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#130 Interview with Ashley Ruba on Using LinkedIn To Advance and Pivot Careers

In this episode, Ashley tells us all about how she used Linkedin and other social media to pivot from academia into a completely different industry.

Published onJan 12, 2024
#130 Interview with Ashley Ruba on Using LinkedIn To Advance and Pivot Careers
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Are you one of the people who feels shy about using LinkedIn? Do you know about its potential but still hold back, in fear of having nothing worth sharing? You are definitely not the only one, and today’s guest has some wisdom to share! Join our host, Elisabeth Reithuber, for an inspiring talk with Ashley Ruba, a psychology researcher turned UX researcher and career coach.

Ashley is a psychologist by training, holding a PhD in Developmental Psychology from University of Washington, a field where she also did a post doc, before jumping into the world of user experience (UX) research. Today, she works as a human factors engineer at the medical technology company Arthrex, in Florida, USA, while also juggling a career coaching program for academics, After Academia.

#130 Interview with Ashley Ruba on Using LinkedIn To Advance and Pivot Careers

Today, Ashley tells us all about how she used LinkedIn and other social media to pivot from academia into a completely different industry, her path to get to her current job, and how the way people resonated with her words inspired her to make a second career out of helping PhDs advancing their careers. She also tells Elisabeth about the skills that were transferable to her new job and the things that she had to, instead, unlearn.

Among other things, Ashley advises you to pick a career niche to focus on, emphasizes how important a branding tool LinkedIn is, and gently nudges you to lose your inhibitions in order to connect with people who will help propel you towards your dream job!

PhD Career Stories is on all major Social Media channels. To receive more content regularly, follow us on YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and our website.


TRANSCRIPT

Elisabeth Reithuber:

Hi and welcome to today's episode of PhD Career Stories and, please, welcome with me today's guest, Ashley Ruba. Ashley is a psychologist and she holds a PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Washington. And about one and a half years ago Ashley transitioned from academia to industry, starting with UX research and then moving forward to human factors engineering. And today she is leading human factors research at Arthrex where they are developing digital technologies for autopathic surgery. But that is not all, because Ashley is also mentoring more than 60000 academics on Linkedin to inspire them to launch a successful non-academic career, and she also recently started a coaching business. So it's really exciting to have you on. Thanks a lot for being on our channel and sharing your story and your journey with us, Ashley. A very warm welcome!

Ashley Ruba:

Oh, thank you. Thank you so much for that very warm welcome.

Elisabeth:

So maybe, can you tell us, briefly, what is human factors engineering? To me it was a totally new word.

Ashley:

Yeah, I think a lot of people have heard of UX research but not human factors engineering. And human factors engineering - I view it as a subset of UX research, it actually predates UX research. So, human factors [engineering] is a combination of psychology and ergonomics, and it became more of a discipline in World War II when airplane cockpits became very complicated and you still had highly skilled pilots who were crashing planes. So, instead, the people who were designing the planes decided to make them more human-friendly in order to reduce human error. So, when you're designing with human factors in mind you're designing with humans in mind. So what are our motoric capabilities, what are our cognitive limitations and what are our perceptual biases and limitations? And then you're designing systems that are safe and effective for use, so you see human factors engineers mostly in medical devices, automotive industry, and the aerospace industry, but also you're starting to see them more with wearables as well.

Elisabeth:

Okay, that's really exciting! And I think your background, then, as a psychologist comes in very very handy - or is indispensable, I guess.

Ashley:

Yeah, for sure. I am the only PhD and the only psychologist by training on my team. Everyone else has a background in industrial engineering or industrial design or in human factors specifically. But I do think that my background in psychology does give me a different perspective than everyone else on my team has.

Elisabeth:

Yeah, I can imagine that. But maybe we can touch upon that a little bit later - which skills you might need and what your daily job is about. But, first, (...) how did you actually get from your PhD - and then you also did a postdoc - to industry? And what made you actually land this job?

