Outward – Explore possibilities
Career fit is about finding a job that is a good fit with your skills, interests and values. Are there possibilities that you have not really thought of before? Exploring career options can seem daunting and overwhelming. The most important thing is to get past the feeling of overwhelm and just get started!
Broaden your perspectives
You may think that an MD is bound to work as a clinician, or that someone with a PhD in laboratory research is restricted to working as a researcher, either in academia or the industry. However, do not limit yourself to the most obvious options; PhDs from faculties of medicine work in a wide variety of sectors, and in many different roles.
Read job descriptions to explore which positions might be of interest to you, and see what skills and qualifications are required for them. Do not let the requirements scare you off. Instead, remember that you often do not need to fulfill all of the requirements specified in a job posting. Perhaps you shouldn´t even be looking for an existing position and instead consider setting up your own business? Unexpected opportunities may arise along the way – embrace the uncertainty and stay open to new opportunities.
- Try out the PhD Career Choice Indicator at BioScience Careers blog.
- Read career portraits on Karolinska Institutet's blog.
- What do research staff do next? Career stories from Vitae.org
- Career stories: doctoral entrepreneurs (Vitae.org)
Write an action plan
Write down what you need to do next in order to make a move towards a career you desire. Which persons should you get in contact with? What information are you lacking, and how will you get that information? What do you have to prepare? What support do you need? And, perhaps most important – when should you get started?
If you find it difficult to set your plans into action, it may help to pinpoint what is holding you back. We all tend to procrastinate things that are non-urgent and require a bit of effort, but remember that all journeys start with one small step. It is better to split your long-term goal into smaller tasks and actually get them done.
Networking is not necessarily something that everyone feels enthusiastic about. But it is a pivotal key to finding out about different career options, and eventually landing that desired job, since many positions outside academia are recruited to directly through networking and personal contacts.
Try to think of people who can, in any way possible, help you with information or further contacts. Your existing network is probably much larger than you first assume if you also consider so-called weak ties, i.e. persons that you have not had contact with for a long time or are vague acquaintances with. You may also want to put some effort into expanding and developing your network. LinkedIn could be a tool for keeping track of old and new acquaintances, and also a way of easily getting introduced to their contacts.
Do not hesitate to ask for information – most people are happy to help if they can, e.g. telling you about their job or putting you in contact with someone else, as long as it does not demand too much of their time. One way to inform yourself about different options is to perform so-called “informational interviews” with people who have jobs you find interesting, and find out what drives them, or what it took to get there.
- The Surprising Reason Your Networking Isn’t Working (article about weak ties)
- How Your Network Can Help You Change Career Paths (article at Forbes.com)
- Informational Interviews and Job Shadowing (article at Nature.com)