More than 270 Stanford PhD students and postdoctoral scholars gathered on March 16 for Stanford Career Education’s annual PhD Pathways program, held in person for the first time in three years.

The event, at The Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center, provided PhDs and postdocs with a full day of opportunities to explore careers beyond academia, connect with PhD alumni, discover how the skills they’ve gained in graduate school translate to non-faculty careers, and devise next steps to advance their journey at Stanford and beyond.

“Attendees valued the opportunity to hear the stories of the alumni panelists and were excited to participate in ‘hands-on’ interactive case study sessions,” said Salvatore Cipriano, associate director of career coaching and education. “They appreciated speakers’ candidness and honesty as they shared the stories of how they transitioned to their careers beyond academia. Another key takeaway is that attendees could see that there are hundreds of other PhD students and postdocs at Stanford who are exploring diverse career paths and asking similar questions.”

This year’s event opened with an interactive, plenary session led by Stanford’s Life Design Lab to get participants engaging with each other and thinking about how they could make the most of the day. It was followed by a series of panel discussions and interactive case studies, where current students and postdocs heard from over 40 alumni who returned to campus to share their experiences in a variety of fields including business, the arts, engineering, product management, data science, and government. Afternoon panels, featuring both alumni and staff, covered topics such as mental health and well-being on the job search, internships, and guidance for international students.

The program ended with the opportunity for participants to reflect on the day and chart next steps for their career journey. The event was organized by Stanford Career Education (CareerEd), with assistance from BioSci Careers, EdCareers, the Integrative Learning Portfolio Lab, the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, the Office of the Vice Provost for Graduate Education, and Vaden Health Services.