April 30 was my last official day as a fully-fledged academic, after 15 years in academia. To celebrate, I put together a list of the best career advice I got during my pivot.
➤ "Take the good with you, leave only the bad behind" +
"Academia doesn't have a monopoly on anything"
A year ago, I started to realize that I am interested in leaving academia. But there were things I loved about academia, and I was worried about losing them. Can I get the same level of intellectual stimulation? Will I have intellectual freedom?
Eric James Stephens, PhD helped me out of that way of thinking. He said that I can take all the good of academia with me, and leave only the bad behind. He helped me see that the things that are important to me either already exist elsewhere or I can build them. Because academia, he said, doesn't have a monopoly on anything. That advice was spot on and turned out to be 100% true. Thank you, Eric, you helped me more than I can explain!
➤ Craft mindset instead of a passion mindset
My number one concern in leaving academia was that I won't be able to pursue projects that I am as passionate about. I had an aha moment in a webinar with another former academic (first time I'm calling myself "a former academic"!). The speaker recommended switching from a "passion mindset" to a "craft mindset". In a passion mindset, you focus on what *you* are most interested in, what *you* are more excited about. In a craft mindset, you focus on how to use your skills to be helpful.
In that moment, I realized I was selfish. Academia can easily make you focus too much on scratching your own intellectual itches. That happened to me. I felt ashamed, but also energized to find a good use for my skills. Ironically, I do feel as passionate about my projects now as I did in academia, and sometimes more. Perhaps it was to be expected, because I am the most passionate about creating a positive impact in the world, as cliché as it is.
➤ "It's about finding your people" + "I am not for everyone"
In finding my way out of academia, I bumped against many closed doors. I felt rejected, yes, but more so, I felt scared. I felt that I was doing something wrong but didn't know what. My friend Kierith A. Jones gave me a wonderful piece of advice. "It's about finding your people", she said, it's not about changing myself to appease others or making people change the way they think. I kept looking for my people, and, with time, I found many of them.
I absorbed the same helpful message by reading Josh Braun's posts. Josh is a sales guru who specializes in how to do cold calls. One of his consistent messages is that you must realize that your product might just be a bad fit for the prospect, and that is okay, no need to force it. You are not for everyone, and doesn't make you a failure
Thank you to everyone who supported me and still support me on this journey!
And cheers to all former and soon-to-be-former academics!
➤ Read the LinkedIn discussion here