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#53 PhD Career Stories Two Year Anniversary: team discussion

Today marks the PhD Career Stories' two year anniversary. We discuss matters such as 'Why do we think this podcast is so important? What learnings and insights have we gained so far? What are we expecting from the future?'

Published onJul 20, 2018
#53 PhD Career Stories Two Year Anniversary: team discussion

Today marks the PhD Career Stories' two year anniversary - hurray! Of course we want to celebrate this great occasion and for this we have prepared a special episode featuring the team behind the podcast. With the excellent guidance of the Founder Tina Persson, we discuss matters such as 'Why do we think this podcast is so important? What learnings and insights have we gained so far? What are we expecting from the future?'

Press play and hear all about it!


Tina: So, welcome team! It is time for our two year celebration anniversary for PhD Career Stories and I must admit one thing: when this project started two years ago, I could never have believed that I was going to sit here with you guys, an expanded team now, we have new members to the team, we would sit here again two years later and record this podcast. So I am extremely proud at this moment here.

Today, we have 51 podcasts and I want everyone who listens to this podcast to think about that. Fifty-one podcasts in two years...! The first podcast was delivered at the 22nd of July, two years ago. We had our first anniversary at the 21st of July [2017], and in this podcast I am going to present the team here. And the team has prepared a lot of questions they are going to answer, so everyone of you who have listened and followed us these two years, or recently have started to listen to us, are gonna learn and get to know these people much better! And I also hope that you will learn to know why we do this podcast and hopefully also give you some ideas and inspire you to send us even more questions. Also, maybe in the future, take contact with the people in the podcast. Because we want to show our faces to rest of our followers here. 

So... PhD Career Stories is a podcast for PhD:s, that wants to explore their future career possibilities. Transition to industry, or if you want to stay in academia, or you are dreaming of being a freelancer, starting your own company. PhD Career Stories is gonna be there with you. These two first years are only the start, I promise it is going to happen a lot more! PhD Career Stories is a future project, it is a digital project and we show in this project a digital leadership, meaning that some of the people in this team here have never met physically. WE meet in the cyberworld, we meet on Skype, we meet and we communicate on tools like Slack etc, making us a very modern team. 

That was a little bit of background here, I guess it is time for… the first question! When I called you, Michele, because Michele was the first person that I contacted. He was a coachee of me. I had never done a podcast in my whole life, so I am curious now. 

Michele, what did you think when I asked you to join the project?

Michele: Hello Tina! And, hello everyone! This is Michele Manzo and as Tina mentioned, it has been a very exciting experience to join this podcast and to follow its development over the time. I still remember when you asked me the first time. With a mix of surprise and at the same time it was a mix of uncertainty. You had no idea what you were talking about at the very beginning. I was mostly thinking about the technical aspects of it. I am a pretty detailed person, so I was already in my mind thinking “how are we going to do that?!”. But at the same time I was thrilled about the idea and I was looking forward to make it become something real, to help you and to have others developing this platform. 

Tina: Thank you very much, Michele. Alice, you have also been a coachee here for me, and I wonder what were you thinking when I asked you to join the editing team, and transcribing team? 

Alice: It is a good question… I do not know. I had a difficulty to say know, but I think maybe you knew I would say yes? But I think I was happy to contribute and to do something.

Tina: You had a hard time to say no, Alice. Is that really so? Are you scared for me, maybe? “I cannot say no to Tina?” (laughter) 

Alice: No, no! (laughing).

Tina: I do not hope so! Because you are contributing fantastically! (laughing) Maria! What did you think when I asked you?

Maria: Hi! Yes, this is Maria Sjögren. I was thrilled! When you presented this idea, I was like: “hey, I want to be a part of this! You are on to something big and this is going to be the way I can contribute back to all the people had me pursue a different career than I had originally planned.” So, I was thrilled and enthusiastic and just wowed with what you were planning and what we were starting, the journey that we were starting at that time. 

Tina: And it is interesting here now, when you listen to these three, Alice, Maria and Michele. Michele, you were thinking about the technical details. So Michele, you should know I had no clue about the technical details, but I was more focused on how many people can we invite to give a podcast? Because the technique for me... I do not have that focus. I just try to find people that maybe have a better idea than I have. 

