Help us reach ex-researchers!

#PostAcStory survey

Do you know any research staff who have moved out of academia?

The Vitae ‘What do research staff do next?’ project explores what research staff (postdoctoral researchers, research fellows, etc.) do after they leave university and how they make this transition.

This European project, run in collaboration with Naturejobs, explores the career transitions of former European research staff who have moved into other occupations. It will reveal the tipping points in their careers, understand their decision-making processes and explore their experiences and reflections of their career paths. The survey results will provide an invaluable insight into potential employment opportunities for researchers who are considering moving out of higher education.

Here is what our respondents have said about the project so far:

“It's a great initiative. I think it's important to tell a more informed and nuanced story of how and why researchers leave academia: it does not have to be due to lack of options or as a sign of defeat. For me, it was an active choice, which has given me great new career opportunities.”

“Looking forward to results being public. Know plenty of researchers still in academia anxious that they can't do anything else. I think this will be a great resource for them.”

So far 80% of respondents report that they are satisfied with their new careers and we have examples of researchers working in a wide variety of occupations and employment sectors. However, we would like to have even broader coverage. We would particularly welcome more responses from arts, humanities and social sciences researchers. Whether your background is in social science, life science, physical science or arts and humanities, we want to hear your story of how you've made the transition from academia into business and other occupations, why you've made the move and if it was the right decision for you.  

The survey is available at:

Please share the link to the survey with your networks.

Here’s a selection of tips from those who have made the transition:

“Try and identify which kind of skills you acquire while doing research, there are many such as management [sic] skills, analytical skills, organizational skills, etc. that will be useful in many jobs.”

“To nurture a strong ethic of self-care when making the transition, as sloughing off one’s academic identity is no small feat. Also, be patient; your first job is unlikely to be your dream job. Try to use your first job as a means of figuring out what you’d really like to do.”

“If your passion isn’t in bench research, do something else.  There is tons of stuff out there for life scientists that leverages your existing skills.”

“If you’re not ready to let HE go completely, look for support roles. Often the work is similar to research, and there is less focus on profit margins and overzealous management than in industry. Your employer is also more likely to support future professional training because they understand your need to learn and develop intellectually.”

“Go for it!  It may seem daunting but if you never try, you’ll never know. And if you decide that a career outside of research is not for you, there’s nothing to stop you from going back.”

If you are on Twitter, use #PostAcStory to spread the news further.
The initial results from the project will be presented at the Vitae international researcher development conference, 9-10 September 2014, Manchester.

More information about the project

Read the Naturejobs blog post