14 Strategies to Prepare for a Dual Career Path

What is a Dual Career Path? 

  • A dual career path means thinking about how to prepare yourself for multiple job opportunities after you earn your graduate degree. We call it "dual" because often graduate students are often planning on applying for jobs both inside and outside academia. For others, a dual career path simply means looking at multiple fields outside of the academy. No matter your aspirations, thinking about multiple career options beyond your time at UCSC is a smart choice. Take a look at our fourteen strategies below to get started and visit the Career Center to begin planning for your dual career path. 

Dual Career Path Strategies:

  1. Start Thinking Early
  2. Come to the Career Center Early and Often
  3. Do Some Honest Self-Reflection
  4. Identify your Skills and Interests and Pursue Opportunities
  5. Consider your Wants and Constraints
  6. Pay Attention to Where Others Who Finish or Leave in Your Program Are Going
  7. Talk to Professionals on Your Campus & in Your Community
  8. Burn No Bridges
  9. Train in Other Areas
  10. Take Advantage of all that UCSC Offers you
  11. Use Your Summers Well
  12. Be Strategic About Who You Work With
  13. Make a Career Action Plan
  14. Identify and Work to Challenge Feelings of Inadequacy or Shame

1. Start Thinking Early

  • It could feel strange during the first year of your graduate program to think about what you’ll do two, three, or maybe six years later after you’ve received your Master’s Degree or PhD. But simply putting off the question of “What will I do in the real world?” during your graduate program only leaves you to tackle this question when you graduate and the question becomes much more urgent. By using some of the strategies below and by actively thinking about a dual career path or your future you can add professional clarity to your degree and give yourself the peace of mind that you are working towards a career and building skills and experience while earning your degree.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 

 

2. Come to the Career Center Early and Often
  • There are coaches at UCSC’s Career Center who work specifically with graduate and doctoral students. We can help you chart a plan of action for shaping your graduate training at any stage of your program. We can also help you pursue part-time work or internship opportunities so you can explore areas of potential interest.
  • The Career Center offers workshops and programming throughout the year to help you think about planning a dual career path. Take advantage of these opportunities.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 

 

3. Do Some Honest Self-Reflection
  • With so few tenure track jobs open, many graduate students feel they are living in an anxious and precarious situation. Likewise, when thinking about leaving the academy, this may also leave many graduate students feeling uncertain and unsettled. So much so that many forget to ask themselves, “What do I want?”
  • Asking yourself what you want—what kind of work you want to do, where you want to live, what you want your life to look like—can be a clarifying experience for determining what kind of lifestyle you would like to pursue. It may look like academia or it may look like something else. No matter, it is best to start preparing now for a dual career path with a variety of opportunities.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 

 

4. Identify your Skills and Interests and Pursue Opportunities

  • It can be challenging during your Master’s or PhD program to see that you have transferable skills besides teaching or your unique research focus. By completing a personality and skill assessment, you can find other areas of interests that will satisfy your interests and needs.
  • Once you’ve identified your interests and skills, look into other careers that may suit your unique personal and career goals.
  • Finally, ask yourself how you can gain experience in these areas while still in your graduate program. Are there part-time jobs, internships, or volunteer positions that would help you gain the skills and experience you need while still earning your graduate degree? The time commitment doesn’t need to be extensive—just a few hours a week for a short period of time (a quarter or the summer) can help you gain experience, network, and build your resume.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 


5. Consider your Wants and Constraints

  • If you aren’t preparing to enter the tenure track, you have a world of opportunity available to you in where you go and what you can do. Given this, it may be helpful to think about your specific situation in terms of your desires and your possible constraints. 
  • Some questions to consider: do you need to be mindful of location and schools for your partner and/or family? Is there a particular geographic region you want to live in? Is your partner looking for a job or do they have a position they would like to remain in? What sort of lifestyle are you looking for (a small cozy town, a cosmopolitan city, suburban living, or something else?)? How much of a commute could you do? Do you like you drive your own car or do you like public transportation? What kind of housing can you afford? How many hours a week do you want to work? Are you willing to travel? Is there a particular hobby that draws you to a specific location? What do you need in a place or job to be happy and fulfilled? 

