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Making the Switch from Academia to Industry

July 19, 2021


Making the leap from academia to the corporate realm can be a tricky undertaking. Although you may be convinced you want to change your career path, there are several questions you’ll need to consider before you make the leap. How can you make your research experience relevant to your desired profession? How can you learn more about working in industry to establish whether it's the right move to you? 

Read on to discover answers to the questions and additional tips when considering a corporate career.


Do your research

If you’re coming from a PhD program or wider research background, you may not be aware of how helpful the skills you’ve developed over the years will be as you look for industry opportunities. However, applying your research skills to your job search is a significant trick that will allow you to find the perfect position for you. Take the time to consider which specific industry interests you and study the leading companies in that field. Additionally, identify companies that match your needs, goals, and skill sets, and keep an eye out for these organizations when looking through job descriptions.

When applying to specific positions, make sure you take the time to learn about the company’s competitors, culture, consumers and products, and more. Attend events run by or related to the company you're interested in - seeing the company in action can be very helpful to better understand the work, culture, and industry you may be entering. Practicing these essential habits when searching for industry jobs will help you make additional use of your research skills, gain insights into your desired career, and obtain opportunities that are best aligned with your talent and ambitions.

The importance of networking

Perhaps the most effective way to ensure a smooth transition from academia to industry is through networking. Connecting with others in your field allows you to meet fellow job seekers and identify any skills you may need to develop to compete successfully. Work to build your profile on social media platforms such as LinkedIn, where you can share your professional and research background with relevant industry contacts and get in touch directly. Search for researchers in a similar field to you who have already taken the plunge from academia to a corporate career and ask them whether they have any tips on making the transition. You can also use Twitter to reach the right audience by asking questions and engaging with online communities around popular hashtags including #AcademicTwitter. 

Finally, follow relevant companies and senior level employees on both LinkedIn and Twitter. This way, general information, available positions, and employee activity will appear directly in your feed. Remember to also share your opinions on industry-relevant news via these channels as this will help you stand out and build your professional reputation.


Corporate Funding

Academic and research institutions often already have a close financial relationship with corporations. In fact, in 2020 over 12% of submissions to the Morressier platform were corporate-funded. If you’ve conducted research studies for corporations in the past, this experience can be beneficial when changing careers. A corporate grant can signify a certain level of academic prowess and vote of confidence in your research work. Tying this into interviews with corporations or conversations with industry contacts will help you highlight how your previous scientific experience applies to a potential company position and allows you to differentiate yourself from other candidates.

Even before you make the jump from academia to industry, you can prepare yourself by seeking out corporate funding opportunities. Making your early-stage research and conference content visible through research platforms like Morressier can help your work get seen by potential commercial partners from around the world.


What can you offer your industry?

Corporate professionals may not be as interested in your academic research and achievements as they are in the skills that your research work taught you and how you can apply them to an industry career. If you’ve not held a project management position, how have you facilitated collaboration and team-building in a lab? How have you effectively used your communication skills to resolve an issue or persuade a colleague? Detail any relevant experience - from presenting at a conference to reaching out to research participants - as this will demonstrate your adaptability and leadership skills.

Remember that your academic background can be a huge stepping stone when transitioning to the corporate realm. Keep a positive mindset, do your research, and determine your priorities and you'll soon be well on your way to a successful and fulfilling corporate career.

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