This week on the show, we’re going to talk about uncertainty, in particular employment uncertainty in academia and outside of it in the current pandemic context. Now in-between jobs, after her their postdoc, my guest will share her journey up to today and will talk about how confinement led her to take on new projects, teach herself new skills and double down on her investment in networking.

Vera Bin Chan

Vera Chan graduated her PhD in HK from 2014 and had 6 years of Postdoc experience working in the US and France.

This year Vera decided to transition into a non-academic role, and she is still undergoing the process of job-seeking as a foreigner living in France. I am happy that she is open to sharing with us about this vulnerable moment, the less glamorous side of life-after-PhD that not many people are willing to talk about. Vera is also the host of the PhD Coffee Time Youtube channel, where she shares her insights and advice covering all aspects of life as a graduate researcher.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Dealing with cultural shock when moving countries for your PhD or your postdoc
  • Mistakes to avoid when thinking about your career, as a researcher
  • The importance of avoiding tunnel vision when considering career options
  • Organizing vortual coffee breaks as a way to socialize and network during confinement
  • The use of informational interviews for academic and non-academic jobs
  •  How to work on your journey’s narrative for the nonacademic space
  • How to leverage networking platforms like LinkedIn

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“I started with about 300 people on my network, who I know in person from my academic record, and after I’d redone my LinkedIn profile, I think it’s a mindset shift, because in academia we don’t need a LinkedIn profile to find a job, we use ResearchGate and we do other things, like Twitter, right? But I think LinkedIn is a statement saying that you are also ready and available if someone wants a freelance job or, you know, something. You can still be a PhD student, but you can also have a LinkedIn profile that advertises what you could do, like bioanalysis or statistics, you know. Those are the skills that you could offer – you don’t have to have a full-time job. And I think that it’s a profile that tells people that you are business ready.”

“I think any transitionning of career is very much like a broken relationship. I think people might have the negative thinking all the time about “this is the most terrible person, this is the worst experience in my life”. I want to say that this is not it – I think that this is my experience that was from a useful time that I really enjoyed everything I’ve learned from my academic research. And I know that there ar are a lot of take-aways, like I can talk with people from different cultural backgrounds, I’ve learned that I can do technical writing – I’m not a native English speaker, but I’m quite good at attention to detail.”

Vera’s links: LinkedIn –; Youtube –; Twitter – @VeraBSChan; Instagram – @PhDCoffeeTime.

You might also like the following episodes:

Susanna L. Harris – Mental health advocate:;

Rebecca Maymon – PhD Recruitment:

Falisha Karpati – Skills Development:

Chris Humphrey – Career Counseling:

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