As you work to define and develop a research project, consider seeking relevant opportunities to build a diverse portfolio of professional skills or to bridge your research with interdisciplinary or extra-academic questions, issues, and approaches.

Steps You Can Take

Take Research Methods Courses in Other Academic Units

Particularly for students who work across disciplines, it may be relevant and useful to enroll in or audit methods courses offered in other fields. This is also a good way to broaden your skill-set in preparation for a variety of academic and non-academic careers. For instance, students in fields that rely primarily on quantitative data may benefit from taking a writing course in preparation for careers that require translating specialized findings for popular audiences or that broadly value strong communication skills. Similarly, many students in humanist and social science fields increasingly discover that their qualitative research may be enhanced through the use of new digital technologies.


Browsing the Berkeley course catalog will offer a sense of the wide variety of courses on offer at the university. Note that you may need the permission of the instructor to take a course in another department, and that it is best to request this permission well in advance of the beginning of the course.


Take Time to Explore Scholarly Publications to Get an Overview of Diverse Research Approaches

While your department may specialize in a particular set of research approaches or methods, you may also wish to review other methods practiced by colleagues in the field, by academics in other disciplines, or (depending on your field) by practitioners associated with your field of study. Reviewing scholarly publications may inspire new research approaches or expand skills not necessarily honed in your home department, pinpointing new ways to distinguish and diversify your professional portfolio.


The UC Berkeley library offers research guides categorized by subject to help students get a head-start with this type of exploration.


Attend Research Talks, Colloquia, and Seminars in Other Disciplines and Fields

Attending research talks, colloquia, and short seminars is a useful way to gain a sense of other disciplines and their research approaches without committing to a semester-long course or expending the energy required to survey the literature of a field. The UC Berkeley Events calendar—searchable by day, week, or month—is a good place to look for the many events that occur each day on campus. You may also wish to look to the websites of specific departments, centers, or concentrations related to your interests, as well as local institutions like museums and libraries.


Attending research talks, colloquia, and seminars also provides great opportunities for networking with potential future colleagues, mentors, and employers. For more on how (and why) to build networking skills, see the Professionalization section of this guide.


Acquire Foreign Language Skills in Relation to Research 

Certain fields may require students to acquire foreign language skills as part of their progress to degree. But students may also wish to acquire these language skills independently, either as a supplement to their academic research or as a bridge to a variety of future careers. UC Berkeley offers instruction in over 80 languages, and fellowships such as the FLAS or Fulbright are available for graduate students undertaking language study. With its emphasis on the study of critical and less commonly taught foreign languages, the FLAS program is designed to lead into careers in university teaching, government service, or other employment where knowledge of foreign languages and cultures is essential. Participation in the Fulbright program, which offers an English Teaching Assistant program and fellowships for study and research abroad, opens up a wide variety of career paths for graduate students, including foreign service, academia, and many more.


Think Strategically About How Your Research Fits Diverse Career Paths

More non-academic careers rely on or benefit from a background in research than you might think. To identify positions, industries, and careers that utilize the research skills you have already begun building, check in regularly with the following types of resources:


  • The Berkeley Career Center’s site on “Careers Beyond the Academy,” designed to help you explore and pursue the vast range of career options available to advanced degree candidates.
  • Beyond Academia, a graduate-led Berkeley organization and annual conference that exposes fellow Berkeley Ph.D. students and postdocs to career options outside of academia.
  • Career Development Initiative for the Physical Sciences (CDIPS), a graduate-run organization at Berkeley that provides information to graduate students and postdocs in the physical and mathematical sciences about their options outside academia through a speaker series, the Data Science Workshop, and improved access to alumni.
  • Humanists at Work,” a UC-wide initiative geared towards UC Humanities and humanistic Social Science MAs and PhDs interested in careers outside or alongside the academy.
  • The Versatile PhD, a web-based resource that can assist you in exploring careers, reframing skills, and applying for positions beyond academia. All UC Berkeley graduate students have free access to Versatile PhD resources.
  • The ImaginePhD, a career-planning tool that seeks to bridge the knowledge gap between Ph.D. training and the realm of career possibilities for humanities and social science Ph.D.s.  Spearheaded primarily by UC Davis and UCLA, the group is creating an online tool to assist graduate students in career exploration, goal-setting, and professional development. This online tool is available free of charge to Berkeley students.
  • The Postdoc Industry Exploration Program (PIEP) arranges site visits to companies so that postdocs and graduate students can learn about career options directly from professionals who hold these positions and gain useful connections in the process.
  • Mellon/ACLS Public Fellows Program: Expanding the Reach of Doctoral Education in the Humanities: Now in its seventh year, the ACLS Public Fellows Program places up to 22 recent humanities Ph.D.s in two-year positions at diverse organizations in government and the nonprofit sector. This career-building initiative aims to demonstrate that the capacities developed in the advanced study of the humanities have wide applications, both within and beyond the academy. The fellowship carries a stipend of $67,500, with health insurance for the fellow and up to $3,000 for professional development activities.
  • Career Diversity for Historians:The American Historical Association (AHA), in conjunction with the Mellon Foundation, has developed a set of institutes and resources to assist faculty and graduate students in preparing for careers beyond the academy. These resources are also useful to faculty and graduate students beyond history.


Present Research to Academic, Professional, or Community Groups

Fostering interest in your research both within and beyond academia can generate career possibilities. Identify audiences for whom your research is relevant and seek opportunities to speak about it in public venues such as local libraries, museums, and relevant professional or community institutions. You may find that stepping outside the academic setting affords a fresh perspective on your research and provides invaluable experience for a variety of professional opportunities. Public presentations further demonstrate your capacity to articulate high-level concepts in an accessible fashion—a boon in many industries.


Protect, Promote, and Properly Attribute Your Research

Learning to protect your original research ensures that your contributions will be recognized in any future careers you undertake, while demonstrating a commitment to proper attribution of the work of others makes you an appealing candidate for industries that depend upon collaborative work.


In addition, Research IT provides Research Data Management services for the UC Berkeley campus. This program addresses current and emerging data management issues, compliance with policy requirements imposed by funders and by the University, and reduction of risk associated with the challenges of data stewardship. The Berkeley D-Lab also hosts a working group focused on the topic of Securing Research Data.