Versatile PhD: A resource for PhDs

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Today we are joined by Paula Chambers, founder of Versatile PhD for a seminar by the Sackler GSC. Paula runs a successful online repository of forums and career information for PhDs.


  • Versatile PhD was started as a listserv for career options for non-Academics in the social sciences.
  • Based on Institutional subscriptions: 75 universities and 63,000+ members


Free content:

  • Supportive discussion forms
    • Contain ACTUAL PhDs who contribute to discussion forums about specific career topics. Have diversity of panelists. Panelists introduce themselves on Monday and take questions from members during the week.
  • Rich source of PhD-specific information
  • Job board: volunteer posted from Versatile PhD members, non exhaustive and PhD requiring, but it is PhD appropriate
  • Local meet-ups! Sarah is our local rep who hosts regular meet ups in Boston!
  • PhD Career finder: A list of careers available to different spheres of PhDs (humanities and STEM). Each job contains descriptions for that job, starting points, advancement, disciplines, personality and outlook and how to get started.


  • The Boston Versatile PhD group has a LinkedIn group (which you can join!) and does contain recruiters and hiring managers (so go ahead and join!).

Paid content:

  • Hiring success stories of people that transitioned into other careers. Actual resumes, cover letters & application materials from real people!
  • Summaries of the discussions from panelists from the forum.
  • Career autobiographies: Stories from PhDs about their career journeys.
  • The Power search: Allows you to search versatile PhD database for multiple criteria at once, including discipline, area and job. Allows you to connect with members who are in the job that you want. Some members can’t be contacted on LinkedIn on a basic account, whereas you can do so on Versatile PhD.

Core message of Versatile PhD: You are versatile! You can do many things! Non-Academic careers are okay!!

Versatile PhD in Greater Boston from Sarah Dykstra

Co-led with Sarah and Nikki Boots (both PhDs).

Main focus of Boston Versatile PhD:

  • Networking, mentoring and support, especially for social scientists.
    • Twice a month social events (usually around Cambridge).
    • Monthly Thursday evening pub night
    • Sunday afternoon lunch
    • Meet recruiters, PhDs employed in industry, grad students, postdocs & job seekers.
  • Workshops & training: bring people in from around the world via teleconferencingRecent examples:
    • Resume writing
    • Informational interviews
    • Identifying translation-able skills
    • How to market yourself to employeers
    • Managing stress & Imposter syndrome
    • Talking to your advisor
    • LinkedIn profile
  • Social stuff and fun
    • Pub networking night
    • PhDs in the park
    • A night in Legoland
  • About 150 active people and over 700 subscribers in Boston
  • Highly motivated members!

Connect with the Versatile PhD here:

or email Sarah or Nikki if you have any more questions or queries!