In this episode, Emily interviews Jin Chow, a graduate student at Stanford, and Stephen Weber, a graduate student at the University of Georgia. Jin is the co-founder of Polygence, a start-up that facilitates graduate students and PhDs remotely mentoring high school students one-on-one through well-defined research projects. Stephen has mentored five students and speaks to the advantages of Polygence as a flexible and lucrative side hustle. We discuss whether and how to tell your PhD advisor about a side hustle, and who is or is not a good fit for becoming a mentor with Polygence. Jin also briefly shares the story of how she co-founded Polygence as a graduate student on an F-1 visa. If you’re looking for a side hustle that’s convenient to balance with your graduate work, check out Polygence: they are hiring mentors now!
Links Mentioned in the Episode
- PF for PhDs: Best Financial Practices for Your Self-Employment Side Hustle
- Polygence Mentor Interest Form
- PF for PhDs: The Wealthy PhD Debt Repayment Workshop
- PF for PhDs: Can I Make Extra Money as a Funded Graduate Student on an F-1 Visa? (Expert Interview with Frank Alvillar & Sheena Connell)
- PF for PhDs: Podcast Hub
- PF for PhDs: Subscribe to Mailing List
00:00 Stephen: You know, it’s kind of funny to say, but I’m getting paid to learn more about things that I would already be interested in learning about.
00:12 Emily: Welcome to the Personal Finance for PhDs Podcast: A Higher Education in Personal Finance. I’m your host, Dr. Emily Roberts. This is Season 10, Episode 3, and today my guests are Jin Chow, a graduate student at Stanford, and Stephen Weber, a graduate student at the University of Georgia. Jin is the co-founder of Polygence, a start-up that facilitates graduate students and PhDs remotely mentoring high school students one-on-one through well-defined research projects. Stephen has mentored five students and speaks to the advantages of Polygence as a flexible and lucrative side hustle. We discuss whether and how to tell your PhD advisor about a side hustle, and who is or is not a good fit for becoming a mentor for Polygence. Jin also briefly shares the story of how she co-founded Polygence as a graduate student on an F-1 visa. If you’re looking for a side hustle that’s convenient to balance with your graduate work and want to help cultivate the next generation of researchers, check out Polygence: they are hiring mentors now!
01:19 Emily: If you have a pretty well-established side hustle, whether as a contractor with a company like Polygence or your own sole proprietorship, you may be wondering how best to manage that stream of income. This is especially true if you incur any expenses with respect to your side hustle. I have a course titled Best Financial Practices for Your Self-Employment Side Hustle that speaks to two chief areas of interest for people with this type of side hustle. 1: How to financially manage variable business income and expenses so that your personal finances aren’t negatively affected. This half of the course teaches some basic business and personal finance principles to keep everything orderly. 2: What type of self-employment retirement account option to use. If you are a super-saver who maxes out your IRA yearly and doesn’t have access to a workplace-based retirement account, you can actually use your self-employment income to open and fund an additional tax-advantaged retirement account. My course explains which of the several options is the best fit for a solopreneur side hustler. If you’d like to learn more about and purchase this course, please go to PFforPhDs.com/sesh/. That’s P F f o r P h D s dot com slash s for self e for employment s for side h for hustle. Without further ado, here’s my interview with Jin Chow and Stephen Weber.
Will You Please Introduce Yourselves Further?
02:54 Emily: I have joining me on the podcast today, Jin Chow and Stephen Weber. They are representing Polygence. So I first heard about Polygence a few weeks back when I was at a conference, I had the pleasure of speaking with another employee and learned what they do, which is providing mentorship opportunities to high school students and hooking them up with graduate students and PhDs. And the reason that we’re bringing this episode to you is of course, to tell you a little bit about the company, but also to let you know that this is a potential side hustle opportunity. We’re going to get into more of that momentarily. So Jin and Stephen, will you please take a moment to introduce yourselves a little bit further to the audience?
