As careers outside of academia become more accepted and increasingly diverse, the career outlook for PhD students and postdoctoral fellows (postdocs) in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) continues to improve. However, many academic institutions, failing to adapt to the changing environment, have inadequately prepared their students and postdocs for career placement in non-academic fields. Here we explore the obstacles in career planning, provide approaches to enhance career development, and highlight examples of existing initiatives for change. By utilizing their unique skillset and emphasizing innovation and entrepreneurship, STEM PhD graduates are poised to become the leaders of many different industries and extend the opportunities for future graduates. The goal of this work is to emphasize career opportunities outside of academia, recognize inefficiencies in career planning and ultimately help current and future STEM PhD students and postdocs better prepare for future career success.