Ultimate Career Transformation for Scientists

Find the job. Get the job. Own your future.

Launch Your PhD Career Transition!

Are you:

  • Trying to figure out what PhD career and job options are available for academic researchers?
  • Wondering how to break into jobs and roles like medical science liaison, sales, regulatory affairs or business development without any previous "experience"?
  • Feeling simultaneously underqualified and overqualified with your PhD?
  • Frustrated by the lack of transparent, straightforward and well researched protocols available to tackle the job hunt and transition mindset?
  • Feeling unsupported in the day-to-day shuffle of gathering data, submitting grants or writing your thesis?
  • Depressed by constant rejection from your job applications?

This is why the Free the PhD Ultimate Career Transformation for Scientists Program was created!

Neuroscience PhD to Medical Science Liaison (MSL)

"During my postdoctoral fellowship I began exploring career opportunities outside of traditional academic career tracks. I eventually became interested in the medical science liaison role in the pharmaceutical industry as I thought it was an excellent balance of all my interests and utilized my training thus far.

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.

I highly recommend anyone in grad school or in a postdoctoral position to consult with Vay about potential career tracks and help you realize how you can leverage your science training to much more than the bench."

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

Program Curriculum

Epigenetics PhD to Program Manager

I was trapped in a terrible job and was sending resumes out, left and right, but they just seemed to be falling off the face of the earth.

I had a long list of skills, experience and education, but it didn’t seem to matter and I couldn’t figure out why the response was so poor.

Vay helped me construct a resume that was more attractive to employers, and explained WHY my applications never seemed to be reaching human reviewers; under her guidance, I finally managed to secure a challenging, satisfying new position with a significantly better salary and work-life balance.

It was amazing to see how seemingly-small, targeted changes made a tremendous difference in employer response, and this is the kind of information that only an expert can provide.

Vay was always interested and invested in my success, and it was a genuine pleasure to work with her. I fully recommend her services to anyone who feels lost in their job search, or just needs to update their applicant profile to get an edge.”

-P.C. Ph.D., Genomics Program Manager

What is the Ultimate Career Transformation Program for Scientists?

This program is a Multi-Module Online Program composed of step by step video lectures, text explanations, templates and informational resources that contain organized content and distilled knowledge framed in a way that makes sense. The course is geared towards anyone who has conducted academic research at an advanced level and is trying to transition out into a new career path.

This is not just a collection of article links, interviews or webinars that wastes your time or costs an arm and a leg. You will be getting nitty gritty details in a context that works for you, a scientist at heart. This is a structured, step-by-step, organized, well researched and empathetic PhD transition program tailored specifically to your needs: both practical and psychological.

You will learn:

  • How to manage your time and PhD transition expectations as you enter the job hunt
  • How to reverse engineer job postings
  • What hiring managers are really looking for
  • How to analyze the professional world to find the right job for you
  • How to structure your resume, cover letters and reach-outs for networking
  • How to change the way you think so you don't self-sabatoge during interviews
  • How to practice for interviews (and get the opportunity to practice your interview with live feedback!)
  • What to negotiate for once you have an offer
  • Career-specific advice and details about different industries and jobs within them, so you can make an informed decision about your job application focus
    • Includes information about best practices, software platforms, analysis methodologies and other on-the-job expectations when applicable
  • And much more!

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 - because it incorporates knowledge from all the top resources and real world experiences in a clear and impactful way.

You get lifetime access to the entire program, plus a Bonus Mini-Course once you get your job:

  • BONUS Mini-Course: Start the Job (you'll get access after you accept your job offer!)
    • Building Bridges - Wrapping Up for a Fresh Start
    • Days of Future Past - Resetting Your Game
    • Starting on the Right Foot - Your Professional Starter Kit
  • Coming soon to the Free the PhD Ultimate Career Transformation Program:
    • The FTP Hands-On Career Explorer - An exclusive resource that outlines the relationships between roles, teams, departments and industries, and the jobs within them for you to explore, systematically. The Career Explorer will contain real world examples of work scenarios, relevant software, technology or analytical skills and knowledge to jump-start your PhD job hunt, along with an interactive PhD Career Predictor to help you focus on roles you will be likely to enjoy and excel at.
    • The FTP Career Transition Cache - Perspectives from the other side. These are not just a list of interviews of scientists who left for new careers; each interview is annotated with contextual advice, key take-aways and illustrates trends that are backed up by the content of the career transition lectures.

Get started now!

Neuroscience PhD to Senior Review Analyst

“At my sixth year of postdoc training, I still haven’t wrapped up my research result for publication, and sensed a disadvantage if I keep going to pursue a job in academia. Even though I felt the urgency to plan for my next career opportunity, I was afraid to explore unknown career options.

I was on the brink of my true career, and Vay push me forwards."

Application Editing

"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."

Negotiation Coaching

"I was initially offered a salary range lower than I expected. I took the hiring manager’s explanation as I didn’t have the exact job experience. However, Vay pushed me to step up for myself as my research experience is a perfect match for the job. She helped me with my negotiation email in a professional way, not too aggressive since I really like the job; not too timid as I am confident that my experience fit well.

