The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond

Ep 19. What is consulting? ft. consultant Dr. Moira Kyweluk

March 30, 2022 Carmela Season 2 Episode 19
Ep 19. What is consulting? ft. consultant Dr. Moira Kyweluk
The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond
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The Millennial PhD: Creative Survival at Work & Beyond
Ep 19. What is consulting? ft. consultant Dr. Moira Kyweluk
Mar 30, 2022 Season 2 Episode 19

What is consulting? How do you get started? What kinds of skills will you use? What options are available? In this episode we solve this greatest of mysteries by discussing, what even is consulting? Dr. Moira Kyweluk talks us through her process of launching her own consulting business and then later being hired at a larger consulting firm. Concrete tips and information for how to break into consulting!

Contact Dr. Kyweluk at

Interested in starting your own podcast? I host The Millennial Phd on Buzzsprout and I love it because, for me, it was the easiest and most user-friendly podcast hosting site. Follow this link to sign up, and you'll automatically get a $20 Amazon gift card included in your sign up; plus, it helps support The Millennial PhD. Happy podcasting!

Support the Show.

Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani - aka your host, Mela - is a sociologist, dancer, and creative consultant.

Learn more about Mela and get access to creative resources at

The Millennial PhD is all about building community. Join the conversation:
- Connect with Mela on IG @melamuzio
- Follow @themillennialphd for up-to-date info on the podcast & blog.
- Email with feedback.

Show Notes Transcript

What is consulting? How do you get started? What kinds of skills will you use? What options are available? In this episode we solve this greatest of mysteries by discussing, what even is consulting? Dr. Moira Kyweluk talks us through her process of launching her own consulting business and then later being hired at a larger consulting firm. Concrete tips and information for how to break into consulting!

Contact Dr. Kyweluk at

Interested in starting your own podcast? I host The Millennial Phd on Buzzsprout and I love it because, for me, it was the easiest and most user-friendly podcast hosting site. Follow this link to sign up, and you'll automatically get a $20 Amazon gift card included in your sign up; plus, it helps support The Millennial PhD. Happy podcasting!

Support the Show.

Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani - aka your host, Mela - is a sociologist, dancer, and creative consultant.

Learn more about Mela and get access to creative resources at

The Millennial PhD is all about building community. Join the conversation:
- Connect with Mela on IG @melamuzio
- Follow @themillennialphd for up-to-date info on the podcast & blog.
- Email with feedback.

Speaker 1 (00:09):

Welcome to the Millennial PhD, a podcast about creative survival and beyond. My name is Dr. Carmela Muzio Dormani, and I'm a sociologist, dancer and creative consultant from New York. In these episodes, you'll find inspiration, ideas, and actionable tips for building new pathways forward in work and life. You'll hear from artists, activists, creative entrepreneurs, PhDs, and professional pivoters. We talk about radical humanity and practical steps to follow your dreams, even in the context of challenging social conditions. Before we jump into today's episode, a quick reminder to follow the millennial PhD on Instagram. And to please take a minute to rate and a review the millennial PhD on Apple podcasts. Your rating really helps the show reach as many listeners as possible. You can learn more about me and get access to free creative resources on the millennial PhD Instagram page, I hope you enjoyed the episode. 

Speaker 2 (01:15):

Welcome back to the millennial PhD, where we've been talking about creative survival in academia and beyond. Today I'm talking with Dr. Moira Kiva, who is an anthropologist public health expert and insights researcher. Moira is head of the healthcare and life science practice for Idea Couture, a cognizant digital business through her business, her her consulting business, Third Space Research. She delivers evidence-based research and strategic solutions to clients in the pharmaceutical, healthcare, retail, and technology sectors. Morero, welcome to the millennial PhD. Thank you for being here. Thank you so much for having me. Um, so I was saying to you, I'm so happy. I'm so excited to have you on and hear a little bit about your own journey out of academia and into the work you're doing now. Um, you mentioned to me that you transitioned out into corporate consulting work, um, and that you also work with people and during UI or UX roles who have sociology and anthropology backgrounds. 

