Emily published the first episode of this podcast in July 2018. This is the 176th episode, and over the last four and a half years, the podcast has featured 156 unique voices in addition to Emily’s. This last episode of 2022 catches up with the guests from Seasons 1 through 9. The guests were invited to submit short audio updates on how their lives and careers have evolved since the time of their interview. They also included their best financial advice for an early-career PhD if their answer has changed since the initial interview.
Links Mentioned in this Episode
- Dr. Caitlin Faas: Season 1, Episode 7
- Dr. Sam Zelenka (from Government Worker FI): Season 3, Episode 8 and Episode 9
- Dr. Zach Taylor: Season 10, Episode 10 and Episode 11
- Dr. Sean Sanders: Season 6, Episode 8
- Dr. Sean Bittner (from The Life Science Coach): Season 6, Episode 12; Season 10, Episode 14
- Dr. Travis Seifman: Season 7, Episode 4
- Diandra (from That Science Couple): Season 7, Episode 10
- Dr. Samantha McDonald: Season 8, Episode 3
- Dr. Jacqueline Kory-Westlund: Season 8, Episode 8
- Elana Gloger (from Dear Grad Student): Season 8, Episode 9; Season 10, Episode 17
- Dr. Sarah Birken: Season 8, Episode 12
- Dr. Lindy Ledohowski: Season 8, Episode 15
- Rutendo Chabikwa: Season 9, Episode 1
- PF for PhDs Tax Workshops
- PF for PhDs Subscribe to Mailing List (Access Advice Document)
- PF for PhDs Podcast Hub (Show Notes)
00:00 Sarah: I wasn’t ready to think about my finances until my forties <laugh>. And it’s not too late as it turns out. So, trust yourself, you’ll get there. Do it in your own way.
00:19 Emily: Welcome to the Personal Finance for PhDs Podcast: A Higher Education in Personal Finance.
00:26 Emily: I’m your host, Dr. Emily Roberts, a financial educator specializing in early-career PhDs and founder of Personal Finance for PhDs.
00:36 Emily: This podcast is for PhDs and PhDs-to-be who want to explore the hidden curriculum of finances to learn the best practices for money management, career advancement, and advocacy for yourself and others.
00:49 Emily: This is Season 13, Episode 9, and today I am featuring many guest voices! I published the first episode of this podcast in July 2018. This is the 176th episode, and over the last four and a half years, the podcast has featured 156 unique voices in addition to my own.
01:12 Emily: For our last episode in 2022, I thought it would be fun to catch up with the guests from Seasons 6 through 9, and a few from earlier seasons as well. I invited them to submit short audio clips to update us on how their lives and careers have evolved since the time of our interview, as well as to provide their best financial advice if that has changed since our initial interview. We have some very big and very exciting updates this year, and I’m confident you are going to appreciate the perspectives that these guests bring.
01:45 Emily: The audio clips in this episode are ordered by when the original episode was published. If you’d like to circle back and listen to any of the previous interviews, you can do so in your podcatcher app or at my website, PFforPhDs.com/podcast. To keep up with future episodes, please hit subscribe on that podcatcher and/or join my mailing list at PFforPhDs.com/advice.
02:14 Emily: You’ll hear an update from me first, followed by the rest of the guests.
02:18 Emily: You can find the show notes for this episode at PFforPhDs.com/s13e9/.
02:25 Emily: Happy listening, happy holidays and happy New Year! See you in 2023!
Dr. Emily Roberts
02:35 Emily: This is Emily Roberts from Personal Finance for PhDs. I am of course the host of this podcast and you hear from me every week.
02:44 Emily: On the personal side, nothing can really top the update I gave you last year about finally becoming a homeowner. My family has been in our house in north San Diego county for about a year and a half now, and life is very sweet here. We have really integrated into our neighborhood and community. This year, I rediscovered a pastime from my youth, which is reading—voraciously. Through college, grad school, and early parenthood, reading fell by the wayside for me, but I picked it up again after tax season ended. I haven’t kept close track, but I think I’ve read a few dozen books in the last 8 months, almost all from the library, of course! One that really made an impression on me was Die with Zero by Bill Perkins. I recommend it to anyone who is inclined toward over-saving and expects to have a good income for your career, even if you’re still in grad school or your postdoc. Relatedly, I’ve been inspired to have more adventures and vacations and such with my family, and I’ve gotten back into the credit card rewards game to help fund that.
