Careers Beyond the Academy

If you are considering careers beyond the world of academe, first be sure to assess your skills, interests, and values, explore your professional network outside of university, and conduct informational interviews to find out more about various career paths. Once you have done that, take the next steps, outlined below. Our Career Exploration webpage helps with both self-assessment and informational interviewing.

Use your professional network to discern which online job search sites are best for your field. If you have a short list of companies you’d love to work for, be sure to check their sites directly for postings.

WISCareers through MyUW Includes electronic portfolio, résumé and cover letter builders, occupation information, online career assessments, and much more. The module is found on the Work Record tab in MyUW.

Don’t forget about LinkedIn. Update your profile including resume keywords, connect with others you know personally or professionally, and learn about companies you are interested in. Visit the LinkedIn for Students page to learn more.

For information on nonprofit employers, explore Career Guides: Nonprofits, Boston University Libraries.

And for general resources and directories, job listing sources for nonprofits, information on philanthropy, fundraising, public policy, and think tanks, check out The Riley Guide on Non-profits, Foundations, and Think Tanks.

Résumés and Cover Letters:

The following PDFs were created by career services experts in the College of Letters and Sciences. The content is relevant to all graduate students, so please utilize them but seek out advising from your specific school, college, department, or advisor.

How to Write a Resume
Descriptive Lines & Section Headings
Anatomy of a Bullet Point
Power Verbs
Job References
Cover Letter Basics

In addition, be sure to check out the College Library Career Collections, featuring books on writing résumés, cover letters, preparing for interviews, and job hunting, as well as BadgerCareers, which offers general guidance on Building Your Resume, as well as Cover Letters and Emails.

Gain additional perspective on converting your CV to resume, from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Browse a wide assortment of cover letter samples specifically for graduate students, from the University of Pennsylvania.

And don’t forget about the Versatile PhD, a confidential online resource for exploring non-academic careers. The site features first-hand stories, CVs, resumes, and cover letters from PhD holders with successful careers outside of the professoriate.


Guide to Interviewing 
Sample Interview Questions
Telephone and Skype Interviews
Dress for Success
Thank You Letters

Informational Interviews and Meetings: A Networking Tool

If your school or college offers resume and cover letter review, or mock interviewing, be sure to take full advantage.

We have compiled a webpage listing career services offices for graduate students, which also includes a several good strategies for approaching the job search if you aren’t served by a career services office.

“So what are you going to do with that?”: Finding Careers Outside Academia – Susan Basalla and Maggie Debelius, rev .ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2007 (Available at the UW-Madison Libraries)

Video: How to Find a Job Outside Academia, Even If You Aren’t Sure You Want One. UW Madison campus presentation by Susan Basalla, 2/5/2009

Put Your Science to Work: The Take-Charge Career Guide for Scientist – Peter S. Fiske. Washington, DC: American Geophysical Union, 2001 (Available at the UW-Madison Libraries)

Alternative Careers in Science: Leaving the Ivory Tower – edited by Cynthia Robbins-Roth. 2nd ed., London: Elsevier Academic, 2006 (Available at the UW-Madison Libraries)

Career Trends: Careers Away from the Bench – complimentary booklet available for download, courtesy of Science/AAAS

Planning your path to graduate school success

Versatile PhD

A web-based resource for exploring non-academic careers, the Versatile Phd features bios, first-hand stories, CVs, resumes, and cover letters from PhD holders with successful careers outside of the professoriate. More »

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