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#111 Interview with Niba about the turning point in her career

Niba Nirmal hosts and produces science videos on major social media platforms. Here, she shares with us her career path that led her to what she is doing today. Listen to this episode to understand why and how Niba followed her passion while making a significant career decision.

Published onJul 08, 2022
#111 Interview with Niba about the turning point in her career

In this episode, Tina Persson interviews Niba Audrey Nirmal, a science communicator. Niba is dedicated to hosting and producing science videos related to plants, skincare and cosmetics. If you are curious, you can find Niba’s work on her YouTube channel NotesByNiba.

During the interview, she shares her career path and talks about her decision to not pursue her PhD further. She also tells us about the factors that drove her to follow a career in Science Communication.

In addition, she openly talks about her confidence levels in pre- and post-academia times, her journey in searching for a job outside academia and finally, she shares her networking strategies.

#111 Interview with Niba about the turning point in her career

At the end of the conversation, she gives some important tips for all graduates:

  • Do not isolate yourself! Be communicative with your support network (family, friends, etc) and ask for help when you need it. They are there to help you!

  • Every time you have an informational interview with someone related to your career interests, ask them to recommend three other people from their network so that you can build your own network further.   

  • A steady workload does not mean you are not doing enough in your career. 

Are you making a transition from academia?
If so, you should definitely listen to this episode and take these tips with you.

Enjoy this episode!

PhD Career Stories is now on major social media channels. To receive more content regularly, follow us on YouTube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Facebook, and our Website.


Tina: So hi, welcome. This is Tina Persson with PhD Career Stories, and I welcome Niba. She's the guest here today. And who is Niba? Well, she is based in San Francisco. She has done research on tomatoes in Brady’s Lab. Then she was a PhD student in Benfey Lab at the Duke University, where she studied the gene network in stem cells. And at that time, she also explored her spare time in activities and interests in photography, in fashion and in cosmetics and created Notes by Niba on how to create beauty using biology and science. And today, Niba has her own YouTube channel and her Instagram. Welcome, Niba.

Niba: Thank you so much for having me, it's been a really great journey. Now I'm kind of like a science video host and producer. You can find all of my stuff on Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, but I actually produce stuff for a lot of other places too, so excited to talk to you guys a little bit about Science Communication and the kind of things that people don't tell you when you're leaving graduate school, and kind of the the pros and cons of that choice.

Tina: The pros and cons of what to do, because today you work on Science Communication, you are a content writer and you are a video producer. And I am a bit curious here. You started off as a researcher. And then you took a very deliberate decision not to continue your graduate studies to become a PhD. What initiated that process? I'm super curious to learn because there are so many PhDs that are scared not to finish their PhD. 