Ashley:

Yeah, that's a great question. So, I started my PhD in developmental psychology with the goal of - I think many PhD students have wanted to become a faculty member - I really loved research, and I went through most of my PhD program very focused on that goal. I ended up in my fourth year sitting on a faculty search committee, so I saw the process from the other side and I saw how academic hiring worked and I watched as we had a stack of 120 candidates and we were cutting people, and we were cutting people at CVs that were much better than mine and I just thought “I'm not good enough to be here”. And yeah, so I looked into UX research at that point, but then ultimately I got a pretty prestigious postdoctoral fellowship and ended up taking that. And I started that at the end of 2019, six months before covid shut down everything. So, I watched the academic job market collapse, in 2020 universities stopped hiring, it picked up a little bit again in 2021, but basically all of a sudden I was a third-year postdoc and I had to make a choice whether I wanted to continue being a postdoc and continue trying for an academic job or whether I wanted to do something different. So, it was about two years ago now when I decided that I was going to change careers and I knew I wanted a research career, I applied to a bunch of different stuff and I ended up taking the first job off I got which was in UX research. And I really enjoyed it. And after that, I was at a small consulting firm for about three months. I ended up moving to Meta and then I was at Meta working in reality labs for a year, working on augmented reality and virtual reality. During that time, there were multiple, major waves of layoffs at Meta and I started realizing that I wanted to work at probably a smaller company that was a little more stable. And, at that point and during this process, I had been posting first on Twitter and then on Linkedin, just talking about my journey and giving career advice and I actually connected with my current manager on Linkedin. He sent me a connection request and then several months after that he responded to one of my posts when I was talking about maybe wanting to change careers and he mentioned that he was hiring at his company. And then I slid into his DMs and now I'm working at a medical device company and yeah, entirely through posting and networking on Linkedin, so I'm a big Linkedin fan.

Elisabeth:

Yes. Yeah, this is actually also how I stumbled upon you!

Ashley:

Yeah!

Elisabeth:

I was following your content and I got really inspired. But  maybe there were two things that I would like to ask you about. So, when you actually decided to leave academia and to leave your dream of following this envisioned path, (...) did it take you a lot of courage? How did you actually get the strength to say “Okay, now I switch gears and I go for something else”?

Ashley:

Yeah, when I took this postdoctoral fellowship, it was a three-year fellowship and I told myself that I was going to give myself three years to try to find a faculty job and, if that didn't happen, then I would do something else, because (...) I had talked to people who had been postdocs for five or six years and so I knew going into it I did not want to do that. I obviously didn't expect a global pandemic to happen in the middle of my postdoc… So then, when I was in my third year and I didn't have academic jobs, I was thinking back to what I had told myself at the beginning, which was “I'm not going to do more than three years of a postdoc”, and at that point (...)  Ifelt really over it. I was tired of being treated like a trainee, I really wanted to have more responsibility and run my lab - that's all I had wanted to do for years - and (...) I felt really frustrated, I was also living in a state like in the middle of the country, where I didn't know anybody… (...) There were just a lot of things. I mostly just wasn't happy anymore, so, for me, (...) it just seemed like the only choice at that point. And I think the thing that scared me was just telling people that I was leaving, because I knew that people were going to be really disappointed. And even when I talked to people who had started grad school with me, a few of them had told me “You know, of everyone in our cohort, we thought you were going to be the one who made it. You seemed very determined and very successful” and I was like “Yeah I thought so too…”. I think everyone thought so, and yeah, I think that's why, when I posted a little less than two years ago on Twitter that I was leaving academia, that tweet went viral and I think it was because so many people were just very shocked that I would have walked away from all of this but I just wasn't happy. So, it didn't really seem that brave to me, iIt was just like “I don't really have another choice”, that’s kind of how it felt in my mind.

Elisabeth:

Okay, but still, it's courageous then to go [for] different paths and explore the unknown, which is mostly industries, mostly for academics or when you are academically trained.

Ashley:

Hmm. Yeah, no, for sure.

Elisabeth:

(...) So - you said it a little bit - you were already active on Twitter then, during your academic time?

