Transferable PhD Skills – and What They *Really* Mean |
Posted on 20 Oct '21

Transferable PhD Skills – and What They *Really* Mean

There’s more to a PhD than just a research project. Doctoral training develops you as a professional researcher in all sorts of ways and teaches lots of valuable transferable skills. And it’s these skills that will look good on your future CV. But what do they really mean? Here’s a light-hearted look at the true translations of transferable PhD skills.

Research = I can decipher research papers that tell me what to do

Project management = I’m currently doing a PhD project and (pretty much) managing

Self-management = I’m currently a PhD student and (pretty much) managing

Public speaking = I can talk for ten minutes in front of half-asleep students and academics with only minimal sweating / stuttering

Supervision = I get to tell undergraduates what to do

Leadership = I enjoy telling undergraduates what to do

Teaching = undergraduates need to remember what I tell them to do

Adaptability = my experiment didn’t work the first six times until I realised I did something wrong and fixed it

Problem solving = I worked out what I did wrong and fixed it

Resilience = my PhD supervisor is mean to me, but I don’t let her / him see me cry

Collaboration = a post-doc helped me most of the time

Networking = I once got some decent PhD advice on an online forum

Data analysis = I can use Microsoft Excel

Writing = I can use Microsoft Word

Organisation = everything is written down and stored . . . somewhere

Creativity = I have no idea what I’m doing and I’m slightly concerned I may have gone mad

Innovation = look, I did a thing!

Strong work ethic = I work weekends and grumble to everyone about it

Critical thinking = I don’t really know what this means, but hopefully you don’t either

Of course, this is all tongue-in-cheek. We know that all the ups and downs of a PhD provide you with actual transferable skills. Even if you don’t realise it at the time, a PhD develops you into a great and employable researcher. Just make sure you get the translation right!

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Last Updated: 20 October 2021