#EntrepreneurChat – Is it time to shake up your business strategy?

The business environment around us is constantly changing. Successful organizations have to learn to adapt or face the prospect of their competitors ‘eating’ into their market share. The ability to navigate ‘new waters’ is important to all entrepreneurs – whether you are a sole trader or have 1,000 employees! In today’s article, Adeyinka shares steps aspiring entrepreneurs can utilise to ensure their businesses succeed in spite of a changing internal and external environment.

Let’s take a look at Burger King. Once ranked number two on the list of top fast food chains, it now finds itself number 5 in the top 15, according to Business Insider. In 2012, the top 15 fast food chains ranked in the nation had a combined $115 billion in sales. It may sound like this is a good thing for Burger King with sales of $8.4 billion and 7,231 locations right? The fact is that they are losing market share to Wendy’s, Starbucks and Subway which is reason for concern. Additionally, Burger King have Taco Bell in the number 6 spot nipping at their heels. So what has Burger King done?  They are now one of the first fast food chains to come to market with turkey & veggie burgers – tapping into the health conscious and vegetarian consumer market. Like Burger King, every business, whether large or small needs to be able to recognize when it’s time to shake things up.

It is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.

Dr Leon C. Meggison misquoting Charles Darwin

The Art of Acting II – Impact of ‘Type’ and ‘Casting Choices’ in Finding Roles and Honing Your Craft

Recently, we featured an article on the Art of Acting by Shauna Blaize, an actress, model and film producer. In the article, Shauna shared her perspective and the “reality” facing budding actors in the film industry. In today’s post, Shauna reflects on how type and often race play a part in casting choices and how she is showcasing her own abilities as an actor and a producer.

We all have a type and when casting directors look at us they see the girl next door, the sassy girl, the best friend, the leading lady, etc and quite frankly it may not be what you or your friends/family see when they look at you.  But again we are not looking at our personalities or our inner essence; we are looking at ourselves with a critical eye, knowing the type we fit into and how we can sell that type. In other words how our type fits in with the need they are trying to fill.

Type has a few branches; it’s not only if you have straight or curly hair, if you wear glasses, or if you are short or tall or have a “look” that is more on the “businesswoman” side versus a “hippie chick.” It goes deeper than that. For instance I need to know that as a Black woman I will be viewed for certain roles. Roles such as the neck twisting/”around the way” type girl. If you want to go even deeper, I am a woman of mixed ethnicity and “light skinned” so I will be viewed as that “pretty light skinned chick” from the projects that is considered a “prize” because let’s be honest, I have a lighter complexion.

We look at Kerry Washington (Scandal) and recent Emmy winner Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder) and it seems that it’s all good for actresses of color but we are still quite far behind.

#PhDChat – The Postdoctoral Conundrum; to postdoc or not to postoc?

5. Postdoc conundrumFor many PhD candidates, undertaking postdoctoral training after their PhD programs appears as the “natural” career transition upon graduating. This is not an exact science and in today’s post, Dr Victor Ujor discusses the ‘postdoctoral concept’ and offers beneficial tips for PhD candidates thinking of the of the next steps in their career after the PhD

For most PhD students particularly in the sciences, as soon as they near the end of the grueling PhD journey, they are literally feverish at the prospect of landing a real ‘money-paying’ job. In today’s economy, such jobs are few and far between. Nonetheless, they still exist, but to get one, you ought to have a roadmap from the onset. An overwhelming number of PhD candidates drift towards the Postdoctoral end of the job spectrum for a number of reasons.

First, most PhD candidates feel they are expected to do a postdoc – gain extra experience, get more publications and then land the real job. In some cases, that does happen, but if one does not have a clear-cut strategy as to how to negotiate the winding Postdoctoral alleyway, they might end up stuck in a convoluted maze for an unpleasant period of time. Second, more often than not, Postdoctoral positions are more available that positions in industry, which pays more. Third, some PhD candidates are confused about their career prospects i.e. should they decide to ditch academia for industry.