03:31 Jin: Awesome. Hi everyone. My name is Jin, really grateful to Emily for having us on today. A little background about myself, I’m originally from Hong Kong, came to the U.S. for college, studied Comparative Literature at Princeton for my undergrad, and I’m currently a PhD Candidate at Stanford, also in Comparative Literature. And in terms of research background, I’ve just been working mostly on French and Arabic literature. And then right now I’m putting my PhD on hold to work full-Time on Polygence. I’m one of the founders.
04:00 Emily: Yeah, super interesting. We’ll get back to that at the end of the interview. Stephen, go ahead and introduce yourself.
04:05 Stephen: Well, thanks for having me. My name’s Stephen. I’m actually a third-year PhD student at the University of Georgia. My research is focused on Parkinson’s Disease and the association of the immune system and potentially perpetuating that. And then before that I was actually a research professional at Stanford University. I worked with the stem cell Institute, teaching and training anywhere from undergraduates, to postdocs, to professors on application of a specific methodology. And yeah, that’s a little bit about me.
04:40 Emily: And what’s your role with Polygence now?
04:42 Stephen: Yeah, so now at Polygence I’m a mentor and I have been for about a year and a half and recently have moved into being a mentor affairs coordinator. And that’s where I’m at now.
How to Get Involved with Polygence
04:53 Emily: Yeah. So we’re going to hear more about what is this mentor role. But to back up a little bit, Jin, as founder, co-founder let us know more about Polygence, what it’s about, and how can graduate students and PhDs get involved with the company?
05:08 Jin: Totally. So Emily, I think you gave a really great overview of what it is. So we’re an online project-based learning platform where we connect PhD candidates, masters candidates, postdocs, and also people who already have their advanced degrees with really motivated and intellectually curious high schoolers to work on personalized research projects. And our mission on the mentor side really is to democratize access to the knowledge that’s in so many PhD candidates heads and also to give PhD candidates, graduate students in general, a chance to earn some side money because we know how not well universities pay PhD students and graduate students in general. And so on the mentor side, that really is our mission. And we want to make sure that students high schoolers from all around the world who are passionate about different kinds of academic disciplines can get a chance to connect with experts like yourselves, our listeners today. And to do something beyond the school curriculum and to learn something new, create something fun and cool. And so for, in terms of how mentors can get involved, we have an open rolling application season for any mentor to express interest on our website. We’ll put in the link in the show notes later. And also once you sign up, we have rolling interviews, you’ll meet with one of our team members and then we’ll onboard you.
06:29 Emily: It’s so unusual. I really don’t think I’ve spoken to anyone else who has centered the graduate student experience in the broader mission of a startup or a company. And of course it’s very like laudable that we want to help mentor and educate these up-and-coming researchers who are currently in high school and so forth. That’s all wonderful. But to hear that, okay, this was founded by a graduate student. You can, I guess maybe you want to introduce your co-founder in a moment as well, but founded by a graduate student and really again, centers that graduate student experience and the financial concerns of graduate students. So unusual. And I’m really excited to talk to you about that.
07:06 Jin: Yeah. Maybe I’ll just take three seconds to say a little bit more about my co-founder too. So I think the reason why we’re so centered on the graduate experience is because when we founded it, I was in the middle of it. I was in my second year of the PhD program and my co-founder, Janos, had just finished his PhD in physics. And so we both just knew so well how difficult it is financially as a graduate student. And also we both just love teaching so much, but didn’t get enough of that in our own respective programs. And so those two things coming together just made the graduate experience like front and center for us.
Stephen’s Role as a Mentor
07:36 Emily: Fantastic. Fantastic. So Stephen, not speaking as the founder, but speaking as someone who has been a mentor with Polygence and now has moved into an even bigger role. What has been your experience as a mentor?
07:50 Stephen: Yeah, I mean, I think that that’s one of the biggest questions. So I actually am a part of doing the interviews for potentially onboarding mentors. And so, you know, that’s a question that I get asked a lot is so why are you still here? You know, because I think for a lot of graduate students, their experience is TA ships, right? Wherein they are paid poorly for their time. And they’re expected to do a lot. And they often have that as an interference to their day to day. You know, especially someone who’s coming from the hard sciences where there’s a lot of really long days spent in the lab, for instance, it can be hard to juggle the responsibilities of that plus being a TA. And so despite having a really huge love for teaching, it can be really difficult to make that work.