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 


6. Pay Attention to Where Others Who Finish or Leave in Your Program Are Going

  • Don’t hesitate to talk to colleagues who are making choices that intrigue you even if they appear to be divergent from your own career goals.
  • Often, another student or alumni can help you with the challenges and questions you may have in considering an alternate career path. They also may be able to share their advice and networks with you.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 


7. Talk to Professionals on Your Campus & in Your Community

  • There are “Alt-Ac” (“alternative academics” who have PhDs and work in archives, think tanks, nonprofits, museums, historical societies, publishing) professionals on UCSC's campus or in our community. Talk to them, offer to buy them a cup of coffee, and tell them you’d like to hear about their career path.
  • Talk to trusted advisors or mentors. Tell them you’re thinking about a career outside of the academy and see if they have any advice or contacts for you.
  • Sign up for VersitilePhD.com or consider investing in CheekyScientist.com and explore the profiles of individuals who have transitioned out of the academy.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 


8. Burn No Bridges

  • Stay in touch with former colleagues from where you’ve worked before entering graduate school or during graduate school (including summers). Re-establish contact with them if you’ve fallen out of touch. These contacts can be good friends and a crucial first step in networking when you embark on a job search outside the academy.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 


9. Train in Other Areas

  • Again, think about what skills and interests you want to develop for your Dual Career Path. Try to see if you can get training through your department or another office on campus to get hands-on skills in other areas to compliment your possible career areas.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 


10. Take Advantage of all that UCSC Offers you

  • Audit a class outside your field or department, or take some non-credit workshops or courses in anything from Computer Science to Business Management. The more you can gain exposure to professional communities and possible career options the greater the likelihood of finding your path and meeting people who can help you.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 


11. Use Your Summers Well

  • Your academic schedule affords you the opportunity to try on new work opportunities each summer—these opportunities can be close to your academic areas of interest or wildly divergent. Ideally, you can find a way to gain additional experience and support your advancement in your program, but sometimes the best way to move forward in the fall is to come back having done something entirely different in the summer.
  • Using your summer doing an internship, volunteering, or pursuing an alternate career path is full of benefits—you have something to add to your resume, you'll gain experience, and you'll meet a new network of people beyond the academy. This way, when you graduate, no matter which path you take, you will have a variety of experiences that can lead the way towards a career.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 


12. Be Strategic About Who You Work With

  • If you anticipate wanting to be flexible in where you want to go after your PhD, try to identify faculty members or mentors who have had careers outside of the academy. Some professors may be singularly academic in their career history and may not serve as the best resource or support if you are interested in working beyond the academy. That’s not to say that all singularly academic professors are likely not to understand your position or cannot be of any help. We suggest expanding your network and looking for allies for your professional goals.
  • Likewise, the Career Center is here to help you figure out how to talk to your advisors and committee members about your career goals.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 


13. Make a Career Action Plan

  • After you have completed assessments and done an inventory of your skills, now it’s time to make a plan about how to achieve experiences and skills in the other career areas you’d like to pursue.
  • Make a list of what you’d like to do and some possibilities for how you will achieve those goals.
  • Make a list of your professional and personal network. Who do you know? Who might be able to help you? You can use our worksheet to help you. 
  • Do some research and see what UCSC’s campus, programming, workshops, and coursework has to offer you.
  • If you are feeling uncertain about where to start, stop into the Career Center to meet with a Career Coach

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 


14. Identify and Work to Challenge Feelings of Inadequacy or Shame

  • Often many graduate students who are thinking about working outside of the academy feel shameful or afraid of what their advisors or colleagues may think about their decision. Expectation of family or friends may also play into these feelings. You, yourself, may feel mixed emotions regarding this decision or when thinking about pursuing a job outside of the academy. It’s normal to feel this way. The changing shape of the academy is opening up many graduate students to working outside of the academy. You are not alone. There are many resources to help you.
  • By getting started early and actively thinking and planning for a career beyond the academy, you can see how many opportunities you have and the many skills you have to offer. These realizations can help counter any negative feelings.
  • If you are feeling unusual levels of stress around your career path, there are resources on UCSC’s campus to help you. Among them, the Career Center can help you take tangible steps towards pursuing your career path and the The Counseling and Psychological Services center can help you with emotional needs, among other resources.

Click here to explore more Dual Career Path Strategies. 


Have questions about planning for a Dual Career PathWant to chat with someone confidentially about your future? Make an appointment with one of our Career Coaches today!