Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel
Isaiah Hankel
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist

Join Isaiah as he shares quotes for PhDs to stay motivated in their job search process

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

  • First, Isaiah explains why PhDs should remain motivated in their job search
  • Next, Isaiah reveals the right rationale for PhDs to remain motivated
  • Finally, Isaiah describes the strategies for PhDs to stay motivated for their industry transition

From This Week’s Show… 

Why PhDs Should Remain Motivated In Their Job Search

Being motivated defines the rate of success. The PhD job search process is arduous. When it comes to their job search process, many PhDs feel dejected. Like I want to get an industry job, but I’m not highly motivated. 

 This is not new, I have experienced it. We have so much else going on. We’ve wired our brains academically. We have this academic mindset. We want to get published, think, explore the theory, perform the experiments. But in a job search, it is different. You may find people who are more accomplished than you, and have more publications, projects or tenure. But you’re in the top 1.6% of the population when it comes to education.

For your PhD you had to stay motivated to climb to the peak of one mountain. However, the PhD job search process requires you to get off that mountain peak and go to the bottom of another mountain. You have to approach it with the same humility as a student. You have to inculcate a discovery mindset. Also, most importantly, you have to build rationale for doing that. Why would anybody want to do that? You spent your entire student life climbing this mountain peak. Unfortunately you never get to the summit of this peak. But now there’s a dead end. Tenure is dying. Tenured professorships are dwindling, they’re almost extinct. We’ll talk about numbers today. A variety of factors show that the situation in academia is worse than it’s ever been. 

Building The Right Rationale To Stay Motivated

We learn in terms of reference points. But building the right rationale is imperative to stay motivated. If you’re creating a rationale as to why things are better in academia, you are failing. Building rationale as to why you shouldn’t spend time on your job search, doesn’t even make sense. 

You don’t have much time. Don’t set unreal expectations. Don’t set yourself up for failure. I can wait until I defend my thesis or my postdoc doesn’t get over for another year. I’ve recovered my postdocs since the pandemic. With everything going on. I got a publication to finish, kids to take care of at home. I don’t have time. To me it sounds like-I don’t have enough time for my job search.

Let’s be clear, if you’re not spending at least two hours of focused effort, executing your job search every day, including weekends, then you’re definitely not taking your job search seriously. Not just thinking about your job search, but actually executing it. Typing your resume, typing LinkedIn, reaching out to somebody actively, without skipping any days. That’s the reference point I want to start with. Sometimes we casually think about our job search, during our experiments or while walking in the classroom or lab. We have an intense desire to transition. That’s not actually executing in the real world.

Strategies For PhDs To Stay Determined For An Industry Transition

In terms of rationale, why would any PhD want to get off the mountain peak that they spent their whole academic life climbing ? All that hard work.  I’m going to tell you, I have a list of motivational quotes to make you feel great. But a rationale will keep you pumped forever. Having a strong rationale on both sides of the spectrum will remind you why the job search is essential. Why is it the worst decision ever to stay in academia? Why is it a career failure? Why will it damage your career?

Certainly any future career you want to have in an industry is damaged by every day that you stay in academia after getting your PhD. On top of this, a large-scale study reported that PhD salaries in academia are down five to 8% from last year, thanks to the pandemic. So, industry wages and international inflation have increased to levels not seen in decades, but PhD salaries in academia have decreased. Even though industry employers are trying desperately to find you, you’re fighting obscurity and they are fighting your invisibility. So how do you solve that?

The first quote is, industry PhDs are more successful than their academic counterparts because they’ve decided to take their careers into their own hands. Instead of passively waiting for academia to take care of them, they decided to be creative. Buck the status quo and define what success looks like for themselves

** for the full podcast, check out the audio player above.

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