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Since many people are graduating I thought it would be a good time to share some PhD reflections from a #PioneerChat. A few months ago I participated in: The Real Talk about the PhD #PioneerChat hosted by Dr. Monica F. Cox with guest host, Dr. Fatimah Williams Castro. As a prospective PhD student I was looking forward to this twitter chat because I wanted to see what people who have been through the PhD process have to say. Plus it’s a great way to e-meet and network with fellow women in STEM.

To find out more about #PioneerChats, 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 PhDs post career?: 

There are many options out there post PhD. Whether you want to work at a governmental agency, industry, academia, policy, entrepreneurship, consulting or 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.

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 makes a difference. I’m happy that I have this social media outlet and I can share bits of my journey with you on Mademoiselle Scientist.

Q2 – How do/did you decide which PhD path to follow?:

This is a hard question to answer because you never know where you 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 looking into infectious disease vaccinology. 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. You never know where your career will take you.

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

This was a question that 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 PhD 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. The great thing about a PhD is that it gives you options. I want to earn my PhD because research is my passion and I can see myself being a research leader. There are not many African-American women research mentors and professors out there and I can see myself being one of them.

Reflection from The Real Ph.D. #PioneerChat:

The #PioneerChat really opened my eyes and gave me some insight as a prospective PhD 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 scientist.

I’m excited to see what the next #PioneerChat topic will be! I enjoy chatting with other Mademoiselle Scientists. We have to stick together.

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

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