Hi! Before introducing today’s guest, and to celebrate two years of Papa PhD, I’d like to extend an invitation directly to you.

If you have a question about one of the episodes of Papa PhD, or if you’d like me to connect you with the people you hear on the podcast, or if you’d like to contribute in any way to Papa PhD, with suggestions or even content, email me at david@papaphd.com.

I’ll be happy to reply and, eventually, discuss your ideas with you. I’m currently thinking about Season 3, and it’s time to brainstorm, so don’t hesitate!

Now – talking about things changing, In this week’s episode, my guest – Katie Wedemeyer-Strombel – talks about all that has changed for her in these last two years professionally, and about how she dealt with the sudden change and uncertainty the COVID pandemic brought onto the industry she works in and onto her career journey.


What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • What led Katie to do her PhD
  • Why you shouldn’t accept emotional abuse in graduate school
  • How she dealt with switching labs during her PhD, looking for a better learning environment
  • The importance of having a support network and of looking for help if graduate school is affecting your mental health
  • How having academic mentors outside the lab can help you navigate difficult times
  • How Katie’s resourcefulness and will to help helped her navigate to a new position within her company, during the pandemic
Katie Wedemeyer-Strombel

Thank you, Katie Wedemeyer-Strombel!

If you enjoyed this interview with Katie, let her know by clicking the link below and leaving her a message on Twitter:

Click here to thank Katie Wedemeyer-Strombel on Twitter!

Click here to share your key take-away from this interview with David!

Katie's pearls of wisdom:

“I had a lot of grief and resentment towards my PhD, and I’ve most recently just even gotten over it, now. It’s taken therapy and a lot of self-reflection, and a lot of realizing that I did learn really valuable skills that just in academia aren’t highlighted as much. Right? I have published papers, I have grants to my name… People where I work now don’t care. But I’m really resourceful. If you need something figured out, I know how to do the research, to figure out what the best way to do it is. You need me to jump in somewhere. I mean, I did a lot of field work in remote locations where I had no Internet access, very little contact with my mentors or  anyone outside of where I was located. So I had to McGyver or a lot of stuff. All these different skills, writing, editing, research, networking, collaboration, thinking on your feet. Those are all skills that you’ve learned, that you kind of underplay in academia, because it doesn’t necessarily… you know, it’s not your research record.”

“One of the things that was tough for me to do, that I wish I would have started doing in grad school was putting together a portfolio of syllabi I had created, any  guest lectures, any outreach lectures that I had done, maybe to K12 or up to undergrad classes. At a lot of places, at least in what I do, they want a portfolio – “What content have you created? – Well, I’ve published papers” – that’s not what they want.”

“Because I always liked teaching, I did seek out extra teaching opportunities and curriculum development opportunities as a PhD – that all counts as professional experience. I was in charge of developing a curriculum, four courses, as a PhD student. On my CV or on my resume, I can write: I have curriculum development experience and I’ve been doing it for the last five years. Was my job title learning experience designer, like it is now? No, but that’s exactly what I was doing in that role. So many of the other tasks that we do have resume line items that are a big deal, and really valuable in the corporate world.”

Katie Wedemeyer-Strombel loves to spend time outdoors with her husband and dog and believes that she has mastered baking the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

She holds a PhD in Environmental Science from the University of Texas, El Paso, where she combined the social and natural sciences to study conservation of endangered sea turtles. She has a strong background in informal education, having worked at a zoo prior to graduate school and having pursued #scicomm workshops throughout her education. She accidentally gained a lot of Twitter followers through sharing her graduate school journey and became an advocate for improved working conditions for graduate students. 

Katie has 10 years of professional experience in education program management, content development, and writing-and-editing that spans the non-profit, academic, & corporate sectors. Currently, Katie works with professors to help them translate their university level classes into interactive, asynchronous, online courses for high school students that promote major and career exploration. In her transition to industry, she learned that she thrives in a dispersed, complex work environment, is most at home in mission-driven corporations, and values employers who prioritize their team’s well-being.

This episode’s resources:

Do you enjoy Papa PhD? Leave me a comment here – one short sentence is enough! And be sure to include your Twitter handle – that way, I can thank you personally! Or if you prefer, fuel my long audio editing and notes page writing nights by buying me a coffee! Just click on the button below and voilà! An espresso, a cappucino, a latte – you decide. I’ll be immensely grateful.

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