I want to get in touch with some professors for PhD applications. Thus I will send them my CV and I am wondering if I should mention achievements and engagements which are in general strong, but not related to the domain of the PhD. (I want to do a CS related PhD)

E.g. organizing conferences, McKinsey distinguished, Delegate at International Relation conferences, Banking Conferences, etc.

Is it beneficial to mention it or in contrary even counterproductive?

  • 1
    Any professor or current PhD who wants to share his opinion? Commented Oct 14, 2016 at 12:10

2 Answers 2


Such details do not seem so counterproductive. In fact, it shows your versatility and that you possess effective communication skills.

To avoid blurring achievements from your primary domain, you may add a separate Ancillary Achievements or Other Accomplishments section.


I would be a little careful. The accomplishments you mention raise a red flag: This guy may not be interested in CS but only wants a Ph.D. because this title is necessary for his career. Ph.D. students are potential future researcher. If I suspect that you already decided to leave academia, I have little incentive for supporting you. In Mathematics, and CS is probably not too different, a Ph.D. student is someone you educate and support. You do not get anything back immediately, but when your former student gets a prestigious position, you know you did the right thing and get a fair amount of outside recognition. So as it comes to extra curricular activities, I would prefer an applicant who does marathons or does a lot of social work.

In some countries the university or the professor get a substantial reward for each Ph.D. student. If you live in such a country, the suspicion might become a benefit, as it could imply that you prefer speed over quality, that is, you are easy money for your advisor. Then your chances of being accepted would certainly improve, although you would have to convince your advisor that you are actually to be taken serious.

  • This seems weird. In the US, very, very few PhDs can stay in academia, whether they want to or not, due to the lack of jobs. So as an advisor, you should already assume that ~90% (or other field dependent number) of your graduates will go to industry. So I don't understand your statement about knowing ahead of time that they will leave academia. Commented Oct 15, 2016 at 21:18
  • Half or may be 2/3 of all Ph.D. students are not capable of staying in academia, and many of those who deserve a permanent position do not get one. The first question usually cannot be answered by looking at your master thesis, and much less by looking at grades, you have to try and find out whether you succeed. Answering this question is an important part of doing a Ph.D., and an advisor is (and should feel) obligated to help students finishing their Ph.D. even if the answer turns out negative. But helping someone who has no intent of succeeding is something completely different. Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 9:49
  • Hi Jan, thanks for your answer. I also had some of the doubts in mind you mentioned. I will apply in the US - I dont event know how it properly works in Germany (because it never was an option for me here). From my experience it also seems to be the "normal" thing to go into industry after the PhD - well, you already spend ~6 years with the Prof. Besides of this, you work on your Profs projects from day 1 - so I dont see the reason why he wouldn't benefit? Commented Oct 17, 2016 at 15:17

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