Um, and in the second season of this podcast, I keep mentioning, as I've been doing more recent interviews, uh, I've been sping, uh, shining a spotlight on some of the other industries I didn't focus on in the first season. So including things like tech, entrepreneurship, marketing, et cetera. Um, I think consulting is a super buzzy, sometimes mysterious, but very fitting, uh, for post acts type of path. I'm just so interested to hear more about your work, um, especially because you men, you had mentioned to me in one of our messages that you could talk a little bit how to about how to balance selling your soul to capitalism <laugh> with your actual politics. I hope it's okay that I said that, but I think we would all really appreciate, appreciate that piece. Um, so let's just start off with, can you tell us a little bit about yourself? 

Speaker 3 (03:05):

Absolutely. Um, I appreciate that you remembered that from our messages. Um, so I, I am a medical anthropologist by training. I also have a public health degree. I did my doctoral work at Northwestern University in a joint program with Northwestern Medical School, as well as with the Department of Anthropology. Um, so formally trained as a medical anthropologist. And I think my, my transition out of academia probably started quite a bit earlier than some of our, our colleagues and friends, um, based on the nature of my work, my doctoral work. Um, so my dissertation research was all about the rise of direct to consumer, um, health and wellness in the United States. So this is companies offering, you know, easy telehealth services, companies that you might think of where you can simply pull an app up on your phone and be connected to a healthcare provider to renew a prescription or for $50, um, start mental healthcare with someone with a provider. 

So all of my research was on an emerging, a really emerging and changing industry in the US healthcare landscape, the landscape of direct to consumer medicine, and along with that telehealth. Um, so as you can imagine, you know, not only during the years I was in graduate school, but then especially since the transition through these years with Covid, uh, this has been an industry that has always been kind of growing. And all of my graduate work was ethnographic, essentially ethnographic research on these companies that were starting to emerge. So there was a very logical transition for me from the type of academic research I was doing and the perspective I was taking as an academic on this space and on how these types of companies and services fit into the landscape of the US healthcare system. There was a very logical transition from that perspective to actually doing work to support or shape the evolution of companies like these in the American healthcare system. Um, so through my doctoral work, you know, I became essentially, as we all do, I became a very niche subject matter expert on direct to consumer health, telehealth, telemedicine. Um, and from there it was really just a matter of understanding how to reach, in the case of consulting, um, the types of clients in the types of companies, I might have a perspective or a point of view or be able to help shape the evolution or the trajectory for those companies. 

Speaker 2 (05:37):

Amazing. So, um, let's talk about the consulting for a minute, because since you just mentioned it, um, there, did you, can you just tell us, help us understand a little bit more? I don't know, did you start a consulting practice or did you start to work for a larger consulting practice at first? Kind of, how did, did, how did that come about for you? 

Speaker 3 (06:00):

I think it's, it's pretty frequently the evolution to what we call consulting. And I'm gonna, I'm gonna try to define what we mean by consulting because it is such a mystery, black box, umbrella term. Um, but really consulting simply means you are providing your expertise to help a business, a nonprofit, some other sector solve a problem. I could be a consultant who helps you bake bread better. Consulting just means you are there to help support, problem solve and troubleshoot, um, in whatever your area of expertise might be. Um, so it's a very, you know, I think it's been distilled down. The concept of consulting has been distilled down to means something very specific. Um, it comes out of a history of maybe management consulting, which is a different, you know, kettle of fish, set of problems, set of business expectations around what consulting is. But really if you take away all of that, consulting is just about helping someone solve a problem, right? 

With your area, given your area of expertise, helping others solve problems. Um, so my entry into consulting work was actually very organic. I had someone reach out to me, um, from a direct to consumer telehealth company, uh, and they were interested in learning a little bit more about a certain, uh, segment of their consumer base. Um, so, you know, they were trying to reach a new group of consumers and given my expertise and my research and all of the work I had done in the space, they were looking for someone to partner with them to help do some market research. So, qualitative ethnographic, in the case of being an anthropologist, I did quite a bit of ethnographic work, but ethnographic market research, um, to understand this consumer base and kind of unlock ways of speaking with this consumer base, reaching out to them and making sure that they knew about the services of this particular telehealth company. So it was a very organic transition from being a subject matter expert or a content expert to actually being asked to use my expertise for a specific problem to solve a specific problem. 

