Ten Most Transferable Skills in Teaching for PhDs

How many of you have heard an advisor or faculty member say, “Teaching doesn’t matter for a position outside of academia?”

In the following webinar, Barbi Honeycutt, PhD shares how teaching makes PhDs competitive in non-academic positions. She outlines top teaching skills that translate from the classroom to the boardroom. Barbi is the founder of FLIP It Consulting where she uses her extensive teaching experiences to mentor and advise burgeoning academic educators.

So, does teaching matter for a position outside academia?

This is a question Barbi poses to the Beyond Prof online community during her webinar presentation. Indeed, the participants’ mixed responses highlights some troubling divisions between teaching, research, and non-academic positions. And according to Barbi, “if you take [the] advice [that teaching doesn’t matter], then that’s how you miss your greatest competitive advantage.”

In fact, “According to Inside Higher Ed,” she continues, “students who teach as part of their graduate school experience are more likely to finish their degree on time and are more competitive for jobs.”

Transferable skills in teaching

Not only does teaching train graduate students to be more organized in their day-to-day lives, but it also helps them communicate their ideas more effectively. Effective communication in turn helps grad students organize and manage people, tasks, and ideas better than those who don’t teach during graduate school. For example, the very same skills a TA might use in the classroom re-appear in supervisor positions: “When you teach, “says Barbi, “you have to take complex information that you’re probably an expert in, and you have to adapt it so that others can understand it.”

Likewise, teaching helps grad students with presentation and facilitation skills. A classroom prepares you for unexpected student questions—and it also prepares you for facilitating quality responses that are timely and relevant. The most important transferable skill here “is that you can take a customer, or a client, or an audience on the journey, because that’s what you do when you teach,” says Barbi.

Candidates who have organizational skills are among the most desirable applicants for employers. Non-academic careers demand multiple deadlines, but on average these companies do not provide time-management or organizational training. PhDs who present themselves as possessing these organizational skills are more competitive on the market. If you have had the opportunity to teach, your communication and organizational skills will only continue to develop in new career areas. Tracking data, managing calendars, managing budgets, and juggling multiple projects at once certainly fall under “organizational” or “planning” skills whether you practice these skills inside or outside of the classroom.

If you are interested in hearing more advice and pointers from Barbi about the top most transferable skills from your teaching experience, please feel free to rent the webinar below. You can also check out our blog or join our community of learners at Beyond the Professoriate.

Beyond the Professoriate Community Members attend events like this for free each month and access replays free for two weeks. Ready to launch your next great career? Join the Online Career Hub for PhDs.

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