For PhD candidates at the confusing intersection between the end of the PhD program and a vastly hostile market, perhaps it is important to clarify the concept of a postdoctoral experience .

 What is a Postdoctoral experience really?

#CareerChat – 5 Reasons why you need to develop your leadership skills!

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What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘leader’? Do you think about political leaders, organisational leaders, religious leaders etc? Do you think about yourself? If you could spend an hour with any leader of your choice, who would you choose and why? In this article, Amara discusses why improving your leadership capacity is essential for achieving career success.

1. But I am not a leader or am I? – When I discuss leadership during academic and career development workshops that I facilitate, this point usually comes up in the first few minutes. ‘I’m just a first year student. I don’t know anything about anything really, why are you talking to me about leadership?’ or ‘My job role is at the bottom of the organisational chart. I have no supervisory responsibilities. Why do I need to learn about leadership?’ Regardless of ‘rank or file’, we ALL need to learn about leadership. Developing leadership skills means working on our people skills – increasing our capacity and competence in motivating ourselves as well as others towards a common goal. As you aspire to develop your career and be given more responsibility, expanding your leadership potential is an essential in your toolkit. The ability to work well with others is always an essential requirement in a job specification. Terms used differ – ‘team work’, ‘managerial’, ‘supervisory’ – but at the core is the question ‘Will you be able to get along with the other members of the team, motivate them if necessary to ensure the organisation’s mission is met?’

We all have the potential to lead but many of us do not develop the competence or capacity to do so!

2.Focus on building relationships and not just your position – Viewing leadership as only occupying a position of authority – usually over a large group of people – is limited. It is true that about 99.5% of us will never attain being the top dog of any organisation we belong to. At any given time, there is only going to be one CEO, one Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and one POTUS! It is a myth though that because you are not ‘the’ leader, you are not ‘a’ leader. While working in the voluntary sector, I learnt the importance of building relationships with team members and gaining influence naturally. Everyone influences someone! Volunteer organisations are a good place to develop leadership skills because it is a place where your team follows your lead because they want to and not because they have to! I have seen myself people fall into the ‘positional leader trap.’ We’ve all had someone like this on our team – the person who has to wield their title to get things done. If you always have to remind people you are in charge, you really aren’t. Think about a role you have been in where you were at your most productive, where you did unpaid overtime and always went the extra mile. How was your relationship with your boss or leader? When we learn to treat people with dignity and respect, we are not only developing our leadership skills, we are also increasing productivity for our organisation.

3. Authority = Responsibility – At the end of a meeting I had organised with another colleague, an attendee walked up to me and told me how great it must be to be so ‘powerful’ within my group. I was a bit taken aback by her statement and upon further discussion, I realised that where she equated leadership with authority, my perspective was from the point of responsibility. Good leaders recognise both their authority and responsibility. Leaders need to get things done and are usually under more pressure than the rest of the team realises. Leaders do have authority but this is because they have a big dossier of things and people they are responsible for. A first year undergraduate student may not see leadership opportunities but what happens when that student takes up the opportunity to become the student representative of their course? The student is given the responsibility for ensuring feedback from your colleagues is relayed to your Course Committee but being in this role also has some advantages. Leadership does have its perks – access, recognition, resources – but focus on your responsibilities. Keep first things first.

4. Competence and character – To succeed as a leader means learning as much as you can about leadership BEFORE you find yourself in a leadership position. Think about any great world leader, they learnt how to influence people while still in the trenches. Barack Obama spent years as an organiser on the streets of Chicago before he rose to the position of POTUS. Develop your competence in leadership from where you are right now – even if that means setting your personal and career goals and working towards achieving them. Good leaders develop competence in their attitude, prioritising, problem solving, team building, mentoring and self-discipline. Leadership is not just about what you are able to accomplish though but about who you are as a person.

