Work experience during PhD


Hi everyone,

After deciding I am 99% sure that the world of academia is not for me about half way through my PhD in humanities I am now very worried about getting work outside of academia after I finish. I went straight from undergrad to PhD and only have summer job experience. Has anyone had experience of doing internships alongside their PhD, do people think it's a good idea? I fear I have no chance of getting a job in research outside of academia with my only experience being within the university.

Any advice would be appreciated! :)


======= Date Modified 02 Mar 2011 10:22:53 =======
Hi SarahLouise

While I haven't done an internship myself I know a good lot of people who have. In my uni, it's normal for people to do them in the summers of their undergrad, and also in the interim between finishing undergrad and starting postgrad. I don't actually know anybody who has done one during their PhD. In theory I think they're a good thing, it puts you in the academic milieu and also you can make useful contacts and do a bit of networking - definitely a skill required these days.

My life experience is different to yours as I'm a lot older :-( but I did go straight from undergrad to masters to PhD. My problem is connecting what I did in my other life with what I want to do after this PhD. My advice is whatever work you do during your PhD, tease out the transferable skills from it. So I would get involved with teaching, open days etc. It shows you're a teamplayer, if that's not too corny!! If you think you could cope with a part time job (never mind the money aspect) it might be worth considering as it would show a potential employer that you are flexible and don't just have the narrow focus of whatever your topic is.

Finally, I have seen you post on the 'one goal' thread and to me you come across as very organised and efficient. That in itself is a transferable skill so don't be afraid to promote the efficient project management of your PhD post PhD, if you know what I mean!


I would say a good idea. While I can only speak for myself, having worked for many years before entering academia, I believe working did not prepare me for academia. I also believe the reverse is true, and many employers would agree.

Get what experience you can in the field in which you'd like to work, as long as it doesn't intrude on your PhD, but make sure you have your priorities straight.