A Vision of Graduate School for the 21st Century With Monica Granados

This week on the show, I bring you a very lucid and pleasant conversation about how the graduate school experience could improve with Monica Granados, Policy advisor at Environment and Climate Change Canada. A lot of the conversation revolved around a subject that I’m passionate about – how can we change the PhD experience so it works for all candidates, effectively launching them towards successful academic, but also non-academic careers. During our conversation, Monica shared her reflections on this issue, basing them on her own experience going through her PhD and her postdoc.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • Monica’s path from PhD to postdoc, to her current position in a governmental institute
  • Her views on paths toward adapting graduate programs to the current reality of the academic job market
  • The importance of looking for a mentor as you start your graduate studies, especially if you are first generation graduate student
  • How Monica experienced the stigma that still exists around deciding to leave academia
  • How Monica sees the explicit and less explicit skills developed during her PhD that she leverages in her current position
  • What a privileged time the PhD is to learn everything that interests you
  • How important it is to have a community outside the lab for your personal growth, for your mental health, and for your networking
Monica Granados

Dr. Monica Granados is committed to making science more open and accessible. She is open science and data policy advisor at Environment and Climate Change Canada, she is on the leadership team of PREreview working to bring more diversity to peer review, she’s a Frictionless Data Fellow and is on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Open Data Society.

Thank you, Monica Granados!

If you enjoyed this interview with Monica, let her know by clicking the link below and leaving her a message on Twitter:

Click here to thank Monica Granados on Twitter!

Click here to share your key take-away from this interview with David!

Monica's pearls of wisdom:

“The point of a PhD cannot be to become a professor, it can be an option. The PhD is an amazing time where you get to ask really cool questions and meet a lot of other passionate people who are interested in asking questions. And you learn how to do research and how to think through problems, and think through experiments to try to answer those questions. And it’s learning how to do those things – that’s what you’re doing in a PhD. Your outputs are these papers becaust that’s what academia tells you that those are the outputs that should be, which, for the record, are not even the best way for us to be communicating what our results are. But it’s you learning those elements – that’s the output of a PhD, that’s what you’re getting into a PhD to learn.”

“Learning how to do science is really important and I think one of the major things that comes out of your PhD, but what gave me this incredible career is this thing that I was doing on the side, that wasn’t being recognized, and that I kind of had to do it in secret. And I think that’s sort of the crux of what we should discuss, and that is how do we build an environment, how do we build academic programs that allow you equal time for both and recognize both. I would like to see incoming graduate students outlining their work plan – you know, they talk about how many publications they want to do or how many collaborations they want to be a part of, but also… it should also be “Well, I also want to learn how to code and I also want to learn about science communication”. And having those conversation initially, with your supervisor, so that that becomes part of your program. If I could redo it, that’s what I would have done. Because sometimes I felt guilty that I was doing these things, even though in the end that’s what gave me my career!”

“Think about all these skills that you’re gaining during a PhD and think about how you can translate that skill into your potential career. And to think about that early, and to think about all those different plans, because so much of success is luck, and if you have more plans, it’s more likely that one of these plans is going to work out.”

This episode’s resources:

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