One podcast that will give you hope and career advice (PhD required!)

What do an engineering manager of a high-tech company, a data scientist, and a digital evangelist share in common? About four years ago all three of them were freshly-baked PhDs making first steps from the familiar world of academia to the new and exciting world of industry and entrepreneurship. Luckily for them, they had a guide — a career coach and former assistant professor in Molecular Biology Dr. Tina Persson — who helped them along this journey with emotional support and pragmatic advice.  

Unfortunately, not all of us PhDs have a luxury of a career coach at all, in particular, a career coach who understands the mindset of people with doctoral degrees, the peculiarities of the academic system, and the hurdles of the transition to other fields. That is why Tina, together with three of her coachées at the time Michele Manzo, Paulius Mikulskis, and Maria Sjögren started a podcast that could be such a guide and “virtual coach” for PhDs around the world.

“We wanted to show others, who are in similar circumstances, that while their research topic and journeys are unique, the feelings and challenges they face are similar across everyone doing a PhD,” says Tina.

Two weeks ago we published the 100th episode of the PhD Career Stories. Since 2016 our team has been constantly growing, many wonderful people with and without PhD degree have been the driving force behind the project during these years. PhD Career Stories gave a platform to 76 speakers from over 20 countries to share their personal journeys and experiences. Through the four years, our episodes were downloaded almost 55.000 times! Fantastic result for a volunteer non-commercial project targeting such a narrow audience as PhD graduates.

Following the original idea, we planned to develop the PhD Career Stories into a rich source of comprehensive career information for PhDs. It should not only serve as a list of available career options, but also offer valuable tips on skills assessment,  job search, job interviews, networking, or how to “simply” stay sane. Besides, we wanted it to become a community:  each and every one of our speakers and team members is always open to answer questions or give career advice. 

But we have realized that the original “blog format” of our podcast website doesn’t serve the purpose of nourishing a community, and all the unique insights became buried and hard to find for our audience. So we need a renovation!

We decided to take a break from our regular publishing and redirect our resources into the re-organization of our website so that the available content is easier to access to our followers and newcomers. We are very excited to start this new stage of our project and cannot wait to get back to you next year with the comprehensive and neatly organized library of career information for PhDs. 

The stories will not end. We believe that storytelling – and storylistening – is a powerful way to connect with others and to find one’s own path in career and life. All the already published episodes will remain accessible, and we hope that after the break PhD Career Stories will continue bringing new episodes and encourage PhDs around the globe to make a step towards their dream job.

We would also like to thank all our contributors for their time and dedication, recording stories in busy city apartments and tents in the middle of the wild in Africa.

And, of course, thank you to all of the team members, past and present, without whom this project would not have been possible: Tina Persson, Michele Manzo, Paulius Mikulskis, Johanna Havemann, Alice Corani, Natalia Stolyarchuk, Suzan Mansourian, Rui Cruz, Subu Surendran Rajasekaran, Tiago Braga, Viralkumar Panchal, Amal El Nahhas, Marie Cleo Mahouva Massela, Anna Westerlund, Olesia Snezhkova, Karin Martinsson, Nika Seblova, Maria Sjögren.

Thank you for reading and see you in our next adventure!

#067: Kajsa Hallberg Adu Story

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Today you will have a chance to get to know Kajsa Hallberg Adu, who was born and raised in Sweden and nowadays lives and works in Ghana.

Kajsa is a lecturer in Communications, Leadership, and Political Science at Ashesi University. She holds a PhD degree in African Studies (University of Ghana) and a Master degree in Political Science (Uppsala University, Sweden).

Her research interests turn towards the future as she studies youth in Ghana and beyond, student migration, labor migration, knowledge societies, social media in the classroom, social media in elections, the intersection of internet freedoms and democratization, uses of augmented reality and decolonizing the academy. Outside of her academic career, Kajsa is a blogger and activist.

[Thanks to the PhD] I have confirmed my analytical nature, other useful outcomes are speed reading, efficiency, self-discipline and producing “good enough” work. As well as not worrying too much about the critique that, as you learn, is looming around every corner. The scare really wears off.

Dr. Kajsa Hallberg Adu

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#065: Ali Al-Sawalmih’s Story

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Ali Al-Sawalmih is the director of the Marine Science Station (MSS) Research Institute in Aqaba, Jordan and a researcher on Marine and Coastal Sciences at the University of Jordan in Aqaba since 2012. He has 5 years of experience in Germany on Marine Calcification at the Max Planck Institute of Colloids and Interfaces (MPIKG) in Germany and earned the MSc degree in Physics at Stuttgart University / Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research (MPI FKF) in 2004, and PhD degree in marine materials at the RWTH Aachen University and Max Planck Institute for Iron Research (MPIE) in 2007.


For one who wants to be a researcher, or first before becoming a director or a manager, being organized can save time, can make your work perfect and it can make you avoid mistakes as much as possible.

Dr. Ali Al-Sawalmih

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#064: Fulvio Caruso Story

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Fulvio Caruso received his Ph.D. in Electronic Engineering in Palermo, Italy with a focus on hybrid inorganic-organic materials for photonics and optoelectronics applications. He joined industry in 2016 when he moved to Lausanne, Switzerland to start working at Novagan, an EPFL start-up company specialised in the nitride technology. In March 2018, Fulvio joined ABB Semiconductors in Lenzburg, Switzerland where he is currently working as a Process Engineer in the metal/PECVD production area for high-power semiconductor devices.


When the PhD refuses to be a pure executor and starts looking both on the detail and the big picture, those are the elements that the industry really would need. And these are the skills that PhDs have acquired during their time at university.

Dr. Fulvio Caruso, Process Engineer at ABB Semiconductors

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#063: Girish Kedar Story

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Girish Kedar1

Our guest today is a living example to never give up. His patience and determination got him through the tough period of fruitless job-search to the bold endeavour of starting his own business.

Girish Kedar was born and brought up in Mumbai, India. For his higher studies he moved to Sweden in 2009 and since then he studied and worked in different European countries like Sweden, Germany, and The Netherlands. He holds pharmacist degree from India and PhD in Neuroscience from Vrije University, Amsterdam. After a big struggle in finding the right job in the pharma industry, Girish came up with a plan B – he started his own business and founded The GLOVERK Consultancy, which is based in Amsterdam and provides services to the pharmaceutical and medical device industry in Europe and India. Girish is also a student ambassador in Vrije University and an independent Career Coach for PhD and Post-Doctorate candidates.

In this episode, Girish contemplates about mistakes he made that complicated his job search and shares advice on how to avoid them.  He also describes how the personal strengths he developed during his PhD helped him in the hard task of starting his own business.

Throughout PhD career, everyone thinks only about two options: either academia or industry. But I believe, PhD is way beyond that – PhD prepares you for an even harder and better journey, where you can build up your own empire

Dr. Girish Kedar, PhD in Neuroscience, Entrepreneur, Career Coach

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