There is a common impression from PhD students that the set of skills they acquire while researching for their degree is not directly applicable to industry. I was happy to participate in the Macquarie Minds Showcase Panel on Pathways From A PhD: Transferable Skills, Employability And Career Options Outside Academia and address some of this misconceptions.
For this panel, I represented my employer, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. From a Data Science practice perspective, PhD students have a unique set of skills, including the depth of thought and creativity that is required to solve an ever-so-complicated range of problems in the field of machine learning / analytics in large corporations.
The main takeaways from our panel discussion were that transferable skills are key and the ability to communicate plays a major role for anyone’s employability.
PhD students tend to be overly modest. Perhaps because they live in the academic world where everyone has a PhD and where most people will have more publications that they do. This means PhD students tend not to know how to value themselves and their work. It is hard to understand the value of your skills, and it is difficult to say how one can objectively assess that. I only realised the true value of my own skills when some of the work I did was sold for a lot of money to a large organisation.
I am glad that I took part in this discussion. As an alumnus of Macquarie University, I feel that it is important to help the current students realise that they can work in the industry if that is what they desire and that their degrees are valued. As the panel ended, I talked to many students who were wondering what to do and I hope that what we discussed helped them on their journey.
Here are some tweets from the day.
— Long Li (@sokeven) December 13, 2016
— Belinda Fabian (@BeaCurious) December 13, 2016
#MQMinds16 Top 5 transferrable skills sought by employers (UK study)
— Livia Gerber (@GerberLiv) December 13, 2016
U have highly valuable skills. Don’t be overly modest in articulating them. Don’t sell yourself short. #MQMinds16
— Long Li (@sokeven) December 13, 2016</blockquote>