illustration brain with wheels and cogs Career Exploration and Preparation

Do you know what kind of careers fit your interests, goals, and skills? Career exploration is a key step in not only broadening your knowledge of career possibilities, but also reflecting on the values and motivations that inform your career plans. Whether you are considering an academic career, a non-academic career, or are open to either, the following sections provide resources and guidance for exploring and preparing for diverse career options.


Develop Career Exploration and Preparation Skills *

Explore Careers

Career exploration is an ongoing process that requires careful reflection on your values, skills, interests, and priorities. This process should ideally begin early in your graduate career so that you have time to proactively develop the necessary skills, competencies, and networks needed to excel in your chosen profession. However, it can be valuable to continue the steps of career exploration even when you have an established career or career plans; as your values and priorities shift throughout your life, so too might your preferred career path.

Steps You Can Take

Set aside dedicated time for self-reflection

To ensure you find a career that is a good fit for you, it is important to engage in self reflection about your priorities, preferences, skills, and interests. There are existing guides that can help structure the process of self-reflection. For example, you can work through the key questions outlined in Beyond the Professoriate’s guide for finding a job that you will love, or work through the “flower” worksheet from University Affairs’ summary of a key book for job seekers, What Color Is Your Parachute?.

Beyond the Professoriate’s guide suggests two key questions for self-reflection. First, what did you find energizing in your academic work? Once you’ve identified what you found energizing, you can dig deeper into the specific activities or components of that task that you most enjoy. For example, if you found teaching most energizing, was it mentoring, curriculum design, facilitating discussion, or public speaking that you most enjoyed? This question will help you clarify which specific tasks or activities you find enjoyable. Second, what do you value in your work? Take some time to reflect on what characteristics you value in yourself, and why you enjoyed certain activities across your academic experience. For example, if you enjoyed mentoring, did you value this because it was an opportunity to express empathy, creativity, or innovative problem solving?


Learn about career options that correspond with your interests and values

While the idea of career exploration quizzes might feel outdated, there are now advanced career exploration tools that incorporate real-world data to inform job seekers on what the day-to-day experiences of various career paths entail. These tools can provide a general direction for your job search, teaching you about job titles and descriptions that match the tasks and work activities you value most. ImaginePhD is a tool specifically designed for humanities and social science graduate students, and MyIDP is designed for STEM graduate students. All UC Berkeley graduate students also have free access to Versatile PhD resources, which can can assist you in exploring careers, reframing skills, and applying for positions beyond academia.

Also consider finding out what previous recipients of your degree in your discipline have done with their training. Some departments maintain an alumni database or LinkedIn alumni group as a resource for graduate students.


Explore Resources Offered by Professional Associations and Organizations

Most professional associations offer career exploration resources and job boards. What has changed over time is that many of these professional associations offer resources both for academic and non-academic jobs. For example, the American Historical Association (AHA) has an initiative called Career Diversity, which includes a set of institutes and resources to assist graduate students across disciplines in preparing for careers in and beyond the academy. These resources are also useful to faculty and graduate students outside of history. 

As another example, the American Philosophical Association (APA) initiative Beyond the Academy offers resources, information, and advice to students who are interested in exploring a wide range of professions in and outside of academia. It includes links to resources for academic and non-academic career opportunities; career outcomes data, including new academic placement data and analysis; and biographical essays of philosophers who have successfully found ways to use their philosophical training outside of academia.

Do some research for yourself and see if there are similar resources in your professional association or in an association related to your professional interests, such as the American Planning Association or the National Lawyers Guild. There are also more overarching associations with interdisciplinary membership like the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students which share resources of broad interest. Some associations’ career exploration resources and job boards are only available to members, so it can be helpful to join multiple professional associations, particularly as you near graduation.

The career preparation sections below provide additional suggestions on how to explore career options experientially throughout your time as a student.

General Career Preparation

Regardless of the career path you choose, general career preparation involves a key set of steps and developing important core competencies.