08:37 Stephen: And it also is not quite as flexible as the schedule at Polygence, right? So at Polygence, you’re committing to hour-long sessions with students, roughly once a week, and you can make those times whenever is good for you. So I think that that’s part of why I’m still with it, obviously, but it also adds value to the fact that I get to still enjoy it each time. You know, it’s not just a, “I have to be here doing this.” This is something that I want to do. I feel like my time is compensated well. And I feel like I get to talk about things that I really want to talk about. Whereas as a graduate student, you’re often TAing for courses that may not be within your wheelhouse or may not be of specific interest. They might just be departmental courses that you’re just kind of asked to TA for. So I think that that’s another huge point of why I’m still here is that I feel like I get to not only talk about what I like, but also get to explore it in ways that are new and novel for incoming students.
Intangible Benefits of Mentorship
09:32 Emily: We’re going to talk more about sort of the financial side of this in just a moment, but I wanted to hear some more about like maybe the intangible benefits, the intangible experience, the warm fuzzies that you get from working with these students. Like you’ve done multiple cycles of this, I understand. So, you know, what is your enjoyment of the process?
09:52 Stephen: Yeah, so I’ve, what is it, five students now at this point and I’ve had three of them publish their work in high school-tier journals. And so, you know, for me, what I think is kind of like a part of it that you can’t really capture with, like the financial element is that you’re getting to be a part of the developmental process for people that have a passion similar to yours. And I mean, maybe I’m like the outlier, but when I was in high school, I can definitely say that I didn’t have this kind of opportunity. And so it was a really novel experience to be a part of the early foundation-laying of students who really want to pursue this. And not only do they get to learn more about a subject, but they also get to learn more about the ins and outs of the career itself.
10:37 Stephen: And I think for me that would have been hugely valuable to know here are skills that I could start working on now in high school to get ready for, you know, a long-term academic career. And I think that those are parts of the intangible that just feel like, you know, it’s paying it forward in a way of like, okay, so I struggled through and learned these things. Let me try to provide some insight for you that you can now take forward and maybe try to share with people around you as you go through the academic process.
Why this Side Hustle is a Great Fit for Grad Students
11:04 Emily: Wonderful. I also am reflecting on kind of my experience in high school. And I was fortunate that I did have research opportunities because I attended a particular school that offered that, but they weren’t like one-on-one, it was group. And I think that given my personality, I think a one-on-one setting would have been fantastic for me at that age. We talked about how the commitment when you’re mentoring a student through Polygence is approximately one hour about once a week, and that it’s flexible to be, you know, conforming to the mentor’s schedule. And I love this because one of the key key elements I think of a successful side hustle in graduate school is being able to schedule something that’s not going to interfere with, as you said, Stephen, your long days in lab. Like that really does need to be your priority. And so being able to do something around that is absolutely perfect. Is there any other reason that you can think of that this particular side hustle is a great fit for graduate students?
11:56 Stephen: There’s a whole host of reasons really, I guess, but you know, there’s some of the core ones are in addition to the flexibility of it all, it’s also an opportunity to maybe explore parts of research that your boss doesn’t really find interesting. You know, because for me, my area of research is very niche. And so as a result, I don’t get to explore some of the outside things. It’s not that I don’t have an interest, but now I’m getting, you know, it’s kind of funny to say, but I’m getting paid to learn more about things that I would already be interested in learning about. And, you know, those were opportunities really because, you know, some of the conversations that I’ve had with my students have actually turned around and been things that I was able to employ in my own research. And so, you know, those are things that just through the conversation, through the ever-evolving amount of information you’re getting from these students. And from that process of learning more about your own subject, I think it kind of pays itself back to you in addition to, you know, being compensated for that time.
12:53 Jin: I’ve heard from some mentors too, that like, especially for those who are thinking about building a career in teaching, whether in high school teaching or later in academia, obviously getting more teaching experience and connecting with young people is something that is really beneficial for their own sort of pedagogical development as a teacher and an educator. And obviously getting paid to get that experience. Our hourly rate is usually around $75 and above. And so that’s usually sort of both the financial and also the paying it forward and as well as the teaching experience piece is what I hear most from mentors.
