fist bumpMore and more Humanities Ph.D.’s are working in the tech industry in the Bay Area and beyond. But in an atmosphere that often prioritizes quantitative skills over qualitative ones, are there job opportunities for Humanities Ph.D.’s? And once you do find an open position, how do get your foot in the door?

It turns out there are a variety of non-technical roles in the tech industry for Humanities Ph.D.’s. Read on to learn more about what they are, and get some tips for the job search.

Jobs in Tech for Humanities Ph.D.’s

Writing & Editing: Job titles in this category range from conversation designers to editors to content strategy leaders. What these roles have in common is that they are responsible for writing and editing content for companies, sometimes internally, and sometimes in more customer- or client-facing roles.

Marketing & Communication: People who like strategizing and identifying patterns and trends would do well in marketing or communications. Brand-marketing directors, social media managers, and corporate communications directors are some common job titles that Humanities Ph.D.’s hold.

Entrepreneurship: Without technical skills, being an entrepreneur in tech requires fostering partnerships to build a vision into a reality. However, entrepreneurship also requires a lot of creativity and project management skills, both of which are common among Humanities Ph.D.’s.

Research & Analysis: Many fear that if they leave the academy, they’ll no longer have the opportunity to do fulfilling research. In reality, research jobs – such as user experience (UX) research positions – are extremely common in the tech world, and Humanities Ph.D.’s tend to do well in these roles.

Business Strategy & Development: Applying for small and large grants to support research is an essential skill that all Humanities Ph.D.’s must develop. The ability to demonstrate the value of a project is in high demand in the tech world. Jobs in strategy and development, including philanthropy manager or community growth coordinator positions, can be well-suited for Humanities Ph.D.’s.

Management: Humanities Ph.D.’s are qualified for a number of management roles because of their experience with project management (aka dissertations), presentation skills (aka teaching), and team coordination (collaborative projects, student government, etc.). Search for roles that have “Manager” or “Coordinator” in the title to find these jobs.

Five Tips for the Job Search

Ready to get started on applying to jobs? Here are five tips for the job search from Humanities Ph.D.’s already working in the tech world:

  1. Use your outreach and networking skills. Many find their roles by deliberately building a network. You can conduct informational interviews, cold-email or cold-call recruiters and hiring managers, use LinkedIn, do contract work, and put the word out to friends and acquaintances that you are looking for jobs.
  2. Be selective about the jobs you want. Develop well-tailored, high-quality applications for only a few positions that you are particularly excited about.
  3. Don’t be afraid of job descriptions. Even if you don’t meet every qualification in a job description, you should apply. Tailor your application to highlight the key qualifications and transferable skills you do have.
  4. Show an openness to learning new skills. Tech companies are fast-paced, ever-changing environments. Demonstrate an ability to learn quickly, adopt tech language, and work collaboratively.
  5. Know that your skills are valued. If a company is interviewing you, it’s because they understand your potential value. More and more tech companies are realizing how important it is to have someone on their teams who thinks about culture on a theoretical level. Be confident about the skills you have to offer.

To explore more non-academic job possibilities for Humanities Ph.D.’s, check out Imagine PhD (register for free as a UC Berkeley student). You can also connect with the Career Center’s Ph.D. Career Counselors for support with your job search.


Arathi Govind is a Professional Development Liaison at the Graduate Division.


Categories: April 2019, Professional Development
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