By Patrick Brandt, in the Inside Higher Ed Carpe Careers series.
As a new Ph.D. trainee in the early 2000s, I entered graduate school assuming that the vast majority of Ph.D.s go into tenure-track faculty positions. It didn’t take long for me to realize that that assumption was inaccurate, but then I was left to wonder: Where do alumni go for jobs?
At the time, any responses to that question were only anecdotes and guesses. But ask it now, and you will find the answer within a few mouse clicks, thanks to a national movement to transform the landscape of Ph.D. career training.
The last 10 years have brought about many calls for change in the way we train rising scientists in academe, which has resulted in a boom in trainee advocacy and career development resources. A significant step forward came with the publication of the National Institutes of Health Biomedical Research Workforce Working Group Report in 2012. Among the recommendations in that report is the following: “Graduate programs must accommodate a greater range of anticipated careers for students … and offer opportunities for students to explore a variety of options while in graduate school without adding to the length of training. Graduate programs also should openly communicate the career outcomes of their graduates to potential students.”
One immediate outcome of the NIH workforce report was that the NIH T32 training grant review criteria were amended to encourage and reward institutions that provide career and professional development programming and resources for their graduate students and postdocs. That benefited all trainees, even those not funded by the T32 mechanism, since most graduate programs in the United States compete avidly for these prestigious training grants. . . .