Ashley:

I was on Twitter. I wouldn't say I was particularly active, I made two memes during my postdoc that were pretty popular and I think people followed me because I had fifteen first-author papers. At the end of the day, I'd won multiple dissertation awards, people were starting to become aware of who I was but I don't think I had more than a thousand followers when I said that I was leaving academia. And then now I have over 30000 on Twitter and about over 35000 on Linkedin. But posting on Linkedin, I only started doing that a year ago, so much more recent, yeah.

Elisabeth:

Okay, well. But (...) you hear a lot about personal branding and so on, but what do you say to someone like me, for example, who is then a little bit afraid of doing that, of stepping out, maybe being afraid [of] not having interesting things to say or having maybe opposition maybe [to] marketing oneself? You know what I mean?

Ashley:

Yeah. Well, definitely it's not just you. So, I've heard estimates that only like 1 to 3% of Linkedin users actually post anything and I think that's true across most social media platforms. Most people don't actually create any kind of content whatsoever. And what I really like about Linkedin and why it's my favorite social media platform is that everyone there is very nice and, when I was posting on Twitter, the pushback I got was sometimes very critical of me and sometimes still is very critical of me and I've just never experienced that on Linkedin. So, I feel very unafraid of posting things on Linkedin every time I post something on Twitter or X or whatever they're calling it now, I do feel that fear because people could be quite combative. So, if that's any consolation, [on Linkedin] I've really experienced very little pushback or, even when people do disagree with me, it's always in a very respectful way. But yeah, I talk to a lot of people who think they don't really have anything to say or that no one is going to care, but I think that (...), with content creation in general, you just have to do it over and over again. If you want to build an audience, if that is ultimately your goal, it's just about showing up every single day and then you learn what kinds of things are useful for people and what people want to see. Because creating content is all about what other people want, ultimately. So, what you think is interesting isn't necessarily what other people think is interesting and that's also the point of UX research and why I like content creation. (...) I put a post out in the world and then I'm trying to figure out “Okay, why did that post do particularly well, but this other post didn’t really resonate with people?” and then you're just gathering more information and constantly tweaking things. I think it's just about showing up every single day and I’ve received so many messages from people thanking me for doing what I do that I can't imagine not doing it. Because, when I was transitioning out of academia, there was not really anyone like me in this space who I felt like I could look up to or was giving advice or was a role model. It just felt really isolating. So, I'm trying to be the person I wish that I had two years ago.

Elisabeth:

Oh, that's really lovely!  And your success proves that, yes, you really are valuable and are a role model for a lot of people, and inspiring a lot of people, also. That's really cool. Yeah, but maybe now coming to all those new fields that you have been diving into - I mean human factors research and also social media -, what are the skills that you already had in your PhD that you can actually use now? And, on the contrary, what did you need to unlearn, that it was good to shrug off and to replace with something more useful?

Ashley:

Yeah, for sure. I think ultimately the skills that I use are going to be different from the skills that other people use who are going into different roles. So I transitioned into a research-focused career, but I also work with people and talk with people who want to go into writing or instructional design or more teaching-related careers, and so the skills that they are using are different from what I use. But, as a UX researcher, human factors engineer the skills that translated the most for me were all of my research skills: my ability to come up with a research question, come up with a study design, really logically think through the scientific process, come up with variables, figure out how we're going to analyze the data, writing it up, reporting it back and the whole understanding of the research process. And then also being able to manage multiple studies at one time, that is ultimately what I do day-to-day in my job. It's just in a very different area. I studied babies for 10 years and now I'm working in tech and medical devices. So, subject matter is different but, at the end of the day, the research process is still the same. The one thing that I find that people who want to move into UX research or any kind of product-related field [find hard] is product experience. And, when we're in academia and we're designing studies, we're not building products that we're ultimately going to sell and so there's a whole product development life-cycle, and the questions that you're asking and the methods that you use differ depending on what stage of the product development -you're at. And the impact of your work ends up being different, because in academia we think of impact and we think about impact factor and publications,and citations, and that's how we measure whether our work was impactful. But outside of academia, it's much more about how much revenue did we generate, or did I develop a tool that improved a process by some percentage, and so you're quantifying impact in a very different way. It feels more…maybe not useful, but, for me, it feels more useful. I think the other thing that can be hard is just working at a faster pace and having to make decisions where maybe you don't have all of the information, (...) you don't have time to sit down and do years worth of intensive data collection on a particular topic before you're making a decision, because that's just a really long time in the business world. So, it’s just about moving quicker ultimately, without sacrificing the quality of your work, ultimately.

