Beyond the Ivory Tower

Non-Academic Career Paths for Cognitive and Developmental Scientists

Research on cognition and development has far-reaching implications, but many graduate students are trained only for academic careers. Academic skills such as research, publishing, grant-writing, teaching, and student mentorship have direct application in non-academic positions, but graduate and post-doctoral training often does not address the translation of these skills to other work environments. Scholars who want to explore non-academic employment options may not know where to turn for guidance.

The goal of this professional development workshop is to provide an opportunity for scholars who are considering careers outside of academia to: learn about the process of finding and applying for appropriate positions; develop effective ways present their skills and interest to prospective employers; and network with other scholars with similar backgrounds, interests, and goals. The session will be led by Dr. Carissa Shafto (data scientist, Brightfield Strategies) and Dr. Vanessa Simmering (research scientist, ACTNext by ACT, Inc.) who have previously worked in academic positions, providing them with insights into the similarities and differences in these career paths.

Coming soon: activities and resources from the workshop

Join us for a pre-conference workshop at the Cognitive Development Society Biennial Meeting in Louisville, KY, on Thursday, October 17 (1-5pm) to learn more about non-academic career paths for cognitive and developmental scientists.

Register here!

Sponsored by:

Since 2011, The Professor Is In has been helping Ph.D.s and graduate students manage the demands of the academic career. Whether it's the academic job market, grant proposals, book proposals, tenure, productivity challenges, or the post-ac transition, Dr. Karen Kelsky, Kel Weinhold, and and The Professor Is In team help you at every step. We provide guidance and editing for your academic job application materials (cover letters, CVs, teaching statements, research statements, diversity statements, dissertation abstracts, and syllabi), live Skype interview and campus visit prep, job talk and negotiation consultations, expert editing of your book proposals, grant proposals, and journal articles, support for your tenure documentation, and experienced, compassionate help on the non-academic job search, including big picture transition consultations and targeted work on your resumes, cover letters, and interviews. We also offer the Unstuck Productivity Program, as well as the Art of the Article, both designed to help you get your writing done....and submitted... while maintaining a healthy work life balance. Get in touch for more info at, and check out Dr. Karen Kelsky's book, The Professor Is In: The Essential Guide to Turning Your PhD Into a Job.

The Versatile PhD mission is to help graduate students, ABDs and PhDs identify, prepare for and excel in professional careers. We currently serve over 60 leading US research universities, including their PhD students, post-docs and alumni, and a community of 100,000 users, by providing unique and instructive content, networks, job analytics, an online and on-demand career development course, and other readiness tools. Visit us at

Beyond the Tenure Track is committed to helping you implement the career information and mentorship you receive. We’re offering a free gift, exclusively to conference attendees: Free sample pages of the Professional Pathways Planner, the only all-in-one planning, time management, and career preparation tool tailored to academics. We’re on a mission to make it easier to manage the demands of your grad or postdoc program, while preparing for what’s next and actually having a life. Click here to get your sample pages now.

Dickerson Management and Career Consulting offers a wide range of career services, including resume editing, LinkedIn profile creation, job interview preparation, and website design. As an academic and business owner, Dr. Marcia Dickerson has the experience and skill to help job seekers maximize their potential in the market. To learn about our services or to schedule a free consultation, visit