Speaker 2 (08:08):

Yeah, that's, that's, that's so wonderfully straightforward. Um, and I think yet it's, it's really helpful for people to hear that kind of simple definition of just like using one's expertise to help somebody solve a problem. Um, I do think sometimes it can be challenging for people to identify what that, that second piece, what are the types of problems that you're gonna offer your skills to solve if you move into consulting mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, can you talk, if you don't mind, can you talk even a little bit more from that first, I guess, outing into consulting? How did you then continue to, to streamline it and grow it a little bit? 

Speaker 3 (08:48):

So a lot of, a lot of what I learned was through reaching out very widely. I mean, LinkedIn really is one of the best tools I think at this point, to connect with others who are using their expertise in different arenas, folks with backgrounds similar to mine. I reached out to a lot of folks with PhDs in anthropology or sociology who were working in market research. I did quite, you know, we are all good researchers by training good investigators. Um, so I actually did quite a bit of my own research on, you know, methods and tools in market research. I did quite a bit of investigating on, you know, what does it look like to transport my skills as an academic researcher into something that has a much more corporate set of goals or expectations. Um, so a lot of it was just putting my nose to the ground and, and really doing as much research as possible to understand how to do this kind of work in a way that would be most useful for the client that had approached me. 

Um, and then at the same time, speaking with other academics who had made this transition, and one of the reasons I think this podcast is so valuable is we don't hear these voices, right? I had never met anyone who had, you know, finished my doctoral program who did anything other than be a tenured professor somewhere, or a tenure track assistant professor who came back to give talks on a Friday afternoon, right? So I had never talked to anyone, any working anthropologist who was doing pretty much anything outside of the academy. So I had to go find those folks. Um, and then, you know, as, as my, as my work as these projects, as these opportunities became more frequent, um, and I started getting more asks from different companies, different sorts of clients, it became very clear that I needed to formalize this thing I was building. Um, and it was time to actually incorporate an LLC and sort of formalize some of my ways of working, formalize this practice and become a bit more, we'll call it, by the books, um, and a little bit more structured in how I approached the work that I was getting asked to do on a pretty frequent basis. 

Speaker 2 (10:54):

Yeah. And I have to say, it's, it, it's, it feels good to me and I have to imagine to some folks listening to hear you talk about, um, your training as an anthropologist, um, and sociologists and anthropologists. Um, I'm a sociologist by training, um, and a qual a qualitative researcher. And it's interesting to me because what I've heard you mention once or twice already was your ethnographic skills, Um, which is wonderful because sometimes we think, Oh, if you don't have in, in sociology, like the hard, um, quantitative 

Speaker 3 (11:28):

Ah, yeah. 

Speaker 2 (11:28):

Particular data skills, then it's just like, forget industry, you know, anyone who was maybe was thinking about industry, it's like, Oh, well I didn't do the quant thing. Um, so it's great to hear a little bit about how some of the ethnographic skills also translate. Um, can we talk a little bit then about your, your, your other gig, I guess your full-time job? Cuz you were just talking about translating skills. Um, can you talk to us a little bit about how you translated your academic skills into either a language that helped you get this position or just an orientation that helped you into your new full-time career? 

Speaker 3 (12:07):

Absolutely. So I did have a huge heads up or a guest leg up is the phrase. Um, because I actually did this type of independent consulting work for a number of years, I actually made the decision to work for a different cons, consult a big consultancy. In this case, I am the head of the healthcare and life science practice at Idea Kosher, which is a cognizant digital business idea. Kosher is a human-centered design research firm. Um, we do a combination of research, so actual primary research with real people, um, and strategy. So it's taking research and turning it into strategy for our clients to solve business problems. Really, it's, it's not very different from the type of work that I was doing for Third Space for my own consultancy. And so I was able to build skills and build some of these like, ways of working and started to understand what this work might look or feel like through my independent practice. 

