Hi! This week on Papa PhD, I’m bringing you my conversation with Parag Mahanti. “We recorded this in November, during Parag’s Thanksgiving break. Since then, India has been severely hit by the second wave of the COVID pandemic, and many lives have been lost. Parag wanted this episode to be dedicated to especially to Late Dr. Ashim Chakravarty. If you want to support the fight against COVID in India, please contact Parag – @ParagMahanti on Twitter. I’d also like to note that Parag gave this interview on Thanksgiving, while he was with his close ones, so you might hear some background noise throughout. But please bear with us, because the nuggets he shared are absolutely worth it. For example, we talked about Parag’s experience interviewing for jobs – early after his PhD, but also in his most recent career moves.
What you’ll learn about in this episode:
- Not everyone that enrolls into a PhD is bound to do research
- Not all temperaments thrive in the academic research timeframe, in terms of results and their impact on society at large
- The positive impact being part of clubs and taking extracurricular courses can have on your mental health
- Parag’s way of making time for extra-curricular projects
- The advantages and disadvantages of choosing a well established, tenured professor, versus a young professor vying for tenure as a PhD supervisor
- Parag’s experience of the consulting path
- The advanteges of doing informational interviews when you don’t need a job
- Rejections are not about your abilities, they are about a mutual fit that didn’t happen + you should always ask for feedback after your application was rejected
- Why advice from a community is much more valuable than the advice you get from a single person
- The job hunt is a process – you get better at it as you go
Parag Mahanti received his Ph.D. in Chemistry and Chemical Biology in 2013 from Cornell University where his research was focused on nuclear hormone receptors, steroid signaling, and metabolomics. Since then he has moved careers thrice first to consulting then to finance, and currently in pharma.
Outside of life sciences and biopharma strategy, Parag’s passions include music, both playing and listening, biotech startups and understanding the evolution of scientific reasoning and leadership skills. Parag takes an active interest in career progression of PhD students and has created a fast growing LinkedIn Group that currently has ~7500+ members. Parag also serves as a mentor for the Entrepreneurship Lab (ELabNYC) originally launched by the New York City Economic Development Corporation to provide mentorship to biotech/health-tech start-ups in the New York area.
Thank you, Parag Mahanti!
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Parag's pearls of wisdom:
“Parag – Once I came here and I enrolled into a PhD programme, I was like, “Oh! This is awesome! This is Super cool, smart thinking stuff and I can thrive in this.” And I started doing that for first year and second year, and then by third year, I was like, “No way…”. Like, I like the smart thinking part of it, I like the science, but I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. And I think the main reason was, I love the science. In fact, I’ve stayed very close to the science most of my career, but it was the impact of it, right? Like, for some reason, I always thought the stuff that I was doing, you would see maybe a return or a clinical development of it in, like, 10, 15, 20 years. So there’s no immediate translation of this work. David – “Talk about delayed gratification, there, right?” Parag – Exactly!”
“Parag – The same guy had told me that any job, if you don’t like the interview process, chances are you won’t like the job. And this is something that I continue to feel through all the career progressions that I’ve made, that if you don’t really enjoy the process and the people you’re meeting, then you’re not going to like the people that you’re going to work with. David – “Because they represent the culture of…” Parag – Of the industry and of the company.”
This episode’s resources:
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