Steps You Can Take

Create a Timeline including Academic Progress Deadlines and Professional Development Goals

Developing an individual professional development plan (IDP) can help you think about your long-term goals, and what short-term steps will help you advance in your program and career. There are two free, online career exploration and planning platforms—myIDP for STEM students and ImaginePhD for students in the humanities and social sciences—designed to help you do just that. These tools offer assessments to help you evaluate your values, skills, and interests, suggest career paths based on your assessments, and also have templates and tools to help you develop an IDP to get where you want to go.

Graduate students at Berkeley who have been advanced to candidacy are also required to complete the annual Doctoral Candidacy Review (DCR), which is designed to help facilitate advising, mentoring, and the timely completion of program benchmarks. An IDP can be a great springboard for proactive conversations with your advisor about the DCR and other career-related topics.


Develop your Professional Identity

As you explore different career options, be sure to refine your online presence. This can help ensure that you are recognized as a subject-matter expert by potential employers, colleagues looking for participants in projects and conferences, people conducting research across disciplines, or members of the media.

You can participate in events hosted by the Career Center and Beyond Academia to help you develop your professional profiles on websites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, ResearchGate, and Beyond Academia often holds a professional profile clinic in the Fall semester, where you can receive feedback on your LinkedIn profile and get professional photos taken. Also see “How to Curate Your Digital Identity as an Academic,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2015) and “How to Overcome What Scares Us About Our Online Identities,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2014).

LinkedIn is a powerful tool not only for the job-search, but also for networking and effectively communicating your skills. For example, by posting code, a video of you teaching, or a short article, you are demonstrating your skills to your LinkedIn networks. Consider following this comprehensive guide to LinkedIn for PhD grads as you develop your profile. 

You may also wish to consider establishing a personal website, an arena in which your sphere of control over content is greatest. For a primer for graduate students on creating your own professional website, see “Where to Begin With Building a Website,”Inside Higher Ed (2018). For advice on how to use search engine optimization (SEO) to improve the ability of digital audiences to locate your work, see “Intentional Web Presence: 10 SEO Strategies Every Academic Needs to Know,” Educause Review (2012).

Take time to familiarize yourself with the expectations for credentials, membership in professional associations, formal training, and other markers of membership in different industries. You should also practice communicating your professional contributions concisely, with different foci for different audiences. See “Elevator Speeches Made Easy,” American Psychological Association, and the Writing and Communication competency in this guide for more detailed guidance.



Regardless of how uncomfortable or off-putting it may feel, networking is an essential step in both career exploration and securing a new job. It is also an important skill to build for a long-term career in academia. For instance, the tenure review process is partly based on external review letters, which require building new relationships with senior scholars in your field. 

It isn’t surprising that the importance of networking makes some of us uncomfortable; students and academics are typically taught that advancement should be based on merit, rather than who you know. However, networking isn’t simply nepotism or in-group favoritism. When an employer is hiring, it is strategically advantageous for them to either hire internally, or to hire someone whose work they know, such as a former temp worker or intern. This approach reduces the employer’s risk of going through the costly hiring or training process unsuccessfully. Once an employer has exhausted their immediate network, they may then explore the networks of those that they know and trust. Such practices unfortunately can run counter to equitable hiring practices and principles of equity and inclusion. However, the importance of networks remains central to many hiring decisions.

So, given this reality, what can you do as a job seeker? Talking to or connecting virtually with more people is the central activity of networking. When we don’t have networking events, conferences, or social events to attend, the most important step graduate students can take is requesting and conducting informational interviews. Informational interviews with people in the industry or career you are interested in can provide vital information about whether the general career path could be a good fit for your values and goals. They can also reveal what it would be like to work for particular organizations, and the skills and expertise needed to succeed in that career path. For step-by-step guidance on informational interviewing, read the GradNews article, “The Power of Informational Interviews,” or visit the Career Center’s informational interviewing page.

For those pursuing an academic career, professional conferences are important opportunities to make contacts in your field and to start to independently establish a scholarly profile. There is valuable information on how to talk about your work, approach senior scholars, and present yourself as a rising professional in “How to Work the Conference,” Part 1Part 2, and Part 3, from The Professor is In (2011) and  “The Art of Good Conferencing, Chronicle of Higher Education (2008). Be aware that some conferences are scams; for advice on how to assess the legitimacy of a conference, see “Red-Flag Conferences,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2009).