Elisabeth:

Okay, so those were things that you learned now in your industry?

Ashley:

Yeah, yeah, so I've learned a lot about product development and slightly different research methods than what I was using before when I was in academia, and different ways of reporting data, as well. Because, in academia, you write these really dead scientific papers and, at least  in my previous two roles, our reports were just powerpoint presentations and that was it. Our goal was just to communicate our findings, it wasn't to get them published. It didn't matter if they were statistically significant or not. In my current role, we do write longer documents for reports, but that's because I'm in medical devices and we end up submitting a lot of things to different regulatory boards. But we are also trying to move towards [where] not only do we have this document that we can submit but we're also making a powerpoint where we can very quickly tell other people, tell product managers, tell the CEO, other stakeholders what we found and where we should go next.

Elisabeth:

Okay, so yeah, it's also actually a lot of communication skills and different audiences.

Ashley:

Yeah, exactly, exactly. Yeah, in my role I'm working with designers and prototypers, you are actually building whatever software, hardware we're using. But then I'm also working with project managers, who are making sure all the pieces are going well, and product managers who are making all of (...) the big strategic decisions about a particular product, and just having to interface with all of these people in order to figure out “Okay, of all these research questions we can test, what's important to test? And how are we going to do it?”, and basically advocating for the user and for research in the whole product development process.

Elisabeth:

Okay, wow, that sounds really exciting!

Ashley:

Yeah!

Elisabeth:

But may I touch upon [this] once more (...), because now I've heard a lot about adaptability, that this is really important, and one factor there is also to unlearn things and to forget about something. Could you think about something that you actually needed to unlearn during this process?

Ashley:

Yeah, I think what I ended up unlearning - maybe I didn't need to, but I had, in academia, put so much of my self-worth in my research, because you're very siloed in academia, and I was creating this research project (...), I had a lot of ownership over it and it felt like if my findings, if my results aren't significant, if my study fails, then I am a failure. If my publications get rejected, then I am a failure, I'm not a good scientist. And all of the blame and the burden fell on me with every single rejection. And (...) what ended up happening is I separated myself from my work, which just ultimately ended up happening because, like I said, I'm working with a team of sometimes 20 different people on a project and so I'm contributing a piece to it and I do have a lot of ownership over the research part of it, but ultimately the success or failure of this project isn't just solely on my shoulders. We're all in this together. And I think (...) I'm ultimately pretty good at collaborating with other people, is what I learned. I think some academics, I've heard from a lot of professors “I'm not going to be happy if I have to work with a boss”, but it's actually nice to work together towards a common goal. But yeah, I think I had to really start separating myself from my work and separating my identity from my career, which was hard at times because I had been in this field for over a decade. I'm like “What am I if I'm not an expert on infant emotion perception? What am I good for anymore?”.

Elisabeth:

Yeah, but how did you succeed in doing that? Can you [share] any strategy?

Ashley:

Yeah, I think part of it was just time. Just time in a new role, and I think also, at the end of the day I wasn't thinking about work anymore. Because I feel like in academia you just have this never ending to do list, like you could work 80 hours a week and you would still not get everything done, because it just never ends. The bar for the number of publications you need to be considered successful it's just ever-increasing and it just never felt like enough. But yeah, I think just having more free time. And then it's like “Okay, well, what do I want to do?”, and so I started reading books again, which is something that I had done before I was in my PhD program and then I just read so many scientific articles during my PhD and my postdoc that the last thing I wanted to do was read more books, at the end of the day. So it was just about reclaiming hobbies that I had tossed aside - I like going out dancing, I like reading books, I like cooking, you know, all these things that I didn't do so much when I was in academia - and that's helped me figure out more of like what is my identity outside of academia, what do I like doing, and just trying new things.

