Today’s post is by Adam Evertts on the part-time job he took in his last year of grad school that positioned him for his transition into the work force. He also includes a great reminder about the proper place of of side jobs in graduate school.
Name: Adam Evertts
Institution: Princeton University
Department: Molecular Biology
1. What was your side or temporary job?
In my final year I started working hourly at a NYC-based investor relations firm as a research analyst. It was a way for the company to test me out, and for me to test out of the company prior to them offering me a full-time position. For my role I would either write initiation reports or update notes. The initiations are anywhere from 20-50 pages and describe everything a potential investor may want to know about the company. The update notes are smaller documents, 2-6 pages in length that provide short updates on a company’s progress. I would spend a lot of time reading primary literature, company reports, and other materials.
2. How much did you earn?
I earned $25/hour. Not a huge amount of money, but more than I was making as a graduate student. I didn’t work part-time for the financial rewards, but I can say that it was very helpful in the end. Having a few hundred extra dollars around each week allowed me to take a vacation in San Diego after graduation and then immediately move to NYC. It also made me realize how underpaid I was as a grad student.
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3. How did you balance your job with your graduate work?
It was a tough balance for me. I don’t think I could have pulled it off earlier in my grad career. I still had a lot of obligations as a student and was working 10-12 hours/day during the work week plus 4+ hours on Saturday. They were intense hours too, no more 2 hour lunch breaks like I did as a 3rd year. The key is that I continued to satisfy my obligations in the lab and graduated on time.
4. Did your job complement your graduate work or advance your career?
This experience was critical for my transition out of graduate school. I ended up getting a full-time offer at the same company after maybe 2 months of hourly work and have been there for almost 2 years now. The best part was that I had an opportunity to try out my job before starting full-time. How else do you know if you want to launch a career in a certain field? I actually thought of my part-time work as a right instead of a privilege. Just my opinion. I don’t think the NIH spends money to educate PhDs without any interest in their future. I may not be doing primary research now, but I still play a role in advancing human health for the country.
5. How did you get started with your job?
I actually found the company using a google search and reached out saying that I wanted some equity research experience and would be happy to work for free. It turned out that someone at the company had just quit and they were short staffed. They also insisted on paying me since it was and still is a profitable business, meaning that they don’t need to exploit free labor. You’d be surprised how many profitable companies love free interns. We also love interns, but we pay them. I tried some other standard paths to getting full-time jobs, but with little success. Applying on websites and through job sites is infinitely less personal and your resume starts to blend in. It can be useful to take a creative path and just reach out to a company and ask for some experience.
6. Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience?
My personal feeling is that you should have a very clear purpose for working part-time during graduate school. It should never get in the way of producing high quality research or extend your graduation time.
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