I love football and my best way to relax and ‘unwind’ is by going to Old Trafford to watch Manchester United play. For the 90 minutes of the game, I cease to be an academic and I transform into the most prolific football manager in existence. I would have played ‘x’ in that position and not ‘y’. Surely, ‘A’ should be substituted for ‘B’ now. Why 4-2-3-1 Mr Van Gaal??? A wise man explained this as being an ‘arm chair’ critic. It is always easy to volunteer recommendations and advice where you have no responsibility. Leaders usually have a different view from followers and while we may not always agree with them, we should try and be as supportive as we can. Do not be the person who always complains about the boss but never proffers any solution that could help make the leader’s job easier. Everyone likes problem solvers on their team, learn to be one.

If you are in the position your leader is now, what would you expect from the people following you? Is that what you are doing now?

5. There are no perfect people so there are no perfect leaders. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with recognising the weaknesses of the people who lead you. The desire to innovate, create or find a way of doing things are leadership traits. It can also be frustrating working for someone who has not developed their leadership capacity but do not violate your position or the trust of your leader. Be a person of integrity and follow the Golden Rule.

Every aspiring professional must develop the capacity to lead. Use the early years to develop productive relationships at work and take up more responsibilities. Great leaders empower others to attain their professional development goals. Remember the words of Mark Twain – “Great people are those who make others feel that they, too, can become great.”

aa-headshotAbout our writer – After completing a PhD in Microbiology and Food Science, Amara is developing her career in academia – providing teaching and learning solutions in UK FE and HE Institutions as well as conducting research in Food Microbiology. Amara believes in the combined power of education, mentoring and productive relationships as essential tools for building successful careers.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please shareWould you like to share an article in The Hub? We would love to hear from you. Please get in touch – info@aspiringprofessionalshub.com

No Work Without Experience, no Experience Without Work! – The Catch 22 for New Graduates.

354ed3f Dear Aspiring Professionals Hub,

I have just read your article about life science graduates on LinkedIn and would like some advice. I have just graduated with a first class degree and I am struggling to find work as I do not have enough experience! I was wondering what you would recommend as every job I get declined from is because I lack the experience – which no one has yet offered to give me!

I can relate with the frustration in the email above. Getting into your first graduate job may feel like an uphill task especially in today’s employer’s market. Research published by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in 2014 showed that 66% of the 18,000 recruiting employers surveyed rated relevant work experience as being a critical or significant factor looked for in candidates. Experience was deemed to be slightly more important than qualifications. Interestingly and disappointingly, only about 40% offered some form of work placement while only 20% engaged with schools, colleges and Universities to provide work-related opportunities! Candidates with relevant work experience on their CVs will be more attractive than those without, it is a truth we must accept and live with.

If you are still at University – especially a final year student – ensure getting relevant work experience is a top priority. We usually advise undergraduates to undertake sandwich programmes  – where a year of work placement is ‘sandwiched’ in between your studies – where appropriate. Beyond getting the much needed experience under your belt, it can serve to demystify what the world of work is like. If you cannot afford a sandwich year, consider doing some work during the summer break. Most Universities offer some type of work placement module for 2nd or final year students, so be proactive!  However, if you’ have just attended your graduation ceremony and haven’t done this, what should you do?

Evaluate – You will need to draw on your reflective thinking skills. You may not have relevant work experience but what do you have? We tend to underestimate the knowledge we have gained and attributes/skills we have developed during our time at University. Employers know you do not have tons of experience as a recent graduate applying for an entry level position but you must be able to translate what you have learnt during your degree into something that adds value to their organisation. Graduates who are able to articulate knowledge and skills gained from their Higher Education experience will always be ahead of the game. What have you been doing over the last three or four years at University? Have you included the research project you carried out in your final year on your CV? Emmanuel recalls this point as an important aspect of a job interview for a role in clinical research at a point where he had limited relevant work experience. His ability to discuss his project with clarity and enthusiasm impressed interviewers, so if you have not given your project much thought, perhaps this is the time to do so!.

