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Academic Blues

Academia Gave Up On PhDs. Industry Is Saving Them (5 Proofs)

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

For most PhDs, pursuing their degree is more than just a career choice. It’s the fulfillment of a lifelong goal.  Pursuing a goal like that, for so long and with such great focus, can sometimes come at a cost.  The emotional momentum it takes to earn a PhD can keep bright, talented researchers from seeing a problem brewing. They miss the signs of stress, anxiety, and exhaustion. They’re so singularly focused on making it to the finish line that they don’t realize they might not arrive there in one piece. That’s what happened to me.  I think I set a…

Why Postdocs Are Paid Less Than Fast Food Workers

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

When I started my PhD, I had a figure in mind: $90,000.  Whenever the days felt long or the research felt like it was going absolutely nowhere, this number was there in the back of my mind.  It was the median salary for PhDs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The eventual reward made the weight of all the work and stress and barely scraping by feel bearable.  With graduation a few months away, I decided to start dedicating my weekends to a job search.  My biggest worry wasn’t finding work. I was actually afraid I’d have a hard…

3 Things PhDs Obsess Over That Employers Give Zero F's About

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

If you’re lucky to work in industry long enough, you’ll get to be someone else’s lifeline.  That’s what happened to me in my third position.  A friend of mine, a PhD named Rupali, was doing all the right things:  He reached out to me on LinkedIn. We exchanged messages a few times, reestablishing our rapport.  When the conversation turned to what we’re doing now, he mentioned he was interested in the company I was working at.  So we picked a time to sit down for a call where Rupali could ask me a few questions about the company.  Confident that…

In A Professional Slump? These 5 Things Will Get Your Career Back On Track

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I heard this story from a mid-career PhD I worked with and wanted to share it. Here’s what they told me when we started working together… “I hit a slump in my academic career many times.  I got passed over for tenure when I knew I was the best candidate.  Grants would get denied, and I would think, “This is just a slump. It’s a minor setback, is all.” I would have to drag myself to the next lecture hall some days, and I’d tell myself, ‘It’s normal to get bored and discouraged every once in a while.’ I just…

Why PhDs Should Stop Waiting For Academia To “Get Better”

By: Isaiah Hankel, PhD

I hear it all the time from PhDs: “Academia will get better, I signed up for this.” “Someone will retire soon, a tenure track will open up.” “I just have to pay my dues. Things will get better.” “I put in all this work, it’ll pay off. Something will open up in the department.” “My PhD opens doors for me here. It won’t in the private sector.” Nobody’s retiring. You don’t have to pay your dues. A PhD can open doors for you in many different industries.  I’ve been there before, stuck in the expectation that academia would get better.…