3 tips for taking the leap from academia to industry

Changing your career path can be intimidating. Although you might feel ready to take the leap into the industry, you may not have an idea of what else you could do outside the walls of academia or even where to start. After all, it means leaving something safe and familiar for a field that you may not know much about.

During this time, many questions could come up like: Where should I go to find a job? What kind of jobs does industry offer? Do I have the right skills to apply for the position? How can I get an insight into what working in the industry is really like?

But don’t worry. Although the transition can be tough, it can be done smoothly. All you need is a strategic approach to make the move. So, if you want to have a successful leap into the industry, here are 3 pieces of advice to keep in mind.

 

Identify your areas of interest

First of all, you need to identify the areas and companies you’re interested in. Read up about them and study the job descriptions carefully. You might be surprised by how many different options there are besides R&D.

If you’re interested in a particular company, do your research. Get to know their products, workplace culture, competitors and even its history. This will not only help you get an insight into it, but it’ll increase your chances of landing a job there.

 

Write and tailor your CV for industry

When it comes to job hunting, your CV is paramount. However, a CV for industry is quite different from an academic one. Instead of touting your awards and publications, focus on demonstrating your suitability for the position. In order to do this, start by identifying your strengths beyond your bench-top expertise. Highlight the experience you’ve gained that’s relevant and transferable for the area and position. It always helps if you have the exact experience they’re looking for, but this is not a rule. If you can show that you can be productive and help the company succeed with your skills, chances are you can land the job.

 

Network, network, network

The best way to navigate a transition into industry is networking. Therefore, start sharpening this skill now by building your network both online and offline. This will allow you to reach industry contacts and uncover plenty of opportunities. Be active in social media platforms — especially LinkedIn — since they are great tools that can help you engage with others in industry. Contact professionals in the area you’re interested in and gain some insight from people who have experienced this transition as well. Attend conferences that a company scientist you’d like to meet is also likely to attend and chat with them over coffee. These type of activities can help to give you a better perspective of what positions in the industry would be like and what are the skills expected from an applicant.