Professional Development and Events
John Paulas

Register for PFx workshop with PhD Matters' John Paulas

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By Emily Carman, Photo: Eric Kotila on January 26, 2021

No matter what field you are studying or what career you are pursuing, having a PhD is an impressive achievement. 

Your PhD matters, inside and outside of academia. 

John Paulas, founder and president of PhD Matters, is committed to this idea. He believes that there is no “appropriate” job for a PhD, that any career a PhD holder has is a PhD career and that a tenurable faculty position should not always be the goal for everyone because it is not the only job where a PhD has value. 

On February 4, Paulas will address these ideas during a virtual workshop presented by PFx, “Who You Are and What You Need.”

Paulas will guide participants through a series of career planning exercises to help them identify their professional goals and strengths, discover hidden professional experiences, and move forward with the next steps in their professional development.

Professional goals and strengths

The skills that students develop in PhD programs are valuable in many areas beyond academia and should be considered in such a tight academic job market.

PhD holders often have strengths such as leadership, communication and entrepreneurship which are valued in every career field. 

The question then becomes, what can I do with these skills and with this PhD? 

In an open letter to PhDs, Paulas encourages PhD students to look beyond what job their PhD can get them. Instead, PhD students should analyze their strengths, their interests and their sympathies and ask themselves how they can use their PhD to create change in their communities and the world. 

Students pursuing higher education rarely do so just to find a job. They often enter graduate school with personal intentions like helping others, impacting their communities, and learning more about issues that matter to them. Their professional goals should reflect these intentions.  

Hidden professional experiences

Personal and professional intentions can intersect in meaningful and productive ways.

At PhD Matters, Paulas uses humanistic approaches to help individuals explore these “work-life intersections” and find careers that align with them. 

Often, a career in academia is not the best and only option. 

A “PhD Career” as Paulas calls it, can also exist in the private, nonprofit and public sectors--,virtually anywhere. 

These professional opportunities can seem hidden as academia is often misidentified as the only option for PhD holders.

In this workshop, Paulas will help expose these hidden options by identifying broad professional communities for PhD students as well as relevant externships, internships and fellowship opportunities. 

Next steps in professional development

During the workshop, Paulas will also outline next steps that both students and universities can take to expand the opportunities of PhDs and knowledge communities in the future. 

In his open letter to PhDs, Paulas emphasizes intentionality and community building. 

The goals of PhD students should be intentional and focused on their unique interests, rather than aimed singularly on entering the professoriate. 

As Paulas writes, “ jobs must be viewed not as ends but as means to accomplish what you are intent on doing.”

Community building, Paulas believes, should be broad and motivated by this intentionality. 

Networking with a diverse and widespread group of professionals and PhDs, will only expand the options of PhD students. 

The “Who You Are and What You Need” workshop will begin at noon on February 4 and will be held virtually. 

The seminar is open to all graduate students and postdoctoral scholars. 

Participants are encouraged to register for the seminar as soon as possible.   

The PFx program is a professional development opportunity provided by ASU’s Graduate College to help graduate students and postdocs explore careers in and outside of academia. PFx recognizes that while many may desire university faculty positions, this is not always an ideal or assured career.