Your PhD will open up many career options, both within academia and more broadly in industry and charity sectors. The core transferable skills of research, problem-solving, presenting, collaborating and project management are highly sought after by all employers. You can see what PhD graduates have gone onto do on our what do imperial graduates do page or by doing a LinkedIn alumni search. 

As there are many options, it’s worth starting to explore these as you move through your PhD which will relieve the pressure on making these decisions while you’re trying to write up or preparing for you viva. Creating a Plan: Me is a good starting point. Below are some ideas of what you can do throughout your PhD to build your career skills and knowledge.  

Many of the suggestions in the tabs can be done at any point in your PhD so browse through them all and find the ideas that work for you. 

PhD careers journey

1st year

The first year of your PhD will be busy, transitioning into a new way of working and learning the skills to help you complete your PhD. It is also never too early to begin in explore different career options, even if this step does feel a long way off. Here a few ideas to get you started: 

  • Attend a Career Planning for first year PhDs which is run by the careers service as part of the graduate school’s Professional Progression development programme. 
  • Networking is one the key school PhD graduates tell us they wish they had learnt and practiced during their PhDs. Get you LinkedIn profile working for you and begin to practice your networking to learn more about your career options. 
  • Consider joining or engaging with relevant professional bodies. Talk to your supervisor/peers to find out useful places to start.  
  • Interested in academia? Consider becoming a GTA to boost your teaching skills. 
  • Thinking about working internationally? Explore different countries and roles via Going Global. 
  • PhD focused career events generally happen in Spring term. Sign up to the weekly events email via Jobslive so you don’t miss out. 
  • If you think you might be interested in working or collaborating with industry, discuss how you might explore that with your supervisor. Maybe get more involved in one of the existing collaborations, consider how to do a short work experience or internship during your PhD or ask if there are any new industry partners your research group is considering. 
  • Time management is often mentioned as a key skill to get through a PhD. The PGR Success Guide has got some good tips on this and other useful support. 

2nd year

The second or middle years of your PhD if you’ve got a longer or part-time project, are a great time to consider you career. If you were interested in working in industry, particularly for a large company, they often recruit a year in advance for larger graduate programmes. Visit our application timelines (LINK) page for more information. 

  • Unsure if you’d like to stay in academia or move into industry? Attend a Careers workshop run by the careers service as part of the graduate school’s professional development programme. 
  • Visit the careers services on demand video library where you can catch up on past employer events, learn about different industries in our discovery series or get employee insights in our 10 minutes with... series. 
  • Explore the many other research related organisations associated with Imperial to build your network and find interesting potential collaborations. 
  • Attend a careers fair or employer events to learn more directly from employers. The main careers fairs happen in October with other employer events occurring throughout the year. 
  • International student? Know your rights and understand how your visa status can be explained to potential future employers. 

Final year

Your final year of your PhD is when all of that hard work comes together. If you are at all concerned about you career, do not hesitate to book an appointment with a Careers Consultant. However, if you do find yourself running out of time, the careers service gives you three years access after you graduate with full access to all of our resources. 

Post graduation

The Careers Service remains open to you for three years after you graduate, allowing you time to explore and experiment with what could be your first steps into a career. Here is how to make the most of that. 

  • Register as an Alumni for full access to Jobslive to find Careers appointments, events, seminars and job vacancies. 
  • If you have remained at Imperial to do a Postdoc, connect with the
  •  to continue your professional development. If you’re doing a postdoc at a different university be sure to ask what extra support they have for you there. 
  • Join the Imperial Alumni association to stay in touch with Imperial and take advantage of the many benefits they offer. 
  • 15 months after you graduate you will be asked to complete a national survey about what you have gone on to do after your degree. Keep your details up to date.