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Postgraduate philosophy: Quick tips for getting a job

James Davis

Philosophy gives you the mental tools to contemplate and analyse exceptionally difficult problems, but where can you take these skills?

Arguably, the more practical uses of philosophy have been usurped by other disciplines. It used to be a trident of values; logic, ethics and physics. Although it certainly uses the former two to this day, the latter is firmly and understandably the domain of science. After all, trying to understand the mechanisms governing the natural world a priori is a sorry task. Even logic, the bread and butter of any philosopher, is now considered more a mathematical discipline than philosophical one in some academic circles. So then, where can modern day philosophers find their place? This article will potentially give you some career ideas and creative uses for the skills you’ve developed throughout your philosophical training.

Academia

No doubt the least creative application among these, academia is the most highly favoured use of philosophy among postgraduates because they’ve been trained for it. Undergoing research, thought experiments, writing papers and getting them published are all necessities for success. However obvious this may seem a career path, it’s only for those lucky enough to secure a position. There are far more graduates than jobs. So by all means, apply for these positions, but the applications to come may be of better use.

Joining a big four consulting firm

You’d think this to be the domain of business students rather than philosophers, but consider this. Each of the big firms like PwC or Deloitte open their graduate programs to all disciplines. They don’t exclude anyone. Indeed, what they’re looking for is potential. As a philosophy graduate, you have that in spades because you know how to evaluate information, learn quickly, communicate decisively and solve problems logically. The particulars will come with time. For now, your skillset is a fine basis.

If you’ve not quite graduated from your philosophy course, consider taking internships in these areas of business. Take on entrepreneurial competitions. Write for your student magazine and get involved in your university’s societies of professionally minded individuals. There are many things you can do to bolster your CV and show these employers with actions that you have the potential they’re looking for.

Public policy & government

Using similar rationale to the previous example, entering government employment is another excellent use of your skills. Once again, graduate programs do not discriminate between disciplines and require no particular set of skills until you start learning on the job. So, you have the chance to impress during the interview process with eloquence and rigour. The same principles of boosting your CV in small ways apply to this too. If you’ve already graduated, most government departments allow you to apply each year for roughly 5 - 10 years after graduating, so you have plenty of opportunities.

Entrepreneurship

If you have a tolerance for some risk, you may also possess the aptitude for beginning your very own business. With philosophical thought comes creative thought, which you can use for generating ideas. With a calm mind you can assess the problems your business faces without succumbing to stress or anxiety. With clear communication you can be an effective leader and orchestrate the vision of your business. This certainly isn’t for everyone and may require some additional learning, but after all. You wouldn’t have gone this far into philosophy if you were someone who shys from a challenge!

Hopefully these small suggestions and ideas have sparked some inspiration. At the very least, they may give you some ideas about your prospects. Wherever you go, we wish you well!