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New job opportunities for graduate students

To help researchers think about new career opportunities, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) launched the Individual Development Plan, an online platform set up to help them look at their own skills, identify their interests, determine their values, and based on all of the above, explore non-academic career options that are better suited to their profile. The AAAS has also released a document with accounts of professionals from different fields about successful career transitions driven by a variety of things.

The platform is coming into existence at a difficult time. A recent study by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the main research funding agency in the United States, found that the U.S. unemployment rate was higher for individuals who recently earned a PhD in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Likewise, only 16% of those who completed a doctorate in the areas of science, engineering and health found jobs in universities or research centers.

This scenario is causing research professionals to rethink their careers and consider changing fields, taking risks in areas that are not directly related to science and technology. According to the NSF study, job applicants should take into account the fact that experience acquired during master’s and doctoral programs helped them develop skills that that qualified them for a set of tasks other than research work.