03:52 Emily: As for my business, Personal Finance for PhDs, 2022 was another awesome year with strong growth. I’ve gained a lot of clarity on how I want to spend my time, and I’m implementing more productivity and time management strategies. In 2022, I attended two in-person conferences and delivered several in-person speaking engagements, which was so so rewarding. I didn’t realize how intense my Zoom fatigue was! Going forward, I’m promoting my live in-person seminars and workshops and my pre-recorded workshops and demoting my live remote webinars. If you want me to teach you and your peers about taxes, investing, increasing income, student loans, frugality, home ownership, etc. etc., please connect me with a potential host at your university. I appreciate these recommendations so much.
04:50 Emily: Thanks for listening to my update! If you want to get in touch, you can visit my website at PFforPhDs.com or email me at [email protected].
Dr. Caitlin Faas
05:07 Caitlin: Caitlin Faas here, helping experts get off the hamster wheel for good, as a master certified life coach. I was on season one, episode number seven way back in 2018, and I also gave an update last year where I was a tenured faculty member, became a department chair, and then left in 2020 to coach full-time and paid off all my debts with my husband, and you can hear those updates.
05:27 Caitlin: But in the past year, I’ve had some huge life transitions that I also want to give you an update on. So my husband and I decided to get divorced in January of 2022, and in April, he died unexpectedly before paperwork was filed, so I became a legal widow. And of course, the grief is devastating and it was something I never wanted to happen, and yet I also prepared for it with him financially. We had created our wills together; the idea of death and either one of us being a widow had been on my mind because I’m a developmental psychologist by training, and it was something I listened to, people who were widows, what they wish people had known, and I’m so grateful I listened, even though the statistics were never gonna happen, that one of us was gonna die before we grew old together, right? And yet it did.
06:42 Caitlin: And so taking the time now, my advice for you, take the time to write down your passwords for someone else. Check in about your financial status and showing it to somebody else that’s important in your life so that they know, I wasn’t prepared with all of those things, we hadn’t taken those steps, but, you know, some of the next financial steps are the legal will. What happens if you do lose someone important to you, will you have the capacity to work? Can you put yourself in a position of you’d be able to take off time if you needed to, if you wanted to? And taking a few minutes now will pay off if it ever does happen. I hope it doesn’t. And yet having awareness and not being afraid of it, not pushing it away, or thinking it would be like the worst thing ever can be so beneficial for your financial health. I’d really like to not have huge updates in the next year, and we’ll see what happens as I prepare for it and ride the waves of life coming at me. Best of luck as your life unfolds this year, too!
Dr. Sam Zelenka
08:05 Sam: Hi, this is Sam Zelenka from Government Worker FI. I talked with Emily in season three, episodes eight and nine about the FIRE movement, financial independence, and retire early. And I wanted to give everybody a big update about how we’re doing on our financial independence journey. About a year ago, I decided to work part-time, and this was possible because we were saving up a ton of money and preparing for full financial independence or leaving the workforce entirely. But, we decided that actually it would be really great if I could keep doing my job, just do less of it. I was able to negotiate working part-time with my employer, and I now still am a PhD, pretty academic type person, doing research, but I only do that part of the time and I have a lot more time to spend with my family and my pets and just enjoy life at a little bit slower pace.
Dr. Zach Taylor
09:15 Zach: Hey everybody, this is Zach Taylor. I’m currently an assistant professor at the University of Southern Mississippi, and I was on the Personal Finance for PhD’s podcast on [season 5] episodes 10 and 11. I can give a couple of personal updates after bouncing around to a few jobs during the pandemic. I finally was able to earn a job that is really a great fit for me at the University of Southern Mississippi, so I’m very happy about that.
