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Considering a career path outside of higher education?

There is a growing interest in alternative careers for academics (“Alt-Ac”) outside of higher education. Professional associations like the American Historical Association, the Modern Languages Association, the Council of Graduate Schools, and the American Association of Universities have all committed to reinforcing the value of a variety of career paths for graduate students.

Consider the following as first steps toward career placement after graduate school:

  • Create a complete LinkedIn profile and connect to recruiters
  • Establish relationships at professional meetings; with faculty members’ networks; with alumni and alumnae and alumnae connections
  • Discipline-specific job boards (some examples below)
  • Learn about social media searches*
  • Email alerts from trusted sources
  • Employment sites of respected firms
  • Campus career fairs
  • Informational interviews with industry, non-profits, governmental agencies

Online Tools

O*Net Resource Center
O*Net is a US government database that offers career exploration tools, interest and ability profilers, and work importance locators. Once you complete a profile, the database connects you to job titles that match your interests and abilities. You will be able to search for possible jobs by using those titles as key words in search engines.

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program
The NSF GRFP recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students in NSF-supported STEM disciplines who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees at accredited US institutions. The five-year fellowship includes three years of financial support including an annual stipend of $34,000 and a cost of education allowance of $12,000 to the institution.

Hispanic Outlook Magazine
Post your resume or search for jobs

Presidential Management Fellows Program
PMF is a leadership development program that promotes US government careers to advanced degree candidates. As a fellow, you would work in a federal government agency for about two years with the possibility of experiencing other federal agencies. It is a competitive application process. Many fellows are offered permanent federal jobs by the end of the fellowship, but you can also move into business, industy or the nonprofit sector. Learn more about the application process by visiting the PMF site or contact the the Mizzou Fellowships site to learn about information sessions.

My Next Move
My Next Move takes a slightly different approach. Also hosted by the US Government, you can search by key words, browse by industry, or answer some basic questions. The database will match your interests to various career options.

Alt-Ac Job Search Sites*

Science & Research

ScienceCareers Search for research and non-research science careers. Highly recommended: Follow @MyScienceCareer to watch for job posts on Twitter. Offered by the journal, Science.

AAAS Careers  American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS offers tools and tips, job market information, and a supportive online community.

LinkedIn/research jobs Thousands of job posts across industries.

DropOutClub Specializes in jobs for medeical doctors and (mostly) biomedical researchers who seek careers outside of traditional clinical and research tracks.

International Jobs, Hospitality, & Tourism 

GoinGlobal Search for job openings around the world. Mizzou students have free access.

HotellerieJobs Working in travel? Sounds like a dream come true, right? This site has different options in the hospitality industry—from a guest service agent to a waterski instructor for a resort.

My Visa Jobs is a great page for international students with  job search resources and links

Media, Social Media & Integrated Media

Mediabistro  Looking to break into social media, publishing, advertising, PR, or television? Mediabistro rounds up different opportunities you can apply for.

JournalismJobs Whether you are on the hunt for your next freelance project or want a full-time role as a copy editor, this job board should be on your list of sites to check daily.

TalentZoo Job board of design, creative, advertising, marketing, “Geek” and web  openings.

LinkedIn/media-jobs Thousands of job posts across industries.


PoliticalWire From research assistants to executive directors, you will find plenty of legislative and government jobs using this site’s job search tool.

Opportunties in Public Affairs From entry to senior level jobs in the Washington, DC area and nationally. Public relations, government affairs, legislation and journalism across job sectors (e.g., nonprofit, corporations, government.)


SalesGravy offers a job board with a variety of opportunities. Note: Sales, especially in technology-related and health & medicine, often seek advanced degree holders.

IT, Data Analysis, Technology, & Engineering

Avila Solutions provides a long list of the high tech companies in the US that sponsor the H1B work permit.  Considered the “go to” site for the engineering disciplines.

