I have been actively looking for jobs after grad school for the past month. I graduate in almost 7 months to the day, so I figured I would try my luck at job hunting. Man, has it been quite the journey so far. I have had quite a few interviews so far and I almost get emails daily about setting up more interviews. Finding a job with a doctorate has been pretty easy so far.
Today, I want to talk about when to really start looking for jobs and some other helpful advice when it comes to the job search. This is totally my opinion, not backed by research or anything lol. I am sure that there are studies out there on when the best time to apply for a job in grad school. Maybe I will link some in this post if I find some.
Applying for Jobs For After Grad School
This is what it’s all about. Grad school prepared you for your next phase at that usually is one of two things 1) academia jobs 2) industry jobs. If you are like me, you are probably going into industry. Yes, being a professor sounds really cool, but I want some experience first, and honestly want to make some money. At least enough to pay off loans lol.
Applying for jobs for after grad school can be difficult at first. You may not know what you want to do in life. You might be comfortable where you are and continue doing things because it’s familiar and not scary like going to a new place. I get it, this is a scary part of the journey, but also a very exciting one. Trust me when I say, it will all be fine!
What you need to do first
You have been studying for years, taking exams, writing papers, doing research, and writing dissertations. This is all you really have done for a while and now you have to find something that uses those skillsets to actually make a difference. The very first thing that you must do before applying to a job after grad school is find out what you want to do with your life. Well, find out what you want to do with your life at the moment. Your career interests will definitely change so don’t think you’ll be stuck doing the same thing for the rest of your life.
The biggest things is to search for careers that interest you. Something meaningful, exciting, maybe good paying (I can go on and on about this lol), and something that essentially makes you happy or at least feel satisfied. The people that do the best work are the ones that find meaning in what they do and are genuinely interested in the work. The ones that aren’t interested yet do really good work are called robots lol. If you are searching for a career in something that doesn’t pique your interests, you won’t be fulfilled. There are exceptions though. You may find your niche by taking a weird job that you had no interest in. This does happen, but maybe try that later on down the road.
What you need to do next
When applying for jobs for after grad school, you need to not put it off until the end. First, figure out when you are going to graduate. This is important, especially with doctorates, because sometimes things happen and you graduate earlier or later than expected (thanks Covid). Once you know when you will be graduating, plan to start looking for jobs at least 6 months out. It can be a casual look. You don’t have to go hard with applications at this moment. But see what is out there. Maybe send a few applications to large companies that hire students that haven’t graduated yet. The worst thing that can happen is you get interview experience lol.
I know many people that were stressed to get jobs because they waited until like a few weeks before graduation. They weren’t prepared and hadn’t gone through the hiring process before, so they didn’t know how long it takes from interview to first day. Don’t be like them. Plus, if you secure a job pretty far out, you can worry just about finishing your doctorate or master’s. You don’t have to worry about snagging a job.
Interviewing for Positions
You will most likely get quite a few emails/calls/carrier pigeons to schedule interviews. I had 3 in one day this week. It was crazy at how many people wanted to schedule interviews. This is great. Of course, I sent out around 20 to 30 applications so far. This will happen to you. This is also why I stress the importance of starting early. You might apply to 100 places and hear back from 1. Also, you could apply to 3 places and hear back from all of them. The job finding game is an unpredictable one.
Once you do get an interview, it will usually be an initial phone interview to make sure you are actually a person and to tell you more about the position and the company. I had one of these the other day. These are pretty informal and casual in nature. I got to learn more about the company and position I applied for as job descriptions really don’t do justice. After the phone interview, they may schedule you for an in person interview or one on the computer. These are usually an hour long and are with the people that you are most likely going to be working with. They want to see if you can do the job and are a team player. I have found these to be pretty casual too.
When interviewing, make sure to dress professionally. This includes skype/zoom/teams calls. You want to impress the hiring manager/managers from the get go. I highly recommend getting dress shirts and coats. If you are still pretty concerned what to wear, just literally Google “job interview attire”. That will give you the best examples of what to wear and not to wear for interviewing.
Here is a site that I just found that gives you a ton of description on what to wear for interviews.
Have Fun and See if it’s the right place for you
The interviewing process is a great time to have fun and learn more about the company. Getting interviews means that you stand out among other candidates. This is a major win for you because all of the hard work the past 3-8 years has paid off. Go into that interview with the confidence of someone who deserves to be there but also with having fun in mind.
One of the things I tell people is this isn’t just the company interviewing you to see if you are a good fit. It should be you interviewing them to see if that company is a good fit for your life. Many grad students go into these interviews trying to please the hiring manager so they get the job. They later find out that they absolutely hate the job and only wanted to go there because of the reputation of the company. As I said earlier, the people that do the best work and are most fulfilled are the ones that found a job that fits them.
This post was aimed primarily towards those that are looking for jobs in industry. If you are looking at academic positions, that will come soon I am probably going to apply to some positions for professorships in the next few weeks as well as postdocs. I will keep you all updated with how those interviews go because I know for a fact that those are way different that interviewing for an industry position.
I hope you guys found this to be a somewhat decent post. It is a bit different than usual, but something that is very important in the grad school community. Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Also, if you haven’t read my post about the best gifts to get grad students, you can check it out here. I will see you all in the next one. Peace!