Continuous Evolution - An Abstract



Abstract:

Know thyself. It’ll change.


Introduction:

I had a bad feeling about my PhD since day one. I should have listened to myself, but I was told that a PhD was necessary for an industry career and that academia was freer. My average working day was 11.5 ± 0.7 hours; my PI would dismiss any idea I had and micromanage every experiment. I felt stuck and lonely. Friendships and dates would end for my irritability. I was screaming for help to the deaf. My mother thought I just needed more money.


Results:

I didn’t want to celebrate my graduation. I didn’t feel proud, and even today I feel I had been defrauded. Then I turned my frustration into action. It took me two years to figure out what I wanted to do every day. From there things moved fast: I first landed a post-doc in my field of choice and soon thereafter I moved to industry, where I had wanted to be, which was much freer than the academia had ever been.


Methods:

A secondment to Germany was key: no micromanagement, free hours. I was leaving the lab earlier, caring about my body, exercising. I tattooed 継続 進化, “continuous evolution”, an unchangeable reminder that life is all about change. Back in Italy, I joined swim classes and decided I’d follow my choices, not my PI’s orders. I found teams with similar scientific needs, jointly set up experiments and failed badly until it worked.


To finally move to industry, I had to figure out what everyday duties I desired. I looked for those job descriptions and reached out to people with that job title; asking questions and for feedback, giving comments and ideas, tracking conversations and setting up alerts to follow up. Meetups led to collaborations, and discovering gaps and ways to fill them.


Conclusion:

I got where I am now by building up on failures and collaborations. For the first time, I feel lucky. The dread is not completely gone; at times I melt down over small things, or I feel I don’t belong. But I am who I want to be; I do what I want to do.


I know myself, I’m in continuous evolution.


Author: Andy

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