Discovery Stage:
Know Your Options

Complete quizzes for each of the lessons for Know Your Options and Evaluate Your Opportunities to earn a certificate of completion. You must earn 80% or better on each quiz. To apply, email

Optimal Career Pathway

Your Optimal Career PathwayTM will serve as a guide, or foundation, for building your career. It will be a metric you will use to evaluate career opportunities.

An Optimal Career Pathway is designed by considering:

    • what you do (your skills),
    • what motivates you (your values),
    • and how your skills and values align with what the world will pay you money to do (your most marketable skills).

As a highly educated person with a broad set of skills, there will be many opportunities for you in the professional workspace.

As you research and evaluate those opportunities, you will return to your Optimal Career Pathway to determine if these opportunities align with your values and skills.

This five-lesson course will help you recognize your Optimal Career Pathway and develop a plan for your professional job search.

In this course, you’ll learn how to:

    • Recognize the three factors that will help you determine your Optimal Career Pathway
    • Identify your interests, skills, motivations, and values
    • Write a draft of your PhD career transition story

Each lesson is accompanied by guiding questions and exercises to help you apply what you’ve learned.

We recommend that you download the form fillable PDF workbook and type out (or write out!) your answers as you go.


This introductory lesson will introduce you to the 4 stages of PhD career transition, the questions you should ask, and the resources to use to answer these questions. You will also learn more about how to identify your Optimal Career PathwayTM.

What do you do?

This lesson will help you identify the skills you’ve developed while earning your PhD or training as a postdoc and how these skills align with the needs of employers. Your skills will open doors

What motivates you?

What do you love about your academic work? If you say teaching, dig deeper. What is it about teaching that energizes you? Or research. Knowing what motivates you in your work can help you identify new spaces where you can achieve similar career satisfaction. 

What will the world pay you to do?

Now that you know what you do (skills) and what motivates you (values), examine how your metric aligns with the needs of employers. What are your most marketable skills? 

Your PhD Career Transition Story

How do you explain your career transition story to people while you’re job searching? This lesson will help you design a compelling narrative that generates opportunities and advances your job search.

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Aurora’s unique curriculum is designed by learning specialists and experts in career development. Workbooks help students apply what they are learning to their own job search.

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Build Confidence

This course teaches foundational knowledge for the job search. Many students skip the Discovery stage, which leads to frustration and job search failure.

Short video lessons are designed to help students reflect on their strengths, identify their skills, and realize that there are many career pathways for someone with their interest, skills, and talents.

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