The company re-offered me with a higher salary and with this offer, I finally finished my long-term postdoc training and moved to a real job that I have never thought I would do.”

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

Neuroscience PhD to Scientific Director Offer

“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.
Received offer for Scientific Director at Cure CMD


It's time to take your career into your own hands.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is this program for?
Any science-minded career seeker who is trying to transition from a hands-on academic research situation into something else, or from one job to another one. Especially relevant for STEM PhDs and postdocs.
How is this different from the 3,281 other articles/blog posts/books/coaching services for STEM PhDs out there?
This is a comprehensive curriculum-based, step by step, structured program created specifically for the challenges that STEM scientists face on the job market. The content and lessons are integrated from expert knowledge, distilled from all the top career texts, articles and resources, and informed by personal experience and those of countless others. Things are broken down in a way you can digest and follow along with at your own pace, so you can build the knowledge up the way you need it. Every piece of information is tailored for you, from your perspective, to make it easy for you to actually implement.
When does the program start and finish?
The program starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish. The nice thing about the content is that it will be applicable to your future transitions - because these days, we should all be expecting multiple career transitions in our modern, mobile lives.
How long do I have access to the program?
How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own. Free the PhD is here to support you through multiple career transitions - not just your first!
Why isn't this free? Why should I pay for your help?
Those who have some economics or psychology know-how will be familiar with the truth that as human beings, we value what we pay for. When we value an educational resource, we are more likely to stick to it and actually follow through, which is the only way to progress through hardship to success. And the job hunt is hard, no doubt about it! I know from experience that free advice is rarely taken, and as such, my goal is to provide accountability and motivation for your success. In order to accomplish that, there must be mutual commitment to put some skin in the game! There are of course also practical costs associated with the creation and maintenance of the Free the PhD platform and programs, from the cost of IT tools & software, to researching, curating, purchasing, creating and managing content. We are transparent here, and strive to make all resources here high quality, tailored to your needs, and priced in a way that it's accessible to everyone despite their financial situation, while sustainable to maintain.
Do you have payment plans?
Absolutely. I remember what it was like to be a poor grad student/postdoc/researcher. I want to make this accessible and provide genuine value to your life for years to come, no matter who you are.
How do I know this isn't a waste of time?
Seeing is believing. Check out the reviews from people who have worked with me to transition out of academia to land their jobs, and check out the open access parts of the PhD career transformation course. Also, don’t forget my 30 day money back guarantee. Unlike many other career services that will hand you an edited resume without context, my goal is to teach you how to apply your scientific background to think for yourself, and I give you the time to do that. If you make time and put in the work, you WILL learn new things and move forward with this program.
What if I am unhappy with the program?
Life is stressful enough without feeling cheated by a course! If you are unsatisfied with the program, contact us in the first 30 days. All I ask is that you conduct an exit interview by email to share your feedback, and you will get a full refund.
How can I bring Free the PhD to my institution to help my students or fellow scientists?
I am more than happy to connect and find out how we can help more PhD career seekers! Free the PhD has participated in career panels and hosted career events and workshops, so if you want to bring Free the PhD resources to your institution or graduate training program, reach out with inquiries on the Contact Page: http://www.freethephd.com/contact-us/

Biomedical Science PhD to Manager at 23 & Me

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.
Her advice is always on-point, effective, and best of all, delivered in a kind and gentle way. She is a great listener and helps me identify the core values that matter to me.
I highly recommend her to anyone who would like to make the transition from graduate studies/academia to the professional/industry arena.
-Thao Do, Ph.D.
Education and Academia Marketing Manager, 23 & Me

Your Advisor

Vay Cao, Ph.D.
Vay Cao, Ph.D.

You know those job hunt questions where it's hard to get straight answers for?

  • How do I even start looking for jobs?
  • Why does everyone say I have valuable transferable skills when all I hear is that I'm simultaneously overqualified and underqualified?
  • Why won't the recruiter tell me more details about the job?
  • What the heck does a consultant do anyway?

I had the same questions during my transition. It was frustrating digging through pages of blogs and hours of webinars to find bits and pieces of information that were barely useful for me and my future. I felt alone and anxious.

After my own stressful job hunt and successful transition out of academia, I vowed to do something that would assist the generations of scientists who would come after me, and who would inevitably face the same challenges in finding a life they love outside of academic research (potentially with less support than I had).

This took over two years of research, data gathering and education while collecting on-the-job experiences from fellow PhDs and scientists in the workforce. I waded through hundreds of dollars worth of career books, took notes on hours of business and career coaching courses, and conducted in-person interviews to find the most accurate and understandable answers to all your questions.

As a neuroscientist, published writer, educator, startup employee and startup Founder, I am excited to help you Free your PhD, and proud to bring you the Ultimate Career Transformation Program to guide you to the life you want to live.

Get started now!