Generating career ideas

Follow these suggestions to prompt ideas about your career and use these resources to find out more.


Being open to new ideas and alert to all opportunities will give you the widest range of options to consider for after your degree. Look around you and be career curious! 

Ways to generate career ideas 

  • Browse job vacancies to get an idea of the variety of options out there. Look at the jobs that previous Masters or PhD graduates in your subject, and other subject areas, have gone on to do.  

       University of Edinburgh graduate outcomes       

  • Ask other researchers in your department or institute, or your supervisor, what other researchers they know have gone on to do outside academia. 

  • Talk to people you meet about what they do. Take note of the jobs you see around you, or referred to in the media.  

  • Browse LinkedIn profiles to see where PhD graduates are working.  A good place to start is the University of Edinburgh alumni pages. 

       LinkedIn – University of Edinburgh alumni 

  • The career stories produced by Vitae are useful reading to help you explore the wide range of options open to you at the end of a PhD:

        Vitae - researcher career stories

  • Explore the Think Ahead Blog from the Researcher Development team at the University of Sheffield – use the tab “Beyond the Academy” for a comprehensive series of careers beyond academia stories:

        Think Ahead Blog - Beyond the Academy

  • Find out more about leaving academia and non-academic careers for PhDs in these articles from Beyond the Professoriate:

        Beyond the Professoriate - Careers for PhDs archives

  • Try out Prospects Career Planner. Although it is not specifically targeted at research students it’s a useful resource. 

       Careers Planner (Prospects) 

Whenever a job title sparks your interest, look further into that career area.  

How to research different career areas 

To make good career decisions you need good quality information about jobs which interest you. Here are some ways of gathering this information. 

  • Follow our advice on finding out about career areas: 

       Finding out about jobs and employers. 

  • Check out these post-PhD insightful case studies of careers in life sciences on the Scottish Universities Life Sciences Alliance (SULSA) website:

       SULSA - post-academic careers case studies

  • Network - talk to people in career areas of interest. Ask your own network (friends, family, fellow PhD students, other staff in your department) if they have any contacts working in areas that interest you. Can you find anyone on Platform one? 

       Platform One  

  • Work experience or internships;  look for formally advertised internships on MyCareerHub. These include Employ.ed for PhDs  internships, but most other internships are targeted at undergraduates and you may be unable to commit to the length of time involved. Or try to organise your own work experience by identifying and contacting people in career areas which interest you.   

       Create your own opportunity  

       Opportunities (MyCareerHub)