And I actually pivoted to work, uh, to actually go out on the job market and find a job with a larger consultancy because the type of clients that I worked for when I was working for myself, when I was building third Space, the type of clients that I had were for the most part, much smaller, you know, startups, much smaller tech, tech firms direct to consumer health companies. And the scale and scope of the work was much smaller. And I was, I was ready for and excited to direct and run much larger projects with bigger budgets and more people and more moving parts and really do, I guess, more ambitious or larger scale work. And one of the best ways to do that is actually to work for a company that does consulting for other very big companies. So I chose to move into, uh, sort of a, a different realm or we'll call it, it's like going from zero to not zero to a hundred, but I don't know, it's like leveling up when Mario, when Mario hits the star and now it's like Big Mario. I went from small fee consulting to capital C consulting, right? Same skills, the skills translate, but I was just ready for a bigger challenge, larger clients, more scope and scale, um, larger opportunities, bigger budgets. So for me it was an easy transition because I was just ready for a different set of challenges. 

Speaker 2 (14:30):

Um, I love the, the Mario analogy, um, <laugh>. That's great. Um, and I also wanna hone in on what you're saying because I keep focusing on this idea across industry, really across different industries and different, um, things, different interests that folks have of kind of like, at least of having a lifeline out of academia in one way or another. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, because it's not that, you know, I don't, I don't know that leaving folks who are full time in academia, I don't know if leaving is necessarily what everybody wants to do, but I think it's so important to build, you know, whether it's because you're a writer or a creative or an artist, if you can build that practice, um, or something like your own, you know, consulting gig on the side, I think that that's such a great thing. And for me, I unexpectedly had dance, um, as my, I was a dance, a professional dancer while getting my PhD. And I unexpectedly picked up all these skills in that, in that, um, practice that have helped me start to kind of make a different pivot. Um, so interesting to hear about that from you 

Speaker 3 (15:33):

As well. And truly, you know, I I spend a lot of time speaking with current PhD students with folks on their first postdoc or even their second postdoc, and I really encourage them to take full advantage of all of their resources at their disposal while they're in the university environment. Not, you know, you don't have to leave the academy, but having a plan for what you would do if that were the choice you needed or wanted to make can be really, really encouraging and really heartening. I took full advantage of the fact that Northwestern Kellogg School of Business was readily available to me during graduate school. I was able to audit courses. I actually had advisors and mentors amazing, um, in the direct to consumer health tech, health wellness space who were faculty at Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern. And they provided me a completely different perspective on my skillset and on the industry, and I learned so much from them that actually enriched in a lot of ways my, my academic work, my, my doctoral work because I was getting outside perspective. 

I am an ethnographer, I wanna understand the culture surrounding the thing that I'm studying, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. And so I tried to take full advantage while I was in a university environment of all of the potential kind of learnings, courses, supports that were more fully available while you're in that setting. Um, I think that can be really valuable and give folks a little bit of confidence in terms of preparing for an alternative career or another path beyond graduate school. And I was speaking with one of my best friends yesterday, and she said that the best, the best advice I ever gave anyone who was, who was finishing a doctoral program was you're starting a first job that's going to be a part of a very long career, and you cannot possibly predict where that career is going to take you. When you look at an academic trajectory, you go from doctoral program to postdoc to, if this is what you want, assistant professor, you know, R one research university, or potentially you go into a more teaching focused role as faculty, that trajectory is extremely clear. 

That path is very clearly set out for you embarking on a new career. You that's outside of that known path. You have no idea where your career is going to take you over the course of the next year, three years, five years, 10 years. I had no idea that I was going to end up in capital C Corporate America Consulting when I started out, you know, taking a couple of courses at Kellogg School of Management just to understand what was this other side of the industry that I was studying as an anthropologist, right? So every step in your career will be less clearly defined if you don't stay in academia, but you have a significantly larger amount of control over each of those steps. 

