Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist
Image of Isaiah Hankel sitting in armchair

Join Isaiah as he describes the power of saying ‘no’ to asks that don’t help you reach your career objectives

Here’s a quick rundown of this week’s episode…

  • First, Isaiah explains how to reassess your priorities and determine time sinks that don’t help you reach your career objectives
  • Next, Isaiah discusses how establishing accountability can help you learn the art of saying ‘no’
  • Finally, Isaiah reveals the difference between big and small ‘no’s’ – and why you should prioritize the former

From This Week’s Show… 

To Get Out Of The Academic Grind, Start By Assessing Your Priorities

Many PhDs wanting to transition into industry struggle to make time for their industry job search.

This results in many PhDs placing their job search on the backburner – for months, if not years – all the while remaining in an academic position that makes them miserable.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a student, TA, seasoned postdoc, faculty member or part of the administration, prioritizing your job search is the only way to get out of the academic grind.

At this point you may be thinking, “I already work well into the night, go to the lab or office on weekends, and completely ignore any form a self-care – how on earth am I supposed to add searching for a job to my to-do list?”

To start, ask yourself a few pointed questions: Do you constantly take on administrative or managerial tasks that don’t benefit you, or your research?

When someone in your department, or your PI, asks you to add another project or task to your already full plate, do you automatically say “yes”?

If your answer to these questions is a resounding “yes”, it’s time to take a step back and reassess your priorities.

To Learn The Art Of Saying ‘No’, Make It A Game

Many PhDs struggle with saying ‘no’.

So today, I want to teach you the art of saying ‘no’ and how to start saying “yes” to the things that matter like your industry job search.

Like I said, saying ‘no’ is an art. It’s not something that comes naturally, especially for PhDs.

We tend to say “yes” by default – it’s what’s ingrained in us. So, like with anything, it’s going to take practice.

To start, keep yourself accountable. Create a ‘no’ challenge with some of your equally overworked colleagues.

Set a goal of, say, 10 ‘no’s’ in a week (or even a day!).

And make a game out of it.

For every ask you turn down, give yourself 1 point, until you reach 10 points. This isn’t to say you should take saying ‘no’ lightly.

You should consciously decide which asks to turn down. Develop a criteria to determine if something is worth your time and effort.

Ask yourself: Does this opportunity fit my career objectives? Do I have time to do a quality job without sacrificing my other obligations? Does this opportunity provide space for my job search?

If the answer to any of these questions is ‘no’, then you should also be saying ‘no’.

Why Only Saying ‘No’ To The Small Asks Have Big Consequences

It’s also good to keep track of your ‘no’s’.

This gives you a moment of pause and ensures that your ‘yeses’ are intentional, and not just a byproduct of your ingrained tendency.

Also, be aware of the size of your ‘no’s’.

It’s human nature to do the easiest thing possible which, in this case, means turning down the small asks.

The poster presentation, the extra meeting, or the one-time tutoring session.

While taking these things off your plate certainly helps, it doesn’t have the impact that the big ‘no’s’ do.

Turning down the additional grant proposal, collaboration, or research project helps free up a greater amount of your time and energy.

This is time and energy you can put towards your job search.

Overall, when searching for a job in industry, your time is your most precious commodity.

If you don’t set explicit boundaries and prioritize your industry job search, you’ll end up remaining in the same academic cycle that you’re trying to get out of.

If you’re ready to start your transition into industry, you can apply to book a free Transition Call with our founder Isaiah Hankel, PhD or one of our Transition Specialists. Apply to book a Transition Call here.

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