You have heard it before – academia is producing more PhDs than it is able to accomodate. Yet, when three years into the PhD I told my supervisors that my future steps are directed beyond academia, I was met with shocked surprise, bit of disappointment and disbelief. These reactions can be hard to face and can make us doubt our choices. That is why Tina Persson wanted to “highlight the diversity of careers amongst PhDs” and started a PhD Career Stories podcast.
As a recruiter, professional career coach and an academic who left the branch, Tina has seen multiple PhD candidates struggle and decided to act. She wanted to “reach out to PhDs all around the world and let them know that a rewarding and successful career is within their reach. And to provide hope, inspiration and strategies on how to get there.” And for sure, listening to the podcast has taught me some valuable lessons.
1. You are not alone
Obviously at the university, I do not meet many role-models in my day to day life that could advise me on work outside of academia. Listening to PhD Career Stories makes me feel less lonely. Up to now, the team has published 44 episodes, in which PhDs from Europe, Australia, Africa and Asia share their experiences, challenges, failures and their successes. Listening to the podcast while working out, washing dishes at home or in the lab allows flexibility a career service events do not. And the format can make you feel like the person is sharing a secret just with you! So what are some of those secrets?
2. Open your eyes
When doing a PhD, we obtain academic training. Hence it is easy to overlook that we have other skills. The podcast can help you to open your eyes to the skills that you already have. And provide tips on how to find them and frame them. For example in episode 9 international career coach Ania Gruszczynska shares tips on transferable skills. Or in episode 12 you can learn from an academic career consultant Sarah Blackford about career planning. However, as Tina Persson herself advices in episode #14 equally important lessons can be learned by observing what you do not like about your current situation. Overall, PhD career stories does not provide only inspiration but also practical strategies for everyone.
3. Do not regret
Many of those starring in the podcast have left academia and share their knowledge, and tips on what they would do differently during their PhD education given the job market and their experience of career transition. Their wisdom can help you avoid some of the struggles they have faced. Even if they would do things differently second time around – they had no regrets. Not once did I hear “I regret doing a PhD”, which is in all honesty quite calming.
4. No choices are wrong
As none regretted the past, the astounding diversity of careers included in the PhD Career Stories Podcasts made me also feel that no future choice is wrong. You can “meet” individuals from most continents. Their current occupations are in academia, industry, non-profit organizations, freelancing, government, entrepreneurship and other sectors. Nevertheless, with all the heterogeneity, one thing is clear: the path of career change is not straightforward. So how does one choose the right way with a foggy landscape around and diverging trails ahead? The answer is:
5. All you need is love!
The most important lesson the podcast imparted on me was – find the thing that suits you and makes you happy! Simply do something that you love. It does not mean it will be easy but your devotion to it will be your driving force in time of difficulties.
Practical information: The podcast is released every other Friday and distributed via Libsyn, iTunes, Spotify and Soundcloud and disseminated via WordPress, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. If you do not like listening, all episodes are transcribed and available at: https://phdcareerstories.com/