Our Program | For PhDs | Career Intensive

Career Intensive

1-on-1 Coaching throughout Application Process

How We'll Help

The Career Intensive package allows you to select an Advisor to work with for resume/cover letter or job talk/presentation. You can work on a paired cover letter + resume, or a single job talk through 3 iterations together. The end goal will be not only having a tailored resume and cover letter, and/or job talk, but understanding why the tailoring was done, and how to work on the next set of documents yourself. We teach you how to help yourself!

What Members Say about Our Coaching

Medical science liaison positions are notoriously difficult to obtain, even with industry experience but I had none. From the very beginning of the application process Vay coached me on techniques to break into industry and how to craft my interview skills for this process. I found her advice invaluable and truly feel that every step of my interview process went superbly well as a result of her advice. I can now happily say I landed a medical science liaison position at a dream-company for me and have Vay to thank.

Steven L. Miller, Ph.D. Medical Science Liaison | Greenwich Biosciences

Vania was my sounding board during my career transition from academia to industry. She was incredibly patient and generous with her time, provided invaluable advice, and broke down/translated a lot of the industry-speak I was unaccustomed to. I also attended an interactive Ph.D. career workshop that she held at the University of Pennsylvania, during which I learned to interpret job descriptions, write appropriate cover letters, and tailor resumes for specific job applications. It's clear she cares passionately about her job as a career development resource, and has thought deeply about designing effective methods and tools to guide PhDs into meaningful nonacademic careers (and making that transition as smooth as possible). Cannot emphasize how much easier job searching is when you have a supportive coach and cheerleader like Vania!

Deborah Kwon, Ph.D.

Joining the Free the Phd community was a monumental stepping stone in my career outside academia. I joined Free the PhD while I was writing up my PhD thesis, because I needed mentorship and guidance to transition into an industry job that aligns with my particular career aspirations. Free the PhD’s courses, that include, how to find the job, how to land the job, CV templates, how to network, informational interviews, how to prep for the interview, and how to negotiate your salary and contract, were invaluable. All are skills that I will use in the future. Vay Cao (Free the PhD’s Founder), was extremely attentive, understanding and provided great advice and mentorship. Advice that not only helped land a job in a startup compony, but she also helped me negotiate my initial salary and contract. Free the PhD mentors give advise that is spot on! The mentors’ personal and professional experience as PhD graduates that transitioned into an industry job (into different areas or departments) will help you understand how industry works depending from all aspects. I look forward to continue to be part of the Free the PhD community!

Miguel Cueva, Ph.D.

Free the PhD is an extremely helpful framework for PhDs thinking about transitioning into industries outside of academia. The modules are extremely well thought-out and provides actionable steps from exploring industry opportunities, forming connections, to writing an industry resume, applying to positions, going on interviews, and negotiating job offers. The platform also brings together PhDs actively looking for positions and PhDs in various industries to provide a supportive group during the transition period that further extends to working in the industry. Finally, Vania is extremely helpful and is always generous to share her ideas. I would recommend Free the PhD to anyone who is looking to transition or advance their careers.

Amber Wang, Ph.D.

If you are looking to transition out of academia, I highly recommend Free the PhD! I had already done a lot of work in preparing myself mentally and updating my application materials so I could make the transition into a new career, however, I just wasn't able to make the final step. Something was missing, and so I joined the Free the PhD community and worked with Vania. Within three week I finally received a job offer! I am also appreciative that the support continued after the job offer and through the negotiation process. Making the transition out of academia does require prep work. I was able to do some of that on my own, but would have definitely benefited from the FTP materials and the FTP community from the start. If you are considering a new career path or feel suck in your job search, then join Free the PhD!

Sheena Sidhu, Ph.D.

There are various examples of good/bad mentors in graduate schools. However, not many mentors/advisors know the path of getting a job in industry. Also in real life, you have to find a job for your next career anyways. I got introduced Freethephd through my friend who knows the founder of FTP, Dr. Vay. As I already searched for similar version of FTP, I did not expect too much at the beginning. However, Vay touched all the details of preparing CV/resume, cover letter, job searching methods, current flow of job market, phone interview skills and on-site (video) interview skills. The FPT membership is beyond reasonable and there are many board members can help your needs instantly. I am highly recommending to being a member of Freethephd community. Especially, if you really want to reduce and value your time for finding a job as ph.d and no idea where to start, this is the short cut for accomplishing your next career.

Narae Lee, Ph.D.