13:29 Emily: Yeah. I was just thinking that like, you know, one of the things that you’re supposed to be doing in graduate school is being exposed to new ideas by networking and talking with new people and going to conferences and going to seminars and so forth. And this is just another way to have that happen, to have to be exposed to another like creative mind who’s not as encultured maybe yet to the way that we think in academia that can help you spark your own ideas. As you said, Stephen, to go back into your research to feed back into that. And so I just think this is again, another way of doing that kind of networking and exploration, but getting paid for it at the same time which is fantastic.
Financial Benefits of Polygence Side Hustle
14:06 Emily: So Jin, you just mentioned the pay rate, usually $75 per hour and above. Fantastic for a side hustle for a graduate student. Stephen, you said you’ve done five cycles of this mentorship program. And so what have you been doing with this side hustle money? How has this money impacted your financial life?
14:26 Stephen: Yeah, I mean, it, in a sense it provides a certain semblance of security, right? So, you know, as a graduate student, you don’t really make a whole lot, really, especially when you consider taxes and just having to pay student fees and all of this stuff. So basically that money basically affords the ability to have hobbies again, whereas before it could be difficult to do that. So I’ve done martial arts my whole life. So being able to pay for training at gyms, that’s sometimes a sacrifice that has to be made of, you know, if I don’t have any additional income, it may be hard to kind of balance that out. So that’s, you know, one place, it also just adds a little bit of actual savings to your life, which is, you know, an amazing thing to be able to have as graduate student is that you can kind of accrue that semblance of like, oh, I’m not living paycheck-to-paycheck anymore. So I think that those are two key ways that it’s been, you know, a nice opportunity for sure.
15:20 Emily: Yeah. I’m just thinking I’m doing tiny bit of arithmetic here. Okay. So $75 an hour once per week, we’re talking 300 a month if you’re doing this for a whole month. And I know, because this is cyclical, people might not be like continuously involved with mentorship, but let’s say you do it for six months out of the year. That’s $1,800 coming in for the year that you didn’t have before. And that goes a pretty nice far ways to contributing to an IRA, for example, where the max is $6,000 per year. If you wanted to invest it there are plenty of other good things you can do. Like Stephen, you just said improving your physical and mental health and you’re making time for hobbies and so forth. Lots of good things you can do with money, but that’s a pretty nice chunk of change, especially as we mentioned for the hourly commitment.
16:06 Emily: Emily here for a brief interlude. We have a special event coming up on Friday, August 27th, 2021. It’s the fourth installment of my Wealthy PhD workshop series. The subject is debt repayment. This workshop is for you if you’re in debt of any kind and want to learn the best strategies for getting out of debt. These strategies are tailored to the PhD experience, particularly that of graduate students. We will cover student loans, of course, which are such a complex topic, as well as mortgages, credit card debt, auto debt, medical debt, et cetera. I’ll give you a spreadsheet that will help you work through in which order to tackle your debts, taking into account the type of debt, the interest rate, and the pay-off balance. We’ll also discuss how to sustain your motivation through a long debt repayment process. This is going to be a value-packed session. So please join us on August 27th. You can register at pfforphds.com slash wphddebt. That’s PFforPhDs.com/W for wealthy P H D D E B T. Now back to our interview.
How to Inform Your Mentor About a Side Hustle
17:22 Emily: So Stephen, we talked earlier about how flexible and low time commitment this is. Did you choose to tell your mentor that you were involved with this? Did you choose to keep it on the down low? Like yeah. How did the sort of time management work with you and your mentor?
17:39 Stephen: Yeah, that’s a great question. You know, I get that question from mentors all the time actually is how do you kind of balance this with other obligations? And I mean, I would 100% advocate for informing your mentor, right? Because I think without doing that, it’s not really going to be something that is going to feel comfortable for you, but this isn’t something that needs to be hidden, right? This is a teaching opportunity that your mentor is probably going to be very enthused about you doing, you know, especially if they’re not in need of you to be on a TAship. This is just further development professionally. It also affords you the opportunity to make a little bit of extra income, which as mentors will often tell you, it’s nice to not have students feeling like they’re starving. You know what I mean? And so I think that those are pieces that are important.
