How to Pursue a Business career in academia after a PhD

Obtaining a doctorate is one of the toughest academic and professional tasks that one can take on. The statistics on future employment in academic science careers are shocking as well. It is however argued that more scientist with a Ph.D. is needed.  With the possible oversupply of PhDs and undersupply of positions, a lot of people are questioning whether staying in academia is wise. But the truth is there are opportunities everywhere, a little bit of skill and perspective can be helpful in these situations. Let’s discuss and see what a business career in academia can be.

Science Writer/Journalist/Communicator

There is a large amount of jargon in the scientific literature. As a science writer or communicator, your job is to “translate” this jargon into layman terms. A bit of training is obviously needed. To get that training, you can find available fellowships for learning different communication methods. Also, there are online science communication courses. Such as:

  • Online free introductory course by MIT: Science Communication: A Practical Guide
  • An Online Distance Learning, PG degree program by The University of Edinburgh: Science Communication & Public Engagement

How to Pursue a Business career in academia after a PhD

Science Management

Aside from doing the experimental work of science, there are the managerial aspects. Where to submit papers (and the backup plan if that journal rejects your paper), planning for the upcoming PI meeting, ordering that crucial substance for the experiment you will conduct next month. The list goes on.

Science management focuses on solving these problems. It uses some skills like managing people, resources, and so on.  After completing your Ph.D., you can get formal management training that would allow you to enter a variety of fields. For example, you could become a: project manager, science director, science program manager, industry R&D manager, curator, analyst, consultant etc.

Science Administration

The focus of this career is more on making policy than management. These careers tend to look at the impact that science makes on society or how science should be conducted. Examples of such careers include:

  • regulatory affairs executive
  • patent attorney
  • scientific conference organizer
  • medical information executive
  • university school liaison adviser
  • forensic science administrator

How to Pursue a Business career in academia after a PhD

Science Entrepreneurship

The research should benefit society, that’s a known fact. As a graduate student, we are in an environment that supports intellectual achievements. But then there is the industry converting these ideas into a business affair that can generate money. These two perspectives can be combined in science entrepreneurship.

If you have a great scientific mind and a zeal to bring your ideas into the ‘real world’ by taking calculated risks, then the entrepreneurship is something to think about. Every college or university has a technology transfer office or an entrepreneurship center that can help you get started. Many of these centers include basic instruction on funding, researching competitors, market research, intellectual property issues, and many more topics. Networking, market research, competitor analysis, financial security, intellectual property aspects, are the main tasks of this particular position.

This is a brief insight into many opportunities available in relation to but outside the academia.



Ankita Gurao