Hosted By

Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Isaiah Hankel, PhD
Chief Executive Officer Cheeky Scientist
mental health

Join Isaiah as he explains why mental disorders occurs in PhDs staying in academia for long and the strategies they can follow to get hired in industry roles

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

  • First, Isaiah discusses why staying in academia harms causes mental disorders in PhDs 
  • Next, Isaiah reveals new strategies that will help you get through the job search process
  • Finally, Isaiah explores the answers to some quirky interview questions that PhDs might face

From This Week’s Show… 

Why PhDs In Academia Should Prioritize Their Industry Job Search For Their Mental Health

Why staying in academia causes mental disorders? I am not talking about clinically diagnosed disorders. I am talking about the mental challenges, the struggles, the pain. PhDs in academia have an indescribable urge that they are not accomplishing anything or making any progress. How did that happen? This is a common disorder that happens to PhDs stuck in academia for long. That takes a toll on their mental health.

As a PhD, when you come across a depressed postdoc it makes you ponder that being a PhD, you are highly skilled and intelligent, what went wrong? Clearly at that time you don’t understand how dark it is and how it actually damages a PhD’s career and their mental health. However, at one point you realize that the system is broken. We become disillusioned and undergo a lot of pain.

The challenging time and the pain in academia deviates you from a productive target. So you look for something else because as PhDs, we have very active minds. We want to do something better, where we can make a difference. We can do higher level work, more volume of work than other people, and, gradually academia stops making sense to us as we are not given any direction. The university is a business at the end of the day, and they don’t know what they’re doing.

I realized that in academia, professors work hard for years on something. Then, just scrap it because they were just spinning out research to get the next grant. On the contrary, everybody in industry was discovering things so much faster and that acceleration and industry is incomparable. Don’t make someone else’s career your pie, put your career first. Try to find something positive and productive, like your job search to get obsessed over, the options, the possibilities for you in industry that will unlock your energy again.

Strategies To Succeed In The PhD Job Search Process

Don’t get stuck in apathy, staying in academia will bring you more harm than help. Make your job search your priority. There are several new strategies to help you in the job search process.

Certain changes in the resume structure are needed for making a better impact on the recruiter. Education, job duties and technical skills should not be on the first page of the resume. Transferable skills in the work experience section must be highlighted. Resume structure is important because the recruiter needs to find the candidate relevant information from the resume in order to make the final decision. 

Academic job titles, though fancy, have less value on an industry resume. Use the job title that would make sense for what you did and use it across instead of a bunch of titles that do not convey your expertise. Highlight what you learned during the job, the transferable skills, add value to your job title.

Answers To Some Quirky Interview Questions That Put PhDs In Academia In A Fix

For almost a decade. The first question that PhDs are going to be asked during an interview after “how are you”, is “tell me a little bit about yourself”. It is very easy to think that everybody you interview with is going to be a trained interviewer, a HR who knows the way the question should be answered. That is not true in many cases. 

We recommend PhDs in academia to make an impressive elevator pitch for this, where you say, who you are both professionally and personally. Add a personal aspect too because your answer is going to prompt their next line of questioning.

Besides, a personal note also helps to build rapport with them. Convey your hobbies. Something that shows that you’re more well-rounded than the majority of the PhD population. Show a team-oriented outdoor activity that somebody without a PhD can identify with, because they will ask you about that and in doing so, you have successfully disarmed them. You’re talking about something that’s more personable. They’re going to get back to the other questions, but this is a great way to start your answer. 

When you are questioned about why you would like to join the company, your answer should be aligned with why they are hiring you for this position and the goals of the position. Staying focussed on the company’s goal helps these answers. Answering questions in an interview is a skill but preparing ahead to answer these questions efficiently makes a huge difference.

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

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