5 Things You’ll Have The Time And Money For After You Transition Into Industry

During my PhD everything I did revolved around the lab and my experiments.

Dinner plans were timed to coincide with when my experiments would finish.

The office floor became a bed when the reaction was just taking too long.

I printed out and read academic journals before I went to sleep.

And although this did work for a while – eventually I was burnt out.

What about the other parts of me?

What about the athletic side of me?

What about the creative and crafty parts of me?

What about my family and friends?

I spent so much time focused on my PhD work that the other things I enjoyed faded into the background.

I felt one dimensional.

Something had to give.

This was one of the biggest factors that made me realize I wanted out of academia.

When I did make time to see my friends, many of whom had industry jobs, their job was just one small part of what they did.

They had lots of time (and money) to spend on doing fun things!

But I was sitting there, poor and tired from spending all my energy in the lab.

I couldn’t do this for another 5-10 years as a postdoc.

Like many PhDs I realized that I wanted to transition into industry where I could do more than just work all the time.

As PhDs we may be nerdy, but we enjoy spending our time on more than just research.

We’ve put together a list of the top ways PhDs who work in industry enjoy spending their free time based on a poll of Cheeky Scientist PhDs who have made the transition.

Here are the top 5 ways PhDs enjoy spending their new free time after transitioning into industry…

1. Spending time with family and friends.

33% of surveyed PhDs reported spending time with family and friends as how they enjoy spending their extra spare time since transitioning into industry.

In academia, the negative culture makes it a good thing to stay overnight, to work 16 hour days, to become completely exhausted.

As a graduate student or a postdoc you’re lucky if you get a few days off for the holidays to spend with family.

But, you can get away from that mentality in industry.

Your time is respected and valued in industry.

If it’s important to you to have ample time to spend with your family and friends, you just need to find the right company that aligns with your values.

That’s why it’s so important to understand a company’s culture before you get hired.

Do informational interviews with employees and ask questions about work expectations.

“The freedom to work from home when I want or to leave the office when the work is done, not based on the clock, is pretty awesome.” – Industry Ph.D.

It is totally possible to have completely free weekends and to leave work by 5 pm everyday if you want.

You just need to do the research to find a company where you can have that lifestyle.

There are companies that support working parents or where you can work remotely.

Some companies will force you to leave the office by a certain time and will block you from checking email while not at work.

After transitioning into industry many PhDs spend less time working and spend more time with the people they love.

2. Traveling to fun new places.

25% of surveyed PhDs reported traveling as how they enjoy spending their extra spare time since transitioning into industry.

“I’m going on my second travel of the year (unheard of as a postdoc).” – Industry PhD

As an academic PhD the only travelling you probably get to do is going to a conference.

Hopefully the conference is somewhere you want to go.  

And even that only works if you get grant funding.

Because as a grad student or a postdoc the measly stipend you are paid is not enough to fund any sort of traveling.  

Once outside of academia, many PhDs finally have the time-freedom and the money to travel.

“Travel, travel, travel! Always wanted to travel and live abroad, and felt stuck back home while in academia. Since I transitioned, I’ve traveled 10+ countries and 20+ different cities.” – Industry PhD

Both for work purposes and for leisure.

Many PhDs take a vacation for the first time in several years once they transition into industry.

Where will you travel to after you transition into industry?

3. Playing sports, hiking, and just enjoying taking time to exercise.

22% of surveyed PhDs reported playing sports and exercising as how they enjoy spending their extra spare time since transitioning into industry.

“I’ve been exercising or dancing every day since [I transition into industry]. My current goal is to do a handstand.” –Industry PhD

Often as a PhD student or a postdoc, your health (both physical and mental) take a back seat to your project.

A major side effect of this is that many PhDs lose the ability to exercise regularly or play sports while they are in academia.

This is so unfortunate as regular exercise is so important to both mental and physical health.

And how are you supposed to do good work if you are unhealthy?

But once transitioned out of academia lots of PhDs rediscover their passion for exercise.

“I discover running. Everything started during a lunch break, when my team members convinced me to join them for Business run.” –Industry PhD

Whether is running, sport, hiking, swimming or going to the gym PhDs find time for and value these activities once they transition into industry.

Do you have a favorite activity that you have been neglecting while in academia?

4. Reading for fun – not just reading academic journals.

12% of surveyed PhDs reported reading (not academic journals!) as how they enjoy spending their extra spare time since transitioning into industry.