Elisabeth:

Yeah, that sounds really nice and also very healthy, actually, for mental health. I mean, I know this is often overlooked during an academic journey.

Ashley:

Oh, for sure. Yeah.

Elisabeth:

Yeah, that's really nice. So maybe, when you now create content on Linkedin, what is inspiring you? You said before a little bit that you do analytics and you kind of see what is resonating, but you're kind of also leading a topic! You have topic leadership. So how do you get inspired?

Ashley:

In terms of figuring out what to write every day or…?

Elisabeth:

Yeah, yeah, or what the topic is that is interesting.

Ashley:

Yeah. So, that's a good question. So I think I didn't have a strategy for a really long time. And then and then I started thinking about it more. So, my strategy is basically - and I've developed a coaching program now, so I really had to think about this - (...) after talking with PhDs for almost two years and going through the job search process myself multiple times, I started figuring out where people were struggling and it was always the same thing when I talk to people. Even now when I do one-on-one coaching, I feel like the meetings are always the same thing. It's like “Well, what can I do with my PhD?”, “How do I write a resumé?”, “How do I use Linkedin?”, “I don't know how to build a network”... And so it's always the same questions and the same places that people are struggling. So now that I actually have a really good understanding of misconceptions that PhDs have and where PhDs are struggling, I create content to address these issues and these questions that people are asking me all of the time. So yeah, and that's essentially, ultimately like user research. At the end of the day, you're just trying to figure out where are people's pain points and how do I make something that solves a problem that people have. And yeah, that's ultimately it. But yeah, I find that usually career exploration is really hard for people, writing a resume is something that PhDs struggle with, and then networking is ultimately the biggest struggle and using Linkedin. Those are the four things that always come up, over and over again.

Elisabeth:

So, (...) did it happen to you already that you thought “Okay, I've said it all”?

Ashley:

Yeah… And I guess that's the thing with content creation, it’s you ultimately do say the same thing over and over again. (...) I've started more intentionally like really paying attention to (..) what's resonating with people, because I feel like, when I started doing this - all of this, the following that I have -, it was very accidental I did not set out to gain a social media following whatsoever. It just kind of happened to me, and I actually took a really long social media break in March of this year, (...) I was really struggling with my mental health, I got really burnt out. And I was like “I think maybe this is it. I think maybe I'm just done, I don't want to do this anymore”. And then I ended up coming back at the end of August of this year and. when I came back, I [was] like “Okay, I'm going to really try this now and actually try to monetize this weird influence I have, in some way”, because that felt like the only way that it felt worth it [for] me to just keep pouring so much time into creating content and talking to people. It was just a lot to be doing for free. So now it's really been over the past few months that I’ve really started thinking more strategically about this, because before I was just throwing stuff out into the world and I wasn't really thinking about it that deeply.

Elisabeth:

No, and you have great value! 

Ashley:

Yeah.

Elisabeth:

I mean, yeah, it's really cool and also fair. And, by having a coaching program that people can actually subscribe to, it's a win-win, I guess, then?

Ashley:

Yeah! Yeah, and I think I was hesitant about charging anyone for anything for a really long time, because I think in academia we’re taught that free labor is pretty normal. And I also am very aware that PhD students, postdocs, lecturers, and professors don't have a lot of disposable income. So ultimately my goal is - I'm not trying to swindle anybody or exploit anybody, but (...) I'm still in the process of figuring out what is a fair price to charge for like the amount of work that I've put into helping people, but also trying to help as many people as possible and it's an interesting balance. I've learned a lot about sales and marketing, which is not something I ever thought I would be interested in, but it's taught me a lot. You mentioned personal branding - it's taught me a lot about personal branding, as well, in the process.