09:42 Zach: Something that is just something interesting financially is that relocation assistance provided by institutions. My institution did provide relocation assistance, but when I asked about it, they said that very few people ask about it, and even fewer people actually keep receipts and document their expenses. One suggestion I would give to really early career PhDs who are either on the job market or are looking to relocate, is be very clear with your hiring manager about any relocation costs that they will reimburse you for and keep all of your receipts. I had to actually submit original paper receipts from gas stations and the moving company, and when I bought cardboard boxes, I needed to keep those paper receipts. They would not take electronic receipts. I had to have them printed off in paper from the original source. And so be very, very clear with your hiring manager, about that.
10:47 Zach: But a lot of the advice that I gave about sniping great grocery prices using coupons, I still do that all the time. I actually just discovered that the Walmart near where I live in Hattiesburg, they discount meat every Thursday. And so I usually go and check on Thursday afternoons to see what grocery items have been discounted. Then I buy those and I freeze them, and it’s as good as if it were fresh to me at least. So that is something that I continue to do in a habit that I continue to kind of implement in my everyday life. If you have any questions or want to get in touch with me, my email address is [email protected]. That’s the letter U texas.edu, and I wish to everyone the best.
Dr. Sean Sanders
11:34 Sean S.: Hi, Emily. I was delighted to join you back in June, 2020, which I believe was episode eight of season six for a fun conversation about my financial journey and especially my desire to retire early. I wanted to send a quick update on what’s happened since we spoke. And my exciting news is that as of early next year, that’s 2023, I’ll be leaving my current job at AAAS and semi retiring. I’m still a little stunned that I managed to get to this point, but here I am. I’ll still lightly be doing some consulting work in my field, but I’m also taking a sharp turn away from editing to become a dog trainer. This has been a goal of mine for many years, and I feel like it brings together my love for dogs with my scientific curiosity. I want to understand how dogs think and perceive their world as a pathway to improving our communication with them.
12:40 Sean S.: I’m also planning to do some volunteering with some local organizations, particularly to help people with some of their basic personal finances. I’ve been thinking about early retirement or semi-retirement for a few years now, as we talked about in my 2020 interview. And I’ve been working hard to save since my first postdoc, really, and wanted to be able to enjoy the benefits of all of that effort before I was too old to do things like traveling and volunteer work and, you know, pursue some other passions. There were really two precipitating events that led me to pulling the trigger and finally making this, this decision. The first was that I felt really burnt out at my job, which I’ve been at for 15 years, and really felt that a change was needed. The second is the long bull market that we’ve enjoyed for the last 10 years or more that has grown my investments to the point that I could feel comfortable making a move to part-time work.
13:44 Sean S.: To be honest, I’m still a little nervous with all the talk of the impending recession, but I’m staying the course and have put some safeguards in place to mitigate any risk of a recession, like having a bit more cash available to get me through the next two years. This is a big move, so wish me luck. I’m excited about the prospect of still staying in touch with my science roots, but also branching out into some new and exciting areas. If I were to offer any advice to early career graduates, I’d say do your best to focus on your long-term financial goals and remember that as the saying goes, time in the market is better than timing the market. So start investing early and try not to get caught up in the daily news cycle. Thanks so much for this opportunity and stay well!
Dr. Sean Bittner
14:41 Sean B.: Hey there, this is Sean Bitner. I was interviewed by Emily on Personal Finance for PhD’s season six, episode 12 and season 10, episode 14. In the most recent episode, Emily and I discussed comparing job offers after defending my thesis, the main components of a non-academic job offer, and how to prepare for the job hunt. Since our interview aired, I’ve been able to complete my accelerator’s first cohort, and I had an opportunity to work with a group of really incredible medical device company founders. I’ve also continued my coaching work and I’ve begun leadership education at the undergraduate level. Here, I’m teaching students about important leadership and communication skills that they can use, not only while they’re in college, but also as they move out into their first jobs. On a personal note, I still love to travel, which you’ll remember from season six, episode 12. Since last year, my wife and I have taken an incredible trip to South Africa, and by the time this recap episode comes out, we’ll be gearing up for a trip to Japan.