Niba: Yeah, I think honestly it was a combo of many things, but I think ultimately for people watching it comes down to: does the PhD really fit what you want to do with your career, and are you still in a healthy place in doing your PhD? The research shows abysmal rates for pretty bad mental health consequences of being a graduate student. My experience was in the United States, so I can't speak to all places, but it seems to be kind of a worldwide thing. For me personally, it was kind of an amalgamation of multiple factors. I had some personal life issues happening and at the same time COVID kind of like just struck. At the same time, my Youtube had been kind of like discovered by a couple of people, and none of those discoveries actually lead to anything at that time at least, but it kind of gave me some confidence of like “alright, maybe I'm not just like sitting on my bedroom floor and talking to my phone and maybe this actually is something”. I realized that was something I really wanted to do, just like make videos about science not just science in, you know, plant stem cells but also like “how does cosmetics work?”,” why is it that your makeup with SPF comes off faster than your makeup without SPF?”, “how does clear lipstick turn into a color when it's on your lips?”, things like that that just kind of show how science can be used in all the different ways. There's tons of skin care science people out there, and it's kind of adding my voice and my aesthetic and my kind of branding to that and as I was kind of like making all these videos and COVID was happening, I realized that, you know, I don't think that this PhD is something that I need anymore for my career and that was like a very weird moment because up until then I was like very set on “I'm going to be a professor”. I had thought that I was going to be a professor since I was 17 years old. And all of my life had been leading up to that moment and there is this weird kind of like sense of you haven't, you're not good enough if you decide to leave, which is obviously not true. Like you've made it to the program, there's not much more you have to do, except you have to do the work. But, you know, it's a pretty long process. You're not being compensated fairly, which can disproportionately affect certain groups. There are some people who, you know, have their parents’ help in buying them a house. And then there's other people like me who have to like, you know, just pay money just to rent, to exist, you know. So all these little disparities really come out, especially when you're making like three or four or five times less than what you should accurately be getting paid. And, you know, people think it's like a whole sellout. “Oh, you left just because you wanted some money?” No, I also wanted to survive. You know, I wanted to like go to the grocery store and not pick something that was $0.50 cheaper just because I had no money. It was ridiculous. And so since I no longer needed my PhD in order to kind of achieve my goals, I was like “Well, why am I here?” And at the same time, a lot of personal things happened. I made a really long video about that. It's on my channel if you guys want to check it out. But the essence of it and a slight trigger warning to people who are experiencing any kind of death or mental illness at this moment. My mom was diagnosed with cancer and not given a very great outlook. And so it kind of put a lot of things in perspective for me. I think COVID did that for a lot of people too, just like, you know, what is the point of life? Why do I want to be here now with kind of like the great resignation?

We see a lot of people questioning: Why am I sacrificing so many things for a job? You know, I don't think anyone should have brand loyalty for a place that they're working at because they don't have any brand loyalty towards you. My job starts treating me badly. I'll quit the next day. I don't care. Like, that's fine.

But you don't get to do that in a PhD, so you don't have these kinds of options available to you. But leaving was definitely the right choice. It was a really bleak time to leave. But in between, you know, COVID and everything, being on fire. This was before we had any vaccines. She was diagnosed in March 2020. So then I flew back in April 2020 and then spent the next like three or four or five months just working really hard, sleeping next to my laptop at night because I was just constantly trying to figure out what I was going to do?

And I was like, you know, I could choose to take on a lab tech position or just a general lab position because I have those skills. But at the same time, that's not what I wanted to do anymore. So I was like “Well, we may as well jump sectors because everything else is on fire, my life is on fire.”

So may as well do that. And I think for people now, if you're choosing to consider leaving, you have a lot more time to consider: Where do you want to go? How can you get there? What kind of people should you talk to to figure that out? Because when you're in grad school, you're just surrounded by mostly professors and other grad students. So how will you know if something that you want to do outside of grad school is worth it?

Tina: That's a fantastic story you have and also traumatic. I'm curious, I want to go back a little bit because I'm curious, what decision did you take when you decided to start your graduate studies? What drove you to the beginning?

Niba: Yeah, I mean, I had been researching all four years when I was an undergrad in Siobhan Brady's lab at UC Davis, and it was incredible. Like, I worked there every single summer full time. I was there, I think I joined for like three or four months, maybe like two months even after I started college. And it was a really supportive, wholesome lab environment. And obviously researching when you are an undergraduate is very different from researching when you're a grad student. But I just didn't really have a sense of what academic culture was like more broadly speaking. And I thought I had, because I had spent four years, you know, researching. And in those four years I was doing kind of like: I love the experiments, I love the people, I loved the culture of the lab, which I later learned was not the norm. We had weekly picnics. People would go climbing together, our PIs would throw parties every time a paper got submitted. There was like a guaranteed party every single quarter where we would just go to her house and eat some food and hang out and, you know, just chill. 

And then I realized that's not quite what every single lab does. And not everyone is best friends with their fellow grad students. And I think also I left behind a lot of my support system when I chose to go from California to North Carolina. And in North Carolina, I just felt like I did not fit anywhere.

