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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.

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. Now, I imagine myself directing a STEM program, mentoring the next generation and providing students with STEM educational resources. I’m glad I have this platform to share 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. When I was younger I wanted to do something in vaccine/pharmaceuticals and now I’m a toxicologist and who is interested in vaccinology. I had the idea that public health/vaccine research was the career I wanted. Again, my career pathway changed; it combines STEM, science education, outreach and communication. I didn’t know this was an option for me. 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 Phd. 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 go back and forth with going back to school for my PhD. Knowing what I know now I am interested in exploring a PhD Program that will combine STEM, science higher education, communication and student support to help me with my overall goal of becoming a Director of a STEM Program. There are not many black women researchers, professors or in leadership positions out there and I can see myself being one of them. Representation is important to me.

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 generation of 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.

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