January 12, 2014 By Viviane Callier
Week in the Life Series
When I began working at my first job outside the academy, I often felt like I was in the dark, navigating the corporate world for the first time. I started looking in earnest for stories of PhDs who had made transitions away from academia. I wanted to know how they had gone about the transition (planning and preparation?), how they had experienced it (feelings of failure and doubt? Relief? Excitement and freedom?), and I wanted to know what kinds of fulfilling careers existed for post-academics. I needed to find a community to belong to, now that I had left the lab.
I came across PhDs at Work through “The Repurposed PhD” which appeared in the New York Times. I then subscribed to the “Week in the Life” and have looked forward to the series ever since. First, I found it inspiring to see ins-and-outs of productive and fulfilling lives that PhDs were leading outside the academy. It opened my eyes to possibilities I hadn’t even imagined, from opportunities in industry to independent entrepreneurship. I learned about lots of options, and I gained confidence that I too could repurpose the skills acquired during my academic training to solve many different problems. Hearing about other PhDs’ transitions removed some of the mystery, made my own transition less daunting, and gave me the confidence to move forward in my own trajectory.
If at first I felt daunted, reading “Week in the Life” made me feel excited about discovering all the things I could possibly do. The lessons learned and personal reflections shared by PhDs who are in transition or who have successfully transitioned are particularly helpful because they allowed me to learn from collective experience.
I know I will continue to benefit from the insights and lessons learned shared by the community that is PhDs at Work. I hope to find peers and mentors through this growing, inspiring community!