Career Conversations – Setting Standards and Knowing Your Worth as a Researcher

Deciding to embark on graduate studies can be a big step to take. For a lot of you out there, it represents your first leap into independent life and can carry a lot of unknowns, especially if you are a first generation graduate student. One of the big challenges this decision carries, besides having to deal with stereotypes to do with “staying in school” versus “getting a job” is that for the first time you will be fending for yourself as an active adult and negotiating your way through applications and offers for what will be, for all intents and purposes , a 5-year professional engagement leading to your degree. This week, Stefanie, the host of the Career Conversations channel on Youtube will be sharing her experience in her ongoing doctoral research and some insights she has drawn from her work on Career Conversations.

Stefanie is a PhD student in skin cancer research and as a side project, she has a Youtube channel where she helps fellow PhD students make the most of their careers by showing them the features of their careers that they are in control of.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The difference in effort and amount of information from high school to university
  • The importance of weighing how the detailed curriculum fits with your interests when choosing a master’s program
  • Why you should allow yourself to come back on decisions you may have made earlier in your life – new experiences and new connections may change your outlook completely later on
  • How an internship in industry can rekindle your passion for research and even lead to publications
  • How learning to trash a project that is not working is a good skill, which is predominant in industry
  • Some specifics of industry culture Stefanie was not expecting at the outset
  • How networking can help you in your academic and non-academic applications
  • How a supervisor/superior who inspires loyalty drives productivity and morale up in a team
  • What you can learn and gain by taking active part in university/institute governing bodies
  • How important it is to set standards for yourself when looking for a position, minimum conditions to be met for you to consider an offer
  • How being detached from your results and your successes will help you keep moving forward at a healthy pace

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“I think that part of why I thought I hated science was really the university and the studying, and so on, which didn’t go well with me, but as soon as I had some independence, I really fell in love with science again.”

“What inspires me the most about my current supervisor is actually her leadership style, because she is a very, very kind person, but she is definitely not a pushover.”

“One thing she said to me was ‘Always show up as the best version of yourself that is available to you on each particular day.”

“As researchers, we are very often measured in citations. This is not a good way to be measured – I don’t think it says anything of the quality of a researcher, but this is still the reality of how researchers are hired, very often. It is not the only factor, but it is a huge factor. And we are not in control of whether people like our paper, but we are in control of how many people see our paper. And since I’ve realised that we can tweak the algorithm, especially of Twitter, very much, and that there are a lot of scientists on Twitter, I thought ‘Why not show people how to do this?’.”

“Just ask for whatever you want and you will be surprised by how willing people are to help you.”

“Most people don’t realize how valuable their talent really is. And I hope that there will come a day when universities will be competing for talent by offering proper work conditions.”

“In every sort of negotiation, you have to be willing to leave the table.”

This episode’s links: Career Conversations YouTube channel; Twitter – @CareerConversa1; Instagram – Career_Conversations.

You might also like the following episodes:

David (Viva Frei) Freiheit – Youtube content creator:

Fábio Rosa, Gil Costa, Patrícia Monteiro – Entrepreneurship, scientific illustration, academic outreach:

Kirsten Sanford – Science communication:

Mark Crandall – Coaching:

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