Last Thursday, Mickaël Machicoane and Lucie Viou, two former PhD students at CdV came to meet current PhD students at the bar Les Caractères to talk about their career path and their current jobs in industry.
They gave precious advice on how to find a job after your PhD when you don't want to continue in academia. For those that couldn’t make it, here are the prominent points from their talks:
Here's a very Socratic one: "Know thyself!" Your experience during the PhD and what you do during your (rare) free time (i.e. if you're involved in associations, like to read, to travel...) help you identify what you're good at your competences, what you like to do and what you'll feel like doing every day for several years. According to your expertise and your values, you can better target the type of company and the type of job you want to apply for, and have good arguments on your CV!
You may feel that, by doing a PhD, you're only good in research, which is, of course, not true! A PhD makes you very adaptable: you have great analytical skills, you're used to communicating about your research and multicultural environments, and you’ve developed good writing skills. One great way to gain confidence is to put yourself in the shoes of someone who's already working in a company you're interested in: imagine what you'd have to do and how to do it. To make it even more realistic, you can even contact people who are working there and ask them about their tasks at work. Does that job still seem unattainable? Come on, you've got a PhD!
Take care of your network
You're not alone! You may feel that "networking" belongs to a remote universe where people carry attaché-cases and wear ties and pointed shoes to work, but your network starts with your family and friends - most people have some. Still, A little farther away from you, the people you meet at conferences, your former classmates and your colleagues from CdV-UPMC also belong to your network: give them news regularly, talk about what you're doing at work, when you're looking for a job, and eventually, they may know someone who knows someone who can help you when you need them! Still, it doesn't work alone; your network is like a plant you have to feed so it doesn't die: provide its members with links to interesting articles, discussions related to their work on forums or any piece of information you feel relevant. The key word here is "reciprocity", and that's how you strengthen your bonds.
Talk to companies
Ask questions of people at the companies you're interested in, maybe not CEOs who are usually busy-busy, but accessible people like project managers. Both Lucie and Mickaël agree that most people are actually nice and willing to help and that they may even feel flattered by your interest in their job. It's a great way to establish contact with a company and even to slip into the conversation that you're looking for a job. This way of approaching companies is way more efficient than the traditional speculative applications for which your e-mail usually ends up in the thrash - sad truth.