When you are writing your PhD thesis, it is easy to dream about what life is going to be like after you graduate. You may be thinking about the type of job you would like, or considering the academic opportunities that will be available to you.
Whilst it is important not to be distracted when writing a PhD thesis, there is no reason not to make time to begin planning for your future. You should start thinking about what comes next during your doctoral degree so that you are not left stressed and worried when it comes to deciding what to do after you graduate.
Consider taking the following steps today to plan for your professional future before you’ve even submitted your PhD thesis:
Begin Networking Now
No matter how early on you are in your doctorate degree, you can never begin networking too soon. Even if you are not actively job searching, it will benefit you immensely to make contact with others who may be able to help in the future. Building a network whilst you are still a PhD student demonstrates that you have a genuine interest in what others are doing without the stress of searching for a position. You can learn about the different career paths in your industry whilst building your professional network.
Start Planning for The Future
There is no better time than the present to begin mapping out some milestones for the future. Think about the different goals you want to accomplish as you move through graduate school. Consider where you want to be one, three, and five years from now. Update your plan regularly as your goals alter. Planning your post-degree ambitions will also give you chance to discuss any requirements with your PhD supervisor and help you think about any skill sets you need to build on before you graduate.
Talk to Those Who Came Before You
Another thing you may want to consider is speaking with alumni of your university to see what their lives are like post-graduation. You can find out the specific skill sets they have had to master for their jobs, and how they have used their doctorate degree to position themselves as experts. Since alumni are often very interested in their alma mater, they may even be able to offer you work experience, or assist you with developing the technical and interpersonal skills that can help get you hired.
Speak with Professionals
If you are networking properly, you will likely meet hundreds of industry professionals. While you do not need to develop a close relationship with all of them, pick out a few key contacts who you can rely on to advise you about your future. Keep in touch with those who have a similar background or who have the sort of position you aspire to once you finish your PhD.
To answer the question posed in the title: yes, you can start planning for the future whilst writing a PhD thesis. It will take some careful planning and diligent organisation – and should not come at a cost to your degree – but it will be worth the extra effort once you have successfully submitted your PhD dissertation and crossed over into the professional landscape.