Letters to Graduate Students 4 | Beware of the Quarter Life Crisis

Dear Dr. You

Dear Dr. You,

Quite frankly, I never heard of the quarter-life crisis until today. Gee thanks “Dominique” for sharing this insightful article with me today!

After reading this article, I realize that I am on the tail end of my quarter-life crisis. According to the article:

Phase 1 – A feeling of being trapped by your life choices. Feeling as though you are living your life on autopilot.

Ohmigoodness, yes! I admit after grad school I could not figure out what was next for me. In retrospect, I gravitated to my startup because I would essentially be commercializing my thesis project. It was a field that I knew and loved and believed in – proteomics. I knew I was good at it; I had awards to prove it. I loved my team, after all one of them was my PhD advisor. I couldn’t say no to him. He believed in me so much, imparted his knowledge on me, and mentored me for almost 5 years. But, I realized in this phase that being an adult means setting my own goals, pursuing my own dreams – not the dreams of my advisor nor my parents. But, my own. Up until the end of my PhD, I didn’t really have to think about what was next. What was next was always written in a course catalog. Now, with a world of opportunities available to me, I felt trapped in the startup. Long hours doing experiments, writing grants, writing business plans, training technicians, answering phones. My life was on autopilot.

Phase 2 – A rising sense of “I’ve got to get out” and the feeling that you can change your life.

I think the trigger to get out was staring at my dwindling bank account, and realizing that after receiving an advanced degree, I was  still not able to help my mother financially. Realizing that I couldn’t afford to travel as much as I wanted to. Realizing that my friends in the industry did not have 12+ hour days.

Phase 3 – Quitting the job or relationship or whatever else is making you feel trapped and embarking on a “time out” period where you try out new experiences to find out who you want to be.

So, I resigned. I don’t like the word “quit”. I most definitely didn’t quit. I resigned amicably. And, those weights lifted off my shoulder.

Phase 4 – Rebuilding your life.

I moved states. I got to use my interior decorating skills to “adultify” (i.e. beautify my place in a non-college student way) my new apartment. I feel free. I have time to explore my other passions now. Mind you, I do miss living in a college town. I miss having intellectual conversations with my peers and my “superstar”. I miss my “superstar”. I miss being at the forefront of new technologies and innovations. But, I finally have the time to take care of me, and I am loving it. I am loving this state and being close to my “Dominique.” I am loving dabbling in the medical device industry.

Phase 5 – Developing new commitments more attuned to your interests and aspirations.

I still don’t think I am where I want to be yet. But it’s a start. I just learned that I can paint :D. I’m serious about staying fit and now I have time to go to the gym. I know that I will start a start-up again one day; working in industry allows me to learn how I can do it right the next time. I’m still going to write that children’s book; I gave myself my own deadline. And, I love that it is a self-imposed deadline, and not a school deadline or work deadline, but my own. That simple deadline makes my heart smile.

So quarter-life crisis, I am proud to survive you!! And, Dr. You, if you are going through this, I wish you the best of luck. There is a light at the end of your tunnel! I see it!!! I do, I do. Do you? Look closely. You are almost there ;). Be blessed!

~ Bella A.

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Program: The Data Incubator is an intensive six-week fellowship that prepares postdocs and PhDs in STEM + social science fields seeking industry careers as data scientists. The program is free for fellows and supported by sponsorships from dozens of employers across multiple industries. In response to the overwhelming interest in our earlier summer and fall sessions, we will be holding a winter postdoc fellowship.

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Dates: Both sections will be from 01/05/15 to 02/13/15

Who should apply: Anyone within one year of graduating from a PhD program or who has already obtained a PhD is welcome to apply. Applications from international students welcome. There is a common application for both the online and in-person sections. Everyone else (including non-PhDs) is enouraged to sign-up for a future session.

For additional information, checkout our website, blog, Venture Beat article, or Harvard Business Review piece.

Good luck!

Letters to Graduate Students 3 | Creating a WOW Resume

Dear Dr. You

Dear Dr. You –

Graduation is over! Thesis is submitted! Diploma is on its way! And, now you are ready to for this new, wonderfully frustrating period of your life – job hunting! Whooohooo (not! ;/)

Well, I have good news. This is the best article I’ve found to date on how to create a WOW resume.

Best of luck to you! Now, go ahead and wow the recruiters with your awesome expertise!

Kindest regards,

Bella A.

Letter to Graduate Students 2 | Salary Negotiations

 

Dear Dr. You,

I know you must be super stressed with your job search. I wish I could tell you that job hunting is easy. But, it’s not. It took me 100+ job applications and 4 months before I found mine. Sadly, this is a true representation of the average PhD’s job hunt. Even post-docs have it rough. A post-doc friend applied to 100+ faculty and industry positions, and only got 1 offer.

But, I’ll give you some hope. I have a friend who landed a job after his first on-campus interview. He’s a pretty wow engineer. Maybe, if the stars are aligned in your favor and you are pretty wow, then you’ll get a job after your first interview too.

Dear Dr. You
Fast forward to getting the job offer. How do you know what your salary should be?

Here are four great websites to help you:

1. GlassDoor is my personal favorite.

  • You can search by job title, geographic location and company name.
  • Average salaries are displayed in a simple horizontal bar chat.
  • Current and former employees review company culture and work-life balance.

2. Salary.com

  • You can search by job title and geographic location.
  • Average salaries are displayed in a bell curve.
  • A benefits tab summarizes the typical compensation package offered to someone with your job title.

3. CareerOneStop

  • You can search by job title and geographic location.
  • Average salaries are displayed in a horizontal bar chart.
  • A Cost of Living calculator (use the free demo) helps you determine if your monthly salary is enough to pay all your bills, student loans and still leave you enough dollars to save.

4. MyPlan

  • You can search by job title and geographic location.
  • Average salaries are displayed in a tabular format, indicating percentile distributions.

 

Best of luck to you as you start your job search! You got this! Let me know if these websites were helpful to you, and if there are websites that are even better than Glassdoor.com.

Cheers,

 

Bella A.