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Prepare for life after the thesis

Throughout the duration of the research degree, your primary focus will be on completing your thesis. You will invest substantial energy into the research and the writing task. However, there is life after the thesis. Even while focussing on your immediate goal, you will need to plan for your future, after the degree.

Identify transferable skills

Identify the skills, the special abilities, expertise and specialised knowledge that you acquire and develop over the period of candidature.

Look at the range of abilities and increased knowledge, both specialised and general, that you gain as you go along. It is very easy to take some of this for granted, particularly as it is acquired gradually. Highlight these gains for yourself periodically, acknowledge their value, and seek ways to promote them to others.

Talk about your research

Develop a 'sales pitch' to promote your research. You will need to find ways to present the material to both academics and non-academics. This has value for the development of your research and your thinking as well as helping to prepare for your future. Different approaches needs to be devised for different audiences.

When you talk about your research to those who are outside the academic or research world, you will need to explore different ways of presenting your work. Move away from the jargon of the discipline. Be clear and concise. It is a useful exercise and helps to clarify what is unique and special in your work. Spend some time trying to show the relevance, importance and novelty of your research to family and friends.

Speak about your research to people who are knowledgeable in the substantive content, and to people who have a strong academic and research background.

Speaking about your research can be of enormous value in a number of ways:

  • helping you to clarify your thinking and logic
  • identifying potential problems in the research
  • thinking more broadly about the research project
  • becoming aware of alternate ways of conceptualising the research
  • appreciating related research
  • identifying theoretical connections
  • crystallising the importance of the research
  • confirming its academic rigour
  • understanding and promoting its relevance

Explore different avenues

Involve yourself in relevant professional activities during the course of study.

Consider attending and participating in seminars or conferences and whenever possible, and give formal presentations on your research. It may seem that such preparation could be a distraction from the thesis task. However, there are benefits in exposing yourself to professional network possibilities, and in exposing your ideas to your peers.

You may experience a sense of academic uncertainty in relation to your work and its value, particularly at an early stage in the process. It is really important however to confront these hurdles. Read relevant articles in professional journals and make every effort to publish. Learn to appreciate how your work is located within the current thinking and research in your discipline.

Talk about your research and its value to diverse audiences. Highlight for yourself your personal development, and the skills and knowledge acquired throughout the doctoral process. In this way you will contribute to building your self confidence, your academic identity and developing a personal dossier well in advance of starting to apply for a job.

Get advice

Monash University Careers and Employment provides a Careers and Employment for Postgraduates service Opens in new window.

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