I have received personal, prompt coaching for each step of the job application and interview process. I was not sure how to approach someone to ask for an informational interview, but the coach (Vay Cao) gave me some suggested wording. Then she also gave me a lot of suggestions for how to prepare for the interview. I appreciated the great suggestion that I write down all the questions I thought I might be asked and also write out my answers. It helped clear up my thinking about these things. The interview process went very well and seemed very pleasant. I don't know yet if I'm going to get the job, but even if I don't, I am much more confident about the whole process now, so I can keep on going with the job hunt.


Vay and the community at Free the PhD played a key part in helping me land my first industry science position from an academic postdoc. I first learned about Free the PhD through a career development workshop that Vay ran. Her enthusiasm, knowledge, and unique style of de-mystifying careers outside of academia prompted me to join Free the PhD, where I was able to learn more about the basics of the informational interviews and the job interview process through her online courses. When I started actually applying for jobs, I received personalized one-on-one help to prepare my resume/cover letter, for the phone interviews, and all the way to my virtual “on-site” interviews. Most importantly, FTP kept me positive, motivated, and on track throughout my application process. I highly recommend this community for anyone (particularly those in academia) interested in learning more about or moving into industry!

Andrew Chang, Ph.D.

Vay is an amazing career coach. She coached me through the interview process as I was transitioning from my doctorate studies to my biotech job. The world of academic research and the world of corporations can be very different and it can be challenging to navigate. I love having Vay as my supporter. I often share with her my challenges and my accomplishments and it’s very valuable for me to have a coach, who has gone through a similar process, as she can easily relate to my experiences and the emotions that come along with such a journey.

Thao Do, Ph.D. Education and Academia Marketing Manager | 23andMe

Vay tailored my CV or resume for each job that I applied, and edited my cover letters for email inquiries. Without her help, I cannot put all the information together to allow me to confidently search in the job market. I landed on a real job not long after I took a detailee position Vay helped me apply for. It was from a diagnostic company, and one of my informational interviewees was my internal reference. The job interview was scheduled with short notice. With so much previous practice, I handled it well.

Yizhou Ye, Ph.D. Senior Analyst | Gene Dx

I got a clear plan with action steps, a timeline, and confidence that what I was doing was the right path. She helped me evaluate my experience and abilities in a way that helped me prove my worth to myself." The company initially offered me a rate that was much lower than what I wanted. Vay helped me clearly identify how much I would take and therefore how much I should ask for in my negotiations. I ended up asking for more than what I thought I should have initially. The organization came back at me with the exact number I was looking for. Vay helped me with my email back to the organization and gave me the next steps to take.

Kristen K, Ph.D. Scientific Director | Cure CMD

Free the PhD has been so helpful in making the transition out of academia. I was so nervous about making sure that I conveyed my skills successfully to actually show I could meet the job requirements. The FTP process helped me remember relevant experiences and format my resume to include the most important information to get noticed. I would absolutely recommend this program to any academic who wants to go another direction!

Elizabeth Shay, Ph.D.

I am glad to join the FPD community in the past several months. Vay is always supportive and promptly responding my requests. Not to mention those constructive feedback on my network and applications. With the help of Vay, I see big progress on my job hunting and I am more confident than before to network with people.

Holly Sun, Ph.D.

I highly recommend Free the PhD for academics looking for resources and advice for transitioning to non-academic opportunities. The breadth of knowledge and ideas that Vania offers is extremely valuable and I learn so much from her and the FTP community of fellow science PhDs. From finding the career that best fits your goals and skillsets to crafting your resume and interview tips, there is so much this platform offers.

Swagata Basu, Ph.D.

I would say this is one of the best career development resources out there for PhDs/postdocs who are looking to move out of academia! Vay Cao (Free the PhD's founder) is amazing! She leaves no stone unturned when it comes to 1:1 mentoring, sharing ideas, keeping mentees motivated and providing perspectives from her own experiences. The FTP family is an amazing place to learn from fellow peers, mentors and mentees - each with their own inspirational stories, guidance and challenges. The educational materials in the platform are well thought out, directed and easy to understand for first timers going through the process of networking, resume building, interviews, negotiations and signing the offer. I wish Vay and FTP all the best for their growth. Keep up the great work! Highly recommended for any PhDs/postdocs who need that special 1:1 mentorship, together with a family that will support you through thick and thin. Trust me, you won't feel alone.

Sayantan Chakraborty, Ph.D.

FTP is invaluable for PhDs who want to leave academia. I had spent years applying for jobs and working with recruiters but had no luck. Within the first few months of joining FTP I was given opportunities for work experience to enhance my CV and personal coaching for my specific goals and experience. Soon after, I was offered (and gladly accepted) a position with a clinical research company!

Catherine Traverso, Ph.D.

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