15:39 Sean B.: To add on to my advice from previous episodes, I want to again, encourage listeners to be looking for how they can fit their PhD work or their new job into their broader life and goals, rather than trying to squish their broader life and goals into their studies. If you’d like to connect with me, you can find me on Twitter @lifescicoach, on Instagram @seanwithoutanh S E A N or on LinkedIn. I’m also taking new coaching clients, so if you’re curious about leadership coaching and want to learn more, feel free to reach out to me. Thank you again to Emily and her team for having me on the podcast and thank y’all for listening and I hope you have a great holiday season. Bye!
Dr. Travis Seifman
16:25 Travis: Hi Emily and listeners, my name is Travis Seifman and I was featured in season seven, episode four, where I talked about the pros and cons of university housing. At that time, I had just finished my PhD in history at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and was preparing to move to Japan to take up a postdoc position where I remained today as a project researcher at the University of Tokyo’s Historic Graphical Institute. Life here in Tokyo is good. I feel extremely fortunate, just so lucky to have landed the position that I did and to be able to be living the life that I am now. In contrast to paying a thousand dollars a month for a poorly maintained basic amenities housing in a middle of nowhere California town, I’m now paying 92,000 yen a month, that’s about $650 with the current exchange rate, or closer to 800 and more normal times, for a nice apartment right in Central Tokyo. Excellent, basic amenities, excellent location in one of the greatest cities in the world. I’ve been fortunate too in that I’ve been able to save a considerable amount of money from being on this postdoc. So fingers crossed, depending on what job or lack of a job I may have after this, the academic job market being what it is, I’ll at least have a sizable savings to fall back on, in case my financial situation becomes tight again.
17:46 Travis: I would offer two points of advice to current grad students regarding housing. One, do what you can to investigate research institutes in the area that might offer housing or other alternative housing options. When I first arrived at the University of Hawaii for my masters, East West Center was a mystery to me – a research institute that I had no connection with, no idea about, no sense that I could potentially move in there, and yet I di and I found in the East West Center a wonderful community in a building where I paid $400 a month to live right off campus instead of a thousand dollars a month to live alone, a long walk or bus right away, somewhere out in town. It can be difficult to know what’s hiding in plain sight sometimes right on our campuses or in our city, so do what you can to find these possibilities.
18:32 Travis: Second, organize and agitate. As I record this in mid-November 2022. As you may well know, nearly 50,000 grad students and the like across the University of California are on strike, striking for better pay and better working conditions. When our institutions won’t act on their own to create affordable, pleasant, supportive environments for students and faculty, but instead put other priorities ahead of that, they need to be held to account and to be pressured to change and to do better. I hope that these strikes lead to positive change at the UC and across the country. Good luck to you all and solidarity.
19:10 Emily: Emily here for a brief interlude!
I’m hard at work behind the scenes updating my suite of tax return preparation workshops for tax year 2022. These pre-recorded educational workshops explain how to identify, calculate, and report your higher education-related income and expenses on your federal tax return.
For the 2022 tax season starting in January 2023, I’m offering three versions of this workshop, one each for US citizen/resident graduate students, US citizen/resident postdocs, and non-resident graduate students and postdocs. That third workshop is brand-new this year, and I’m very excited about it.
While I do sell these workshops to individuals, I prefer to license them to universities so that the end users, graduate students and postdocs, can access them for free.
Please reach out to your graduate school, graduate student government, postdoc office, international house, etc. to request that they sponsor one of my tax preparation workshops for you and your peers. I’d love to receive a warm introduction to a potential sponsor this month so we can hit the ground running in January serving those early bird filers.
You can find more information about licensing these workshops at PFforPhDs.com/tax-workshops.
Now back to our interview.
Diandra from That Science Couple
20:52 Diandra: Hi there, this is Diandra from That Science Couple and I was on the PFforPhDs podcast season seven, episode 10. I was talking about working before starting a PhD and the financial and career advantages that go along with that. Emily asked me if I could provide you an update with what I’ve been doing in the last year and so in 2022, I completed my preliminary exam and became a dissertator. My research is on diet and lifestyle factors and on the impact that they play in the risk of developing vascular dementia and white matter hyperintensities, and I’m set to graduate in spring of 2023.
