As host of a recent live Twitter chat via #ECRchat on “How to Develop a Career Exit Strategy”, I challenged early-career researchers to think about the question, “What you would do if your research position would unexpectedly end in a few months?” In order to avoid panicking and taking the first position that comes your way, an exit career strategy can be deployed while refocusing efforts on your ultimate career goals.
A career exit strategy is defined as short-term career plan (one to two years) to maintain one’s professional life during a transition period. Most of the chat participants were interested in developing an exit strategy because their temporary research position was ending soon or their career goals were focused on academia where the number of open positions is limited.
We discussed a wide range of exit strategy options, including adjunct teaching, writing and consulting gigs. We further brainstormed on activities (e.g., taking online courses and volunteering) that could be done during transition periods to build skills and maintain a professional presence. Financial responsibility in keeping some savings tucked away as a buffer was also emphasized.
In the end, the take-home message was to always be prepared for a career transition, stay focused and keep moving forward. A summary of the Twitter chat can found in the Storify “How to Develop a Career Exit Strategy”. Feel free to reach out to me on Twitter (@science_mentor) or contact me if you are interested in further chatting about this topic.