Did you start a society or club? Were you the class representative on your course? Did you work in the student union? Working as a sales assistant in a supermarket can enable you develop customer service, numeracy and time management skills. This article on identifying your skills may be able to help you in developing your skills profile as well as highlighting potential gaps. Talk to your Career adviser, they can help you polish that CV! Compare your CV with the person specifications for the jobs you are applying for.  Do they focus on experience or skills, or both?

Yep, they want experience, so what next? dreamstime_10416210_experience Volunteer/Intern – Yes, I know you have student loans, bills, etc. but do see this period of unpaid work as an investment in your future. We do have to adapt to the world as it and not as we would like it to be, unfortunately the truth is that no one is truly guaranteed a job – first class or not. Use volunteering or an internship as an opportunity to show your passion, develop your skills and network! With a first class undergraduate degree and a PhD, I (Amara) still had to do some voluntary work in a research lab after graduation when I couldn’t find a job. This gave me the opportunity to learn new lab techniques and get some lab management and administrative experience under my belt. Eventually, I was able to get into a postdoc where I had to utilise the knowledge I had gained during volunteering. I know graduation may have seemed like the end of the ‘struggle’ but hang in there. A friend who also graduated with a first class degree in Biomedical Science worked in retail to make ends meet while volunteering in a lab. She was eventually offered a trainee Biomedical scientist role in the same organisation. Believe me, it is easier getting a job when you already have one than when you don’t. Beyond, the experience you gain, volunteering shows prospective employers that you have initiative – a valuable personal attribute.

Who do you know? Who knows you? Networking will play an important role in your job search. Someone who knows your abilities is more likely to take a chance on you. Are you shy and introverted? No excuses, start by taking these baby steps. Cultivate a professional relationship with at least 2 expert recruiters for your discipline. They will share invaluable information and guess who will be contacted when opportunities arise? Do you have a LinkedIn account? Create a professional profile and start expanding your professional network. Will a prospective employer know you are actively searching for a job opportunity if they happen to come across your profile? This is no time to be shy! Start making connections with potential employers, join groups where jobs are advertised on LinkedIn. What about your lecturers? If you have developed a good relationship with them, they may be able to share some of their contacts with you. Are you a member of your discipline’s professional body? Most professional bodies will have a ‘Careers’ section on their website with useful information and tips but most importantly will host a number of events where you can network with other people in your discipline.

Work hard and persevere – Focus on what you want to achieve and keep working at it until you reach your goal. Sometimes it may feel like you are going round in circles and not progressing but keep at it anyway. Refuse to give up and use rejection as a tool for growth. Reflect on every failure and if you can do something better, please implement! Resist the urge to send the same copy of your CV to hundreds of prospective employers, always tailor it to the application at hand. Remember that the first job does not need to be the best one. It may not be perfect but are there opportunities for growth?

Good luck!

HeadshotAbout our writer – After completing a PhD in Microbiology and Food Science,  Amara is developing her career in academia – providing teaching and learning solutions in UK FE and HE Institutions as well as conducting research in Food Microbiology. Amara believes in the combined power of education, mentoring and productive relationships as essential tools for building successful careers.

If you enjoyed reading this article, please comment, share and subscribe to our network! Would you like to share an article in The Hub? We would love to hear from you. Please get in touch – info@aspiringprofessionalshub.com

Career Options for Life Science Graduates – Part II

In last week’s post, Emmanuel discussed several career options and pathways for life science graduates and for anyone interested in a career in the life sciences. In part I , the following areas were discussed; Teaching, Lecturing, Research, Transition to medicine, Business management and entrepreneurship and Sales.  In part II, we will now conclude on other career options including non-traditional career routes that are open and might be of interest to life science graduates.