21:29 Diandra: On the personal side, this past year, I took a once in a lifetime trip with my husband and parents to Italy and I overcame a major health crisis. Both of these things directly relate to what I talked about in my episode that by having a financial cushion before I entered my PhD program, it was much easier for me to handle an overseas trip and also to afford the healthcare related expenses because I had an HSA and investments to fall back on from my previous employer.
21:57 Diandra: This year, I also launched That Science Coaching and my program is evidence-based nutrition coaching in which I help others to identify food allergies, create a healthy lifestyle, and prevent or manage chronic illness through diet and lifestyle changes. When I was on the PFforPhDs podcast, my best financial advice for early career PhDs was to fight lifestyle inflation. And while I still believe that this is very important, I think you should also keep investing in yourself and in your health. While I was going through this major health crisis, I realized that it’s easier to maintain your health than to regain it, so if there are small things that you can do on a weekly basis, such as yoga or working out for self care, it’s gonna help your mental health and also your physical health. While we work really hard in the lab, I think it’s important to actually unplug and take the time to relax when you’re on vacation.
22:53 Diandra: If you’d like to contact me or follow our blog, we are online at thatsciencecouple.com. We’re also active on Twitter @science_couple and Facebook @thatsciencecouple. I’m currently accepting new clients, so if you’re interested in my program, please don’t hesitate to contact me. To wrap things up, I’d like to thank Emily for asking me to do this update. I hope everyone has a great end of their year, and please keep listening to the PFforPhDs podcast.
Dr. Samantha McDonald
23:25 Samantha: Hi, My name is Samantha McDonald. I was on season eight, episode three and I was discussing in particular in this episode, knowing your worth in an environment that devalues you work, and looking especially at someone who made more money than a lot of people in the the department at that time. Life has changed a lot. <laugh> I got my PhD woo-hoo about a year and a half ago in, I believe it was either March or May of 2021. After doing so, I took a three month break after my PhD as almost like my mini wellness sabbatical. I took a sailing class for two weeks in the Catalina Island to learn how to sail catamaran. I worked on a farm in a seek community in New Mexico for a few weeks, which was amazing. And I backpacked the High Sierra Trail in the Sierra Nevada of California, which is also amazing. It was a great break! I recommend to anyone after their PhD take a few months off. Even my partner spoke to a Nobel laureate who said that one of his biggest regrets was not taking some time off between his PhD and post-doc. It made all the difference in the world.
24:46 Samantha: After that was over, I started working full-time in industry actually at Meta, which was at the time Facebook when I joined the company. I still work for Meta, and I have for the past year and around I’d say three to five months, which has definitely been an insightful experience. Financially I am in a position I’ve never been before with making more money than I ever have or probably ever will in my life, so my finances are doing great. I save 50% of my paycheck still because I’m still in this super save mode. And luckily Meta provides a financial planner, who has been super helpful in making sure I’m making the right investment opportunities when I’m still young, still can take risks, but also figuring out some other plans.
25:33 Samantha: Personally, and the reason why I say Meta is as much money as I’m gonna make ever is I’m actually quitting my job in a few months, starting in January. Not because in particular I didn’t like my job or didn’t like industry, but mostly because I made a promise to my partner that when he finished his PhD, which is gonna be happening soon, we’d take a year off and live on a sailboat that we bought together. That’s happening very soon. It’s very different than what I thought I’d be doing, but we’ve saved up enough money, especially with my tech job that it’s a very cheap way to live financially and have an adventure for a year with his one year sabbatical after his PhD. After that, we’re going to New Mexico for a postdoc for him, and I’ll figure it out. I don’t know what I’m gonna do yet, but there’s something exciting about that, of taking a year off and just taking some time to breathe.
