When I said that I strongly believe that the purpose of PhD programs is not to prepare students for academic careers, I didn’t mean that PhD programs should do more to prepare students for more types of careers.
I meant that universities are not in the business of job training. Not at undergraduate level. Not at (post)graduate level.
They provide a lot of support for career development, and rightly so. Not all of it is within programs. Not all of it is delivered by academics. Nor should it be.
A degree may be necessary but it is never sufficient
There is no job for which an educational qualification is enough to get you hired.
There is no job for which an educational qualification provides all the necessary skills and knowledge.
A degree, whatever it is, is always but one piece of a complex puzzle.
Universities are not unique organizations
These chocolates all have enough in common that we can call them by a collective name, “chocolates”.
Employers are similar.
Universities don’t seek anything significantly different in their employees than other employers do.
All sectors have particular quirks of their hiring practices. They also share many similarities.
Any employer, universities included, is looking for someone who can make a contribution to the organization. They are looking for someone who can meet a particular need the organization has identified. They are looking for someone who will fit in with the current group of employees.
Educational qualifications are one (of several) indicators of your ability to do the job they ask of you.
Most jobs involve several tasks. Your degree may only be relevant to some of them. This is why you also include experience and accomplishments from previous employment, volunteer roles, and hobbies.
The employer is not interested in every aspect of your life. They are interested in the things you have done that are relevant to the position they are seeking to fill. This is why standard résumés (or CVs) and cover letters are not very useful, no matter what job you are applying for.
Academic employers are no different
A PhD is now the basic qualification that gets you considered. It demonstrates extensive knowledge in a particular specialist field and the ability to conduct an independent research project of a certain type.
Academic employers also look for your ability to contribute to debates in your field. They value certain kinds of contributions, peer-reviewed journals and possibly academic monographs, and often look for evidence that you can make them.
Such evidence is not part of your PhD. It is additional experience that you gained, either while working on your PhD or afterwards.
They may also seek evidence of your ability to contribute to the education of undergraduates. Such evidence may include sample syllabi, evidence of having taught undergraduate students in the past, or evidence of the quality of that teaching (e.g. teaching evaluations or references from someone knowledgeable about your teaching).
They are also looking for how well you fit into the department as a whole, both as a person and in terms of the particular type of research and teaching you are likely to do and how it complements the activity undertaken by existing members of the department.
They will also be looking at whether your best contributions fit well with the mission of the university. If it is clear that you are primarily motivated as a teacher, you are not a good fit for a research intensive institution (and vice versa).
In some cases, employers are willing to accept that you haven’t done some of the things they require and will instead look for evidence that you are likely to be able to do them well. This is where things like statements of teaching philosophy, research statements, and looking at whether you have presented research findings at conferences come in.
You are responsible for ensuring that you are a good candidate for the type of job you want
You supervisor might give you advice. And will be a good source of advice regarding appropriate journals and presses, and even how to write for publication (which is different from writing a dissertation).
Your supervisor might even co-author papers with you, making the process of getting findings published quicker and giving you an opportunity to work on this skill with someone more experienced.
Your supervisor, or another faculty member, may provide you employment opportunities as a Research Assistant that will also provide this kind of experience. Or they may fund you through their research grant on condition that you engage in some of these kinds of activities.
You are still responsible. You can turn down these opportunities in favour of others. You can decide whether taking this opportunity is worthwhile in relation to the opportunity cost of time taken away from writing your dissertation and getting the degree.
Your supervisor, or other faculty, may have opinions on the relative value. They may give you advice.
But they are not responsible for your career decisions. You are.