Hello and welcome to another edition of Ask Cheeky. I'm Isaiah Hankel with Cheeky Scientist.
Today's question is from Lauren Duma. "How do you get into an industry position out of graduate school?" Great question. How do you transition directly from graduate school into industry? It's an important question too, because the numbers don't look good. I think it's 80% of life science PhDs will not have a job at graduation and 60% of all PhDs won't have a job at graduation. This is from the National Science Foundation. You can look up these numbers yourselves. Again, the numbers aren't good. If you want a job right when you hit your PhD, it is possible. If you transition into industry at this point, you can.
The most important thing to do, it's not as practical, but it's a little bit more theoretical, but it's very important and it is the most important thing you can do, is change your mindset. In academia, most PhDs, PhD students, they develop what I call as a poor academic mindset. They have this "less than" mindset, this submissive-passive kind of insecure mindset. You're surrounded by other PhDs, post-docs, people with more publications and new, better publications. For many PhD students, it's the first time they're around people who are seemingly more intelligent than they and everyone, again, has a PhD or is going for a PhD. But don't forget your value. Less than 2% of the population has a PhD. If you go to some non-PhD networking events you'll, again, see how valuable your PhD is, because when you tell people what you're doing, they will be impressed. They'll have a sense of awe to it.
Hopefully you can remember what that feels like and certainly you should be going to non-PhD events and you should be surrounding yourself with other types of people to realize how valuable you are. You want to develop what we call as a confident, successful industry mindset, because in industry competence and ambition and drive, these things are very valuable. You don't need to hide them. When you're talking about your data, in academia you learn to say, "We suggest" or, "We think" but in industry it's okay to say, "I did this." It's okay to say that, "I thought this" or, "These are the conclusions that I have." You especially want to do this on interviews, because they want to know what you did, not what other people did. They want to know what you did and you got to be able to talk about yourself, you got to be able to use the word "I" and discuss things confidently and reach out to people confidently.
Then you can use this confidence to develop relationships with other industry professionals. This is really the second part of what you need to do. You have to reach out to hiring managers and recruiters, develop relationships with them. Remember that these people only get paid if they place candidates like you into job positions. Recruiters will get a percentage of whatever salary you get when they place you. Hiring managers, their entire job depends on finding the right candidate for the open position at their company. Reach out to these people confidently by email. Get them on the phone, call them. Realize you have value to add. Develop these relationships and over time, these people will start working for you. They'll want to find you a position, because it benefits them as well.
Then finally put together a job search strategy. A simple spreadsheet, 5 columns where you're keeping track of all the companies you're interested in. Not just the big names like Merck or Pfizer, but you're digging into smaller companies that have 10 to 100 employees, companies that aren't promoting their open positions online because they're growing so quickly because they're smaller. Keep track of these positions and keep track of the open positions themselves. Not just the companies, but the open positions themselves. This would be column 2. You keep track of all the context, the industry context that you know and that you develop relationships with in the third column. Then also keep track of the last time you followed up with these people and the next time you plan on following up with these people. Those are columns 4 and 5.
By putting a job search strategy in place and putting it on paper, you'll be able to diversify it and add to it until you have several interviews every week. This is what it takes. It's a kind of second job that you should start executing as soon as possible. Certainly within 1 to 3 years before you graduate, you have to start putting this strategy and diversifying your job search and finding leads and building up your industry network. Until next time. Remember your value as PhD. Start thinking and acting like a successful industry professional.