Your PhD – More Than Just a Thesis


Completing your PhD is about so much more than finishing your thesis and passing the viva. There are a lot of expectations on PhD students now to gain experience and develop their skills. One reason why this agenda has been pushed at a national level concerns PhD graduate careers and researcher careers.

PhD graduates are not JUST seen as the next generation of University academics – they are being actively recruited by a wide range of sectors.  Only around one third of PhD graduates end up in a permanent academic post.

You can find more information about career destinations on the Vitae website in the What do Researchers Do? section.

Employers of PhD graduates rate them highly BUT there are specific problems often highlighted by those recruiting PhD graduates.

We want our PhD graduates to be aware of the skills they develop during their PhD and the full range of careers this opens up to them as well as making the most of their PhD to help prepare them.

Many employers value the skills that a Postgraduate researcher brings to them (more on these in a minute) but – by itself a PhD it is no guarantee of a job in any field. And as you all know – working in Academia is highly competitive.

It is down to you to sell the benefits of your experience and demonstrate how your skills translate. To help you to achieve this Vitae’s Researcher Development Framework contains a wealth of useful vocabulary which you can use to help you to articulate your skills. But remember to provide examples to illustrate how you have used these skills.

So, the key points here:

  • Get out of the office or lab and take advantage of the opportunities which are available to you
  • Keep a record of the skills that you are developing so that when you begin to write applications or update your CV you have it all there in front of you
  • Investigate the variety of careers which might be open to you and think about what skills you have which would help you do that job so that you can clearly tell the potential employers how you meet their criteria

Good luck!

Fiona McCabe (Doctoral Training Manager, IAD)