Graduate School (PhD & Professional Doctorate) – whilst a number of life science graduates are interested in transitioning to medical school, a larger number of life science graduates proceed into postgraduate studies. This might be studying for a MSc degree, Masters by way of research or Masters Philosophy (MRes or MPhil) or a PhD. There has been an increase in the numbers of graduates embarking on postgraduate studies in the life science subjects in the UK perhaps due to difficulties in finding jobs upon graduation or the hope of better job opportunities with a higher degree. To embark on postgraduate studies in the UK, a minimum of a 2.2 is required i.e a GPA of 2.5 – 3.0 (dependent on University). With a 2.1 (GPA 3-3.5) classification, life science graduates are able to apply directly for PhD studies in the UK and in other countries. More universities in the UK now offer professional doctorate degrees which are equivalent to a PhD but focuses on the context of the workplace or practice of the applicants. Graduate school in the UK and USA are slightly different in the structure and modalities (we will expand on this later on in the future). We do encourage graduates to consider postgraduate studies as a great option however not before exploring the range of opportunities available to them first! After all, not everyone in a great career or job in the life sciences is a masters or PhD holder.

Forensics – Ever watched CSI, Bones, Law and Order or other US or UK TV Crime Drama? If you have, you’ve probably  imagined yourself as a forensic scientist or cool scientist, paleontologist or anthropologist of some sort. In our experiences dealing with prospective students interested in life science subjects we often find those interested in the area of forensics simply because of the television dramas. As scientists, we do welcome the interest created by such shows though we occasionally advise the young enthusiastic kids that life as a scientist is not usually or always as glamorous as the television dramas show. To embark on a career in forensics, a good degree in biomedical, biological or forensic science is a starting point – it’ll also help to study some chemical science or molecular biology during your degree. I (Emmanuel) remember interviewing for a role as a forensic scientist with the forensic science service (FSS) many years back and was presented with a very technical laboratory based practical alongside the formal interview. Thus, you will need good laboratory or technical skills to go with your degree.

Advisory and Consultancy – Do not be surprised about this, there are several advisory roles open to life science graduates globally. Several companies offer roles for Scientific Advisers, Medical Advisers, and Life Science Advisers. To be eligible for these posts, you will need a good honours degree (2.1 and above) with other skills such as good communication, analytical and presentation skills among others. Consultancy is also another area open to life science graduates and whist this is not a very common option for recent graduates, postgraduates (often PhD graduates) and experienced life science professionals work as consultants either on short term projects or in full time roles.

Scientific & Medical Communications – Life science graduate, not-interested in laboratory work but very capable when it comes to reading, analysis, interpretation, presentation and writing scientific or technical material? If yes, then a life in scientific or medical communications might just be the right career path for you. The terminologies for these roles are often interchangeable and sometimes these roles are also referred to in the same context as healthcare communications and medical writing. Many scientific organisations especially the biopharma sector contract some of the technical writing to medical communications firms who employ life science graduates to produce reports, study designs and writing of core scientific and general materials. This is a highly sought after career hence it is very competitive albeit with good remunerations. As usual you will be required to have a good honours degree and in some cases a postgraduate qualification and evidence of your ability to write including ability to design online materials which may or may not include blogging. Some Universities offer MSc degree programmes in Science Communication which is open to people of other disciplines which offers intensive training on different ways to communicate science and graduates from such degrees go on to practice in different environments including media, journalism and politics. For a good example of a MSc Science communication degree, click here

Recruitment – who is better at recruiting a science graduate than a science graduate? Working as a recruitment specialist or adviser for recruitment firms or other organisations that employ science graduates such as career departments at Universities and Colleges is also a good career path. Several friends have embarked on the journey into recruitment and have found it informative and interesting. working as a recruiter can be difficult for many reasons but it is also a great career as you get to interact with many job seekers as well as companies and imagine how much you learn about some of the clients and their products when you work as a recruiter (the science is never lost outside the lab!)