ITJobPro From computer systems managers to help desk specialists, if you are looking for a new position in IT, you will likely find something that interests you here.

iCrunchData  Specializes in postings related to data science, analytics, and technology.

LinkedIn/IT-jobs Browse thousands of job posts.


eFinancial Careers Listings for banking, finance, insurance, and accounting.

LinkedIn/Finance-jobs Thousands of job posts across industries.


HealthcareJobsite This site posts medical-related positions—from technologists and lab assistants to sports medicine physicians and occupational therapists.

LinkedIn/healthcare-jobs Thousands of job posts across industries.

Architecture and Construction

Archinect Listings for project managers, interior designers, and more.

ConstructionJobs  Look for positions in project management, software analysis, science and engineering, and more. Many positions master’s preferred. Browse the job board by job type or search by select cities and companies.

NonProfit The go-to site for non-profit jobs, with a database of nearly 80,000 nonprofits. Includes internship and volunteer opportunities.

LinkedIn/non-profit jobs Browsse thousands of job posts.

US Government Jobs Official government site for jobs in the State of Missouri. Includes related work force information.

National Job Bank  Sponsored by the Journal of Extension, this job search engine covers state and federal jobs in Extension, outreach, and research. All disciplines.

O*Net Online allows you to browse for prospective job titles or search by an industry, job cluster or zone, or jobs with a bright outlook. The advanced search allows you to browse the database by transferable skills via a pull down menu. Once you find job titles of interest, you can learn more about the job then link to a database to find jobs. Best use: To obtain job titles for searching with other engines.

Peace Corps and Americorps offer an opportunity for you to gain experience through volunteer service in 60+ countries. Tuition remission for alumni and alumnae and alumnae is offered. They also list their agency jobs.

USA Jobs Official site of the federal government. Includes all branches of the US government and military. All disciplines.

*About Job Search Engines (.com sites)  Be wary of mobile apps and job search engines offered by private employment firms or unknown entities. Carefully read each privacy statement to see if your personal information will be protected or used for other purposes. Watch for hidden fees and requirements of “free trial” periods.

Alt-Ac Success Stories

In addition to exploring position titles across job sectors, it is highly motivating to learn from PhD holders who have secured jobs in business, government, various industries, the nonprofit sector, and those who have launched entrepreneurial endeavors.

Be sure to visit sites, read blogs, participate in chats, monitor social media, attend online meetings, and join networks via LinkedIn.

PhD Transition Folks to Follow on Twitter
@cheekyscience (Isaiah Hankel)                @FatimahPhD (FatimaWiliamsCastro)
@lifeafterthephd (Laura Godsoe)               @GradSquare (Marco Altamirano)
@MLAconnect (Connected Academics)    @PhDtoLife (Jennifer Polk)
@BeyondAcademia (Berkeley PhDs)         @VersatilePhd (Paula Chambers/DavidLaCroix)
@MyScienceCareer (Science Mag)
@BeyondtheProfessoriate (Jennifer Polk/Maren Wood)

Twitter Conversations (Hashtags)
#altac   #withaphd   #postac   #nonac  #leavingacademia   #phdchat   #beyondprof

Read/Watch Success Stories

Cheeky Scientist Success videos 

PhDs at Work “Week in the Life” blog

Recommended Sites

AAAS Careers American Association for the Advancement of Science. Develop your career in science. AAAS offers tools and tips, job market information, and a supportive online community.

Connected Academics Preparing Doctoral Students of Language & Literatures for a Variety of Careers

From PhD to Life/Resources  Free downloads, books, sites, podcasts, webcasts & other resources

Versatile PhD Career Finder Brief descriptions of career paths for Humanities, Social Sciences, and STEM. Other portions of site by subscription only.

Beyond the Professoriate A community for graduate students and PhDs — at any stage of their career — to connect with like-minded people in a safe space to explore career options. Members access the information, tools, and support they need to launch a meaningful career. The site hosts an annual virtual conference.