Feeling hopeless after my PhD - Is there light at the end of the tunnel?


After a long slog and overcoming many hurdles I finished my PhD around 6 months ago and passed my viva with minor corrections. However I am struggling to get a job, feeling hopeless and am unsure of what to do next.

Some background:

During my PhD I was faced with many difficulties. My sup was incredibly difficult to work with (has a reputation for this but was something I found out too late) and their constant put downs (which were often personal) and ridiculous demands almost lead to me quitting on a couple of occasions. They did result in me having an interruption due to depression and anxiety in my second year. However I fought through and carried on. In my third year my relationship broke down, I lost my home and had to move back to my parents house (luckily this was in the same city). Following this my Mother had a bad accident which meant that she needed care and two close family members died - all within six weeks of each other - unsurprisingly I had another interruption to my PhD.

But I persevered and eventually finished my PhD - which I was very proud of as it had been such a hard slog and I had managed to overcome so many difficulties.

However I now find myself feeling helpless again. I know that the job market is tough etc but I never thought it would be so tough. I have applied for quite a few jobs and have got to the interview stage for a couple - however I have not been employed. This situation has left me feeling hopeless. I thought (albeit perhaps naively) that gaining my PhD would open doors for me. I also worked as an RA and taught across a number of subjects at the University - and it all seems to have been in vain. That's how it feels.

I guess by posting here I am hoping to connect with people who might be in a similar situation - or have made it out the other side and might have some advice.


If I were you I would take any job, simply not to be out of work. I had to work in a fast food restaurant after I handed in my revised thesis. Then, all of a sudden I was hired to do some undergrad academic teaching. Don't give up! There are some jobs out there but sometimes we need to take any job while we keep applying.



I am finding myself in a similar situation as I will be graduating with a PhD in December with no job as of yet. Right now I am coping by running (meeting my running goals gives me an ego boost), networking (which is challenging for me as an introvert), and writing journal articles (always helps to get published). I have reached out to my supervisors and they have helped a little. I am also looking to volunteer so my gaps on my cv won't be so blatant. For those who have found employment how long did it take and how much help did your supervisors give you?



I did a psychology PhD and I was able to make it as far as postdoc (2 years) before realising that the academic lifestyle wasn't working out. Similar to you, I had a difficult supervisor and found it hard to find work afterwards due to over qualification and employers being suspicious I would run off the second an academic job came up.

I am now working in a completely different area, in one where I didn't need my PhD and could have got with my undergrad degree. It took me over a year, but I am now on my feet and am happy to be working. Truth is there are far too many PhDs for the number of jobs available, and managers know this and use it to keep academic wages low and job security weak. I accept I fell into this trap, but thankfully was able to see it and move away.

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

There's been a recent similar thread to this.

Take a read and note my comments on never regretting the PhD process despite job hunting problems I also had.


Be proud of what you have done.