Although more than half of the PhD graduates do not take up traditional academic positions, the little we know of how they navigate into the non-academic workforce is somewhat conflicting. This study aims to contribute to our knowledge by examining over time the experiences of post-PhD social scientists who went into non-academic careers. It examines how post-PhD social scientists in non-academic careers characterize their experience of the PhD; how they imagine their post-PhD careers during the degree and how this influenced their doctoral activity; and to what extent their intentions changed over time and how agentive they were in managing challenges or disappointments.
The study uses a longitudinal qualitative narrative approach to examine the experience of eight post-PhD social scientists beginning during their degrees through their initial years after graduation outside academia.
The analysis highlights variation in clarity of career vision, strategic career thinking and action, knowledge of career opportunity structures and changes in career intentions over time. Still, for all individuals, the PhD was considered a powerful learning experience which continued to influence their lives.
Overall, the results make clear that post-PhD trajectories are best built from the beginning of the PhD, a conclusion that has curriculum implications.
This study incorporates the career question into the development of junior researchers highlighting the need to attend not only to objective measures of career success but also subjective intentions, investments, choices and assessments. Further, the constructs developed within an academic work context to understand career trajectories proved robust in analyzing non-academic work experience.
McAlpine, L. (2016), "Post-PhD non-academic careers: intentions during and after degree", International Journal for Researcher Development, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 2-14. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJRD-04-2015-0010Download as .RIS
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