For more general information on how to network effectively, see Spinning Your #Postac Web: Networking 101,” The Professor Is In (2014),  “How Do I Create a Professional Network?” Chronicle of Higher Education (2011), and “How to Network Effectively,” Science (2015).


Cultivate Resilience to Stress and Failure

Career exploration and preparation can be a stressful period as you navigate  job applications and the expectations of yourself and others. Cultivating resilience is a skill that will serve you well both as a graduate student and  as a future professional. . To address these challenges, cultivating a support network of peers and mentors, and practicing self-care and self-compassion are essential

The Be Well initiative from University Health Services (UHS) is a collection of resources aimed at the multifaceted aspects of wellness, including responding to stress, resilience, sleep, time-management, self-compassion, and exercise. The Graduate Assembly hosts the Graduate Wellness Center, that provides graduate-focused wellness and mental health services. All students also have access to short-term counseling for academic, career, and personal issues through Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS). Browse the Greater Good in Action resource hub for research-based practices to boost your well-being. Find even more resources on self-care and developing resilience on the GradPro Check-in Toolkit site here.

See these further resources on resilience:


See Career Development as an Ongoing Process

While some graduate students will move seamlessly to a new career after graduation, most life transitions take time. While there are no blue-prints to these transitional times, the book Transitions by William Bridges suggests that major life changes have three stages that cannot be skipped: an end, a period of neutrality, and a new beginning. The neutral time between finishing your graduate degree and starting something new can be uncomfortable and confusing, but it is also an important time for trying new things, exploring options, and clarifying what you want from your new beginning. In other words, while there are steps you can take to prepare and develop skills, competencies, and experience, deciding what comes next often only happens after you have graduated. 

Prepare for Careers Beyond Academia

If you decide to pursue a non-academic career or a dual job search for both academic and non-academic jobs, it is important to understand the conventions of non-academic professions and to develop skills that are in demand outside of academia. In addition to accessing the resources below, consider reviewing the other competencies of this guide for specific guidance on developing skills that are widely valued in the non-profit, government, and industry sectors. For example, see the Leadership and Collaboration competency to learn about project management and time management skills, and see the Research and Data Analysis competency for resources to develop analytical skills.

Steps You Can Take

Participate in Workshops and Consultations at the Career Center and GradPro

The Berkeley Career Center has career counselors for graduate students who specialize in supporting students who are applying for careers beyond the academy. They can help you explore interests, identify positions, and reframe the skills you have developed in graduate school as you apply to these positions. Sign up for an appointment with one of the counselors on Handshake. Workshops on applying for careers outside of the academy are typically offered by the Career Center in the spring semester. 

GradPro also offers consultations for graduate students with Professional Development Liaisons (PDLs). Consultations are a great place to get guidance on all aspects of professional development. Learn more about consultations in the GradNews article “What Can a GradPro Consultation Do for You?” Sign-up for a consultation here and learn about GradPro workshops on the GradDiv Calendar. 

For professional students, check if your school has a designated career office or advisor to provide you with resources and counseling specific to your professional interests.


Take Part in Conferences and Workshops Offered by Beyond Academia, SLAM, and MCB 295

Beyond Academia is student-initiated organization that hosts a two-day conference each spring and several excellent workshops during the fall and spring to help graduate students explore career options and prepare to apply to jobs. There is no cost to attend the conference, and the conference hosts dozens of workshops and panels on career exploration and preparation for students of diverse academic backgrounds and professional interests.

SLAM (Science Leadership and Management) is a seminar series focused on understanding the many interpersonal interactions critical for success in a scientific lab, as well as some practical aspects of lab management.

MCB295 is a career and professional development seminar series for life science Ph.D.’s. The weekly series features speakers from a variety of careers who share their post-Ph.D. paths and workshops on topics in career development, including networking, resume building, interview techniques, and negotiation skills.