I was struggling with some traumatic things that had happened, like my senior year of college, but at the same time I didn't know anybody and I just felt very weird being an Indian person when the majority group was white and then the majority group was black, and then the majority group was like international Latin people. And I just didn't fit into any of these things. I didn't know a single other American born Indian person. And our experience is very different from people who are international. And it came out in all these little ways, you know, people like questioning me when I wore a bindi, which was just something small. I don't mind answering it, but it just never happened to me when I was in California. One time I had a person like telling me to go scrub my skin. And that was just like a random person on the street. But I had never experienced anything like that in my life up until that moment. And that was really shocking. And I still think about it like years later, like I was so dumb. 

I know that that has no bearing on who I am as a person or who anyone is as a person. It was just weird. And I remember there's this really weird moment where I drove across the States to get to grad school, and the day that I arrived in the town, there was a KKK rally happening in downtown Durham. And it was so bizarre. And I think the rally ended up not happening because there were a lot of people who showed up to counterprotest. But just the fact that that even was a possibility, just like scared me so much. This was 2017 when Trump had just won the election and everyone was like showing their Confederate flags everywhere. And I just felt so scared. I had never felt so scared because of my own color up until that moment. Even like post-9-11, I have like no memories of 9-11 whatsoever, but it was just really bizarre. And I think the lack of community was really weird and my lab in grad school was really great. Everyone like my PI was really supportive and really understanding, but I was the only graduate student. Everyone else was a postdoc and married and did not hang out outside of the lab and it just kind of lent itself to a weird like “Oh, I didn't know that this is how certain labs were.” Everyone was really nice. But I think between like my project content continuously just failing as they always do and the environments being different. Yeah, it was just bizarre.

Tina: Yeah, you didn't have a support system. When I listen to you, you came to a new place, you didn't have any support. This is just a very speculative question. If you had stayed in California and done your PhD there, you know, started your graduate studies there, do you think that would have made any difference?

Niba: I think it would made a huge difference. But I also think, I don't know, I feel like I learned a lot going to another state. I learned a lot about myself and about a lot of issues. And I don't know what I would have chosen if I could go back in time. At the same time, I look back at this whole experience, I'm like, “Wow, I am so resilient and I worked so hard.” And even though now I'm not working as a scientist in the lab, it's still a really useful experience that helps inform every aspect of my life. And even if you choose to kind of divert entirely out of the science sector, the scientific method can be applied to absolutely anything, whether that's like training your dogs or working out or figuring out a nutrition plan. That's kind of the beauty of the scientific method, and I really like that about it, that you can apply it to absolutely anything and it can still be a useful thing. I think a lot of people are considering, you know, leaving, but then they consider all that time spent a waste and that's not quite true.

Tina: Your point is something I'd like to strengthen, because that's something I hear often that I can't leave science, or you finish a PhD and you do a postdoc and then “Yeah, but I can't change career because everything I've done will be for waste.” And I would say “Oh, it's not so waste.” That's what you feel because you have learned a lot on the way. So what do you think this waste thing comes from, Niba?

Niba: I think it's a bit like sunk cost fallacy and also just, you know, the kind of the people you're around. And there's also this sense of like if you're in your sixth year of your PhD, you may as well finish because it's just one more year. I think I left it like an opportune time because I was in my third year. So it was one more year than a Master's, but it wasn't like, you know, year seven or something. And I was like almost on the verge of being done. And, you know, for people who are on year six or seven, I think it's a really hard decision because you are so close. But I know people who've left in, you know, even like their fifth year or sixth year and like they don't regret it. I think it's really telling that everybody who leaves academia doesn't come back. That's a really interesting statistic.

Tina: That counts for me too. I didn't come back. I don't want to go back either. 

Niba: Yeah, no, I don't want to be treated so awful. I don't want to be told I'm dumb all the time. Like the moment I left, I had this weird, like, realization that like “Oh, wait, I'm actually really smart versus like the entire time I was in grad school”, I continually felt like the stupidest person in the room all the time. And I mean, a large part of it was just because I just felt so, like, stupid already. I had a really tough time reading papers and stuff. Reading papers was really difficult for me. And now that I'm out of grad school, I read like two books a week and they're usually like one of those is like a science book and one of them is (unclear).

