UW Graduate School

February 22, 2018

Postdocs, you are more skilled than you know!

Postdocs often reach out asking for advice regarding what to look for in a future career. You may have wondered yourself: Should I stay in academia or consider moving to an industry setting? I enjoy talking about science, should I get a job in policy, outreach, or K-12 education?

It is important during these times of uncertainty to look at all you have accomplished during your graduate and postdoc training (you should be celebrated!) and realize that worrying about your future career is completely normal. While it might not seem clear at the moment, you have developed a large number of skills that are valuable, no matter where you work next.

During the 2017 National Postdoc Association annual meeting, Peter Fiske, science communicator and CEO, shared a list of transferable skills graduate students and postdocs likely developed during their training — without even realizing it. A sampling of these skills are shared here:

  1. Public speaking experience
  2. Ability to support a position/viewpoint with argumentation and logic
  3. Ability to conceive and design complex studies and projects
  4. Ability to implement and manage all phases of complex research projects and to follow them through to completion
  5. Ability to combine and integrate information from disparate sources
  6. Ability to evaluate critically and to problem solve
  7. Ability to do advocacy work
  8. Ability to acknowledge many differing views of reality
  9. Ability to suspend judgment and work with ambiguity
  10. Ability to make the best use of informed hunches
  11. And so many more!

These are all skills that are highly valued in careers both inside and outside of academia. You just need to step back and determine how they apply to your unique experiences.