Navigating Careers Post PhD; What are we worth?
Navigating your career is tricky, and I think that navigating post-phd careers is particularly tricky. As PhD students we don’t really come out of our degree with one set role that we can do. While the traditional career path for many PhD students is into academia, it is becoming more and more common to look for other paths, and even within academic roles there is a lot of diversity. I am right in the midst of this navigation and have come across a particularly sticky point that I want to discuss. Salary. The Big S Word. The topic that many of us shy away from.
I wanted to get out of academia for a while when I was finishing my PhD. I wanted to see what else was out there and to expand my research skills. I took a job in market research almost a year ago now, a lower job than I anticipated (graduate position). I took the position because at the time I was grateful for the experience and for the distraction from my PhD. Plus I had major impostor syndrome and doubted myself and my abilities. I thought that if I could showcase the research skills I have and ‘do my dues’ I would be rewarded. Fast forward to almost a year in this role, that I have proven time and time again that I am over experienced for, and to my yearly review. I received really great feedback, and I have learnt so much during this short time. The people that I work with are amazing and I have appreciated what I have been able to learn from them. My manager has said that she is fighting for me to get a promotion, but when she told me the amount I felt really undervalued, not by her, by the company. When I first applied for the position, I was told a salary range, which I was offered the bottom amount of. The promotion I have been offered is not even the top salary range of the current position that I have. I am not writing this post to whinge, or to have a go at my manager, as I mentioned the people I work with are amazing. But, I have also been taught throughout my PhD journey to value my experience and my time. I have a PhD now, and have been able to bring so much to the company that I work for. I am an experienced behavioural scientist with over five years research experience. I have been exceeding (far exceeding) my KPIs.
The balance between humility and highlighting your value is tricky. The way to approach the topic of wages is tricky (particularly if you do not have much experience). Knowing what is reasonable to expect is tricky. It is all tricky and I guess that is what this post is about. It is about me currently navigating this topic and figuring out where to go from here. I will share what I come up with when I come up with it and hopefully I will work out some tips on this topic.