to work with bosses, teams? Is it not suffocating to take part in all office parties, be a social animal and a good team worker?

  41. Howdy! This articloe couldn’t bbe written anny better!
    Looking through this articlpe reminds me of my previous roommate!
    He constantly ept preaching about this. I most certainly will send this post to him.
    Pretty sure he’s going to have a good read.
    Thank you for sharing!

  42. Raazesh Sainudiin says:

    I fully agree with this:
    Welcome to the real Academia. Here you also have to suck ….s to progress. It’s not enough to be good, you need to be political. Without “friends” you go nowhere. Without a “godfather” you go nowhere. Exactly the same s… you will find in a company.
    I wish I realized this before I took up an academic position! I am going to work in industry next year and am looking forward to ‘the same s…’

  43. Some great points and good timing for me. I graduated, had the same hustler mentality you talk about and that got me a job in the finance industry. Unfortunately, I got laid off only months later and have been slow gearing myself back up to hustle again. That hustle takes a lot of effort, which needs to be sustained in order for you to succeed. Thanks for this!

  44. Hi Julio,
    Very interesting blog and real life suggestions and points of view. Well done!
    I would add an alternative for leaving Academia and entering Industry, to launch a Startup. That was my case. Finishing my PhD 2 years ago at University of Lausanne Switzerland, I had decided to leave Academia once and for all and to try to enter to the Industrial world (fortunately or unfortunately I could not really find what I wanted e.g. I am not multilingual for Swiss standards, no real professional experience- PhD does not count for Industry, too theoretical etc etc). So I decided to take my career fate in my own hands.
    Startup world is definitely a more bumpy road but full of excitements. Rewards may follow :) Statistically, you have less than 10% chances but it worths it. We will see. We are still only 9 months old!
    I just started our blog how a scientist can launch a startup in real-time http://karmagenes.tips/category/posts/
    If you would like to have a look and send me your comments it would be more than welcome!

  45. Babubhai says:

    Julio , I gotta say that I have been a silent spectator of this post…I was on a post doc (good one) but really wanted to get into the industry….after several failed interviews and hundreds of applications for over a year, I finally landed a Research position in industry….One of the things that kept me going was “What do you do when the captain of the cheerleaders turns you down and goes with the quarterback to prom? You cry at home? No. You make a move on her sister!”..this is what made me laugh and get over all those fuckers who rejected me…anyways, take care..keep inspiring. Peace.

  46. Hi ,It is a nice blog pouring the reality out. I am in my last year of my PhD and not interested in a academic career. Earlier I turned down many Job offers after my bachelors and masters , but Now I have no clue of how to progress.


  1. […] The attitude makeover has been accompanied by a bigger emphasis on networking. My biggest lesson learned is that a successful application process doesn’t start with an application at all. In the academic market, good advisers will do some of the work for you, by talking about you to other academics, presenting at conferences with you, keeping an eye out for openings… their job is to get you the interview, and your job is to close the deal. In the post-ac market, you have to be your own adviser, networking and surveying the market before applications are due. So… networking meetings, introductions, meetups, social media, company referrals…  like this post says, you gotta hustle. […]

  2. […] rejected me during a job selection process because of the contents of one of my posts about getting a job in industry after my PhD. After 5 interviews, the director decided that I was an aggressive person and that I would be […]

  3. […] Next Scientist, Helping PhD Students Succeed (April, 2013).  Available on the internet at:  http://www.nextscientist.com/job-in-industry-after-your-phd/ ).  This article is very illuminating and provocative, and is highly recommended by Dr.M for all […]

  4. […] Reading, writing, being productive and collaborating. If you master these 4 skills, nothing is going to stop you in Academia (or in a job in industry after your PhD). […]

  5. […] Reading, writing, being productive and collaborating. If you master these 4 skills, nothing is going to stop you in Academia (or in a job in industry after your PhD). […]

  6. […] did find a job in industry in a couple of months, yayy!! (You can read more here about finding a job in industry after my […]

  7. […] still not so optimistic for STEM majors.  Whether we choose to explore a non-traditonal career, a career in industry or start our own venture, it’s clear that academia cannot absorb us […]

  8. […] Leaving Academia: How To Get A Job In … – Thinking of leaving Academia? There are many jobs in industry for you after your PhD. Don’t be scared. Learn how to get a job in industry after your PhD. […]