Looking "Beyond Academia"

January 27, 2015

Third annual conference will be in March - sign up now

Beyond Academia logo

By Karyn Houston
Plant & Microbial Biology

While many students at UC Berkeley study for a graduate degree, recent data shows that fewer than 20 percent of PhDs actually pursue careers in academia. The majority continue on to a wide range of other careers.

In response to that statistic, and the need for more information on alternative careers for PhDs, "Beyond Academia" was founded at UC Berkeley by graduate students and postdocs in 2013.

The annual Beyond Academia conference features PhDs from dozens of careers and a variety of career paths. The conference has been highly sucessful, garnering attention from the Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times and attracting hundreds of graduate students and postdoctoral attendees. Beyond Academia has the support of numerous offices on campus including Plant & Microbial Biology and interim Graduate Dean Rosemary Joyce, who will be speaking at this year's conference.

Learn by doing

The Beyond Academia 2015 team includes PMB students Claire Bendix and Rose Kantor

Behind the conference is a team of graduate students and postdocs who work to organize, fundraise and publicize for the event. Nicole Abreu, a 5th year PMB student in the Komeili lab, was a member of the 2014 organizing committee, and this year's team of 15 people includes Plant & Microbial Biology 5th year grad student Claire Bendix and 4th year grad student Rose Kantor.

Bendix, in Frank Harmon's lab at the Plant Gene Expression Center, contributes to marketing for the conference, outreach to other campuses and the Beyond Academia blog.

"Plant and Microbial Biology graduates have gone on to careers as diverse as science writing, small start-ups and law. Beyond Academia highlights these careers as well as a myriad of others, with the goal of exposing students to the many paths they may take with their PhDs," Bendix said. “Beyond Academia helped me to appreciate the skills I have gained during my time as a PhD student, and has brought me much closer to knowing what career I would like to pursue after graduate school.”

Kantor, from the Banfield Lab, has been involved in outreach and in contacting speakers for the conference. "As we recruit panelists for discussions on various job types, I have the opportunity to learn about their career paths. This has offered me some insight into how people enter various fields, how they move from one work experience to the next, and how they frame their skills," Kantor said.

2015 Conference

Registration is now open. The conference will take place March 16-17 at the Clark Kerr Campus, UC Berkeley. It will include over 70 speakers:

  • Maren Wood from the Lilli Research Group, which provides career coaching to individual PhD job seekers, and Bill Lindstaedt of the Attendees listen to a workshop at Beyond Academia 2014UCSF Office of Career and Professional Development. Closing keynote by Rosemary Joyce, interim graduate Dean.
  • Workshops covering the job hunt process, presentation skills, writing resumes and cover letters, business plans, and much more.
  • Panels featuring sixteen different careers areas including data analytics, education, government jobs, non-profit careers, non-academic research, and consulting.

With this year's conference, Beyond Academia hopes to inform attendees about their career options and provide a strong platform for networking and hiring. Attendees can expect to not only gain practical advice from experts, but also to walk away with the message that their skills and education matter and they can make a difference in the world.

Important Links

To register and for more information, visit beyondacademia.org

lilligroup.com - Lilli Research Group, Preparing PhDs for Post-Academic Careers