Elisabeth:

Yeah, it's exciting and who knows where it will end up in the end.

Ashley:

Yeah, and I think that's also the thing. I follow a lot of Linkedin content creators on Linkedin, and people who have hundreds of thousands of followers and everyone's kind of saying the same thing: social media is mostly just about showing up every single day and being like “I'm going to do this for years” (...) I think people give up pretty easily, if they're like “Well, I didn't hit 100000 followers in, you know, six months, so this isn't worth it”. But the people that have the biggest accounts are just people who have been doing this every single day for years and they know that this is a long-term thing. And that's kind of how I feel: I'm in this for the long haul, I don't know where this is going to go, but, wherever it goes, I'm just going to show up every single day and try to help people, and yeah, hopefully I help people. AndI know that I have helped people, people have told me so.

Elisabeth:

Yeah, yeah, and so many people following you, I mean, you don't follow [someone] for no reason, so… But now, when you say you are [full-on] doing Linkedin and your coaching program, but you're also full-on in your daily job. So, how do you manage your time?

Ashley:

Yeah, that's a good question - and I had thought about this a lot, because I actually really like my job and I'm actually in a coaching program myself as someone who is being coached with other people who are creators on Linkedin. I think a lot of people really like the dream of just being a content creator full-time, and I feel weird being like “But I really like my full-time job…” [laughter] But I see this definitely more as a side thing that I do… But yeah, I think how I manage it is I just work really quickly. And I think, as someone who (...) was recently diagnosed with ADHD, I think one of the systems that I had put in place for most of my life to manage this was just like keeping myself really busy, so I didn't have time to be distracted by other things. And so I actually work the best when I have a lot of work to do. That was also part of starting this, I felt like I didn't have enough work to do, to keep my brain stimulated. so now I feel like I'm working a little more than I want to. But it's also because, when I'm doing this coaching program right now, every week I'm giving a webinar on a different topic. I've set this up in a very step-by-step way from “Okay, what do I do with my PhD?” to “Okay, I have an interview. How do I get through my interview?”. And so every week I'm preparing the lecture for the week and course prep just takes a really long time. So I think, once I am fully done with all of this course prep, then (...) I'll have a lot of time back. But yeah, I think (...)  in the early stages of any kind of business you just end up having to invest a lot of time, but then down the line I know that it's not always going to be like this.

Elisabeth:

Yeah, (...), yeah. I mean, it might not be sustainable for you to put in so much work, so many balls in the air, juggling (…)

Ashley:

Yeah. Yeah, no, no, for sure. And definitely my full time job, that comes first. But yeah, I also have the benefit [that] my company is on the other side of the country, so my working hours are like (...) 6 or 7AM to 2PM, and so then basically after 2PM it's when I have time to do this. So yeah, I end up, like I said, working more right now than I maybe would prefer, but it's ultimately doing things that I really enjoy, so in some ways it doesn't necessarily feel like work. [laughter}

Elisabeth:

No, that's really lovely. And one can really feel that - that it's also passion and not only work.

Ashley:

Yeah! Yeah, I really like writing, so having Linkedin being mostly a writing platform and then also Twitter is mostly writing. (...) I really enjoy that process and so then…I don’t know, it doesn't feel like work. It's a very creative process for me and so that also helps.

Elisabeth:

No, that's really amazing - how you manage all that and manage also to be creative, a creative source. That's really inspiring.

Ashley:

Yeah. Yeah.

Elisabeth:

I actually read a recent post of [yours, I think it was two days ago. And you said that (...) you pivoted in your career path and you just would like to stay curious about what to do next. I hope I paraphrased it right. [laughter] So, maybe as a last question, what are you curious about and where do you think you might look into next?