18:21 Stephen: And so I certainly told my mentor, and basically I just laid it out as this is not going to impact any of my day-to-day work. Because as I was saying before, you know, the flexibility of the scheduling affords you to be able to set this up well after anything that would be needed in your day-to-day. It can be done on weekends wherein you may not have as many obligations to your full-time position, whatever that might be. And so I think that that’s really how it should be approached, is that this is just a additional professional development opportunity. And I would wager that most mentors and most programs are going to completely support and advocate for that.
18:58 Emily: Yeah. I think that unless there’s an explicit prohibition on any kind of outside work for money, this is probably one of the first things that’s going to go over pretty well with a mentor because of the time commitment because of flexibility. Jin, have you seen other mentors take the same approach as Stephen or different ones? Do you have anything to add about how to approach your advisor with, “Hey, I’m going to take this opportunity”?
19:24 Jin: Yeah, I think definitely a lot of the other mentors that I’ve talked to have just made it very clear with their PIs, that this is not going to affect, or maybe this will even enhance, their own work. And especially those who are thinking about, again, a career in teaching, this usually just goes over really well with PIs. The only sort of difference is I think there are some mentors, if they have certain funding from certain foundations and sources that explicitly prohibit, let’s say outside work, then there have been some conversations where the mentor realized that they can’t actually get paid for the work. And they’re going to just volunteer and work with some of our scholarship students in the scholarship program. But in general, for most of our mentors, it’s gone over actually really well with their PIs. And most of our mentors will want to tell their PIs just in the name of transparency.
Anyone Who Might Not Be a Good Fit at the Moment?
20:12 Emily: To kind of expand on that question a little bit more, Jin. So you just mentioned, okay, there might be some limited circumstances where, contractually, graduate students are not permitted to be paid for outside work. Are there any other people who might be excited by this episode and thinking that they might want to work with Polygence, but that you know already would not be a good fit at least at the moment?
20:35 Jin: Yeah, so unfortunately we are not able to employ graduate students who are on student visas, just because with payment issues, we need everyone to have U.S. work authorization. So mentors who are on F-1 student visas or I think J-1 student visas as well. Sadly, the only way to get involved is through volunteering, which some of our mentors still do, but obviously we know that the financial reward is something that’s very important. And so that’s one thing that’s unfortunate. But for international mentors who are on OPT, CPT, or H1B visas or obviously on a green card, they are absolutely welcome to the paid side of the program. But again, just because of legal issues, we can’t with international students on student visas. Yeah. And I would also say in general, in terms of like what makes a good mentor, is someone who’s really excited about teaching, someone who likes connecting with young kids, and who has a little bit of extra time and energy to devote to this.
21:38 Emily: Yeah, absolutely. And if any international students or students on F-1 or J-1 visas are listening, I released an episode a few months back on what kind of side work is allowed for students on those visas. And it’s a very illuminating episode. So we’ll link it from the show notes, but yes, very clearly this would be considered self-employment income. And that is not a type of income that F-1 students can pursue except on OPT or CPT. So yeah, just want make that clear, but Jin, you’re kind of speaking from personal experience here. You know, you mentioned that you were an international student, at least when you first came to the States. So can you talk more about your experience founding this startup as an international student and someone pursuing their PhD? That’s a lot of things.
22:18 Jin: Totally. It was, I think emotionally, just so, dealing with American immigration is just, I think emotionally exhausting, and I’m still in the middle of it because now I’m actually in the middle of dealing with the green card process, which is a whole separate headache. But yeah, so I was on F-1 from undergrad until the beginning of my PhD. And then when I first established Polygence with my co-founder, I was still an F-1 and I just wasn’t getting paid. It was just sort of like a unpaid thing for the exact same reasons that we were talking about. And then when I decided I wanted to take time off and be paid by the company and do work on Polygence full-time, I then applied for part-time CPT because I wasn’t ABD yet. Like I wasn’t all but dissertation yet, so I couldn’t exactly just do OPT.
