Let's Face it. Graduate Education is sorely lacking.
Nowadays, success requires a completely different set of skills!
Communication skills, interdisciplinary, big-picture thinking, vision, innovation, and incredible levels of self-confidence and awareness. Unfortunately, these are skills that students don't and can't learn in their graduate studies, and definitely don't learn in a lab.
There's a reason why scientists are seen by the public as these unapproachable zombies in white coats with crazy hair who might as well be teaching a foreign language.
More students than ever are starting PhD programs. They're receiving cutting-edge training and as such are an invaluable resource to society and, yes, to drastically changing the world. All of these students are being educated within the academic system. But only about 10-20% actually go onto work in the academic field in which they received their training.
The phrase "alternative careers" has become maddening for many because it's not the alternative anymore. It's the majority and the norm. Not anymore. Therefore, for many of these students to achieve the dream career that they hoped that their PhD would give them, they need to start thinking outside of the academic box. And sometimes, that means receiving more training than the laboratory skills and analytical thought that earned them they're degree. This includes things like:
Identifying their strengths, talents and passions outside of their subject matter.
designing a career path that is in line with those strengths.
Overcoming self-doubt and their own limiting beliefs.
Cultivating Relationships with your mentor and peers that will serve you.
Honing in on the weaknesses that they need to enhance to make them more successful.
Trust me, I get that more training is the last thing that most students want. Especially after toiling away through their PhD. The good news is that more training doesn't necessarily mean more school. Because I have cultivated a series of skill-enhancing tools to help students enhance these crucial career skills:
Some of these offerings include:
Designing a career path you love.
Graduate students invest years into their graduate studies. But what do they want to gain from them? Sometimes nothing more than the ability to do certain techniques and think analytically. This is maddening, especially since so few students actually become academics. That's why it's more important than ever for students to take a more innovative and intentional approach to creating the perfect career path for them. This requires them to not only think about their passions, but to consider what they need to expose themselves to, develop and learn professionally to put themselves in the best possible position.
These are admittedly hard questions to answer. Many of them don't know where their passions lie or they're just too used to answering in vague terms, like "I love science." Great, but what about that do you love? What do you want to do with that love? Are you more passionate about doing the science, or about teaching it? Or maybe you love communicating it? Or sometimes, students suffer from "imposer syndrome," self-doubt, or a general lack of confidence.
As a coach, I will teach students:
how to explore and evaluate their career options and determine which is best for them.
to identify their passions, skills and personality traits that will give them a natural advantage in their career.
to create a big-picture vision of what their ideal career looks like and the steps to take to get there.
to get out of their own way and express their own ideas, both as a scientist and an innovator
to create a plan for how to craft a graduate education program that will give them all the tools that they need and desire on their terms.
Managing the mentor/PI RElationship.
Your mentor/PI/adviser is arguably the most important connection and relationship that you will build during your time in graduate school and, unfortunately, it can make or break your experience in graduate school. A productive relationship can grow the student into a successful, productive, innovative professional who makes strong and significant contributions to the field, while providing the mentor with research that not only adds to the scientific body of knowledge, but builds their mentor's reputation.
Despite the fact that this relationships is the crux of the graduate experience, student's and mentor's are given little instruction on how to appropriately cultivate that relationship. As a coach, I can help the student navigate:
how to productively utilize your PI and cultivate a strong relationship.
how to courteously resolve issues and potential conflicts
Building your self-confidence and leveraging your strengths.
Each person has innate "strengths" that will serve them well in their career and their life. These strengths are instrumental in building the career and creating the professional life that we all strive for. However, sometimes the biggest thing students struggle with is having the confidence and understanding in themselves to leverage these strengths into their own "voice". Being a productive scientist is all about contributing ideas and scientific work to enhance the overall knowledge of the field. But sometimes that fear of "looking bad" or "stupid" holds us back from doing that . As a coach, I can help students:
- Find confidence in themselves and get over their fears and vulnerabilities.
- Learn to take risks that align with their personal and professional goals.
This isn't just a professional tactic. This is something that will allow them to live their best version of themselves consistently in their daily lives.
Productivity without burnout
One of the most difficult things for students is the need to balance being productive and making forward progress with the self-care necessary to make sure that they aren't burning themselves out. How can we make the scientific contributions necessary to move ourselves forward in our careers without sacrificing our social life, our health, our relationships, our sanity? For some it's a complicated question and a key issue that they faced in their graduate career. As a coach, I can help students:
- Establish self-care routines so that they're keeping themselves at their physical and mental peak
- Up their productivity game so that they're making the most out of their time in lab/class
- Among many other self-care and lifestyle hacks and tricks