“I enjoy the pleasure of reading again (non-work or non-self-help related literature)! I just finished Foundation by Isaac Asimov (all books of the series).”

While in academia there is so much pressure that every moment of your life should be focused on improving your research.

Why would you waste time reading a sci-fi novel when you could be reading the dense 13 page methods section of an important academic paper?

*crying*

So often as a PhD student or postdocs you completely neglect your passions outside of the lab.

But in industry, it is totally possible to explore the other facets of your life.

“Reading! Since I am not doing the crazy editing hours, I have time for my favorite hobby.” Industry PhD

To take the time to read and read for enjoyment.

Think about it, when was the last time you read a book that had nothing to do with your research?

For many PhDs, reading is something they love to do (face it we are all nerds) and they have found the time to enjoy reading since transitioning into industry.

5. Being artistic and creative.

8% of surveyed PhDs reported creating art as how they enjoy spending their extra spare time since transitioning into industry.

“I knit before bed instead of working, analyzing data or writing up results.” – Industry PhD

It takes A LOT of brain power to complete a PhD.

And the all consuming culture of academia makes it difficult to ever really “turn off’.

So, even if you did have a bit of spare time during your PhD it’s hard to use that time to be creative and artistic.

After leaving academia many PhDs are able to find the space to be creative again.

Whatever that means to you.

It could be painting, knitting, sculpting, writing, taking photos – whatever creative outlet you enjoy.

What do you wish you had the time to create?

Honorable mentions

Lounging at home and relaxing.

Volunteering in the community.

Cooking and baking.

Making the transition into industry is a wonderful experience for PhDs. Finding a position in industry that supports your desired lifestyle and allows you the time to explore what it most important to you is incredible. A few of the things PhDs have reported enjoying doing in their new found free time are Spending time with family and friends, traveling to new places, playing sports, hiking, and just enjoying taking time to exercise, reading for fun, and being artistic and creative. What are you most excited about having time for after you transition into industry?

To learn more about how you can transition into an industry career, including instant access to our exclusive training videos, case studies, industry insider documents, transition plan, and private online network, get on the wait list for the Cheeky Scientist Association.

Join Cheeky Scientist Association
Get Free Job Search Content Weekly
Jeanette McConnell, PhD
Jeanette McConnell, PhD

Jeanette is a chemistry PhD turned science communication enthusiast. During her PhD she realized that her favorite part about research wasn’t actually doing research, but rather talking and writing about it. So, she has channeled her passion for discovery into teaching and writing about science. When she isn’t talking someone’s ear off about her latest scientific obsession, you’ll find her on the soccer field or reading a good sci-fi novel.

Similar Articles

5 Ways Academic Career Centers Fail PhDs

5 Ways Academic Career Centers Fail PhDs

By: Amanda Johnson

If anyone should have known how to execute a PhD job search, it was me. The institution I was earning my PhD at was one of the top 10 across the nation. It was awarded a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Broadening Experiences in Scientific Training (BEST) in the award’s first funding cycle. My career center was one of the best. What made it one of the top ranking career centers was that they provided opportunities and resources to help trainees prepare for a diverse range of careers. I had taken courses on intellectual property, college teaching, and participated in training…

A PhD In Leadership: 9 Academic Skills That Turn You Into A Boss

A PhD In Leadership: 9 Academic Skills That Turn You Into A Boss

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

How many PhDs miss their calling as being a leader and or a boss because of academic failure and not realizing the leadership skills they have?  I remember my own academic education well. Like other PhDs, no one taught me how to develop my leadership skills. Leadership is a core part of real life, of industry. But it’s not a focal point for academia, which is why so many students get their PhDs only to face a harsh reality… Instead of success and recognition, PhDs feel used. They’ve been used by a university system that chewed them up and spit…

7 Ways To Keep Your Job Search Alive In A Recession

7 Ways To Keep Your Job Search Alive In A Recession

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I’ve lost a job. I was offered a contract, and they pulled it back. Everybody is ignoring me on LinkedIn now.  I was communicating with somebody about an upcoming interview, and now they’re not replying to my emails. My postdoc is not going to be renewed.  This is the kind of message I’ve been getting from countless PhDs all over the world. The recession has made things challenging for everyone. A lot of PhDs thought academia was going to take care of them, but they’ve found out the hard way that it isn’t true. For weeks now, I’ve been warning…