Speaker 2 (18:26):

Yeah. Um, I think too, like the men, the mental work of breaking free of the, um, the like aspirational hope of the tenure track being this straight being available and then being this straight line, but also being the only legitimate line mm-hmm. <affirmative>, um, I mean we all, this is like, it's 

Speaker 3 (18:45):

Repetitive. The core of the podcast 

Speaker 2 (18:47):

Bears repeating because it, it takes, it takes a little 

Speaker 3 (18:50):

Bit of stress. You're allowed to do something else that's like you're allowed 

Speaker 2 (18:53):

To do something 

Speaker 3 (18:53):

Else. Tell I say this to my friends all time, you're allowed to do something else. No, there won't be any consequences if you do something else. 

Speaker 2 (19:00):

Yeah. Um, so I'm gonna ask you in, uh, a minute about kind of the nuts and bolts of working in your, your industry, but um, before we get into that, can you, would you share, uh, a rose and a thorn for you currently? So something that you really love about your work, um, now and something that has been challenging either now or in the past? 

Speaker 3 (19:24):

Um, so I am very lucky because I work for Idea Culture, which is a c digital business where I am actually in good company with quite a few fellow former academics, folks with doctoral training in sociology or anthropology. So one of the roses in my, you know, nine to five work life is, I have a lot of colleagues who just get it when it comes to research, when it comes to the rigor, what is the value of ethnography, why would we be including a qualitative perspective on, you know, a project that we're doing that's a research and strategy project. I have a lot of like-minded colleagues that I can sit down with, share ideas with, get support from. Um, so I think that's definitely one of the roses in my day. Um, and one of the thorns is the, I don't know how you're gonna have to probably edit this for clarity. One of the thorns is the rigid structures of corporate America. So things like, who is your manager? Who's going to approve your time sheet, uh, at do I have the authority to authorize this contractor to work on this project? Like small, small details, but the truth is, the exact same headaches exist in the academy. If anyone has ever gone to a conference and tried to get their flight reimbursed, 

Speaker 2 (20:51):

Oh my God, none 

Speaker 3 (20:52):

Of these things are unique or different. They exist in all institutions everywhere. Whether that institution is a big R one research university or a big corporate company, you are always going to have red tapes and approvals and the emails and things that have to be signed off on no matter where you work or what you do. Um, so I would definitely say the thorn is the, is the rigid, the rigid structures and the endless approvals processes that I have to go through on a daily basis just to get the wheels turning 

Speaker 2 (21:28):

<laugh>. Yeah. Thank you for saying that. I, and I do think a lot of academics looking to shift one of the fear, one of the big fear factors apart from the stability piece is the, that control piece or like the regimented environment or the loss of autonomy. Um, but that was a ver that was a hilarious example that you just said. Um, and I'm in the middle of like a back and forth trying to get reimbursement for not even a flight, but just like a conference attendance <laugh>. I'm sure every, you know, every single person, um, if you're lucky enough to even have a budget for that in academics 

Speaker 3 (22:01):

Exactly. I should say. But if you, if you ever got funding for any of your academic endeavors and you had to go through a reimbursement process, you have got all the skills you need to make it in corporate America. 

Speaker 2 (22:13):

Oh, funny. Um, okay. So let's pivot here to the nuts and bolts questions. Um, I, I do these questions always because I think, as I've said, paths that I'm interviewing people about, like consulting and entrepreneurship, um, and the arts for, for some of the previous interviews are kind of shrouded in mystery and they're very appealing. Um, and it can be helpful to just talk through the finer point day to day points. Um, so what, for you right now, what does a typical day look like? 

Speaker 3 (22:40):

Okay, so a typical day in my, in my work for idea kocher is a mix of what we might call business development. So actually getting on the phone with clients, so representatives from other companies that we might work for and selling projects, so selling research projects, research and strategy projects, that is a big component of my day. Um, I've mentioned that I am the head of the healthcare and life science practice, so any projects we might be doing that touch on healthcare, pharmaceuticals, life sciences, um, you know, vaccines, you know, just to name a few random things in healthcare and life sciences, um, anything that's gonna touch on healthcare or life science. I will probably have had a role in business development or sales, you can call it business development, you can call it sales, um, for those projects, right? So it's my role to put together project proposals, um, scope out the research, align with the client in terms of what sort of strategy recommendations they're looking, looking for, what sorts of outcomes they would like from this research. 