Participate in an Internship

Internships can enable you to test the waters while obtaining valuable experience and mentoring. They can also position you to apply successfully for career positions which may require prior experience. The Career Center website lists a number of internship and externship opportunities for graduate students. A number of units on campus intermittently offer graduate student positions that function as internships, including GradPro, the Graduate Writing Center, the GSI Teaching & Resource Center, D-Lab, the Othering and Belonging Institute, the Townsend Center, and the Institute of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies, among others.

There are also some fellowship programs and post-graduate internships that support recent graduates with a transition to a non-academic career. For example, the Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program is a two-year paid fellowship to train advanced degree graduates for government leadership positions. Another example, the ACLS Leading Edge Fellowship Program, places recent humanities Ph.D.s in two-year positions at diverse organizations in government and the nonprofit sector. 


Participate in Entrepreneurship Workshops or Classes

Berkeley graduates in a wide variety of fields have found ways to create new ventures based on the skills and knowledge gained through their masters or doctoral programs. Consider getting involved with the Berkeley Postdoctoral Entrepreneur Program (BPEP), a program that aims to foster entrepreneurship in the UC Berkeley postdoctoral and graduate community by providing tools, mentoring, and a platform for science-business communication to enable research innovations to move into the marketplace.

Prepare for Academic Careers

The steps needed to prepare for an academic career will vary depending on the kind of institution you aim to work for, but most academic jobs will require you to demonstrate skills in research and publishing, teaching and mentoring, and service and equity. While you will develop some of the skills needed to succeed in an academic career during your graduate studies, it is important to intentionally take steps towards preparing for an academic career independently. As many of the steps important to preparing for an academic career can take years to accomplish, it is ideal to review these steps early in your time as a graduate student.

Steps You Can Take

Understand What Search Committees Are Looking For

Before deciding to conduct an academic job search, make sure you understand what is involved. For many students, the academic job search takes several years of active preparation. To learn about what search committees are looking for in tenure-track candidates, read “Part II: Getting Your Head in the Game” from the book The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky. To learn about what purpose postdoctoral fellowships serve, and what postdoc selection committees are looking for, read the chapter “The Postdoc Application: How it’s Different and Why”, also in the book The Professor Is In


Join Professional Organizations and Read Professional Publications

Most academic fields have their own professional organizations, such as the American Physical Society, the Modern Language Association, or the American Political Science Association. Many scholars belong to multiple such organizations (for instance, both the Modern Language Association and the Shakespeare Association of America). There are also even broader or multidisciplinary organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students. Staying up to date on the major events and publications of professional associations is often an unspoken expectation in academic life. Even if you aren’t yet ready to attend an association’s conference or submit an article to its journal, looking at conference programs and browsing journal indices on a regular basis will help you be more prepared if and when you do want to join these conversations.

In addition to field-specific organizations, also consider staying aware of issues pertaining to higher education more generally, by reading publications such as the Chronicle of Higher Education.


Publish in your Field

In almost all academic fields, publishing is an important indicator of scholarly productivity, and a metric of your ability to contribute to the profession at the highest levels. It is increasingly the expectation that applicants to academic positions should have one or more scholarly publications accepted to peer-reviewed journals. For most junior faculty, publications also play an important role in the tenure review process. For this reason, it is wise to learn about the publishing conventions in your field as early as possible. 

Consider initiating conversations with your advisor or other mentors early on in your graduate studies about how and when you should publish during your program, particularly because publishing output expectations vary widely according to field. For instance, in many STEM disciplines, multi-authored publications are the currency of the realm, while this is less common in the humanities and social sciences. Some fields regard book reviews as a valuable contribution to the profession, while in other cases this is less true. For more important resources on writing and publishing, see the Writing and Communication competency in this guide. 

For a discussion of publishing expectations for graduate students and new faculty, see “Which Publications Matter at Which Stages of Your Career?,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2019). To learn the process of writing a journal article, consider reading the book “Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks: A Guide to Academic Publishing,” by Wendy Belcher. Explore workshops and other services offered by the Graduate Writing Center.


