A PhD is something to be celebrated because of the amount of work that goes into receiving your doctoral degree. It is important to remember that receiving your PhD does not necessarily mean that life would be automatically easier. There is still a lot of work that needs to go into life after this achievement. You may be surprised by the fact that your expectations are not met, which can lead to a lot of disappointment. On the flip side, there is also the increase in expectations from the graduate and many times, if these are not met, it can lead to the fear of failure.
It is very advantages to find a job with a PhD, but you might have to lower your standards in the beginning. Once you have your foot in the door, you can start making a good impression. Many graduates want to walk into a CEO role, but that is not always possible at the beginning. Just because you know you have the ability to do well, does not mean that everyone else feels the same way. This may not be what you want to hear, but if you do not want to be disappointed, it is important to know this going in. Remember those days when you were searching for a PhD proposal? Well, now you are fully qualified and you made it through. The same will happen work wise, but please avoid the following mistakes.
world owes me
I am here to blow your bubble and tell you that earning a PhD, does not make you entitled to anything. You are going to have to face that reality early on, because there are many graduates without jobs. This is not because they are not good enough, but it is just the way life works. Some people are lucky and get employed quickly and others struggle. As much as you need to be praised for your great achievement, it does not mean that job offers are going to fall at your feet. You will be treated like everyone else and you want to be aware of this early on.
2.PhD = Experience
Unfortunately your PhD status does not qualify to be seen as work experience and this might be hard to accept. All the work you did on your qualification does count for something, but many companies still look at it as studies and not experience. The truth is that it does not matter how you feel about this if the choice is up to someone else. In the real world, you will need work experience to get the job you really want. This is why it is acceptable to take on a job that is lower than you expected, in the hopes of getting some experience.
3. My ideas are good
You have been learning how to think on your feet and come up with mind blowing ideas. It may come as a surprise to you when your ideas are not impressing anyone. The reality is that employers are more interested in actionable steps that lead to results. Having a good idea is not the same as showing them how this idea will improve the business. Just because you have a PhD, does not mean that the rest of the world is going to believe everything you are saying. That example PhD research proposal might have impressed your professors, but it probably won’t have the same effect on your employer.
4. No need to network
So you have a PhD and people should come and network with you right? There is no need for you to go out and try to connect with others, because you got a PhD! If only that was true, but it is not. You are going to have to network more than you did before. Having some influential contacts on your list will serve you in the long run. In this day and age, it is about who you know and you want to know as many people as possible. I am not talking about friendships, but business influencers to lend you a helping hand when needed. In any business, networking is key, so go out to industry event and connect with people. Carry your business cards with you and hand it out like free candy. Keep the once you receive in return and try to keep in contact with these individuals.
5. I’m not a sales person
Sure, you did not apply for a sales position so it is not necessary to have any sales skills. This is where you would be wrong, because at the end of the day businesses are all about sales. The company’s turnover is the most important part of the business and you are going to have to like sales. You may not work in a call centre selling, but sales is much more than that. It is about building relationships with potential buyers. We are talking about improving the business in order to increase those sales numbers. No matter what department you find yourself in, you are a sales person helping the company grow and succeed.
6. Unrealistic expectations
I touched on this in the first part of this article, but it deserves a point of its own. This is because it is a norm for PhD graduates to want to step into a high paying post, but it rarely happens. If you have some work experience from before you did your qualification, it may be irrelevant by the time you qualify. The individual who did not do a PhD, but instead gained a lot of work experience might be your boss. You have to start at the bottom in order for you to be seen for your impressive knowledge. Look at a PhD proposal example and see how you can use those skills in any level job. The fact that you have a PhD does mean that you think differently and more intelligently than others, but you are going to have to convince them before you get that CEO position.
Just as everyone else, you are going to get out the job ads and find a job. It is not going to just fall into your lap. As much as you worked hard to get to this point, no one will know unless you put your name in the hat. There are jobs out there for PhD graduates, but you are going to have to go on an active search and find it. The competition is a lot out there and you have to get out and start working. You do not have to start working as an entrée level staff, but you might have to position yourself in the middle somewhere. This is not a step down, but rather a way in.
8. Non believe
This might be one of the biggest mistakes you can make as a PhD graduate and in life. If you do not believe in your own abilities, no one else will. With all the negativity surrounding doing a PhD or not, it has set some doubt in the minds of graduates. Many are without work and cannot be employed because of their high qualification. Forget about all of this and start believing that you have gained a lot of knowledge and this was not a waste of time. You did this so that you can secure a future for yourself and this shows drive and commitment. It will not go unseen if you apply what you have learned. It may take time and you might get frustrated, but it is not impossible. Some things just take a little longer than others, but you will eventually find your own level of success.
Doing a PhD is a great decision, even though there are so many naysayers. No one is ever going to be able to take this away from you, so go for it and give it your all. Everything will work out in the end, but you are just going to lower your expectations slightly. If you find great success after you graduate, then well done on that, but for the average graduate, it takes some time. It is just a matter of patience and drive. Do not give up at any point when completing this qualification, because you do not want to have to figure out ways to hide that gap in employment. It is not an easy road, but it is worth it. Make the commitment and see it through till the end. Have faith in your ow abilities and knowledge and believe that you can be successful. Time flies and before you know it, you will be in that CEO role that you dream of. If you want to start your own business after qualifying, you already have all the knowledge it takes to do so successfully. The options are endless, so go for it and make no excuses.