Transition Q & A: John Robertson

The latest Q & A comes from a medical biophysics PhD who works as a research officer at a university-affiliated institution. Here’s how John’s story begins:

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

I’ve always had a very fuzzy view of the future. I knew there were lots of things I would be happy doing, including traditional academia, supporting research, teaching or working in industry. Every day I’d picture myself doing something different, and it all seemed equally good, so I mostly focused on learning things, building my skills and keeping doors open.

I originally went into grad school and research for a number of reasons, one of which you could say was to “do good.” So I was hoping to work either on medical technology or in the not-for-profit sector in general, but it wasn’t an absolute requirement for me. I always tried to keep my eyes and options open beyond research, but I was pretty clueless as to the range of things I could apply my skills towards and enjoy.

Read the full post over at University Affairs.

Transition Q & A: Tom Westerman

Have you ever thought of teaching high school after earning your PhD? Tom Westerman did! He realized he enjoyed teaching most of all, and has just finished up his first year as a teacher. Read his Q & A over at University Affairs.

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

As completed my Ph.D. I was hoping for a teaching-centric college job. I wanted to be the typical liberal arts college history professor: small classes, idyllic campus, working closely with students and doing some interesting research and writing, but not so much that I was never around. As time went on, though, and after conversations with family, friends, and my advisor, I came to realize that teaching at the secondary school level might actually be more suitable and more closely fit what I saw as my future. So I switched gears the summer before I finished.

The full post is here!

Transition Q & A: Raj Dhiman

So what does a guy with a PhD in bio-organic chemistry do outside the academy? Work in tech sales, of course! Well, that’s one option. Read about Raj Dhiman’s transition from science postdoc to corporate sales training manager over at my University Affairs blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

What do you do now?

For the past year, I have been working at a new division of Rogers Communications called Vicinity. I sought full-time employment in a sales role because I had very little money on hand to deal with student debt while trying to make ends meet. I knew I had the right skill set to be successful in sales with the strong potential to earn some serious money.

I started out on the sales floor, making cold calls and selling to small businesses. I devoted myself to learning the entire sales process from scratch then got very good at it. After six months, I was encouraged to apply for the sales training manager position and was successful in being promoted to the role.

The full post is here.

Transition Q & A: Viviane Callier

Viviane Callier has a PhD in biology and now works as a science writer at the US National Cancer Institute. Here how the interview begins:

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

When I finished my PhD, I had lined up a postdoc in the same field of study (insect physiology). During my postdoc, I spent a lot of time applying for grants, and also had my first interview for a tenure track job. I started to realize that, the closer I got to what I thought I wanted, the less appealing it became. So I started exploring alternatives away from the bench. I wrote for the university blog and alumni magazine, which led to the idea that I could write full time.

Read the rest over at University Affairs!

Transition Q & A: Nicholas Dion

How does a religious studies PhD wind up working as a senior coordinator at the Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario? Read this week’s Q & A over at University Affairs to find out! Nick spent months exploring his options beyond academia, and was proactive in his job search toward the end of his degree.

Before the interview, I prepared as best I could. I milked my contacts for anything they knew about HEQCO. I spoke to my friend’s mom – the one who sent me the ad – to see what she knew about them. I reflected on my grad school experience and did some research into Ontario’s postsecondary challenges and policy priorities. When I got to the interview, I learned that, unbeknownst to me and unannounced in the ad, they had been thinking about hiring two interns – the traditional research intern and another intern who could move into an editor role. They had never had an editor before but had been increasing their rate of publication recently and wanted someone who could create and manage a consistent process. My work on the journal, together with my research experience and my experience working with academics made me a strong candidate. So I’m fond of saying that my first job was technically one for which I hadn’t even applied.

Read this rest of this interview here.

Transition Q & A: Daveena Tauber

Rutgers English PhD Daveena Tauber is forging a career for herself in higher education, but from the outside. Read her transition story over at University Affairs. An excerpt:

What do you do now? 

At this point, I am an established writing consultant who specializes in working with graduate programs and graduate students. The first part of my mission is to help graduate programs increase retention and diversity by supporting the full range of skills required to produce successful academic work. The second part is to support graduate students through direct consulting services. You might say that I facilitate excellent working relationships between universities and their students.

Very cool!

Transition Q & A: Michael Ryan Hunsaker

How does someone with a PhD in neuroscience wind up working as a special education primary-school teacher? Here’s one part of the story:

Interestingly, actually getting the job was fortunate. The principal read the information in my application and was incredulous that someone with a PhD was going to be willing to take a part time (27.5 hours.week) job for $9.01 an hour. Further, there was no way this type of person would stick around for any amount of time.

When I arrived for the interview, the principal asked me outright why I was there. He had literally only given me the interview so he could see if I was for real.

Ha! Read the full Q & A over at University Affairs. It’s a wonderful piece, inspiring and full of good advice for PhDs (and others) changing careers. Thanks Michael!

Transition Q & A: Melissa Dalgleish

This is one you’re definitely going to want to read! Melissa Dalgleish is a regular contributor to Hook & Eye, an ABD in English from York University, and a research officer in the Faculty of Graduate Studies at same. Here’s an excerpt:

What do you do now?

I’m a research officer at York University, one of about a dozen (including Jamie Pratt, who did a Transition Q&A for you a couple of years ago). However, my job is a bit different from that of the dozen other research officers at York, because I support graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in research-related activities, rather than faculty members. I coordinate all of our scholarship and fellowship competitions, develop applications for major grants and awards, oversee graduate research that requires ethics approval or intellectual property agreements, and coordinate graduate research and professional skills events and programs, including the Three Minute Thesis competition and our Graduate Professional Skills (GPS) program.

Read the full Q & A over at University Affairs.

Transition Q & A: Kelly J. Baker

Meet Kelly, a religion PhD and scholar who’s been an adjunct and now is building up a career as a freelance writer. Here’s a bit of her story:

Now, I’m building my career as a freelance writer while also wrangling a wise beyond her years five-year old and a laid back one-year old. I’m trying to shift my writing from part-time to full-time work, which is a slow process with a bit of a learning curve. Yet, I learn more about the business of writing every day. Writing is a business, and I hope more academics start to realize this too. Writing should be paid for, not given away for free.

For the full post, head over to University Affairs.

Transition Q & A: Andrew Miller

This summer I met Andrew Miller and talked to him about his transition from history PhD and sessional instructor (read: adjunct) to public servant and soon-to-be Strategic Leader for the City of Mississauga, Canada’s sixth most populous municipality (thank you, Wikipedia). He’s thrilled about his move and proud of the work he’s done over the past 8 years with the Ontario government. Andrew knows that PhDs have what it takes to succeed in the non-academic world, and gives some great tips in this Q & A post.

Here’s a bit of what he wrote:

What was your first post-PhD job?

If we exclude the sessional work, my first post-PhD job was working as a junior policy analyst for the Ontario Ministry of Infrastructure. It might be worth explaining how I got that job: following my epiphany that this was a line of work I wanted to get into, I consulted with an old friend from undergrad days who was a civil servant. He in turn set me up with an informational interview with another civil servant who also held a PhD. He introduced me to what the life would be like. At his suggestion, I applied for an entry-level job that was advertised in the newspaper. It took two interviews and a lengthy test, but I got the position.

Read the full Q & A over at University Affairs!