Participate in the Summer Institute for Preparing Future Faculty

The Graduate Division’s six-week Summer Institute for Preparing Future Faculty provides information about how universities and colleges of different kinds are organized and what to expect from employment in these different settings. The Institute will provide valuable guidance for navigating the academic profession, and will introduce you to the norms of academic publishing, teaching expectations, and paths to tenure. The Institute features weekly panels of faculty from community colleges, liberal arts colleges, master’s granting universities, and research universities, as well as elective courses on academic writing and developing a teaching portfolio.


Prepare for Academia as a BIPOC Scholar

Black, Indigenous, and POC voices are vital to the field of academia. Yet, BIPOC academics can be subjected to socialized white supremacy and racial injustice. Similarly, they can often face added pressure or expectations that they will address racism or cultural diversity concerns, especially if they are perceived as experts on these topics by their white peers.

Find resources specifically for students of color in the Equity and Inclusion competency of this guide, under “Set Healthy Boundaries and Practice Self-Care.” You can also see also the “Survival Guide for Black, Indigenous, and Other Women of Color in Academe” from the Chronicle of Higher Education (2020). To learn about the experiences of BIPOC academics, you might also wish to read Stories from the Front of the Room: How Higher Education Faculty of Color Overcome Challenges and Thrive in the Academy, available as an eBook at the University Library.


Undertake the Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education

The Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education is designed to help you develop your classroom skills, to prepare for teaching as a future faculty member, and to professionally document your work as a teacher. The activities that are part of the certificate program include general and discipline-specific teaching skills such as developing a teaching portfolio, creating course syllabi, cultivating strategies for efficient and effective grading, and synthesizing and presenting feedback from student evaluations of your teaching.


Participate on an Academic Search Committee

Some departments include a graduate student on search committees for academic positions. Take advantage of such opportunities while you are a graduate student, as they will provide you with first-hand experience and an understanding of the academic job search from the perspective of a hiring committee. In addition to being invaluable for your own job search, serving on a search committee will prepare you for responsibilities you will assume as a future faculty member. To be selected as a student representative in a search committee, make sure to communicate your interest to relevant faculty and staff in your department. Should you not be able to participate on a search committee, be sure to attend job talks of candidates for positions in your department, and review candidate materials such as CVs and teaching statements that your department may make available.


Apply for an ORCID

ORCID (Open Researcher and Contributor ID) is a registry that associates a unique numeric code with your name. It provides a way to ensure that others will properly identify you as the author of published work, even under different versions and spellings of your name. While the ORCID community includes university-affiliated researchers, it also includes institutions such as national laboratories, commercial research organizations, research funders, publishers, national science agencies, data repositories, and international professional societies. To register for an ORCID number, visit their website.

Apply for Jobs Beyond Academia

Explore the steps to take when looking for a non-academic job, and find important resources for the process of finding, applying for, and interviewing for a job. Most of these steps can begin in the year or two before you plan to enter the job market.

Steps You Can Take

Identify and Translate your Skills

Every graduate student has numerous skills and capacities that are valuable to employers, but identifying our own skills can be difficult. There are many lists of transferable skills commonly held by graduate students, which might help you think through what skills you have developed during your degree. The book The Professor Is In (Section X) has a list of 100 skills that are transferable to non-academic settings, Beyond the Professoriate has a list of 10 transferable skills that employers want, and this slide deck by Beyond Academia walks you through the process of translating academic experiences to non-academic skills.

Once you have identified your own skill set, you will need to diligently translate these skills into the language of your industries or careers of interest. This is particularly important because most employers are unfamiliar with what a Ph.D. graduate has spent their many years of research and dissertation writing on. Through informational interviews and career exploration tools, you will become familiar with the language and jargon relevant to your career of interest so that you can translate your skills effectively.

There are dozens of books written on the transition from graduate school and academia to non-academic careers. You can find out which texts are relevant to you by reading the summaries offered in this reading list from the blog From PhD to Life. 


Identify Job Postings

Looking through job postings can be helpful both for learning what career options are out there and for applying to jobs. When you are ready to secure a new job, be sure to reach out to your networks and let acquaintances in your academic and non-academic communities know you are looking for a position. For example, if you are presenting at a conference, mention that you are currently on the job market. 