Tina: Yeah, you are a science communicator. That comes for me to Niba. I'm not a good writer at all, so I need a content writer. So if I start writing and I think it must be perfect, it must be grammatically perfect, then it's stuck. I don't get the words out of my brain, down in my hand.

Niba: Perfectionism is hard.

Tina: Exactly, it takes me back. But if I just blurb it out and send it to my content writer and she corrects it and says “it's fine Tina, it's fine”. Okay. It wasn't that bad. But then I get it back and I realize “Oh God, she has changed a lot.” But then I think it's more like a collaboration. It's not my job to be perfect, and then I can be creative in writing because I have someone that could do that job for me. And I have dyslexia as well. This creative mind having that can make it hard to write. So thank you for sharing that Niba. For those of you who listen here to what Niba says, it's not a failure to leave academia. If you don't like it, it's a choice you make and it's a decision. And there are successful careers beyond academia that you can start. Because if you think, iif you work in a company or in any other organization for two or three years and you decide to take another career step or a new journey, you would never look back and say it's a failure. You just say “it's a new career, a direction”, don't you?

Niba: Yeah, you bring up a good point about the copywriter, though. I think in grad school you're so limited by your funds and like how many things you have to do that you don't have the ability to delegate portions of your life that allow you to live the life that you want to live. And it's so not fair. Like, if we were paid, if grad students were paid, postdocs, everyone in academia is paid commiserate with their experience. I think they would have a much better quality of life and much lower mental health problems. Some of the things I started doing when I left grad school. Like you mentioned, you have a copywriter. I work with an editor to almost help me kind of like refine my ideas whenever I have to do a really big grant proposal or submission for a big like fellowship or something like that. 

And it's an extremely affordable thing and I think I probably could have afforded it in grad school, but like little things like that, getting help with. Her name is Andrea Davis. Her thing is called My Scholary Pursuits. I highly recommend checking her out for editing services. But on another note, you know, I also no longer do my own laundry. I pay $20 a week to get it all washed and sorted and folded and done for me. And it's a small expense now because it's only $20 a load. But in grad school that would have been $80 a month. I would have had to really think about that. And I don't know. I think all these little things, some people will say like “Oh, that's just really materialistic” and like “You should just do your own chores.” And I'm like “Should I? Should I?”. Because I do a lot of things and my time is really valuable. And in grad school your time is even more valuable because you're forced to do all the stuff and you're supposed to do other things and you're supposed to just find time to rest and you're supposed to find time to do all your chores and shopping and balance like a very small budget. That's ridiculous. It's ridiculous.

Tina: You're bringing up something here, you know, which I think is sort of a mindset you also can't get in academia, that we can do everything and we should do everything. So at least when I was an assistant professor, you write your articles, you do your writing, you're going to be a mentor, you're going to be a supervisor, you're going to do the teaching. You do basically everything. You don't buy services. When I'm coaching professors today, you know, they want to get these big grants and now we're talking about huge, big grants. I say “Don't do it on your own. Buy this service so you get an editor. You need feedback on your application, you need someone to help you with your presentation. You need presentation skills. Those are skills you should buy.” And you know, they say, “What, should I really do that?” Yes, you should do that!

Niba: Yeah. It halves your time and it also halves the amount of energy that you have to put in. You know, sometimes I will just write up like a really bad, terrible outline and it's just a bunch of clauses. I don't even bother putting it into paragraph format. It'll be like a couple of bullets here, a couple of bullets here, a couple of bullets here. And my editor will help me arrange things, make sure it flows, and then I start writing. And overall the process just takes up so much less time and less energy. It's way more efficient. I see the same kind of complaint with coaching services, and like productivity coaching or career coaching. People will question: why do I need this thing?

