An interview with Rubenka Bandyopadhyay, PhD
What is your name, your full job title, and the full name of the company you work for?
My name is Rubenka Bandyopadhyay. I am currently employed as an Energy Analyst at a non-profit called Advanced Energy Corp. in Raleigh, North Carolina.
What is your favorite part about working in industry?
The variety of projects that I am able to participate in. Tasks could range anywhere from statistical analysis to GIS-based siting studies for residential, commercial and utility-scale projects. I have always enjoyed staying up to date with the various modeling tools/software that could be used to analyze energy data. As an electrical engineer with a background in statistics, its great to have the chance to use all the tools in my toolbox!
Can you describe what a typical day at your job looks like?
It varies quite a bit. As an energy analyst – I am involved in a large chunk of ongoing projects at our company. Some days involve a mix of client meetings and internal discussions on determining steps to complete given projects. We also have the option of suggesting smaller internal projects that could lay the ground-work for anticipated future projects from our clients. Once we have decided on a set of deliverables for the data analysis component of the project, I may spend the next couple of days building energy models and analyzing the data. Occasionally I also accompany engineers in the field, to assist with data collection.
How is your current industry position different from your academic postdoc or experience as a graduate student?
I would say that while my training in academia has laid the ground work for my professional abilities, the project timelines and breadth of technical expertise is different in my current position. I was involved in multiple projects during my PhD and postdoc but they usually ran for several years. The turnover time of my current projects are often in the order of a few months. Given that the energy industry is currently exploring a wide array of innovative technology, I have to grasp new material fairly quickly and map out data analysis schemes accordingly.
If you could go back in time, to before you received your job offer, and give yourself one piece of advice or encouragement, what would it be?
Go out and meet people! As an introvert, it was initially very difficult for me to interact with people not known to me, and to build professional connections. However, with every networking event and conference that I attended, it got easier for me to initiate conversations. A good work ethic and a diverse skill-set is not particularly useful if one is unable to demonstrate that to one’s peers.
What was the most memorable moment for you (so far) as a Cheeky Scientist Associate?
I particularly enjoyed the salary negotiation webinars. Before CSA, I usually took offers as something that is set in stone – learning that start dates and vacation times could be negotiated upon, was particularly helpful in allowing me to look for jobs while still being able to commit to providing deliverables as I wrapped up my postdoc.
The visa webinars – although I no longer require visa sponsorship to work in the US – is a great addition to the CSA materials. There is so much that international PhD graduates have to offer, and I am glad that CSA is providing them the materials to be able to navigate visa sponsorship issues.
What do you see as the next step in your career?
I am hoping to get my professional engineering license after a few years. Data science projects involving more rigorous modeling and analysis of energy data are also of great interest to me, moving forward.
How can the Association and the Association’s members help you continue to achieve your career goals?
I don’t have any specific suggestions at this time – just keep doing what you do! I enjoy reading the transition stories on the Facebook page, and contribute to the discussions when I am able. Being part of a network of dedicated PhDs navigating their professional lives has been a great source of inspiration for me.
Now that you’ve spent some time working in industry, what is the biggest takeaway(s) you’d like to share with those who are still executing their job search?
Don’t give up on your dream job! Whether you are feeling stuck in academia or at an unfulfilling industry job, there is always the opportunity to find the position that you have always wanted. As part of CSA, you have access to a great network of peers who are looking forward to contributing to your progress.
To learn more about how you can transition into an industry career like Rubenka, 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.
Isaiah believes that if you feel stuck somewhere in your life right now, you should make a change. Don’t sit still and wait for the world to tell you what to do. Start a new project. Build your own business. Take action. Experimentation is the best teacher.