Krista has worked closely with the industry in TOHTOS project, which aimed to develop the working life relevance of doctoral training. After getting her own PhD, she went to project management and development work in university administration. She interviewed doctor alumni and several organisations that hire doctors to find out, how can you find a job outside academia.

Kristiina Väänänen at her new job as a coordinator


What did the companies say, what are the most important skills for PhDs looking for a job outside academia?

  • Problem solving and analytical thinking.
  • Presentation skills (written and oral).
  • Language skills (especially for the international students).
  • Marketing & financing.
  • Ability to apply their research knowledge and skill to other areas.
  • Wide expertise in your field.


Is there something you can do during your PhD studies to increase your employability?

  • Do not be too narrowly focused with your interests. Try something new and experience!
  • Go abroad, if you have a chance.
  • Take another minor to learn new. It does not have to be connected to your main research interests.
  • Network! The more people you know, the easier it is for you to find a job. You will get to know different jobs and be aware, if there are new openings coming to the organisations of your interest.
  • Be great at what you are doing and develop those aspects, where you are weak at.


How did Krista find her way to administration?

She always liked to organise and coordinate things. Besides research, she found passion for digital communication and started learning that by doing. She joined a professional organisation and worked as a board member, treasurer and secretary. She did a whole lot of career planning. After graduation, she got an opportunity to start developing doctoral education. Started it, loved it, and here she is! She had to learn a lot of new tools, to create several new courses to teach, and got an opportunity to work in a large project. Once the project was over, she was offered a new, interesting position, and happily accepted it.


Is a PhD degree relevant to this type of work?

Her everyday work is not at all connected to those areas, since she was studying as a PhD student (ecotoxicology/biology). Now she is focusing on international academic affairs and participating in several projects/processes to improve the international studies in our university. But she uses quite a lot of her researcher’s skills in the job: gathers vast piles of information and composes understandable, clear and short reports out of them to support the decision-making. She uses modelling software to test, what are the real-life consequences of different decisions. I present my work to different types of audiences, network a lot and learn new every day. I need to adapt fast, be fluent in English and understand different cultures. It also helps to understand digital communication and IT systems in my job. I am not doing research, but I am learning something new every day!

You can find the original version of Kristiina's article here


Take a more detailed look at the numerous PhD programmes of our member universities

University of Turku PhD programmes
Tampere University PhD programmes
University of Eastern Finland PhD programmes
Åbo Akademi University PhD programmes
Academy of Finland

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