And looking back at my kind of like giant career sector jump, I had the privilege of working with a Duke career counselor and she was so instrumental in helping me navigate academia. She was very persistent in making sure that I updated my LinkedIn. She looked over my resume, she looked over my connections and helped me find companies. And these are all things that I had a huge privilege and access to because the Duke provided these services for students for free. But, you know, in hindsight, looking at all the things she did for me, especially with like, you know, looking over my cover letters and looking over my resumes, she made such huge, huge changes. I'm like “Wow, that would have been a lot of money if I actually had to pay for it.” And luckily, it just so happened that Duke had really great services. But, you know, not every single place has that. And maybe you're just not in a location that has that. So, you know, coaching might be something to look into.

Tina: You know, this is something that I'm fighting with as a career coach to convince PhDs that the money you paid me, you will get back in your first salary.

Niba: Yeah, I think it's just so hard to tell when you've been, like, unfairly paid for the last seven years.

Tina: And I say, you know, you have been unemployed now for four or five months. You know, that's expensive. So thank you. And I also would like to do some advertisement: Listen to Niba here, if you have a hard time writing your thesis and you need help to structure it, I know colleagues at Tress Academic, they help a lot of graduate students to finish up their thesis in a very efficient manner. So just please check their web page because they do a tremendous job.

Niba: It's a stressful time. You might as well not do it alone.

Tina: Don't do it alone, don't do it. The professors shouldn't do it alone, PhD students should not do it alone, ask for help and buy services to help you. Now, I'm coming into something here. Things you don't know you need. Things you need but you need but you don't learn it, if you put it that way.

Niba: Yeah. I mean, oh God, LinkedIn is really one of the biggest ones. I had no idea how much the outside world used LinkedIn. Wow. It's just constant. And each sector uses it a bit differently. Since I'm in Science Communication, you'll find that my LinkedIn is extremely thorough and detailed. But one of the first things you should do if you are considering like leaving or even if you're graduating, you should definitely just keep your LinkedIn updated. Don't have like the basic cover image, don't have like a general photo of a person. Put your face on there, put a description of what you do, your skills, things like that. Connect with people. And number two is you really have to leverage connections. Every single person I talked to, I did a ton of informational interviews when I was kind of switching sectors because that's what my career counselor told me to do. So I was like “Okay, I don't know what I'm doing.” She was totally right. I did like an obscene number of informational interviews. I asked everyone of them, “How did you get your job?” And every one of them was like, “Well, I knew somebody who had worked here before”, or “I knew someone who worked here now”, or “I knew somebody who knew someone who worked here”. And out of all of those, like 160 or whatever interviews, only one person had applied to the job and gotten the job. And I was shocked. I was like, this is such a bizarre statistic. It seems kind of unfair in a lot of ways, but even academia is based on like, you know, your networking and who you know and things like that.

And so I realized, you know, if I wanted to get a job, I shouldn't be applying for jobs, I should be networking with people. And that was a much smarter way of going about it. And I think that was really instrumental in my kind of foray into Science Communication. I chose to actually decline the first few jobs that were offered to me because they didn't seem like they were commiserate with my experience and they weren't in line with exactly what I wanted to do. And I was like, well, if I'm switching sectors to do something I want to do, I may as well do something I actually want to do. And so I realized freelancing might be a better move for that, because then I would get to work on very specific projects and it was actually amazing. I made my graduate student salary in three months, just in freelancing, and I was like “Wow, I should have started this way sooner.” I should have started this in grad school. Yeah. And the big thing is really just to talk to people, to leverage your LinkedIn. Every single job I applied to, I would like look up the company on LinkedIn and then I would search - do I know anyone or do I know anyone who knows somebody? And then send them an email asking: Can you connect me? Can you let me know? And I got so many jobs that way, so many connections that way. And you know, it's not just like using this for work, but a lot of times when I was asking people to let me know about their experience, it was helpful just to learn about the industry, to learn about the different positions that were there, learn about like marketing versus being, you know, someone who specifically works in sales, things like that. All these little tiny little differences you don't know about unless you've worked in the position or you've worked in the industry. And obviously coming from academia, you're not going to completely know what the industry is like.

Tina: What you used here is what I usually call a hidden job strategy. It's just referral and networking and discovery calls. And that's the way to go. Because if you look at statistics, if you contact 100 people, you have ten interviews and you have one or two jobs.