And Maria, I know you have a lot of experience of social media, so it was a logical step to ask you, because I know you are really good. And Alice, what I noticed when I met you and I was coaching you, was that you were very careful with things and that you are good on details. I though that is something that we actually need. Particularly in the transcribing and in the editing here. So, it is maye part of complementing, and that is my next question here… And I thought, Paulius, I would like to ask you; you know this, being a team and being different people in the team… What have you learned, Paulius, during these two years? Is there something particularly that you think you have developed? 

Paulius: I think I learned that... Communication really surprise me. For me it is very easy to know what one is supposed to do and we need this workflow and we need this processes how to handle things. And that is really important, between what we had in the beginning and developed as we went through. And I think that the biggest thing is that we learned and I learned.

Tina: Yes, we learned to be… What I hear is that, if I understand you correctly, is that we have learned to work in a process, that we need to communicate in an order to produce a podcast. Many different steps to get the good quality, and I know Paulius that you have been very skilled in editing. Was that something you could do before or have you learned it?

Paulius: Oh, I had no idea how to edit! It was… Well, I thought “why not give it a try?” and I did try. And I think it worked pretty well. 

Tina: And that is… As PhD:s we learn, you know. If you do not know how to do something, we start doing it and we will learn. And that is what I hear. So, what we can share here from PhD Career Stories is that anyone that is dreaming of doing a podcast: do it! Start doing it, and learn on the way and hopefully you listeners and followers notice that you get better and better quality; we got the jingle for example. And we are still learning and improving. 

I would like to get Johanna on the line here. Now, you are all the way from Germany. I met you at the Max Planck Alumni here. What was your first thought when I asked you about the podcast project?

Johanna: Hi Tina! So… I remember that I was asked by you and Maria first to contribute to the podcast; to share my story. And that was actually when I was in South Africa, visiting a friend after having spent a couple of months, a few years earlier, there. So there was a kind of a long distance podcast, or as far as you can get almost, from Cape Town, South Africa and that is also personally what I am most interested in. The PhD podcast gives us the opportunity to share stories of PhD:s from across the world. I am personally also in touch with many scientists on the African continent, but also through the Max Planck and other research networks, obviously internationally. 

But my first interest lies in the global south and also to give more visibility to … on the global south and also to show to our listeners and let them hear, through those stories, that people - PhD students - across the globe, no matter if you are in Panama or in Cape Town or in Nairobi or Shanghai, face the same challenges. Some more, some less, but the major challenges are, from my experience, and from what I have heard from our podcast so far, are quite the same. And that is, I think, soothing in one respect, and also by sharing the stories in the podcast, is that people gain confidence and learn that it is obviously possible to overcome those challenges that almost everybody faces at some point in your career during a PhD. 

And that is just part of the deal of doing a PhD. There is a lot of pressure, but there is also many opportunities how you can get support from your supervisor or from other people in your lab or in your research environment. And also be inspired by what people share about how their careers went on after they graduated.

Tina: What is the most unexpected thing you have learned, in these one and a half year you have been in [the podcast]?

Johanna: There is not so… I mean, I did not expect much, other than that I was excited of joining the team, because it is a beautiful project and I … all of you. And I was used to collaborating in international teams also with…..  So that was not new to me, but it is ... hard work with this team because we are always there for each other. If one cannot meet deadline, then somebody else jumps in and takes over its job. Obviously I have also grown in team membership. I think it is just beautiful, like Maria said, it is just beautiful to observe how the podcast is growing and getting more professional and yet staying with its feet on the ground. I mean, we are still approachable, the idea with the podcast is to share personal stories and not to make it as... academic experience, but … and to share the humane aspects of the everyday challenges and how to deal with those. So that is very cool! That really turns out the very same way in the positive way with each episode. 

Tina: Thank you very much Johanna, for your contribution! It is very interesting listening to your experience here and what you experience from the podcast. Ok, we have two relatively new team members with us here today, Nika and Natalia. I am going to ask you, Nika, if we could get anyones story here, whose story would like to have in PhD Career Stories? 