26:23 Samantha: My financial advice is still the same. Keep saving as much as possible, but taking as much time off and really understanding your worth and your value, it’s super important. And just understanding how much you’re worth and knowing that sometimes in industry, you’re overqualified for jobs in ways that you don’t realize that you’re there. So I’ve learned a lot in the past year and a half working in industry and I can’t wait to learn more. Contact info – my email is still the same. You can still contact me. Also, if you’re just interested, Michael and I, my partner, have started a YouTube channel for our sailing adventures, just for us to remember for ourselves and for our family to see. It’s called Sailing Ambrosia, A M B R O S I A, Ambrosia. It’s named after Michael’s grandmother. So if you’re just interested to see our adventures after PhD, it’s there too.
Dr. Jacqueline Kory-Westlund
27:14 Jacqueline: Hello, I’m Jacqueline Kory-Westlund. I was interviewed in season eight, episode eight. In that episode, I talked about how my husband and I managed our work and finances while I was in grad school so that we were able to start a family. Yes, I had my first baby as a fourth year PhD student, and then when I graduated we bought our own home in cash. We’ve continued to choose flexible work arrangements and prioritize our family. And now I’m excited to share that I have a book forthcoming from Columbia University Press, tentatively titled “#PhDone: How to Get Through Grad School Without Leaving the Rest of Your Life behind”. It’s the book I wish I’d been able to read as a student, a pragmatic how to guide on flourishing in grad school, both personally and professionally. And alongside all the life balance tips, you’ll find a whole chapter about grad school finances. You can find me on Twitter @JacquelineKory or on my website www.jakory.com.
28:25 Elana: Hi, I’m Elana Gloger, host of Dear Grad Student, and I’ve been on the Personal Finance for PhDs podcast twice. I was on season eight, episode nine where Emily and I did a financial coaching session; season 10, episode 17, where we talked all about me doing a side hustle while in grad school; and I’ve had Emily on my podcast, Dear Grad Student, she was on for episode 27 with another graduate student where we talked generally about grad school finances and episode 56 where we talked more in depth about surviving tax season.
28:59 Elana: Since you last heard from me on this podcast, I have become a PhD candidate. I’ve submitted a really exciting grant and I’m only a year and a half away from graduation. In terms of finances, I have finally almost finished saving up my emergency fund. I’m still throwing a little bit of money in that Roth IRA even though Emily told me not to. It’s just a little bit, and honestly, I’m still fighting a little bit with debt, but I know that that’s what comes along with making $20,000 a year, so mostly I’m trying to make sure that I’m setting up patterns for myself so that when I make a little bit more money, it, you know, it’ll all work out.
29:36 Elana: The best financial advice that I have for an early career PhD is don’t be afraid to budget for things that you enjoy. That way you won’t overspend if you know that you’re allotted a little bit, even with a small budget to start with. If you wanna hear more from me or Dear Grad Student, you can find the podcast Dear Grad Student anywhere on any podcast app. You can check out the website deargradstudent.com for literally everything related to the podcast, including ways to contact me, to support the podcast, and even merch, lots and lots and lots of merch! You can also find the podcast on social media. You can look up deargradstudent on Facebook. We’re @deargradstudent on Twitter @deargradstudentpod on Instagram and now on TikTok, @deargradstudent. Thanks again to Emily for having me twice on the personal Finance for PhD’s podcast. Hopefully you’re all hearing my voice again soon and have a good holiday season.
Dr. Sarah Birken
30:34 Sarah: Hey everyone, this is Sarah Birken. I am an associate professor in the Department of Implementation Science at Wake Forest University School of Medicine. And Emily interviewed me in episode 12 of season eight, and we talked about my early financial decisions in that episode. I’ve always been pretty assertive when it comes to negotiating salary and startup, but I’ve also been very passive with my personal finances. That all had to change when my partner, who is a personal financial planner, and I separated. Since then I’ve gotten very serious about managing my finances and my sister has been helping me since April really get my finances in order using YNAB, the You Need a Budget App, which Whitney Robinson, my co-host from AcaDames has always advocated for.