Ashley:

Yeah… Like I said before, I really like my job. My team, we're pretty new at my company. I work with a digital technologies team at this medical device company, so we're doing a lot of really exciting work and we have a lot of really exciting things in the pipeline over the next few years, so I definitely see a lot of advancement there. Part of what I'm working on is in medical augmented reality, which is a pretty new space and it's only going to keep being a more exciting space to be in as technology advances. (...) I’m a very ambitious person, so I’m definitely interested in continuing to, I guess, climb the corporate ladder, so to speak. And then in terms of coaching, I'm currently in the middle of running this group coaching program right now, and come February I'll have it open up again and I've been thinking a lot about scaling and what that looks like. Because, like I said before, I really do want this to be affordable and available to as many people as possible. So yeah, I’m really excited to be opening that back up again and the next version. And then you'll also start seeing me on Instagram, I think. [laughter] I'm kind of active there, now. (...) I've wanted to get on Instagram for a really long time and I just haven't had time to really sit down and, I mean, every social media platform is so different and really likes different kinds of things and content. So, it's just [that] I need to sit down and really figure out “How does Instagram even work?”. But that's the next exciting thing for me, just scaling this weird social media presence that I've acquired. [laughter]

Elisabeth:

No, it’s really cool and always staying curious - that is really important in these times where so many new things come.

Ashley:

Yeah. Yeah, for sure, and then even outside of work. I mean, last February I did some solo travel in South America, which was life-changing for all of the reasons and really amazing and I would love to do just more traveling. because that was not something I really got to do as an academic. But I have the time and the resources to do that now, outside of academia, so that's on my personal to-do that is not work related.

Elisabeth:

Yeah, oh yeah. And the world, yeah, there are so many things to discover. 

Ashley:

I know. [laughter]

Elisabeth:

Yeah, cool! Yeah, no, thanks a lot! Maybe before wrapping up, could you condense three tips for our listeners that are just about to be in the face of transition from academia and maybe also who are curious to get more active on Linkedin.

Ashley:

Yeah. Well, “get on Linkedin” is always my biggest tip. Linkedin is your friend, so get on Linkedin, make a profile, follow me, connect with me. I want to help, I want to help. So that's my first big piece of advice and, branching off of that, I also really recommend starting to network with people and doing informational interviews, and that's the first step where I see PhDs struggling, like “I don't know what I want to do”, “I don't know what I'm interested in”. I'm like “Just talk, go and talk to people.” Talk to people who have careers that interest you. ask them what their day-to-day is like and try to figure out “Is that something that I think I would be interested in doing?”, and from there you can pick just one career path, which is what I would recommend. And then that leads to my third tip: really just pick, niche-down as much as you can, pick one career. You don't have to know what you want to do forever, just pick the thing that seems the most interesting, figure out what you need to do to upskill and then, going back to Linkedin, (...) Linkedin's great for personal branding, you can really make it very clear that you're targeting this career field. You can post content on Linkedin and really just reach out to people and tell people “Hey, I'm moving into this career field. I've learned everything that I can” and (...) those steps are how you transition, in a nutshell. It sounds simple but (...) networking and being active on Linkedin is very hard for people, which- I get it, but that is ultimately the way to get a job, just submitting resumes to job ads, it does work in some cases but most of the time that is not how people get jobs, unfortunately.

Elisabeth:

Hmm. Yeah. We need to upskill on that, so to say.

Ashley:

Yeah, yeah, and that's why it's important to pick one career area, because sometimes you don't need to upskill so much, depending on what your prior experience is. Sometimes you need to upskill a lot, so that's also why it's really important to talk to people to figure out “Where are my skills lacking and how can I develop them on my own?” You don't need another degree, don't get another degree. You can definitely learn. You're an expert learner. That is the last thing I will say: you can teach yourself anything, you can learn anything like - that's the whole point of the PhD. So, yeah.

Elisabeth:

Yeah. Now, thanks a lot! With this inspiring last sentence, I think we are ready to close our chat. Thanks a lot for sharing your story and your tips and also thank you [to] our listeners for being here with us, and stay connected on our social media platforms, we are on all of them. And stay tuned for other exciting content coming up. Bye, bye!

Comments
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Terry Thomas:

Curious to see how these LinkedIn tips work for me!

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