Nika: Hi Tina and everybody else! That is a hard question… I have liked a lot of the stories. I have listened to the podcast, because as you know, I have also written about a podcast for KI [Karolinska Institute] Career Blog. Who would my dream interview person be? Probably from a really unexpected place, doing PhD in something really strange, like someone doing a PhD in Antarctica and actually having to do fieldwork in Antarctica. Something really out there. That would be my spontaneous reaction, because that is something that I cannot imagine at all and what sort of challenges would come with that. And I would like to see is there any similarities to my work and that person's work. 

Tina: Thank you, Nika! And I also know that you have contributed to PhD Career Stories with fantastic blogs. Would you like in short to describe what you are writing about?

Nika: So, I like to write a lot, and I wrote two different blogs about podcasts because I really like the work you, we are doing! So, one of the blogs describes a lesson I have learned from listening to all of the stories, and the first blog was when you were actually launching because I went to your launching at Karolinksa Institute and I saw you present the team back then. At the beginning and I thought it was very inspiring and I wanted to share your project with more people. So I just wrote an introduction post and hoped that more people will follow the work you are doing. So two years later I join the team to help with that.

Tina: We are very glad for that Nika. 

So now it's Natalia. You read it through an ad which was shared on social media. What was it that made you so interested? 

Natalia: Hi Tina. Well I knew the project before so I listen to some of the podcasts and when I think I discovered the project, something like half a year ago or half year before the ed or like several months before that, and I thought “Wow! That's just a genius idea!”. I also was in this crisis of my own PhD, and when I discovered that it was really like a revelation, and I thought “Wow! That's a genius thing!”. So when I actually saw that you were looking for volunteers I didn't really think twice, I wrote an email immediately and I said I want to be part of this, and whatever I have to do just take me 

Tina: Yes! We are very glad to have you Natalia. You have been here for a short while now with many. It's you and Nika and Alice and Karin that are the new members.

But what have you in this short time learned so far in this team?

Natalia: I think someone already mentioned it. For me it’s really teamwork that was something new for me since I was in my last stage of PhD, and my PhD was characterized by solitude experience. So I got used to work with my supervisor and that was pretty much it. And I always believed that I am not a team player as it is used to say, so I cannot rely on people I prefer to do to work all by myself. But at PhD Career Stories I realized the team can work, and that you can trust people and that you can delegate. And people can share tasks and people can communicate. This might sound funny but it was something new for me because all my previous experience show that the communication between people is always the critical point and sometimes it doesn't work, but in this team it actually works and it works quite efficiently and that was really very new thing for me 

Tina: And that is such an important skill to learn to work in a team and trust the team. Maybe one of these things that we try as PhDs is to to do things on our own all the time, and to discover the strength of the team can be a big “Yahoo”. So many companies out there are looking for good team workers. It doesn't mean that you have to be team worker but that you can communicate and work with people with different personalities So that we put the strengths together

So thank you very much Natalia for bringing that theme up.

I would like to have me Michele back on the team. Is there any podcast Michele that has changed your mindset?

Michele: That's a very tough question. Probably the interview that I had with the Ania Gruszczynska. It was our first interview in the podcast and it was extremely interesting under several points of view. From the podcast point of view, I think it was a good addition. But also from the personal point of view. There I had the opportunity to interview a speaker and that was quite the first experience for me to interview somebody. So the planning behind that was very important for me to highlight the important parts in the interview itself. So it was not just the planning itself but it was also how can we highlight the important parts in Ania Gruszczynska’s story and so on. So in that way, they initial concern became momentum to gain energy. I was really excited and glad that I had the opportunity to reach out to the speaker and plan together the interview. 

I would also like to remark some of the comments that Johanna and Natalia said before. I think growing inside a solid team like we have been having the opportunity to build really improved the my team playing skills and the really contributed in changing my mindset. Getting excited about learning new things and looking at mistakes like learning opportunities rather than failure

Tina: Thank you very much Michele for that and I can say from knowing you from 2 years that we have learned a lot in the team and many of you guys have actually changed. Maybe I have changed too. 

Maria I would like to have you back. How do you think that our invited speakers can benefit from participating and give a podcast for us.

