From PSYCH LEARNING CURVE – Where Psychology and Education Connect, a new blog by the APA Education Directorate.
January 25, 2016 * by Daniel Michalski, PhD
After nearly five years of hard work, frustration, setbacks, and anxiety, I completed the final requirement to earning my PhD by defending my dissertation in July 2014. The moment I had been simultaneously anticipating and dreading played out in less than an hour as I confidently presented my research and addressed questions from my committee and the attendees. Beyond the obvious realization that the journey was over, I was struck by how solitary the experience truly was at that moment; what had consumed my life for several years transpired while life went on for others and my achievement was mine alone. I suppose I thought that life would pause for everyone and there would be a parade in my honor. Unfortunately, there was no parade (not even balloons) and I was now faced with moving on and identifying new opportunities and learning experiences.
For me, the primary attraction of pursuing a doctoral degree in psychology was its versatility and utility in work settings outside of academe. In 2009, approximately one in five recent psychology doctoral recipients was working in a non-academic or non-direct human service position. As one of those individuals neither pursuing an academic job nor a career requiring postdoctoral training for licensure, there was an abruptness to the end of graduate study and entry to the professional world inspired anxiety demanding the development of skills to manage the transition. With fewer psychology tenure-track positions available and growing breadth of options for non-academic careers, my story and experience is one most likely shared by other recent psychology doctorate recipients.
Continue reading to find out Dr. Michalski’s top 5 recommendations for transition from doctoral study to career.