Leaving academia.

Are you ready to ditch the blanket and take the skills?

3d book picture of Leaving Academia

This is a must-read for all academics, whether or not you have ever wondered about careers beyond academia. Should be required reading when you start your academic career. As someone who took 10 years wondering whether to leave academia (and then ultimately doing so) much of this book deeply resonated with me and I wish I had read it sooner.

Dr Michele Veldsman

Director of Neuroscience, Cambridge Cognition

As a researcher you are called to investigate, discover and reveal. A skilful vocation leverages your skill set to build a career that serves a larger purpose. Your research brings value to your discipline, your institution and society at large. You chose academic research for a myriad of great reasons.

Stopping to take stock of whether academia is still delivering for you is important but gets put on the bottom of the to-do list.

Are you thriving or feeling slowly smothered by the itchy, scratchy academic comfort blanket?

Do you recognise any of these?

  • Academia has played on you sense of duty
  • Academia has played on your love of research
  • You have learnt to put yourself last
  • Making your work better and better, has crystalised a belief that you can’t do “stuff”
  • Feeling as if you only had the skillset for your current role

Time to take stock, unravel the blanket and weave a new career with the three strong threads of your values, strengths and courage that your research career has developed. Is it time to leave?

I ‘left’ academia over 20 years ago, leaving behind a medical imaging postdoc and the not so tragic backstory of a physics degree and PhD from the University of Cambridge. I find myself wondering if I have in fact left academia or not. Those 20 plus years have been spent empowering researchers to embrace their careers positively and proactively – academic or otherwise. I’ve worked with thousands of researchers from around the globe as a coach, trainer and speaker.

This book embraces the career route the statistics tells us most researchers will take. It is my third book, joining What Every Postdoc Needs to Know (2017) and The UNIque Guide for Women: Confidently embracing your career in research and beyond (2023).

Dr Emma Williams (me) wanted to be a scientist at Cambridge from around age 4.

I must have driven my lovely parents nuts. I also wanted to be a ballet dancer and a vet. But my lack of grace and allergies stopped the latter.

I chose physics as the *only* woman on my work experience advised me against engineering. I love the fact that the world moves on but there is still much to do! My male household (husband, three sons and two house rabbits) know to duck and cover should the news mention anything suggesting gender discrimination. At least I have the hens to balance out the family a bit.

I love jigsaws, sci fi / fanstasy films and books and archery. I’m really good at the first, quite often forget character names when watching a box-set and Hawkeye hasn’t got much competion from me! But life on this planet is brief so I’m determined to enjoy all of it.

Which is why I firmly believe that everyone should be sitting in the driving seat of their career.

Now, full disclosure, I’m not a postdoc myself, but hey, I did make the leap from academia to industry after my MSc. And let me tell you, Emma’s insights? Pure gold. Even for someone like me who has been in industry for 5 years, her wisdom hits home.

Emma flawlessly takes all those apparently specific academic skills we’ve honed – like problem-solving, project management, and creativity – and flips them into tools for cracking the code on a non-academic career. Suddenly, networking doesn’t seem so scary, and curiosity becomes our secret weapon for asking all the right questions.

But here’s the kicker: Emma gets us. Like, really gets us. Her nerdy references alone show me that she speaks our language and it works because her advice then cuts straight through into me. And let’s not forget the constant pep talks reminding us just how smart we are. It’s like having a cheerleader in book form!

Amy Gaskin

Bioinformatician, Public Health Wales NHS Trust

“Leaving Academia” is a warm, engaging, and practical guide that empowers postdocs to make informed decisions about their future. With its personal approach, actionable steps, and valuable resources, it’s the perfect companion for anyone ready to explore exciting new horizons beyond the academic comfort zone. And best of all? You can read it in one sitting and start your next steps right away!

Who Should Read This:
• Postdocs feeling restless or stuck: This book helps you assess your happiness, identify roadblocks, and explore diverse career paths with confidence.
• Careers advisers: Understand your clients’ concerns and share tools and guidance to effectively advise and support them through this significant career transition.

Dr Chris Jeffs

Careers Adviser, Oxford University Careers Service

Reading Leaving Academia is like sitting down with that tactful friend who will kindly challenge you by asking all the right questions, even if you’re mildly anxious about them doing so. It’s not taboo to explore leaving academia – postdocs have the most incredible skill sets and proven assets in a wealth of roles beyond academic research – and Emma’s warm and supportive tone helps ease anxieties and inspire rational pro-active thinking.

This short book certainly packs that soft punch; imploring busy Postdoc warriors to apply the same level of curiosity and planning to their career journey as they do their research projects. It also provides a wealth of resources and exercises to support Postdocs in building the evidence-base needed to inform their decisions about which exciting and fulfilling boarding gates they should head to next…

Leaving Academia is sure to be a short but highly impactful read for all postdocs!

Dr Diane Swallow

Postdoc Programme Lead, Wellcome Sanger Institute

Sneaking peek at the bonuses to help you on your way …

Leaving Academia Toolkit person with three threads and toolbox

Leaving Academia Kindle version

An e-reader with a copy of Leaving Academia
A man sitting on college steps holding Leaving Academia

Leaving Academia paperback version

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