Right? What sorts of deliverables do they need? Do they need a map of a patient's journey from diagnosis to treatment for this rare disease that they're investigating? Do they need to understand the language that patients are using to describe, um, a particular set of symptoms? Right? So whatever the, again, consulting is just coming up with solutions to a problem. And typically the way that we are coming up with those solutions is through a combination of research and then strategy, which is simply using research, using evidence to give recommendations or strategic recommendations, um, to our clients so that they can make decisions for their business, right? And help them plan out and map out what needs to change, what they're doing well, what needs to be done differently, um, and give them sort of a roadmap for how to use what they've learned productively. Um, so I'm trying not to use these words or just throw them around without defining them, because I think that that's one of the things that stresses people out about other realms. 

Corporate realms is simply language. There's a language barrier. What do I mean when I say bd? Business development. What is business development sales? What is sales? Getting people to buy the thing that you know how to do <laugh>. Like I try to break it down as much as possible, right? So a mix of business development, which would be simply relationship building, um, understanding, you know, what are my, what are the clients that we work with, what are the problems that are coming to me with, um, scoping research, right? Planning projects, thinking about what would be the most useful given what the problem is, how would we wanna scope out their research and what would we wanna deliver to our client to help them make decisions and improve, Right? So business development I do quite a bit. Um, you know, I do lead the healthcare and life science practice, so I have quite a few folks who report into me. 

So I have some more managerial or mentorship type duties, right? I try to meet with everyone that I work with on a regular basis, make sure that they're feeling supported, make sure that the projects that they're running are going smoothly. Um, and then the rest of my day is a mix of real project management. So making sure that everything is running smoothly. And if we're doing a project where we're recruiting folks in Denmark, making sure that all of the consent forms for that project were translated into the local language, right? So the, I think the further you get into a career like mine, I started doing the research myself, and as I've gone along in my career, you start to take a step back and you tend to be the one who is managing or facilitating the research, and other folks are actually leading the day to day of research. 

So my role is more to support and facilitate multiple projects at once, rather than being solely responsible for the delivery and execution of one project. At my, at this point in my career, I tend to be managing or overseeing many projects that are running at once, right? And this is the same as you see in almost any career. The further you get in it, the less you do the actual work and the more you do management, project management, overseeing the work, supporting people, uh, people development being more of, you know, quote unquote the boss. Um, I think that that's pretty common in any industry is, uh, if you wanna stay close to the work, you really have to fight to stay close to the work as a practitioner. Um, if it's something you're really passionate about, whether that's research or dance or theater, you know, the further along you get in a career, the less you actually get to do the thing you love. 

Speaker 2 (27:19):

Yeah, for sure. Um, that, that's super helpful. And let's just talk a little bit about what skills do you feel like you one, particularly needs to work in a position like yours? 

Speaker 3 (27:31):

I think that's a really great question because so many times, you know, even in my own tenure as a doctoral student, um, I wondered like, which of which of these skills is actually translatable or applicable outside of my academic work? Um, so one of the number one skills that I use on a daily basis is simply clear communication, clear an ability to write a clear email that lays out exactly what has happened, where are we at, and what are the next steps. So crystal clear communication is massively underappreciated as a skill that you can develop. And I think a lot of researchers, especially those who have to generate a lot of written outputs from their work, simply develop that skill over time. It's, you have to be able to communicate clearly. If you've ever presented your academic work to others, you are constantly developing and refining your ability to clearly communicate complex ideas. 