Niba: That's a much better statistic than most people get, just for the record. I have a friend of mine who's been unemployed since she graduated in 2018 and I keep telling her, you have to reach out to people. You have to reach out to people. She's submitted over like 600 job applications just within 2022 alone, and still has not gotten anything in the realms of like jobs that she actually wants to take. And I'm like “You have to talk to people. I don't know how else to tell you this. Like you've got to speak to a person, get them to talk to you.” Oftentimes you'll find that perhaps, you know, you talk to a person and they say, oh, this job is filled. But we actually have something coming up quite frequently.

When I was freelancing, I would just talk to people and be like “Oh, you know, this is something I'm doing. Like, you know, let me know if anything comes up, if you have any work.” And they'd be like “Oh yeah, actually we have some work. We haven't put it on our website yet because no one's gotten around to writing the description, but if you want it, it's yours.” And I was like “Oh, okay.” And that happened like time and time again. Maybe like once a month.

Tina: Yeah. And as a freelancer, all jobs, it's always about, you know, calling people. I can offer that. But most importantly, you ask “What do you need?”. Because if you start to ask “What do you need?” and “What kind of people are you looking for?”, “What do you think you're going to recruit?”, then you can add “Why do you like your job?”. And you learn a lot by doing that. And then you start a very interesting dialog and then people start to like you. Because I can tell you that what Niba is saying makes sense. You can work with recruiters in the same way because I remember when I worked as a recruiter (unclear). I remember them because they just have, you know, Tina, you know, they flattered me a little bit. You know the market, what's your stomach feeling? And, you know, they did that on a regular basis and they were very, very nice. And then suddenly one day I just had something and then boom, I had that candidate on my head. I give a ring and check. So it is this kind of building, you know, your social skills, you know, emotional IQ, I would put it. And your relationship building skills, because networking doesn't necessarily have to be relationship building, but that is what you are doing Niba, that is what I can hear between the lines. Yeah.

Niba: Yeah. I think a lot of PhD students don't realize how many skills they have because there's this tendency to look at the job application and say, “Oh, I don't meet like 100% of these skills” or “Oh, I don't know if I have like seven years of project management experience”. Yeah, you do! You've been managing so many projects, are you kidding? And I don't know, a lot of people, especially women, especially women of color, especially immigrants, we have a tendency to see this list of requirements and say, “Oh, we probably don't fit”. I like never even bother to look at requirements. Like once I know I've fulfilled 50% of them now I'm like “Whatever I'm going to apply, see how it goes.” Recently, there was a job that I liked. Did not qualify for at all, and I was like “Let's just shoot my shot. I'm going to pitch myself, see what they say.” They actually ended up giving me an interview and telling me that they were really impressed and I'd given them an idea that was not entirely in line with their job and they were really impressed by that.

There's nothing you have to lose if you apply to a place that doesn't, you know, you don't fit 100% of those things. And you have to remember, tons of people are doing that and you're in competition with them. You've got to have a bit more confidence. All these like, yeah, way too many people coming out of academia don't have confidence in themselves because for the past seven years they've just been giving amazing presentations about work that they've been pouring their heart and souls into. And then the moment after the presentation, like, seven professors raise their hand and they're like, actually, let's rip this apart real quick. It's just so bizarre.

Tina: It's over-perfection, and you have been criticized so much. I just recently talked with headhunters and I said “What is an ideal candidate, an attractive candidate?”. They say, you know, if you have the basic skills, up to 75% basic skills, the rest is your passion, engagement and your willingness to learn in the new job. So if we have two candidates, that one is a perfect fit from the skills. And one 75%. They always take the one and promote the one, you know, being most interested, showing the most passion. And I think this is something that you listeners should take with you because this is what you say Niba, by doing these discovery calls, by talking with people, you show your engagement, you show your willingness, and that's much more important than being perfect.