Government and Politics – surprised about this? Don’t be! Following our involvement with events run by the UK Biology professional scientific societies we became more aware of the possibility for scientists to work directly or in close association to government and politicians. In the UK for example, the biology societies have a designated representative in parliament who acts as a liaison or link between government and the respective societies. Also, members of parliament (senators or the like in other countries) have scientific advisors in their staff who can advise them on matters relating to science within their constituencies. In recent years, the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) have offered fellowships with research councils, learned societies and charities to sponsor PhD students and Post-doctoral candidates for about three months to carry out parliamentary placements. This offers experience for the fellows to learn about politics and policies also creating opportunities to work closely with politicians and law makers.

Life Science Solicitors – with the rising interest in medical ethics and law and with increasing discourse in genetics, climate change, assisted suicide and genetic modifications (GM) this is another interesting option for life science graduates. This would require undertaking a Masters degree or PhD degree in Bioethics and Medical Law or Jurisprudence. To embark on a career in this area, an undergraduate degree at 2:1 or above is required in the life sciences or other subject areas such as social sciences, law or medicine among others.

Whilst we highlight a range of career paths open to life science graduates, this is by no means the end of it. With the range of skills developed by life science graduates, there are undoubtedly other areas graduates of life science disciplines have found themselves so do not despair if you have not found something on here for you. if after reading this article, you have identified a career path that interests you, we would encourage you not to hold back and to chase your dream career.

For further detailed advice on Life Science Career roles and challenges, look out for our career profiles pages from people who have had success transitioning from University to professional life. To contribute an article, please contact us on @AspProfHub

 

#MyPhDStory – My PhD Life lessons

We were pleasantly surprised about the response to our article discussing myths about PhDs. Studying for a PhD can be a life changing process; successfully completing one provides the opportunity to learn not just about your discipline but about yourself as a person. In this article, Amara reflects on some of the most valuable life lessons she learnt while studying for her PhD.

Perseverance can be more important than intelligence – We had a saying in my lab that became my PhD mantra – ‘Never give up!’ Everyone knows that doing a PhD comes with its own unique challenges but I severely underestimated how difficult it was going to be. Nothing I had experienced during my undergraduate degree prepared me for starting a PhD. Six months into my PhD, sadly, my Director of studies (Supervisor) passed away suddenly after a very brief illness. He was more than just a supervisor but a mentor and someone I respected and liked greatly. I seriously considered throwing in the towel but I remembered ‘Never give up.’ My supervisor had given me a golden opportunity and I was going to keep working until I got to the end. There were many more obstacles along the way but I kept building up my perseverance muscles. If you are doing a PhD now and feel like giving up at some point, don’t worry, it is perfectly normal. The myth is that PhDs are super smart geeks but the truth is they’re just a tenacious bunch. See your PhD as a marathon and not a sprint.  Your intelligence may get you into a PhD but perseverance is a requirement for successful completion.

Success = 1% inspiration + 99% perspiration!

Learn to manage failure – Learning not to take failure personally but to use it as a growth tool. No one tells you that about 75% of your experiments will not work the first time. That you will spend an uncountable number of hours writing an article, finally getting all co-authors happy with it, send it off to a journal and get a rejection email three months later! I learnt to toughen up. Easy? No. Necessary? Yes. I taught myself to see criticism as encouragement. Up until starting a PhD, I had never really had to deal with failure. I thought I was a great student – I had finished with a 1st after all – I laugh now at how unprepared I was at the beginning. I learnt the hard way that failing is an event and the best way to deal with it was to get back in the ring and keep punching. I was only a failure if I allowed failing to stop me in my tracks. Towards the end of my PhD, I noticed that I had developed my problem solving skills and was better equipped to handle issues – even those unrelated to my PhD as well. For more information on dealing with rejection, see here.

