Make 2017 the year of “What if I…?”

Happy New Year! My latest blog post looks at a tool a client of mine told me about, a way of switching up one’s thinking in a positive, more impactful way.

A client shared this bit of wisdom with me a while back: Instead of admonishing herself with “I should…” she replaced it with “What if I…?”

Reframing the sentiment as an open question turns it into something positive and future-oriented. The answer focuses on the benefits of taking an action, rather than the guilt or shame that accompanies not doing what she “should.”

Check out the full post on University Affairs!

Transition Q & A: Lino Coria

This week’s story is that of Lino Coria, a computer vision engineer at Wiivv Wearables and partner at Scribble Consulting. He started his career as a professor in Mexico, but for family reasons moved back to Canada, took a postdoc, and now works in industry.

What are your favourite parts of your job?

I like to discover elegant solutions to complicated problems. I cannot go into details but we were able to identify a novel way of solving one of our greatest challenges. It was a game changer.

Neat! Read Lino’s full Q & A over at University Affairs.

Should You Quit Your PhD?

Earlier this year I published “It’s OK to quit your PhD” on my University Affairs blog; it was later reposted on the Shit Academics Say blog and shared thousands of times on social media. This post struck a chord with many people.

To quit or not to quit a PhD is a fraught topic, heavy with all kinds of baggage of different sorts. People can have strong opinions about the right answer, and have let me know what they think. My own opinion remains what it was months ago: You do you.

There is nothing inherently good or bad about completing a PhD. It’s only a good move for you if it is a good move for you. While individuals who depart sans degree will come to their own personal conclusions about their decisions, the wide world rarely cares.

If leaving before you graduate is right for you, awesome; if not, great. If you’re struggling with the decision, investigate what’s going on but then trust what you learn and act on it.

Over the years since I started working as a coach, I’ve worked with a few clients who’ve navigated the “should I quit” question. They come to me at different stages of the decision process, and it takes time for them to sort out what’s right. That’s as it should be. What they get from speaking with me about the issue(s) is an empathetic, curious listener who wants what’s best for them. Yes, I did finish my PhD, but I can easily imagine not having done so. (If only I’d hired a coach years before I did!) I don’t regret my path, but . . . well, there might have been a better way.

Are you struggling with the to quit or not decision these days?

Join me next Wednesday for a conversation and group coaching session on this topic. I’ll start us off with a few words about my own journey and what I’ve learned along the way from my clients and others. Then, we’ll have a structured discussion around a few important talking points and your own questions and concerns. We’ll end by coming up with next steps you can take to either continue your thinking, determine your exit strategy, or refocus on your studies, whatever’s right for you.

Date: Wednesday, 14 December 2016
Time: 1pm – 2:30pm ET
Cost: CA $20 (+ applicable tax) / approx US $15 per participant, paid via PayPal
Location: Online, via Zoom (I’ll provide you with a link)

Anyone is welcome to join us, and you can do so anonymously/silently if you prefer. Only I will know your contact details, and I won’t tell anyone.

This will be a live-only event — the idea is for us to gather together in a safe space for an open discussion with me and each other. This is also a test for me,  and I’ve priced it accordingly — I’ve not done something quite like this in the past. We’ll see how it goes.

Transition Q & A: Jennifer Askey

Jennifer Askey earned tenure and enjoyed her job, but found her husband’s career opportunities limited where they were located. When he got a great offer elsewhere, she quit and moved with him. Fast forward a few years and Jennifer’s now working part-time for the YWCA — a position she got after volunteering at the organization — and building a new academic coaching business.

What most surprises you about your job?

Training to be a coach has required me to articulate very clearly my vision for my career and its place in my life. The process of slowing down and looking inside myself for answers to some pretty big questions has brought up lots of pleasant surprises for me!

Working at the YWCA has also brought a few surprises: I’ve learned so much more about the depth and breadth of the employment services they offer. I’ve begun referring women I know who want to start businesses to my colleagues here. As a volunteer, I edited a dozen or so business plans from a women’s entrepreneurship group. I was doing this as I thought about going into business for myself as a coach. Getting insight into how a business is run was a surprise bonus for my volunteer hours!

