The academic job market is notoriously competitive–PhDs in my field (psychology) often spend years on the job market for the chance to land a tenure-track position. When I was in the fifth and final year of my PhD, I knew it was highly unlikely that I would land a job as a professor, even with 30+ peer-reviewed publications. Knowing how slim chances were of actually landing an academic position in a city I wanted to live, I decided to branch out and pursue alternative academic careers (see my advice for PhDs on the altac job market here).
I’d love to sit here and write about how I had a well-defined career plan to enter a specific industry, develop my skillset, and land my dream job. But that didn’t happen for me–and rarely does for most, especially for PhDs like myself who entered their program with all the intentions of beating the odds and becoming “Professor X.” I will tell you, however, that I was open minded about my career options and confident in my abilities as a scientist, which I believe allowed me to land an awesome job in an industry that I knew very little about at the time.