Um, so I think clear communication is underrated as a skill that everyone picks up when they're in graduate school. That can translate into any professional job that you may take on any career that you might seek outside of the academy. It is, it is da useful on a daily basis that I can cut through the fluff and communicate clearly by email, by phone, in a zoom call. Um, so really leaning into your your strong communication skills is important. Um, I also think it's underestimated how much project management experience all, all folks who've done their own research have. Yeah, right. If you've ever done an, if you've done an ethnographic research study, you've had to find the right people to talk to. You've had to coordinate with them. Perhaps you had to pay them or, or incentivize them in some way to participate in your research sign informed consents. All of this is project management and it's concrete project management skills. And you may have heard this from, you know, the career center at the university you're at, or you know, it's said like it doesn't matter. But truly, those types of concrete project management skills and concrete communication skills are all you need to be successful in almost any field. 

Speaker 2 (29:51):

Yeah, that's very helpful. Thank you. Um, I've been thinking so much of No, I, you know, the project management piece, when you really sit down, which is an exercise I did not long ago, I sat down and wrote, if I were trying to describe even the process of the dissertation, um, in terms of project management, even sitting down to take the time to write it out to myself, it was more, it was more fleshed out as a process of project management of kind of like almost multiple project management, um, than I had even really been thinking about. Um, so that's really helpful. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, if someone turned to you today and asked, um, how can they get to do what you're doing, uh, what are some first steps you might recommend? 

Speaker 3 (30:35):

Okay. Well, the first, the first step I would say is start early and always have a backup plan. So while you're in, if you're in a graduate program, 

Speaker 2 (30:42):

Have that backup 

Speaker 3 (30:44):

<laugh> di early and have a backup plan. So if you, if you were in a graduate program, again, there are actually so many resources available to you if you are in any kind of academic context, um, try to take advantage of them while you're in graduate school, even if it's not your, you know, your goal. It's always good to explore what your other options are, strengthen some of your skills, practice putting together your background and experience in a non-academic CV or resume format. Right. I, I maintained a, an academic cv, which was 20 plus pages long, and I also maintained a one page resume for all of my years in graduate school. And it was incredible how often that one page resume came in handy when I had the opportunity to do a little bit of coding work for, you know, something came my way that was outside of my doctoral work, but I had job materials ready to go that were legible to a non-academic audience. 

It made a tremendous difference, um, to just have that way of presenting myself, presenting my skills, um, and have that throughout and consistently even before I finished my graduate program. I think that was a huge boon. Um, I think, yeah, that would be one of the main things is taking full advantage and sort of starting early and, and having a plan or a path forward. And I, I do also think that the hardest position to be in is for folks who have left a university environment but haven't quite made, made a career transition. That can be really challenging because you don't have the support of, for example, career services within a university or any of those extra buffers or support systems or training grounds. Um, and then you also don't have the benefit of multiple years of industry experience where you no longer really need that sort of support because it's become second nature. 

Um, so I would recommend, you know, starting early, always having a plan and try to find at least one person with your degree, with similar area of expertise who is not in the academy. Find them on LinkedIn, find them through the alumni network, find them through friends and friends, find them through your sisters, cousins, boy, boyfriend's mom. It doesn't matter. <laugh>, I knew someone who was a, a my fiance's friend's, boyfriend's mom was a medical writer, she was a professional medical writer, so she wrote jour, uh, journal articles for pharmaceutical companies, and she was a medical anthropologist and had been a public health researcher for years and then transitioned to be a medical writer. So all she did was basically write articles, um, on contract for years. And just knowing that this person existed and knowing about her career and the satisfactions, the roses, the thorns of her career was really satisfying to know that there was something else that I could do after graduate school. Yeah. That looked nothing like what I was training to do. 

Speaker 2 (33:48):

Yeah. Uh, comforting too. I, I would imagine just like looking on the barrel of the academic job, 

Speaker 3 (33:55):

You only need one. Yeah. You, you only need one. You need one inspiration or one person who has, even if that's not what you choose to do, even if you choose to, you know, pursue a more academic career in or at tac, whatever it might be, just knowing that there's other options, I think can be very mentally freeing. Um, and it's always better to have a concrete example or a real person that you can talk to, interview, have on speed, dial text. Um, I think that's really, really tremendously helpful. 

