After the years of hard work and deadlines, surely the time after getting your doctorate is a time to relax and celebrate. But the period after successfully defending a Ph.D. can be confusing, especially if you don’t really have the next plan. The one important advice is not ignoring your thesis/research work which is a valuable resource for your future career path. So what is your career after a doctorate going to look like? How can one pass this limbo phase?
If your heart was set on an academic career after a doctorate from the get-go, consider what you have learned in the course of your Ph.D. about academia more broadly, and ask yourself whether you still have the same objectives. Question yourself about your area of interest, identify the areas and fields which were really interesting to you throughout the research period, look at the big picture and really decide what is it that you want to solve or achieve, do you really want to make a difference and answer some unsolved mystery? Be honest with yourself and before taking any concrete actions answer your so called inner questions and define your goal.
In the course of undertaking your doctorate, you should have received plenty of responses to your work from your supervisor. The examiner reports should also have given you more feedback on your work. You do not have to rely on these feedbacks alone. If you need to hear more ideas or comments to give you a broader perspective, disseminate your ideas through informal blogging (just don’t get too drawn into this at the expense of peer-reviewed publication, if you want to pursue an academic career), or via occasional conference papers, and you may even find that your own former fellow doctoral candidates would willingly look at your work in exchange for some feedback on their own. Approaching publishers is another way to get feedback. Obviously, you do this when you are pretty sure that your work is at a publishable level, at this stage you need to figure out whether you are looking for academic publishers with a mass market approach. Consider journals and other forms of print publication as an alternative to book publishers in order to get your work into the public domain.
Do not underestimate your Ph.D. thesis, it can easily be the start of an academic or other research/ writing-based career. As mentioned before give yourself some time to consider which aspects of your research you found particularly stimulating. Maybe there were subjects or areas which you did not have enough time to address thoroughly.
It is interesting to know that many, many people do doctorates and then go on to have successful and interesting careers in areas outside academia altogether. By undertaking a doctorate you have demonstrated to employers that you have advanced research, communication, and analytical skills, you are able to take large and complex bodies of information and present them in a comprehensible way. Even if you undertake a nonacademic career path do not underestimate the skills and expertise that you have developed throughout the research, those can be very valuable in the context of any working environment.
Lastly, but most importantly, look after your wellbeing. A doctorate is a demanding and sometimes isolating process, so make sure you have your social life on the line at all times.