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Careers Outside of Academia
(Non-Academic / Industry)

A career in academia is an option for some, but it is not for everyone. In fact, many career options exist in industry, government and non-profit industries for master's and Ph.D. students. These are called careers outside of academia.

Graduate Student Myths

Myth #1: "I don't have any skills outside of academia"

    TRUTH: You have gained many valuable transferable skills

    These are skills you possess regardless of where and when you acquired them, and are transferable to any job. You could have gained these skills through previous jobs, class projects, research, volunteer work, hobbies, clubs, committees, and student organizations.

    Transferable skills:

  • Verbal and Written Communication
  • Training/Consulting
  • Analytical Thinking
  • Problem Solving
  • Research Skills
  • Leadership
  • Interpersonal Skills
  • Management
  • Financial
  • Creative and Innovation
  • Administrative

Explore your transferable skills on your own or request a Career Planning appointment to discuss and review your transferable skills as it relates to your job search.

Myth #2: "No one will hire me with so little work experience"

    TRUTH: You already have gained valuable experience

    However, while employers are hiring master's and Ph.D. students, you need to learn to speak their language.

    Remember, academics are:

  • Strong communicators
  • Comfortable in cross-cultural settings
  • Adept at organizing and assimilating information
  • Strong analytical reasoning skills
  • Mature & original thinkers
  • Complex problem solvers
  • Independently motivated
  • Experts in their fields
  • Common graduate student skills:

  • Research & information management
  • Project management & organization
  • Interpersonal & leadership skills
  • Analysis & problem solving skills
  • Written & oral communication skills
  • Time-management

Employers value your content knowledge and your transferable skills, but you must highlight your experience and translate them into language employers recognize.

Myth #3: "I'm over qualified," "it's impossible to get a job" or "No idea where to work"

TRUTH: You are not over-qualified and you can find work at plenty of places

Master's and Ph.D.'s find work in a wide variety of settings and fields. If you need help figuring out where to start, review Exploring Majors & Careers.

You have likely developed many skills in graduate school, now you get to decide how to apply them to work. Recall experiences you enjoyed most, the types of work you find yourself attracted to and the activities you find yourself avoiding.

Speaking with professionals already working in an area you are interested in, can be a powerful tool. Review the networking section below, the "What Can I do with a Graduate Degree" and "Sample Job Titles" documents in the Graduate Students Resources page.

Myth #4: "I can't talk to my advisor, they want me to work in Academia"

    TRUTH: You are not the first student to explore careers outside of academia

    When speaking with your mentors and advisor, be honest. Rather than leading them on or "drop a bombshell" just before you graduate, test the waters, by asking around your department and discussing your job search with your advisor. Try to find out if recent graduates have sought jobs outside of academia. Furthermore, you might want to see if your mentors are connected to anyone in the industry or if they know of anyone doing consulting work. Remember, you have multiple mentors, including professors, faculty, and staff. They are here to support you.

    Our Career Planning services can offer you a safe place to speak about your job search. Appointments are confidential and you can discuss your career plans with a member of our Career Planning staff.


Networking is about building positive relationships with others in your field of interest and plays a pivotal role in professional development. Remember networking is intentional, so you need to do more than simply show up at conferences.

Networking can work for you:

    Networking leads to contacts for professional development, career planning and strategy, professional and personal encouragement, as well as access and visibility in your field.

    It is not just about who you know but also who does your network know? Start by cultivating your personal network and by reviewing the networking tips and informational interview basics. Resources to get you started include:

  • UF Alumni Association
  • UF Student Organizations
  • LinkedIn
  • Professional organizations
  • Affinity groups (National Black MBA Association; National Association of Women Business Owners)
  • Networking Tips
  • Information Interview

Job search outside of academia

A wide variety of jobs are available to master's and Ph.D. students. There is no standard formula when searching for a job. We are here to help you search for a job outside of academia.

Non-academic job search strategies:
    General Job Search Sites:

    These sites reach a wide audience, with frequent updates. However, they can be challenging to navigate, and it is difficult to separate your resume from the pack. Set an automatic alert with these general job search sites to speed up and automate the process.

    Industry-Specific Job Boards:

    These sites reach a smaller targeted audience. They often provide good resources but usually with less frequent postings. You can learn more about where to find these boards by asking professionals in your field.

    Gator CareerLink Job Search Database:

    GCL contains internship and full-time opportunities with employers looking to recruit UF students.

    Company Sites:

    Many companies have job postings directly on their sites. You can use online company directories to locate employers and visit our Researching Employers page for further information.

    Professional Associations:

    Join focused groups in your field or industry for specific information, networking and job postings. Many professional associations have reduced fees for students to join.


    80% of jobs are never advertised but found through networking. Join networking groups and websites. Expand your network to gain information about your industry and locate job leads.

    Review the "Job search resources: outside of academia" document at our Resources page.

Internships, fellowships, post-doctoral research

Many companies have internships and experiences targeted to graduate students. Take advantage of internships to gain experience in new companies and industries. In addition, Ph.D.'s can pursue Post-Doc opportunities to build on their skills and gain experience.

Examples of graduate internships:

Application materials for non-academic positions


Most jobs outside of academia will require a 1-page resume, although in some cases a 2-page resume is acceptable if you have extensive job experience relevant to the position.

Standard resume rules remain for graduate students. Include research and publications only if they directly relate to the job you are applying for.

Special considerations for graduate students:

  • Include your thesis / dissertation title when it directly relates to the position you are applying
  • Keep in mind that the initial reader may not be familiar with your field
  • Highlight your experiences by describing the transferable skills

  • Review the "Job search resources: outside of academia" document at our Resources page

Cover letters:

Cover letters accompany your resume when applying for positions. The purpose of the cover letter is to convincingly introduce yourself and your work. The goal is to persuade the reviewer to read your resume as well as the rest of your application materials.

Review the "Job search resources: outside of academia" document at our Resources page.

Non-academic interview:

Visit our Interviewing page for further details on preparing for industry and non-academic interviews.

Also, to ensure your interview goes smoothly, take advantage of mock interviewing services.

Mock interviewing

Be sure to take advantage of our mock interviewing opportunities. Mock interviews will help to make actual interviews easier.

Get help

If you should need assistance with your non-academic job search, visit our Career Planning options.

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