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#shadowascientist – A day in the life of an unconventional PhD student

The other day I came across an article published by Christine Liu about impostor syndrome and the fact that many grad students are so intimidated by academia that they spend a good part of their time thinking they don’t belong to the system. I have been through my PhD experience feeling like this every single day because I don’t fit the picture of a “traditional” scientist. And this has really little to do with the fact that I am a woman in STEM. I question every day how people see me from the outside. Is it the science communication and my voice on social media too much? Will this affect my future job applications? Do I come across as an assertive and strong person or people think of me as an aggressive beast? And I don’t want to even start to talk about how my femininity comes across!

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4 more checks, then I need to find a job!

I actually realised that the university will pay me for the next 4 months, then I need to find a job to make a living. Not sure if the excitement is higher the fear that, after 25 years, schooling is coming to an end. I didn’t want to write this blog article today. I didn’t want to share any more negative feeling/experience. But, I had to remind myself that every feeling is important, positive and negative feelings should be welcomed with the same attitude. There is a tendency of hiding negative emotions and sharing only positive ones. But life is ups and down and showing off only joy makes life fictional not real!

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#altac – How to look for jobs outside academia

Flask-shaped laptop sticker is available to purchase from my Etsy shop for £6, click here.

You are about to finish your degree, master or PhD, and you are panicking because you have to apply for jobs but none tells you how to do it? After my last post on how to structure your CV (if you haven’t read it yet, please, check here), I was involved in loads of conversation about transferrable skills and what universities do or, most likely, don’t do to help the transition from academia to industry. I honestly don’t believe this is fair at all as, in many countries, students end up with an eternal mortgage to get an education.

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Are you aware of your potential? How to structure you CV!

This article has been republished by the website sisterstem.org and can be found here.

The other day I came across an article published on Science Career with the title You have accomplished more than you think! It was written by my friend Karin, scientist and author of the book You Must Be Very Intelligent – The PhD Delusion. The article starts with the story of a postdoc who wants to leave academia but believes that the skills she gained during her academic research won’t grant her any job! Unfortunately, I hear this story over and over again and as I am approaching the end of my PhD, many people ask me “Are you gonna do a postdoc after this? Is there any chemical industry that will hire you after your PhD degree?” When I tell people that I want to work either in science communication or science policy, they stare at me with their mouth open. “I didn’t know that you could do that with a PhD in chemistry!

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How science communication saved my PhD

Bookmark scicomm available to purchase from my Etsy shop for £8, check here.

Yesterday I came across a funny tweet. One of my virtual friends asked whether science communication improved mental health in graduate school and if any data was available. I didn’t have any data last night and I just answered that tweet by saying “science communication saved my PhD”. At some point during my PhD, end of my first year, which I failed BTW, my mental health was extremely poor. I was crying every day, couldn’t stay still, had nightmares, strong headaches and felt unsafe to be in the lab. I was questioning my skills as a scientist every moment and thinking of quidding my PhD 5 times a day every day.

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How I wrote 10000 words of my PhD thesis in 10 days!

Crocheted flask-shaped laptop sticker available to purchase from my Esty shop for £6, check here.

I didn’t lose my mind, no no! I did write 10000 words of my thesis in 10 days. It isn’t a typo either! How that happened? The writing up period is notoriously the hardest and most stressful bit of a PhD. And, for students like myself, who are doing their PhD in a second language that should be much more intense! I was honestly quite scared to even open a Word document and put together a few words considering all the bad publicity.

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PoC in STEM – Ebony in the Ivory Tower

The American Society of Human Genetics states that any attempt to use genetics as scientific evidence to set differences between races shows a profound misunderstanding of this discipline. So, how come James Watson was awarded the Nobel Prize in Genetics? This person affirmed that he was inherently gloomy about the prospect of Africa because all our social policies are based on the fact that their intelligence is the same as ours – where all the testing says not really! Probably because Rosalind Franklin produced the crucial piece of evidence which allowed to sort out the structure of DNA and he took the merit for it? For this statement, he lost his job in 2007 and very recently he was stripped of several honorary titles by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, in New York, which he once headed.

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How to become more than your PhD

I am back to business (blogging) and decided to put together this article to share my experience of being an international student and tell the story of how I became more than my PhD. As I am reaching the end, less than 6 months away from my thesis submission, I have been reflecting on the 4 years spent in Nottingham. I honestly could not be any happier of the unique opportunity I was given to. This PhD made me grow professionally and as a person in a way that I could have never envisioned. I have learned a lot about science, science communication and about myself.

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You will not win the Nobel Prize for your PhD thesis.

There are loads of things I wish I was told before starting this PhD. The list is so long that I am not even sure where to start with. Apart from the obvious things, like making sure to find a supporting and understanding advisor (really learned this the hard way), familiarising with the wellbeing facilities like the health centre, gym etc, or finding your community of people, either by joining societies, book clubs, becoming member of sport and more professional clubs (will talk about this later on this month).

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