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Career Explorer

Free Community with Career Seminar Series

Our Community

For Those of Us Transitioning

We meet you where you are, to help you get where you want to go next. You won’t need to read another job hunt book or article after this course and participating in the the Free the PhD Community – we have done the research and integration for you. Our advice and content incorporates knowledge from all the top resources and real world experiences in a clear and impactful way that we are confident will assist you in your professional journey.

Most importantly, we help you brainstorm strategic ways to get hands-on experience desired by employers. Nothing can replace the power and value of real-world experience – not paid certificates, not expensive training courses, and not even networking (although this is a close second) – if you ultimately don’t have what it takes to qualify for a job.

For Those of Us Post-Transition

For those of us who have already transitioned into a new career – or are transitioning again – we may already feel the learning curve and pain of figuring out a completely new work environment on our own.

Managing workplace culture, ways to deal with stress, evaluating project opportunities, executing well in new roles, managing politics and relationships with managers and bosses, peers and direct reports, and strategically positioning yourself for advancement, promotions or a new transition into a new opportunity – these issues are rarely addressed during our PhD or postdoc years.  (Not to mention juggling family, personal life and financial and health issues alongside our careers!)

Have an opportunity to give back to fellow PhDs who are on their transitions or early careers through mentorship opportunities – and share your unique experiences with others who could benefit from the path you took.

Keep Up With Free the PhD On the Go



Career Seminar Series

We host FREE interview seminars and spotlights Q&As with PhDs who have transitioned out of academia, and other leaders and professionals who can provide actionable career perspectives to you on your job hunt. Check out excerpts of select interviews on our Career Seminar Series page to see what these interviews are all about! Join the community for FREE to have access to recordings of all of our past and upcoming interviews!

What Our Members Say

Vania has built an encouraging and engaging community where there is no judgement and unparalleled support. Highly recommend for advanced degree holders!

Christina Kim, Ph.D. Senior Associate | EY-Parthenon

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.

So glad I joined the FTP community. FTP offers courses to prepare for every step of the job hunt, actionable advice and opportunities to build and strengthen your resume, and a community of PhDs to tap into as a network and resource. Can't recommend enough.

Camillia Monestime, 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 such an excellent resource for learning about new industries, meeting new peers, and asking for career-related advice. It feels great to be a part of a group of diverse science PhDs who have careers in a number of industries and are just genuinely supportive people!

Amy Aly, Ph.D.

I first found Free the PhD through a Beyond Academia conference at UC Berkeley. I attended Vay's workshop, which was extremely well done. She had hit on the problem many PhDs have: decoding job ads and descriptions. She has developed a methodology for wading through the vagueness so that we can write better resumes and cover letters. I joined Free the PhD and found it a unique service among other similar approaches-I really enjoyed the online community and it is frankly an excellent value for the low monthly fee. Vay has developed a curriculum that is very useful and which I incorporated into my application materials. More than anything, Vay and folks at Free the PhD help give shape to imagining what a post-degree career future can look like-something that often seems insurmountable.

Lex Owen, 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 was on-board in June 2019. I have learned so much from FTP, particularly with the correct mindset and practical strategies that I can implement right away. As the transition from academia to industry is quite tough, I am glad I found this awesome professional community which really help me to prep myself for industrial jobs. At the end of September, I was thrilled to receive my offer from a US biotech, based on all the training I had from FTP. Vay, you are the best!

Jay Lu, Ph.D.

Wonderful atmosphere with an encouraging flow of advice and support on career hunting and life-goal seeking. Helped me to find a new career, and create new business relationship that could bloom into entrepreneurial success sometime in the future. I definitely recommend this program to any intellectuals who are looking for direction/support as they transition out of academics.

Andrew Copple, Ph.D.

Free the PhD is an outstanding platform for career guidance and mentorship for researchers at early career stages. Working with free the PhD I gained more knowledge and guidance during my job search than from any other career seminars or services that I had previously used. The advisors go above and beyond to provide personal feedback and career direction, as well as to bring in outside resources and seminars that provide a broad range of career paths and backgrounds that you can learn from. Working with Free the PhD it is clear that the advisors understand the difficulties of the job search and understand that graduate students/postdocs do not always have the means to invest in expensive career counseling. The service that they provide at an affordable price exceeded my expectations. I only wish I had found this platform early in my career!

Rachael Parker, 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.

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.

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