Some key websites to find job listings include:


Develop a Resume

While CVs are the gold standard for academic positions, you will need to convert your CV to a resume to successfully apply for positions beyond academia. Many resources are available to guide you in this process. See “From CV. to 1-Page Resume,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2013) and “How I Reimagined My Resume,” Humanists at Work (2015). Dig through The Professor Is In and Ask A Manager blog posts on resumes.


Write Cover Letters

Even when job postings do not explicitly request a cover letter, it is the best practice to include one . For the cover letter, be sure to focus on how your skills and experience align with the position requirements, rather than trying to explain your transition out of academia. Also be sure to make clear why you are interested in the particular organization to which you are applying. Dig through Ask A Manager blog posts on cover letter writing.


Prepare for Interviews

Finally, as you start learning about positions from your network and submitting applications, you will need to prepare for interviews. It is important to practice interview skills with multiple audiences. Ask your committee, your colleagues, your friends, and your family members to conduct “mock” interviews—even if you have to provide the questions ahead of time, it helps to rehearse your answers out loud and in front of an audience. You can also practice by using the interview preparation tool Big Interview. Big Interview offers video lessons on the interview process, and uses AI to simulate practice interviews tailored to the positions for which you are applying.

For advice on various aspects of the process—from etiquette tips and how to dress for interviews to negotiating job offers and salaries—check out the Berkeley Career Center’s site on Interviewing. If you are preparing for a virtual interview, read this GradNews article on virtual interviewing.

Apply for Academic Jobs

Explore the steps to take when looking for an academic job, and find important resources for the process of finding, applying for, and interviewing for a job. Most of these steps can begin in the year or two before you plan to enter the job market.

Steps You Can Take

Participate in Career Center Workshops on Applying for Academic Positions

Each fall the Career Center offers a series of excellent workshops, including ones on the academic job search. Career Counselors for graduate students are also available for individual consultations. See the Career Center’s web pages devoted to doctoral students and postdocs for resources to guide you in all steps in the academic job search, from searching for positions and preparing materials to interviewing and negotiating an offer.


Identify Open Job and Postdoctoral Positions

Applying for academic positions typically begins long before you complete your degree. For example, some search committees will begin reviewing applications as early as August or September, a year before the position’s start date. Plan to dedicate substantial time in your final year or years of the degree program to identifying openings and creating application materials. 

To find openings, take a look at job boards hosted by academic associations in your field and related fields. Often, these job boards are only visible to association members.

Other key job boards for a variety of academic positions include:


Develop a Curriculum Vitae (CV)

As the Berkeley Career Center notes, “Constructing an effective CV is an iterative process.” It is a useful exercise to develop multiple types of CVs especially when applying to different types of colleges and universities. Be sure, as well, to update and reorganize them as necessary—it is much easier to keep a CV updated as you go than to work backward at a later date. Following disciplinary conventions in presenting your accomplishments on your CV is essential. We recommend having it reviewed by your primary advisor.

See “The CV: Part 1 Overview” and “The CV: Part 2 Elements,” University of California, Berkeley, Career Center and “Part IV: Job Documents that Work” in the book The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky, available as an ebook from the Library.


Develop Cover Letters

The cover letter for a job application is a professional genre; as such, it will necessarily differ in form and content across fields and types of institutions you are applying to. Research what different cover letters look like for your field. Your department may retain a file of successful cover letters from previous students, or you may be able to consult more advanced students to track down examples. Once you have compiled a collection of sample letters, develop different versions of your own for the types of academic positions you are considering.

For advice on writing an academic cover letter, see “The Cover Letter,” University of California, Berkeley, Career Center and “Part IV: Job Documents that Work” in the book The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky, available as an ebook from the Library. In particular, read the section on tailoring to determine how much effort you should put into adjusting your cover letter for every new job application.

You can also refer to “The Basics of Cover Letter Writing,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2000); “How to Write Appealing Cover Letters,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2000); and “What You Don’t Know About Cover Letters,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2002).


