Career Paths

Choosing between the Academic and Non-Academic Career Paths

The choice between taking the academic or non-academic career path can be challenging. The first step in making this decision involves self-assessment in order to gain a better understanding of yourself. What are your values and preferences in the working world? Do you prefer a routine schedule, or do your prefer variety in your day? Do you like to be dressed up or prefer to wear casual clothing?

What lifestyle consequences would you face when choosing to work in a university setting or a business setting? There are numerous career tests that will help you determine your work values, interests, preferences, and skills. The next step is to understand the world of work. 

Exploring the working world through part-time jobs, graduate co-op positions, and/or internships will give you a first-hand view of a particular career path. Finally, your decision can be made by considering what you have learned about yourself in light of the information you have gathered about the world of work. Is it likely to be a good fit? This process can be simplified by meeting with a career counselor. Call 404-894-2550 to make an appointment.

Below are some general differences between the academic and non-academic career paths:

Academic
The job search process ~

  • A CV is used.
  • Search committees are used to select candidates.
  • Reference letters may be required.
  • The interview may last one or two days.
  • The work place is stable, secure, and shielded from competition.
  • Deadlines have flexibility.
  • There is a great deal of autonomy.
  • Most people have a common background, and there is great emphasis on academic credentials.
  • There is pressure to publish and gain tenure.

Non-Academic
The job search process ~

  • A resume is used.
  • Typically, one person makes the hiring decision.
  • You will be expected to provide a list of references rather than reference letters.
  • The first round interview may be less than one hour.
  • The work place is subject to commercial forces and may be risky.
  • Deadlines are generally inflexible.
  • Teamwork within the organization is important, and there is less autonomy.
  • There is great diversity of backgrounds among personnel with less emphasis on academic credentials.

Career Paths 

Academic
Academic Job Search 
Some good resources for those seeking an academic career include the following 
Web sites and publications:

The Chronicle of Higher Education 
Academic360 
Higher Education Jobs 
Academic Position Network 
The University Job Bank 
Women in Higher Education 
Affirmative Action Registry 
PhDs.org 
Science Magazine
Masters in Education Guide

Non- Academic
Non-Academic Job Search
Some good resources for those seeking careers outside of academia include the following Web sites and publications:

CareerBuzz
The Chronicle of Higher Education 
The Career Center at the University of California, Berkeley 
Science’s NextWave 
The Scientist 
ScienceJobs
SciJobs
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