Who you know is just as important as what you know – I am an introvert by nature. The nature of PhDs means that you work on your own for extended periods of time which suited my personality to a T. I soon realised how important it was to create and cultivate productive relationships. A PhD is an independent project, not a loner project. I was encouraged to start attending conferences from my first year. At first, I saw these meetings simply as opportunities to present my work but I have learnt to use them to expand my network.  Networking is not just about about finding employment opportunities but can even help provide solutions to some PhD issues. I was able to solve a problem I had been struggling with for a few months in a thirty minute conversation I had with a Professor at a scientific meeting. Your PhD supervisors will have a significant influence on how your PhD progresses and is one of the most important relationships you will have during your PhD and even after you finish. The key word with regards to relationships is ‘productivity.’ Some of my relationships did not survive my PhD because I could not ‘turn up’ at every event. On a personal level, I would never have made it through without friends and family. There were some dark days but my cheerleaders always had my back and I am forever grateful.

Read More – The PhD Survival Guide

Master your subject AND develop your skills – A PhD is awarded for making an original and significant contribution to  knowledge in a specific discipline. This takes a considerable amount of work and effort but I found out that it was important for me to develop my skills profile as well. Having all that knowledge was great but as I got to the end of my PhD and started looking at job advertisements, I realised that transferable skills were just as important. Even though my PhD was lab-based, I realised that there were many opportunities to develop my leadership, creative thinking, problem solving, communication, organisational, management, teamwork and even enterprise skills. I started my teacher training during my PhD as I wanted to have something extra to offer potential employers in addition to my qualification. During my PhD, I realised that I actually enjoyed managing projects almost as much as working in the lab!

Lab-based PhD not Lab-based Life – I learnt that I needed an ‘escape’ from the lab ever so often. I know many PhDs seem almost superhuman and are always the first to get into the lab and the last to leave EVERY DAY but that didn’t work for me. I spent long hours in the lab, weekends, overnight at some points…but I made sure I had some outside interests. I volunteered for a children’s charity at least twice a month. I registered to become a STEM Ambassador. I started a small business (thanks mum). Studying for a PhD does not mean you cannot be entrepreneurial. I do not know many well paid PhD candidates and financial security is important to me. I realised that there would be life after my PhD and there were no guarantees with regards to employment. It was a balancing act but what better way to learn management?

There is still some work to be done regarding diversity in the sciences and academia – particularly in senior positions. While things are getting better, I believe we still have our work cut out. There is still gender bias and an under representation of ethnic minority females. This ignited a desire and passion for engaging with young people to encourage them to think about careers in science (We will be writing more about this but we also welcome any thoughts on how this diversity gap can be closed).

Read more – 4 Strategies for an effective relationship with your supervisor

Enjoy it – I enjoyed doing my PhD, not everyday but as a whole. We hear a lot about the ‘burden’ of a PhD but there are great moments too. Some of my closest relationships today are people I met while doing my PhD. I have been mentored by two awesome scientists. I have had the opportunity to go around the world to present my research which I would not ordinarily do if not for doing a PhD. I am more confident speaking in public. I now question everything; there is just something about reading hundreds of papers to write your thesis that makes you begin to think critically about everything else. Don’t spend the few years of your PhD complaining (well not every day). It is a challenge but who doesn’t love a challenge?

I may come back to this topic because it is by no means exhausted. More importantly, I would like to know what lessons you learnt from graduate school or during your PhD. 

HeadshotAbout our writer – After completing a PhD in Microbiology and Food Science,  Amara is developing her career in academia – providing teaching and learning solutions in UK FE and HE Institutions as well as conducting research in Food Microbiology. Amara believes in the combined power of education and productive relationships as essential tools for building successful careers. ‘Ignorance can hurt more than sticks and stones.’

If you enjoyed reading this article, please share and subscribe to our network! If you have an article you would like to share with our readers, please get in touch – info@aspiringprofessionalshub.com.