We are coming to an end of the podcast here and I would like, you know, as I always do. Three tips you would like to give your fellow graduates and PhDs, or you know, lecture professors listening to us here. Three tips. If you want to either quit your PhD, just leave or you finish, and you are looking for something beyond academia. What are your three tips to them?

Niba: I would say the first one is something we kind of touched on is really don't try to do it alone. If you are, you know, in a place where you're surrounded by friends or a partner or something like that, just, you know, let them know “Hey, I'm going to be doing my dissertation” or “Hey, I'm going through a really tough decision right now. I'd love to get some support, whether that is through, you know, maybe you can do the dishes a little more or maybe like I don't have to be in charge of groceries this week”. Kind of like laying out things that might be helpful for you. Maybe not everyone can read over your thesis because they don't have the expertise.

But, you know, a friend might be able to, stop by and give, like, I don't know, some apples or something as a snack. And that helps a little bit with a little, you know, just a little bit of motivation and food and things like that. Really kind of like laying out the ways that people can help you makes it a lot more likely for them to help you. And it's not your responsibility to feel like a burden if you're asking for too much. If it is too much, the other person will tell you, it's their responsibility to say, you know, I don't have time for that or set up a boundary, if they don't have that. That will be my first one. 

My second one is, we kind of talked a little bit about informational interviews and networking. But in academia, you know, the network kind of ends in a lot of academic circles. So in order to leverage the most out of the contacts you do have in a sector that you want to go into or perhaps the company that you want to go into, I would highly recommend ending each interview with, you know “Thank you so much for your time. This has been super insightful. Based on our conversation today, can you recommend three different people that I should reach out to? And would you be comfortable with me giving your name as a referral to these people?”. And more often than not they'll say yes, they might even offer to, you know, introduce you over email. And I would say that's a really great way of keeping the conversation going, especially if you're trying to break into a new sector or a new company, because how else are you going to make those connections?

You know, like conventions and conferences are going to happen again soon, hopefully. But until then, you have an online way of meeting more people. And then my third tip would be, this is kind of like a nerdy way of looking at it. But if you think about kind of a graph of like, your x-axis time and your y-axis is work, and say your equation is Y equals five and you're doing a steady amount of work and you're not like growing higher and you're not dropping low, but you're doing a steady amount of work. There's this tendency to feel as though you're not doing enough and you're not growing and you're not pushing your career and stuff. That's absolute nonsense. Like you're still completing all the stuff you're currently doing, that is still growth. Because if you integrate all that area under the curve, you're growing all of that onto the experience that you've already had before. Just because you're not actively trying for a promotion or you're not applying for grants or whatever, doesn't magically mean that you are not doing enough. You're still maintaining all these things that you're doing. You're still doing all the administrative tasks of being an adult, which takes up so much time. I think there's this tendency to be stressed about something and then you add more stress by being stressed about the stress, and that doesn't serve anyone, that just doubles your stress for no reason. Maybe this is a very mathematical way of looking at both of these concepts, I'll admit that. But I was journaling about this the other day, and when I thought of it that way, I like draw these graphs out and I was like “Wow, like I'm still accomplishing so much, even though I'm not, like, applying for this promotion or I'm not like throwing myself into a new initiative or whatever”. It's still all that area still there. Why would I stress about something when it's just going to add onto the stress for no reason. Being stressed about it that you can't change. There's still going to be a problem, but at least you can stop beating yourself up about it because that's not going to really do anything. And at least if you reduce the stress, you might find yourself in a position of being able to have more energy, or being able to think of a solution for it, versus before. You can't do that as easily or as well because you're under so much pressure and stress.

Tina: Thank you very much Niba for your tips. So this was Niba, NotesbyNiba.  Thank you very much for being a guest on the channel here. And this is Tina Persson, PhD Career Stories. So don't forget to follow us on Facebook. You'll find us there. You'll find us on Instagram and on YouTube. And we also have a very brand new web page. So don't forget to check that, because we have over 100 podcasts for you to be inspired. Have a great day!

Niba: Thank you so much.

Tina: Thank you very much. And thank you so much, Niba.

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