The beauty of transferable skills: How grad school prepares you for careers off the beaten path
Apr13

The beauty of transferable skills: How grad school prepares you for careers off the beaten path

Let's focus our attention now to one of the things I love about grad school. Believe it or not, I'm not all doom and gloom about all things grad school related. In fact, I would argue that there are far more things I enjoy and love (and will even miss!) about grad school than things I dislike about it. You may doubt me now, especially if you've read my previous posts on how I've fallen out of love with research and have lost interest in an academic career since coming to grad school. But stick with me, I want to prove you otherwise. One of the reasons why I'm almost certain I won't regret finishing my Ph.D. (despite the fact that I don't actually really need it to do what I want to do!) is this: I'm going to come away from this program after 5+ long years with so much more than those three coveted letters after my last name. I'll be taking along with me a boat-load of skills. Major skills. Mad skills, I might even say. No, I'm not talking about lab skills, like being able to align a laser, pipette with extreme accuracy, or isolate leukocytes from whole blood. (Those skills are far from useful when it comes to being a science writer, which is my non-traditional career of choice). I'm talking about the skills that were gained when you were faced head-on with challenges and didn't quit. When you went through ups and downs and wondered why you were subjecting yourself to such misery, and yet persevered. Diligence. Focus. The ability to fearlessly dive into new research areas, critically read journal articles, work on a team, and talk about science to a variety of audiences. Those skills that are transferable. Ahh, transferrrable skills. That's what this is all about. These skills are things that you may not realize you are acquiring day to day, but when you look back over a period of months and years, you realize that you've grown. (Has anyone else ever looked back and read their grad school personal statement from four years back and cringed? Umm, yeah, I've definitely grown as a writer!) I have to preface the rest of this post by saying that I wrote this as a charge to grad students, but really the principles extend to those scientists who work lab jobs and teaching jobs as well. I just chose to tailor this message to my fellow grad students, but for everyone else out there, I encourage you see beyond the specifics to the principles that may apply to your current situation. So, to all...

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