How These 3 Leadership Skills Can Protect Your Career During A Recession

How These 3 Leadership Skills Can Protect Your Career During A Recession

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

The current crisis reminds me of something that happened to me years ago, before I had leadership skills. I had an interview with a big company, and it was scheduled to take place on an upper floor of a tall building. I took the elevator, which turned out to be the wrong choice. Normally, I’d have chosen the stairs, but I was feeling nervous and didn’t want to make my heart rate increase – it was already beating fast. The elevator got about halfway up to my floor and abruptly stopped. The doors didn’t open. There were several other people…

5 Ways To Limit PhD Anxiety And Protect Your Career

5 Ways To Limit PhD Anxiety And Protect Your Career

By: Elliott Brecht, PhD

You should have seen my academic CV. I would have set off anyone’s anxiety. It was a total disaster. By academia’s standards, it was fine. But I had a real monster of a CV, over 5 pages long and full of academic jargon. And there was no cover letter either. Can you guess what industry employers did after taking a glimpse at my CV? They probably threw it away – that’s assuming it even reached employers. More likely, it was filtered out of candidacy by application tracking software. You might think that, given the current situation, you should be focusing…

Secure PhD Jobs With The 15-Point Coronavirus Career Plan

Secure PhD Jobs With The 15-Point Coronavirus Career Plan

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Isaiah Hankel has your career guide to navigating the world of PhD jobs during the coronavirus crisis and using this temporary downtime to your advantage. The financial markets have crashed worldwide.  I can tell you from experience what’s going to happen next. I was a PhD student in 2008 during the financial crisis, and history tells us the hiring market is next to crash. After 2008, I felt like there were no jobs, and I had no industry network to connect with. My PI couldn’t help me – he didn’t know anybody either.  He was in the academic bubble with…

5 Visa Processes International PhDs Master To Lock Down A Job

5 Visa Processes International PhDs Master To Lock Down A Job

By: Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Visa Processes for PhDs can be complicated – luckily, contributing author Arunundoy Sur, PhD, can break it down for you. I started applying for jobs early. I was preparing to graduate, and I felt lucky to receive some positive responses right away. In a very short period of time, I had interviews lined up with 4 different companies. I went through multiple rounds of interviews and even reached the stage of salary negotiation in 3 of these cases. It all seemed to be going well. Being proactive was paying off, and now I had a new job lined up before…

Coronavirus Panic Proves The World Needs PhDs In These 9 Industry Roles

Coronavirus Panic Proves The World Needs PhDs In These 9 Industry Roles

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Isaiah Hankel, PhD, discusses the global reaction to the coronavirus and how it demonstrates that industry needs PhDs more than ever. The need for scientists is rising, and it’s rising fast. With the recent outbreak of the “coronavirus,” media have reported all kinds of information, not all of it true and accurate. News and other media outlets thrive on timely reportage, and unfortunately, panicked viewers will pay more attention than relaxed ones. The effects of this panic are already observable. Who is in the best possible position to work against this alarmist racket?  Scientists holed up in academia? No. In…

3 Strategies For Motivation And Accountability During A Job Search

3 Strategies For Motivation And Accountability During A Job Search

By: Sarah Smith, PhD

As with most long-term projects, consistent accountability requires motivation. Research done at the University of Rochester identified two types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation is the kind of curiosity that drives you to pursue knowledge all the way to mastery. PhDs almost always have a lot of this motivation. Loving your field of study and wanting to advance it is what made you push your way through a doctoral program. Intrinsic motivation derives from natural satisfaction – when the task is its own reward. The problem is that intrinsic motivation rarely drives a job search. What PhDs need…

Top Industry Career eBooks

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Complete LinkedIn Guide For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel

The LinkedIn tips & strategies within have helped PhDs from every background get hired into top industry careers.

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

20 Most Popular Industry Career Tracks For PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD & Arunodoy Sur, PhD

Learn about the top 20 industry careers for PhDs (regardless of your academic background). In this eBook, you will gain insight into the most popular, highest-paying jobs for PhDs – all of which will allow you to do meaningful work AND get paid well for it.

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Industry Resume Guide for PhDs

Isaiah Hankel, PhD

Learn how to craft the perfect industry resume to attract employers. In this eBook for PhDs, you will get access to proven resume templates, learn how to structure your bullet points, and discover which keywords industry employers want to see most on PhD resumes.