Planning Career Paths for Ph.D.s

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Science  07 Sep 2012:
Vol. 337, Issue 6099, pp. 1149
DOI: 10.1126/science.1226552


There was a time not so long ago when new Science Ph.D.s in the United States were expected to pursue a career path in academia. But today, most graduates end up working outside academia, not only in industry but also in careers such as science policy, communications, knowledge brokering, and patent law.* Partly this is a result of how bleak the academic job market is, but there is also a rising awareness of career options that Ph.D. scientists haven't trained for directly—but for which they have useful knowledge, skills, and experience. Still, “there is a huge disconnect between how we currently train scientists and the actual employment opportunities available for them,”† and an urgent need for dramatic improvements in training programs to help close the gap. One critical step that could help to drive change would be to require Ph.D. students and postdoctoral scientists to follow an individual development plan (IDP).