23:06 Jin: And so I was on part-time CPT for the first year of my full-time work with Polygence. And then I got married and then started the green card process after which I got the temporary EAD from work authorization thing. But all that to say, I think, yeah, navigating immigration and having an extra source of income as an international student, like I know full well to all of our listeners who are going through the same thing, like how much of an emotional drain it is. But there are ways to work around it. And sort of going back to our previous topic of how the department or how my own, you know, academic bosses dealt with it. They were actually really, really supportive of me actually taking time off even, partly because the job market is so dismal in the humanities that they’re like, if it’s one PhD candidate to fight for one job in comparative literature on a yearly basis, that’s, you know, a win for us. And so they were actually really supportive of me taking a break and helping me throughout the whole visa debacle.
Jin: What is Your Work-Life Balance and PhD Status?
24:14 Emily: So I definitely understand the pressures and the circumstances that led to you saying, okay, this is a solution. I need to take a pause in my program, do CPT for a bit. Are you back into pursuing the PhD actively now? Like what is your work-life balance going on right now?
24:32 Jin: Yeah, it’s still a little bit complicated right now. I’ve finally gotten to ABD. I was actually working somewhat on my perspectives and on my research during the first year of me being on CPT. But now that I’m all but dissertation, I can just take my time. I’m not being funded by Stanford at all. But I’m still sort of on paper enrolled so that I can still stay in housing and get health insurance, that kind of thing. But I am full-time working on the company.
24:59 Emily: Oh, that’s so interesting. Yeah. I didn’t realize you had that set up right now. So everybody hates this question. How long do you think it will take you to finish the PhD? Like when you have a full-time position and you’re doing this on the side, I know this is something that so many people get into when they are ABD, especially in fields like yours, where you don’t have to be in the lab and you’re not being funded by a grant and blah, blah, blah. So like just let us know a little bit more about how you’re managing both aspects of this work.
25:25 Jin: Yeah. It’s definitely a little hairy and tricky because I actually still have, I think one or two more courses that I’m supposed to teach at Stanford. But other than that I’m essentially just writing. And it depends on how quickly I write and how much time I can spare outside of working on the company. Right now, it’s not a lot of time that I can spare, just because I think the company just takes up all of my bandwidth and mind space. That being said, I definitely do want to finish it, because the research I’ve been doing and the novels that I’m working with are things that I care deeply about and derive a lot of intellectual satisfaction from. But I think it really is still a bit of a black box in terms of when I can devote myself to the extent that I would want to. And to the extent that the work deserves my attention while working on the company. So that is still a little bit unclear. I was thinking that maybe I could slowly chip away at the dissertation while working on the company, but that’s clearly not really happening. So I’m going to have to sort of kick the can a little bit further down the road.
Next Steps for Getting Involved with Polygence
26:30 Emily: Okay. Well, that was fascinating. Thank you so much for sharing. Let’s circle back to how people can get involved with Polygence if they want to. What is the next step, if they’re like, oh yeah, I’m really, really interested in becoming a mentor. I want to learn more.
26:42 Jin: Yeah. So the next step would to go to the link in the show notes. It’s our short mentor interest form. It takes three seconds to fill out. And once you fill that out, we basically ask you what discipline you’re in, where in your program. Yeah. What stage in your program you are, name, email, whether you have work authorization, very important. And then after that, we will ask you to schedule a 15-minute preliminary call with one of our mentor interviewers. And it’s where you can learn a little more about the program, ask questions about what students are like, what kinds of projects they do. And then after that interview, we will set you up on the platform with your own profile account. And then after that, we will start sending you students once we’ve done a background check on you as well. And then we have a lot of really cool mentor programming and scaffolding to help you get more comfortable with this kind of one-on-one Socratic project-based teaching model, where we offer sort of teaching demo preparation sessions, where we ask you to prepare a mock assignment. And we put you in groups with other new mentors, and maybe Stephen can talk a little more about those because he’s the leading a lot of them.
