When I was performing my PhD thesis, I was once told that my day-to-day routine involved opening my laptop, turning on a rather expensive machine, putting some biological material samples inside, grabbing a coffee while gossiping around or catching up some YouTube videos for 3 hours before going back to get the results displayed on a chart full of colours.

As much as some people would admit this alternative reality to be seducing—while rather boring—it’s not even close to the reality of graduates’ life.

And, even if it was, humanity would probably have solved major epidemic threats, unlimited fossil-free energy and hair loss ages ago…

One would even argue: “It is fake news!”

Surely—like me—you’ve mastered a scientific technique. While spending four, maybe five years on a research project, you’ve honed your fair share of expertise in a particular field.

Ultimately, you’ve discovered something interesting in your field.

Now what?

Not everyone aspires to hold a tenure academic position after bouncing back here and there.

Time has come to think about your next professional venture…

Sit down and think about it.

Chances are, exception made for very specific job positions, your next corporate employer won’t care about the fancy techniques or protocols you’ve developed. That’s why it becomes crucial to discover your transferable skills—those which you can take and use in another discipline—to smoothly make the transition and not be thrown off balance by the reality check of the industry.

Don’t undersell your experience during your graduate years.

You have an amazing skill set: It’s time to apply that to your work resume.

Let’s break down 5 bullet points advanced graduates should show off more.

01. Project Management

Like any entrepreneur, advanced graduates have built the primary foundations of a project in the early stages of fundraising. Following a thoughtful presentation of the project roadmap in front of scientific committees and experts resembling a “Shark-Tank”-like episode, you’ve implemented an action plan and turned vision into reality.

Along the way, resources—material and human—have been implemented, notably thanks to external collaborations, which thereby implies proactively working around everyone’s schedule to put pieces of the puzzle altogether. Beyond such time management skills, advanced graduates also developed strategies that match the current market, be it by solving technical constraints, or pivoting the project depending on the obtained results and the discoveries from the competition.

While continuously monitoring different aspects of the project, one also had to provide accountability through multiple communication channels, reporting to various committees and stakeholders. Ultimately, your entire project was submitted to quality assurance and defended for approval in front of experts.

02. Critical-Thinking Mindset

Everyone can come up with ideas. But, ideas alone are cheap. Only those having gone through a proper, structured, critical-thinking process are definitely worth their pennies.

Always at the forefront of innovation, advanced graduates have mastered their forward-thinking and out-of-the-box thinking mindsets to remain adaptable over potential setbacks that lurk around each project. Like chess games, having a few scenarios sketched in mind helps to be more agile, one step closer to success.

03. Process Improvement and Reproducibility

In a world ruled by the development and the compliance of standard operating procedures aiming to guarantee the reproducibility of a specific outcome, doctoral fellows have, through this already professional experience, a considerable head start compared to any other recent graduates.

By generating data with thoughtful scientific logic and rigour, you are accustomed to developing strategies aimed at comparing two or more occurrences performed at different times and/or locations. And, when a particular process is implemented for the first time, you’ve done your fair share of research to improve the overall quality process to extract the most interesting exploitable information.

04. Uncertainty Acceptance

Most people assume a status quo to maintain safety. 

As focused disruptors, advanced graduates have no other choice than to embrace uncertainty. While the scope of a project can be defined thoroughly from the start, few can assert with absolute certainty how the entire project will actually evolve. 

Still, having the willingness to take the first step and trusting oneself enough to undertake such an exploratory endeavour shapes an act of faith that few may be willing to take without solid assurances.

05. Skilled Self-Education

Driven by the necessity to protect one’s work—by constraint or by choice—a doctoral graduate is an independent professional.

Still, obliged to adapt oneself to the fast-pacing academic industry or simply driven by an inner thirst of curiosity to unveil knowledge, you’re constantly closing the gap between two states to become a better version of yourself.

As a consequence, you already have that professional mindset to be prepared whenever a new challenge comes around.