Corporate Skills?!

All things come to an end at some point. So did my summer internship as a research analyst with the municipality. It is a bit sad to leave the company and great people I’ve been working with, so I will try to add a light and funny tone to my message. Here are a few of the many things I’ve discovered during my corporate job:

  • I’ve learned how to quickly adjust to a nomadic office lifestyle. During my internship, I didn’t really have a permanent office or cubicle. I occupied offices of people who were off, on vacation, or on a leave. I moved from one office to another every week or sometimes every 2nd day. By the end of my internship, I feel I’ve become an office nomad: constantly changing locations, having only the bare minimum of my stuff to be able to move quickly, working with whatever is available or missing at someone’s office (like no keyboard), and avoiding any attachment to a space. It was part of a fun experience: never knowing where I was going to end up next. Now I can add “flexibility” and “adaptability” as my key skills to the resume.
  • While occupying one of the cubicles for a week, I’ve realized how important it is to learn to snack quietly and gracefully at the desk. First, you might never know when someone would peek into your cubicle and find you with a full mouth of food. Second, when it gets too quiet, people, sitting in nearby cubicles, can hear you chew. And some food does need a lot of chewing or even munching. Learning to snack silently is a good skill to acquire in corporate work. Another skill to add to the resume: “multitasking” (working, eating, and making no noises) and “able to operate (food) under pressure.”
  • Before internship, I’ve often dreamed of having colleagues and feeling like a part of the community. And I got that experience; however, I’ve also found that having too many great co-workers leads to having too many great conversations, which, in turn, leads to having too many minutes NOT spent on your work. Balancing between work and great conversations can be tricky sometimes. I can legitimely add the skills of “time management” and “networking” to my resume now. 
  • I’ve always been a pro-sport and pro-exercise person and I’ve never thought that walking down the stairs from the 9th floor (office is on the 9th floor) might be the only meaningful workout throughout the day for me. When you don’t have time or energy to do a normal workout, you become creative: walking up and down the stairs a few times a day, dancing a bit of zumba during lunch break, and choosing heels over sneakers to build some muscles in legs. Two important skills: “innovation” and “creative thinking.”
  • I’ve also learned that the outside weather does not reflect the weather in office. No matter how much sun there is outside, it is always chilly in the office. So if I have a hot cup of tea/coffee on the desk, I make sure to sip it as fast as possible before its temperature drops. I’ve also given up the idea of wearing nice summer dresses or skirts to office as having goosebumps all over the body is not the most attractive thing. Choosing layers of clothes is one way to solve the problem. Another way is to go to the bathroom and keep your hands under hot running water. Such a warm feeling right away. So, in the end, this all enhanced my skills of “problem-solving” and “strategic planning (of what to wear every day).”
  • Finally, I have realized that headphones are absolutely integral to your success in corporate work. With so many people working around you, headphones are key to your concentration, performance, and result achievement. I can add my final point to the resume: “Active Not  Listening” skill. 

My internship is almost over, but I am excited to develop my career further and hone the acquired skills of adaptability, flexibility, creativity, multitasking, working under pressure, problem-solving, and time management. Goodbye, offices. Goodbye, desks. An office nomad is ready for the next career move.

PhD survivor

How to survive a PhD? Just follow these 15 simple steps:

  1. Choose the university that gives you the biggest scholarship for the longest possible time. Preferably, unlimited funding without deadline.
  2. Choose the supervisor not based on your common research interests or expertise, but based on the time it takes him/her to answer your emails. Track and measure it during Year 1.
  3. Do not make any attempt to find PhD alumni and ask about their post-PhD career paths. In fact, do not ask anyone at the department about that. The less you know, the better you sleep.
  4. Choose to live in the dorm close to fraternity houses. There will be many loud parties, and this will remind you to study harder to be able to finish sooner and finally have a life.
  5. Build your survival food system. In year 3-5, you will especially need emergency food. Fill your pantry or kitchen cabinets with instant noodles, canned food, crackers, nuts, peanut butter (lots of it!), and protein bars (brain food, you know).
  6. Start cutting all close relationships with people before Year 2. Your thesis will become your best friend, your partner … and sometimes your enemy too. The faster you cut contact with human beings, the sooner you will develop relationships with papers, articles, and books. This all will speed up the defence and graduation.
  7. Prepare to develop distaste for reading. In fact, stop reading anything a year before PhD. In this case, you can trick your brain into developing an interest for a new activity – boring reading.
  8. Do not spend money on anything. Save up and spend all your money on the best printer on the market and the most expensive chair. Office chair would especially be nice as it will give you an illusion that you are working in corporate business and making a difference in the world.
  9. Buy glasses and eye lenses in advance. Consult with your doctor on the possible trajectory of eyesight getting worse from year 2 to year 6 or 7.
  10. Apply for various grants and go to as many conferences as possible. Free travel, free food, free pens and note-pads.
  11. Visit the Buddhist monastery before starting a PhD and learn the secret of patience. You will need that a lot while waiting for the committee feedback on chapter 1,2,3 and so on.
  12. Buy a set of clothes 2-3 sizes bigger than your normal size. You will start noticing changes in Year 3.
  13. Buy subscription for all stupid comedy TV shows. It will be the only way to relax your mind and get distracted. Best mind therapy.
  14. Sign up for boxing classes. Stick the first page of your thesis on the punching ball and beat the shit out of it. It will help with anger management tremendously.
  15. And last, always remind yourself you will have a cool title “Doctor” at the end, even though you cannot really save or help anyone. It will still feed your ego and make you forget all the troubles you went through.

You can do it. I did it, so can you. I am a PhD: Proudly half Dead 🙂