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Thi Nguyen is a career consultant at the University of California San Francisco's Office of Career and Professional Development and the University of Maryland Medical System's Center for Biomedical Career Development, so she has a few interesting things to say about graduate professional development, particularly in the life sciences. Previously, she worked in the Office of Career and Professional Development at the J. David Gladstone Institute at the University of San Francisco. In this podcast, Thi talks about working with mice in graduate school, Ratatouille (the movie, not the dish), becoming a career consultant, and the process she goes through to facilitate students' transition into industry. She also discusses the often-overlooked benefits of being an introvert for networking and other industry related endeavors.
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James Van Wyck is a PhD Candidate in English Language and Literature at Fordham (PhD expected later this year), specializing in evangelical fiction. In this podcast, James talks about how he has two "A" plans: to secure an academic employment, and to secure a job in the education industry in a non-academic capacity. A regular contributor to Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education, James has written a lot about graduate student professional development. One of the most interesting things that he discusses in this podcast is the idea of the graduate students as an entrepreneurs, which identify their own particular career paths and develop their own networks, connections, and skills to pursue those paths (as opposed to an apprentice, which follows the path of a mentor/advisor and becomes locked into a single career possibility). After a series of valuable and illuminating comments, James concludes by answering the question, "if you could go back in time to your first year as a Ph.D. student, what advice would you give yourself?"
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Gina Helfrich received a PhD in Philosophy from Emory University in 2009, specializing in ethics and obtaining a certificate in Women's and Gender Studies. She's two career changes since: first, she went into university administration as the Director of the Harvard College Women's Center, and now she is the co-founder of RecruitHER, a tech recruiting platform for women candidates and also the Founder of Feminist Hack, a community of feminist tech professionals, so a thread of Civil Rights and Social Action abides throughout her varied career. In this podcast, Gina talks about her reasons for pursuing a PhD in philosophy, how she transitioned into university administration and the tech industry, how she started Feminist Hack and RecruitHER (with Ashley Doyal), and how she leveraged her academic background for her non-academic endeavors.
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Leonard Cassuto is the author of The Graduate School Mess: What Caused It and How We Can Fix It, a thorough diagnosis of the problems affecting graduate school programs, which tend to not adequately prepare students for the jobs they actually end up getting. While the books is largely focused on the humanities, most of the arguments and diagnoses are applicable to the wider range of arts and sciences. Leonard's comprehensive examination goes through all the stages of graduate school, from admissions, through seminars, exams, and dissertation, all the way to the job market. At each step of the way, Leonard offers concrete solutions to what many now consider a badly designed system of advanced degree programs. In this podcast, Leonard talks about the history of graduate programs, the job crisis in higher ed, the need for changes in advising and professionalization, and how graduate school in general should cultivate a more integrative affect and ethic that recognizes the real role of graduate programs in the wider institutional ecology within which they operate.
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Rick received a PhD in Physics from the University of Oregon in 2014. He is now a Data Scientist at Advanced Polymer Monitoring Technologies, Inc. in New Orleans. In this podcast, Rick talks about initially pursuing graduate work in physics in order to build a quantum computer, only to finish his graduate work in bio-physics studying the implications of fractals for macular degeneration. A great storyteller, Rick discusses the twists and turns of his research, how fractals help to identify authentic Jackson Pollock paintings and explain the calming effects of landscape paintings, and how the novelist Jorge Luis Borges informs his approach to his life and career. He also offers some helpful advice on networking and listening to how industry people talk about your skills and background in order to improve how you pitch yourself for industry careers.
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Courtney Kearney received an M.S. in Geology (Volcanology and Remote Sensing) from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (2005) and a Ph.D. in Geology (Volcanology and Remote Sensing) from the University of Bristol (2009). After her Ph.D., she secured a postdoc from the Naval Research Laboratory at NASA's Stennis Space Center in Mississippi, which ultimately led to a full-time position using her remote sensing background to become an oceanographer (!) at the Space Center. Now, she is once again embarking upon a new career trajectory to become a research librarian (!!). In this podcast, Courtney talks about why she went to grad school in geology, how she found her job with NASA, and why she ultimately decided to leave that job to become a librarian. Along the way, she talks about volcanoes, taking the noise out of photos, and the social dimension of geology. She also helpfully recommends that grad students approach their careers with an open mind and apply to a wide variety of positions, even those that they may not feel especially qualified for.
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Christine Kelly is a leading figure advocating for graduate student professional development. Christine received a PhD in Communication from Purdue University in 1991. She is now the President of the Graduate Career Consortium (GCC), Director of Career Development at Claremont Graduate University, and a contributing author for the Carpe Careers column of Inside Higher Education. In this podcast, she discusses grad school at Purdue and her forays as an academic professor, her transition to the "dark side" of administration, and the diverse challenges facing graduate students with Humanities and Social Science as well as STEM backgrounds. She also offers her expert advice for graduates students considering industry careers.
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Gaining work experience is the second most important thing you can do to improve your job prospects during your PhD or post-doc (networking is top). Having relevant work experience on your résumé demonstrates clearly to an employer that you’re ‘one of them’. You know their business, their customers and how to fit into your future role. Here are five options for gaining work experience during or after your PhD...
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Chris Humphrey received a DPhil in Medieval Studies from the University of York in 1997. He spent the next three years as a postdoc at York, then transitioned into industry with an e-learning company before becoming a project manager in financial services at the socially responsible Triodos Bank. He also founded the popular career blog, Jobs on Toast, which helps PhDs successfully market themselves for careers in business, charities, industry and government. In this podcast, Chris goes over his experience in grad school, discusses what made him initially consider a "plan B," and how "plan B" became plan A. As an expert in careers and professional development, he also offers very useful advice for grads considering industry careers.
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About a year ago, I met someone at a conference who worked at a food chemistry lab in New Orleans. She was telling me about how her company had tried to hire a chemist with a Masters or PhD by putting some ads out on various job boards, but no one with the right credentials had applied. I thought this was strange because, having recently finished grad school at Purdue, I knew several Masters and PhDs that would have loved to relocate to New Orleans with their proposed starting salary.
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