31:31 Sarah: Since I have been very scrupulously managing my finances, I’ve noticed a couple of things. One is that it’s unbelievably empowering <laugh>. I get to decide what I spend my money on and kind of just accept full responsibility for it. And I don’t have to answer to anyone for my decisions, which is lovely. And also I do have to answer to myself, so it’s caused me to be a lot more thoughtful and dare I say philosophical about what money is for in my life. The other thing I’ve noticed is that I’m focusing much more on managing my startup budget from my position. It’s something I’ve been starting to track as carefully as I do my personal finances and again, kind of bringing in this philosophy of what do I care enough to spend this money on that my institution has provided to me so that I can be an asset to them. I think the only additional advice I would give to early career folks is trust yourself. I wasn’t ready to think about my finances until my forties <laugh>. And it’s not too late as it turns out. So, trust yourself, you will get there. Do it in your own way. You can reach me on Twitter @BirkinSarah. Thanks everybody!
Dr. Lindy Ledohowski
33:22 Lindy: Hi everyone, this is Dr. Lindy Ledohowski. I spoke with Emily in season eight, episode 15, and she titled our conversation “How a Boom and Bust Money Mindset from Grad School Serves this Startup Founder Well”, and what we chatted about was the ways in which being a graduate student prepared me for some of the ups and downs of my post professorial life as a startup founder. I left my tenure track job as an English professor and I co-founded and then led academic writing startup, Essay Jack since I last chatted with Emily, Essay Jack has been acquired and I joined the acquiring company so I can add driving a startup through an acquisition to my resume. And I would say that that boom and bust money mindset that I carried over from graduate school into the ups and downs of startup life for five years into the acquisition and now I am Chief Operating Officer at Wise Prep, the company that acquired Essay Jack, that boom and bust Money Mindset has served me well all along the way. And luckily now I’m at a boom phase in life post-acquisition and we continue with the adventure as Essay Jack is reborn as Wize Writer part of the Wize Prep family of educational resources. So that is my little update since I last chatted with Emily about my post academic life and the way that I thought about finances as a graduate student and how that carried over into the very different world of entrepreneurship and startup life.
35:19 Rutendo: My name Rutendo Chabikwa of the So You Got a Scholarship podcast as well as the Taking Into Account podcast. I was on season nine, episode one of the Personal Finance for PhDs podcast. I’m now in my third year of my PhD at the University of Oxford. Financially, I ran into a bit of a hurdle where my tuition was unexpectedly cut and the rug taken from beneath my feet unexpectedly. However, I was able to connect with people in the university who became my allies and advocated for me and ensured that my tuition agreement would remain. And then the second thing that I have done professionally is that I have now reached a stage where I’ve done enough reflection and exercises and enough research for me to figure out that I want to be in industry at the end of my PhD. I do not want to stay in academia. And so as a result, I am now able to put my energies more into doing that, into making those connections, into getting internships, or contract positions that are more aligned with where I see myself. As a result, this has also actually helped my finances because industry positions do pay a little bit more, even if you’re working part-time.
36:39 Rutendo: And so my advice for early career PhDs, it has not fully changed since my interview, but I think with these new experiences that I’ve had, there are two things that I would say. And the first is, within your institution, do find people who are your advocates. Do find people who are your allies, especially if you’re someone who comes from an underprivileged background or from a different country and you are new to this system. Things like getting your funding pulled from you, as I have learned through my own experience, are that these things do happen to people and for others, this can mean that they do not get to finish out of no fault of their own. And so it is unfortunate that institutions do function in this way still, but it is really useful that you find the people around you who can make sure that the agreements that were made for you do stay in place.
37:29 Rutendo: And then the second thing also is that if you’re thinking about splitting your energies between part-time work and doing your project, I would advise that after at least your first year, you start to consider seriously where you want to be in terms of industry versus academia. That way you’re putting your energy into something that actually then helps you with where your next step is and it’s not just something you’re doing because it is useful for the money. I wish you all the best! My contact info, you can find me on Twitter, I am @tedoex. That is T E D O E X and all my information is available there.
38:13 Emily: Listeners, thank you for joining me for this episode!
I have a gift for you! You know that final question I ask of all my guests regarding their best financial advice? My team has collected short summaries of all the answers ever given on the podcast into a document that is updated with each new episode release. You can gain access to it by registering for my mailing list at PFforPhDs.com/advice/.
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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.