Speaker 2 (34:26):

So beyond those first steps, um, is there any other kind of general parting advice that you would like to give and put out into the world? 

Speaker 3 (34:39):

It's just a job. It's not who you are. 

Speaker 2 (34:42):

<laugh> very, that's a be put that on a nice little quote, Put that on or something. <laugh>. 

Speaker 3 (34:49):

I, I really, I believe that, I really believe that, I think that, um, part of the process of going through, uh, a doctoral program or an academic training ground is folks identities their core, their, their very being becomes incredibly caught up with the work that they do, um, the way that they spend their days in terms of their work. And, uh, I think that that is very challenging to uncouple those two things. Um, but most careers outside of the academy, no one is expecting that you, your work be your essence or the core of who you are, right? Mm-hmm. <affirmative>, the, the person that you are outside of work, um, the passions that you have, the hobbies, you may have even more space for those parts of yourself. Um, and so you might, you might surprise yourself or find out new things about yourself when you are out of an environment that rewards attaching your selfhood to your work. Um, and so I'm a big fan of giving it a try and seeing how it feels <laugh> worked for me. 

Speaker 2 (35:51):

Nice. Um, so I'm gonna ask you in a minute kind of the, the contact information, like, where can folks find you or reach out to the you if they'd like to and if you'd like to share. Um, but before we go to that, is there anything I didn't ask you about or we didn't get a chance to talk about that you would like to mention? 

Speaker 3 (36:14):

I really wanna think about this before we close. Is there anything I didn't mention? Oh, no one ever mentions how fun it is to try something new. Like I never, I never realized how much fun it would be mm-hmm. <affirmative> to do something totally different with my day than what I did when I was more deeply enmeshed in an academic environment. And I, I actually did, um, out of graduate school, I did take a postdoc at the University of Pennsylvania in the ethical, legal and social implications of genetics and genomics. And I kept doing the sort of hardcore r one academia thing for about a year and a half, two years out of graduate school. And I didn't realize how much fun it would be to try something completely new, um, and really pivot out entirely and sort of close that door or close that chapter. Um, I just didn't realize how much fun it would be, how much I would learn about myself, um, how much I would learn about the way I wanted to live my life. <laugh>, it was, it's been a really revelationary couple of years, and no one ever told me it would be fun. <laugh>. 

Speaker 2 (37:25):

That's wonderful. That's, that's very reassuring. Um, and a lot of what I've been talking about with people in different interviews is like, you know, where's the, where's the joy? You know, where's the fun? Where we need, we need this stuff, um, in or outside the, the academy, right? Whether people decide to leave, um, or stay and just, you know, reimagine their relationship with it. Maybe I get think that can work for some people. Um, but yeah. That's great. Um, so where can people get in contact with you or find out more about their, about your work if they want to? 

Speaker 3 (38:01):

Um, I am on LinkedIn as we all seem to be these days, um, at Moira Kial. And I am also the only Moira Kial in the entire world. So if you spell it correctly and Google, I will pop up all over the Google verse. Um, and 

Speaker 2 (38:16):

I'm pretty, we're too in. Yeah, 

Speaker 3 (38:18):

Certainly. And, and by email. It's Moira, my first name, m o i r 

Speaker 2 (38:28):

Okay. Mora, thank you so much. I appreciate this conversation. So interesting and so helpful. 

Speaker 3 (38:35):

Pleasure being here, and I'm really excited that you're doing this, and I, I wish you many more fruitful conversations with academics, former academics, and soon to be former academics. 

Speaker 1 (38:44):

Thank you. That's it for this week's episode of the Millennial PhD. You can find more content, resources and information on Instagram at the millennial PhD in this collective moment of reevaluating our relationships with work and exploitation. I look forward to connecting with you and building stronger bonds of community and collaboration. I would love to hear from you via email at the millennial with any feedback, comments, questions, or concerns, or if you're interested in coming on the show as a guest. That's all for now. It's been real. See you next time.