Welcome to Season 2 of Papa PhD!

To kick-start this second season of interviews, I’m bringing you someone who has been helping researchers figuring out their careers for a while, now, and who will be recounting how he navigated his transition and how he got to the position he’s in today.

But before we go into the interview, I want to quickly share with you what new features you’ll be noticing starting today, on Papa PhD. The first big change is that the interviews are now going to be shorter, around 40 minutes, and they’ll be published as a single episode, on Thursday. Second – you’ll see that I’ll be spending more time discussing what my guests do today and what advice they have for you. And you’ll see the more we go into the interview, the more value you’ll find. And finally, every episode I will have a short section at the end where I’ll be sharing trailers of podcasts I think you’ll enjoy, and that are friends of the show.

I hope you enjoy the new format!

Chris Humphrey

So today, on Papa PhD, I have with me Dr Chris Humphrey.

Chris Humphrey is a project manager and careers consultant, and the founder of the popular careers website Jobs on Toast. Chris holds a BA in English Studies and an MA in Culture and Social Change, both from the University of Southampton. He completed his PhD in Medieval Studies at the University of York in 1997, and held a post-doctoral fellowship there until 2000.

Since leaving academia, Chris has worked as a project and programme manager in the private sector, specialising in technology, transport, financial services and sustainability. Today he works as a team leader and project manager for a leading European sustainable bank. Chris is a Member of the Association for Project Management and a registered PRINCE2 Practitioner.

Chris is passionate about helping people with their careers and personal development. He has given numerous careers talks at universities in the UK, Ireland, Australia and the US, and has taken part in live Q&A events on The Guardian’s website, and for jobs.ac.uk. Chris has contributed a video training course to the popular careers website CareerCake, explaining the benefits of further study for personal and career progression (covering Diplomas, Master’s courses and PhDs).

In 2012 Chris founded the website Jobs on Toast as a way to help Masters students and doctoral graduates access the abundant career opportunities available outside of higher education.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • The importance of being open to new experiences when considering career options
  • Why it’s ok to take on a lower entry-level job when transitioning and why you will then quickly ascend after
  • How a PhD translates in the project management space
  • How career advancement works in the private sector
  • The importance of thinking out of the box and not putting all your energies into the “logical” choices, when looking at job postings or when offered opportunities that fall outside of your universe of possibles

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“Typically in the UK only 50% of PhDs are still in academia three-and-a-half years after they graduate, you know. Some people are obviously doing research work still, as postdocs, some people are doing teaching and lecturing and some are in administrative positions, but yeah – half of all PhDs will be working outside of academia. When you tell that to specially first- and second-year PhDs, they can’t believe it.It’s mind-blowing, you know? And even when I talk to people I meet, and I introduce myself, say I’ve got a PhD or something, and they say “Why aren’t you working at Oxford or Cambridge? You’ve got a PhD… That must be what you should have been doing…” And it’s interesting that there’s this powerful expectation. But it’s trying to educate people really about developing a career consciousness. It’s beyond just who’s around you, but actually this wider picture. And yeah – whe you tell people those statistics, I think that is a real eye-opener to them.”

“I see things in the media, now, which I would never have seen about PhDs being multi-skilled, flexible knowledge workers who can switch from project to project. And our capabilities very much fit the job market of today, I think, as long as we, as PhDs, can make that imaginative leap and as long as employers can also drop some of their prejudices, as well.”

Full version of our conversation: https://youtu.be/tZDXr_1Dodg

Chris’s links: LinkedIn – Linkedin.com/in/drchrishumphrey/; Website – Jobsontoast.com; Twitter – @jobsontoast.

You might also like the following episodes:

Dana Murchison – Science Outreach: PapaPhD.com/1

Clarissa Wright – Publishing: PapaPhD.com/34

Falisha Karpati – Skills Development: PapaPhD.com/30

Kirsten Sanford – Science communication: PapaPhD.com/13

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Happy podcasting!

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