Write a Teaching Statement

Applications for academic positions often ask candidates to submit a teaching statement or philosophy that reflects their pedagogical experience and philosophy within their particular discipline. To get started with writing a statement of teaching philosophy, consider attending the GSI Teaching & Resource Center’s recurring workshop on Developing a Statement of Teaching Philosophy and Teaching Portfolio. See slides and resources from these workshops in the Center’s Online Library.

Also see “Part IV: Job Documents that Work” in the book The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky, available as an ebook from the Library.

Other resources from The Chronicle of Higher Education that may be helpful to you in writing a teaching statement include the articles “How to Write a Statement of Teaching Philosophy,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2003) and “4 Steps to a Memorable Teaching Philosophy,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2010).

Take advantage of one-on-one consultations offered to graduate students who are in or preparing for the academic job search, where you can have your teaching-related materials reviewed and receive feedback. Finally, the GSI Teaching & Resource Center offers a workshop each spring on Teaching & the Academic Job Search.


Write a Diversity Statement for Job Applications

Today it has become increasingly common for academic job applications to ask candidates to submit a so-called diversity statement. This may be requested as a part of the cover letter, incorporated in the teaching statement, or as a separate document. For this statement, scholars are typically asked how their teaching, research, service, and advising does or would contribute to diversity, equity, and inclusion at the institution, department, and discipline in question. Make sure this statement is not a perfunctory exercise but an opportunity to reflect on your teaching and research practices. To learn more about what to include and not to include in a diversity statement by reading “What Is a Diversity Statement, Anyway?” in the book The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky.

Some other resources that may be helpful in writing a diversity statement include:



Write a Research Statement

Most academic job postings will request a research statement, which allows you to elaborate on your contribution to your field, and plans for future research. Conventions for research statements vary widely, so ask trusted advisors about what is the norm in your field, and pay particular attention to what is requested in job descriptions. Typically, you can create one research statement that does not need to be tailored for each academic job, but you may need to create research statements of varying lengths so that you can follow job posting directions on expected page count. For clear advice on what to include in a research statement, read Chapter 27, “The Research Statement” in the book The Professor Is In by Karen Kelsky.


Prepare for Interviews, Job Talks, and the Campus Visit

The initial job interviews for academic positions typically follow a standard format, where you can expect questions to touch on some or all of seven general categories. For the interview, academic coach Karen Kelsky advises that you should prepare to answer questions on: your dissertation; your short and long term publishing plans; your place in the field; courses you can teach; your teaching philosophy; your interests in contributing to the program; and your understanding of the hiring department. For detailed advice on preparing for the interview, job talk, and campus visits, see “Part V: Techniques of the Academic Job Market” in Kelsky’s book The Professor Is In.

Before presenting your research in an on-campus interview, you should practice in front of multiple audiences in a timed setting and get feedback on the content and delivery of your talk. Many departments create opportunities for graduate students to give practice job talks in a departmental seminar series or in the context of research group meetings. Ask the audience to anticipate and pose questions that may also be asked in the actual on-campus rendition of the talk. Ask for feedback on various aspects of your delivery, such as how clear it was, whether you spoke quickly or slowly, and if you engaged the audience.

Consider attending the Berkeley Career Center’s workshop on “Nailing the Job Talk.” This recurring workshop usually takes place in the fall, so check the Career Center’s events calendar

For additional advice on how to prepare an academic job talk, see the book The Professor Is In; “Talking the Talk,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2013); “Giving a Job Talk in the Sciences,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2001); and “The Job Market: The Campus Interview,” Chronicle of Higher Education (2017).

* Some skills serve in the development of more than one competency. Some skills may apply more to one discipline than to another. Keep in mind that the list of skills and steps you can take to develop these competencies is not exhaustive.


Career Exploration and Preparation Workshops and Events

Date Event Organizer
No events found

More Events

This guide was created by GradPro: The Graduate Student Professional Development Resource Hub. Visit our website to learn more about what resources, service, and programs are offered by GradPro and other campus partners.