27:47 Stephen: Yeah. So the teaching demos, they’re the opportunity for incoming mentors who have been matched with a student to be able to kind of review some general tips and tricks essentially of, you know, how to kind of engage with the student initially, because we have a lot of mentors who come in with previous teaching experience, obviously, but with a particular format that we are trying to support. Sometimes it’s a little bit different, right? Because you mentioned earlier, Emily, about how like most of these teaching opportunities are typically in groups, which kind of affords a certain social flexibility. But when it’s, one-on-one, it’s a slightly different architecture, which requires, you know, a little bit more of a, like how do you motivate maybe a shy student or how do you engage with a student who’s very enthusiastic and maybe needs to kind of regain some semblance of focus? You know, those are just little things that can come up, but we, as, you know, mentor support team members, we want to make sure that mentors feel like they have access to the information that they’ll need to be as successful as possible with students, because their success very directly affects the success of the students. Right? So we want to make sure that we’re providing that kind of support.
Best Advice for an Early-Career PhD
28:55 Emily: I’m so glad to hear that you’re not just being thrown into like, as happens so often in academia, you’re just being thrown into a situation and expect that you already know what to do, and there’s no like clear way to go for help. Okay. That’s really good to hear. Awesome. So people know where they can go next and we will just wrap up by, I’ll ask you the same question that I ask of everyone that I interview on the podcast, which is what is your best financial advice for an early-career PhD? And Jin, why don’t you go first?
29:22 Jin: That is a million-dollar question. I would say be on top of your savings and make sure that you are saving at least a little bit every month. I know a lot of people, you know, also have student loans to deal with and other things. But I think what was really helpful for me is like really learning how to budget and make sure that on a weekly basis or even on a daily basis, I know how much is coming in and out of my accounts. And also if you’re able to, you know, have a little bit of fun as well, be kind to yourself because I think being a PhD student or any graduate student is really hard mentally and intellectually. And if you have, you know, a little bit of extra funds, whether it’s through Polygence or some other side hustle, treat yourself to something from time to time and just be kind to yourself because this is a marathon, not a sprint.
30:11 Stephen: Yeah. Well, for me, it works out best to use an Excel sheet honestly, right? For the budgeting. And I think that it’s good to kind of orchestrate what is good for you. For some people, they want to spend more money on food. Some people want to spend more money on free time, hobbies, whatever it might be. But I think kind of looking at what you have available to yourself, setting aside, obviously, a column for savings just for who knows what, but, you know, as Jin was saying, being able to kind of establish something to give yourself a break every once in a while and provide yourself some semblance of excitement, I think is really key. Because once you have that, you won’t feel the need to maybe overspend unnecessarily in certain segments of your life. And so I think that that can really be a great way to get the most out of what you have available as a grad student. For sure.
31:00 Emily: You both articulated that so well. Thank you so much for joining me on this episode and I hope that you have a great season of recruiting mentors. Hopefully, a few from this podcast.
31:10 Jin: Thank you, thanks for having us.
31:10 Emily: Listeners, thank you for joining me for this episode. PFforPhds.com/podcast is the hub for the Personal Finance for PhDs Podcast. On that page are links to all the episode show notes, which include full transcripts and videos of the interviews. There is also a form to volunteer to be interviewed on the podcast. I’d love for you to check it out and get more involved. If you’ve been enjoying the podcast, here are four ways you can help it grow. One, subscribe to the podcast and rate and review it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or whatever platform you use. Two, share an episode you found particularly valuable on social media, with an email listserv, or as a link from your website. Three, recommend me as a speaker to your university or association. My seminars cover the personal finance topics PhDs are most interested in, like investing, debt repayment, and effective budgeting. I also license prerecorded workshops on taxes. Four, subscribe to my mailing list at PFforPhds.com/subscribe. Through that list, you’ll keep up with all the new content and special opportunities for Personal Finance for PhDs. See you in the next episode! And remember you don’t have to have a PhD to succeed with personal finance, but it helps! The music is Stages of Awakening by Podington Bear from the free music archive and is shared under CC by NC. Podcast editing by Lourdes Bobbio, and show notes creation by Meryem Ok.
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