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A few months ago I participated in: The Real Talk about the Ph.D. #PioneerChat hosted by Dr. Monica F. Cox with guest host, Dr. Fatimah Williams Castro. Since I am prospective Ph.D. student I was looking forward to this twitter chat because I enjoy hearing people talk about their Ph.D. journeys. Plus it’s a great way to network with fellow women in STEM.

To find out more about #PioneerChat, Dr. Monica Cox and Dr. Fatimah Williams Castro click here.

Just in case you missed the #PioneerChat click here to see it on Storify.

Let’s get started!:

Three Top Q&As from the Real Talk about the Ph.D. #PioneerChat:

Q1- What are the options for Ph.D. post career?: 

There are many options out there post Ph.D. Whether you want to work at a governmental agency, industry, academia, policy, pursue entrepreneurship, consulting or a non-profit there is a career for you. When it comes to deciding on a career pathway look beyond your degree and examine your skills and interests to help you decide what is right for you. Remember you are not your degree – a STEM degree can take you anywhere. If you are not sure where to begin a good place to start is with the myIDP tool.

When I was younger I imagined myself working in a research lab as leader of a team, mentoring upcoming scientists and working on projects that make a difference. I’m glad I have this platform to share bits of my journey with you.

Q2 – How do/did you decide which Ph.D. path to follow?:

This is a hard question to answer because you never know where your career will take you. I remember when I was younger I wanted to become a chemical engineer and now I’m a toxicologist and now I’m interested in vaccinology. I had the idea that public health/vaccine research was the career I wanted. My journey was filled with ups and downs and makes my story (as well as your story) interesting. There are many pathways to your degree and don’t be afraid to explore your options. Going on informational interviews is a great way to explore your options.

Q3- Why earn a Ph.D.? What would you tell someone who is contemplating whether to earn the degree? Is it worth it?:

This was a question I got a lot during all the stages of my academic career. There will be people who will try to stop you from earning your Ph.D. or suggest another pathway that you don’t want. The Ph.D. is not something that you do on a whim. It is a lot of work and you have to be truly passionate and disciplined to do it. I want to earn my Ph.D. because I want to be a researcher and leader. There are not many African-American women researchers or professors out there and I can see myself being one of them.

Reflection from The Real Ph.D. #PioneerChat:

The #PioneerChat really gave me some insight as a prospective Ph.D. student. These women in the #PioneerChat conversation gave me hope that I will achieve my goals. They helped me realize that I’m not alone and it feels good to be surrounded by professional role models. This is one of the reasons why I like to participate in these types of chats/initiatives because it is important that we help each other out. One step up is a step up for all of us. As I learn I’m going to continue to pass the knowledge on to the next mademoiselle scientists.

I’m excited to see what the next #PioneerChat topic will be!

Check out PreparedtoPioneer to learn more about Dr. Monica Cox.

What advice do you have for a prospective Ph.D. student? Share below.