Read the full post over at University Affairs!

Transition Q & A: Maura Elizabeth Cunningham

The newest Q & A is with a history PhD turned writing and social media manager for a scholarly association. Maura knew when she entered her program that she wanted to work as a historian, but not as a professor. So she did things during her degree to set herself up for the career she wanted:

What did you hope for in terms of employment as you completed your PhD?

I was a little bit unusual, in that I knew even before I applied to PhD programs that I didn’t plan to end up on the tenure track. I wanted to be a historian and writer; I didn’t, however, want to spend my career in the classroom. I chose the program at UC Irvine because the professors I talked with there — especially my advisor, Jeff Wasserstrom — understood this from the beginning and did everything they could to help me build up my alt-ac resume while also hitting the regular benchmarks expected of any PhD student.

Read the full post on my University Affairs blog.

Social media manager

I’m hiring a social media manager for From PhD to Life.

The mission of From PhD to Life is to help graduate students and PhDs launch meaningful careers. I do this by providing 1-on-1 coaching and mentoring. Learn more about my services here. My clients range from current graduate students who are working on dissertations or figuring out whether to stay in school or move on, to ABDs and PhDs navigating careers, particularly beyond the professoriate. I help my clients do what they need to do to move forward in their lives and careers, whatever that is. My brand is positive and optimistic but always honest and thoughtful.

I currently manage @FromPhDtoLife on Twitter and a Facebook Page. My new social media manager will be responsible to creating posts and scheduling them so that there’s always useful, inspiring, and brand-appropriate content on my Twitter and Facebook feeds. (I will still post “live” on my accounts.) I expect applicants to have high level familiarity with Twitter posting norms and at least some familiarity with what I’d broadly define as “academic Twitter.” See this video to learn how I currently handle Twitter sharing. If this process appeals to you, read on.

The ideal candidate will be part of my team at From PhD to Life, in a part-time, ongoing freelance role, starting at around 3 hours/week not including initial training. (Potential for increasing the number of hours definitely exists; see below.) They buy into the mission and are excited to participate in finding, curating, and sharing fantastic content with my target audience: graduate students, researchers, instructors, faculty members, as well as other individuals with graduate degrees, wherever they work. From PhD to Life brand primarily targets individuals rather than businesses or institutions.

Specific duties include:

  • Reading articles and posts available in a shared Evernote folder;
  • Deciding what pieces are worth sharing, and how;
  • Creating tweets and FB posts in Edgar or other scheduling tool(s);
  • Keeping up with current posting trends and brand-relevant hashtags on Twitter;
  • Overseeing the social media posting calendars to ensure a regular stream of quality content is going out;
  • Deleting, editing, and adding new content to the Twitter queue on a weekly or biweekly basis;
  • Other tasks to be determined based on my business needs and your own skills and interests.

Do you have other skills, interests, and experience that relates to social media? If you’ve got graphic design skills, love analytics and SEO, are a brilliant copywriter, or have other marketing and advertising experience relevant to this very small business, let me know. My immediate need is for the work outlined above, but I’d be thrilled to welcome a new team member who could expand their role as my business evolves. I’m open to trying out new things.

(Note: At the moment I’m looking for assistance with From PhD to Life, but know that my other businesses/brands include Beyond the Professoriate [a partnership with another entrepreneur] and Self-Employed PhD. I also own, and there may be work related to that in the future.)

This is a remote position. You need not be based in Toronto. Pay rate to be determined based on skills and experience.

Want to apply? Email me a bit about yourself, any relevant links, and what makes you interested! Don’t worry if you don’t have a resume on hand. I’m more concerned that you can and do want to do the work, and are keen to join my team. (“Team” is just me at the moment!)

Support and community for graduate students and PhDs

My most recent post for University Affairs suggests ways students and PhDs can find or create structure, accountability, and support for themselves and their work. It begins:

I work for and largely by myself, and I love it. My graduate school experience was similar in important ways: I worked at home without much externally-imposed structure. It was challenging, and remains so. Even so, this is how I work best.

But I do have support. I do have community.

Read the full post here.