Maria: I think that they can actually benefit in so many ways. I know that one of our speaker as done that already, Kiki, who was one of our first speakers. It was a story that really got to your heart, I almost cried when I listen to it because I could recognize so many elements and still really feel with her. And from what I understand her podcast actually brought her To lecture at, was it Linköping University or Lund University? - Tina: it was Linköping - Yes so that is one way how you can actually reach out and I am thinking we have so many examples with Jo for instance. She went on the team to tell her podcast to tell her story, and then she was invited to become a part of the team. And she just did recently Tedx talk and I think maybe PhD Career Stories could have contributed to that. You make your name known. For myself is a really good dinner subject to talk about. People are always very interested when I say what I do, and somehow most of the people I meet know someone somewhere who are struggling, and that doesn't necessarily needs to be a PhD  that is trying to find the new way, to try to find a place in society. What to do with all those brilliant skills that we have achieved and acquired during the years that we performed research? But also just all the people today, so I think this is actually something that we're going to see so much more about in the future society. This is not just for PhD is for everyone to understand your different skills sets and how you can best contribute to team and the how you can have fun working. So I think there are many things that the podcast have contributed Both for the speakers and the people listening

Another thing that I think, as a speaker on the podcast you get the opportunity  to reflect. To reflect on your life, reflect on your decision, and I think in quite a few of the podcast this  might actually have relevance on the future choices. All the people that have been speaking on the podcast because you get back to yourself. You think “Oh that's why I did this decision.  And that's maybe why I'm going to do that decision going forward”. So I think that it's also another aspect that's really beneficial for those people who participate and contribute to the podcast. 

Tina: Thank you for that Maria and that comes up to my mind now that I am working as a career coach and we need more PhDs to become career coaches, and we also hope to inspire lecturers, teachers and administrative people at University, and as well as people in industry to listen to this podcast and they learn How PhDs are thinking, because we are different, we have different personalities different plies etc. 

We have maybe 5 minutes left and I am going to have some open question. If people that are listen to us, if they want to get in touch with us or get in touch with you, how do they best contact you?

Maria: I'm more than happy to talk to people everywhere, I am in all social channels so you can find me as me as molbimien everywhere that's how you can start speaking to me 

Michele: As Maria mentioned I share her feelings I will be extremely glad to reach out to other PhD students or other people which are transitioning at a certain point in their career to share the details of my transition and to learn more about their own choices. And also I think one of important aspects which the podcast is contributing to is to show the different varieties of opportunities that having a very high level of education could offer you in the development of your professional career .

Tina: Are we only active in the cyber world or do we go to conferences? I know that I'm going to Max Planck alumni. I heard recently Maria going to Almedalen in Götland. If people would like to come and contact for conferences? Anyone that, you know, share I am going to be there so people can contact you.

Maria: Tina mentioned I am going to Almedalen next week. Well this is being recorded before, so, I went to Almedalen a couple of weeks back and that is always a great opportunity to meet but there are also a lot of exciting conferences if you are into digital communication. There are a lot of exciting conferences taking place during the fall where I highly recommend something called in Stockholm “Digikala”, and another if you are a geeko you should also check out something called “Geeko meetup ideella förening”. We are having our 10 years anniversary this fall and that will be a blast. So two conferences where you can meet and talk to me.

Tina: Thank you, and I know that Johanna you can meet at the Max Planck alumni. She is one of them organizing that and she will there. I would also be at the Max Planck alumni, so you can make a touchdown with me in Berlin In September. 

So yes we try to be in conferences, so that's maybe something we should think about more in the future “How you can meet us”.  

One last question: When should we stop doing the podcast?

Nika: When there are no more stories to tell.

Maria: I agree.

Natalia: When there are no more unhappy PhDs. 

Tina: More comments? No further comments on that one. Then we say we are happy with that one. 

So the final one. What is your next dream for PhD Career Stories?  We are a podcast today if you dream wildly where do you think we go in one year?

Michele: Tina you mentioned dreaming wildly, that could be very dangerous. I have been having this idea that we might have maybe a Nobel Prize speaker in one year. Maybe this is a too-big dream but if we dream too small we might achieve it and then we will be disappointed, so I think is good to target very high.

Tina: Thank you Michele. That was PhD Career Stories 2 years anniversary. I hope that you have learned to know the team behind PhD Career Stories. I can say again I am extremely proud of this team and a lot of things will happen. And I would like to remind you all followers and listeners that don't forget that we are on Facebook, we are on Instagram LinkedIn and of course on the web

Thank you very much for following us, all the best from Tina. 

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