Never do anything for free what you know to do well about which there is a market need. Even for a start up or not for profit, even if they do not pay you make sure they respect your work and factor in your opinion. Otherwise, do your own stuff until there is a critical mass until folks need your skill set. Charge the market rate, that is the only respect that matters.
I am a former advanced grad school research student in Sociology, a trained Environmental Engineer with a undergrad degree in Biotech Engineering with a passion for public policy (I studied a minor in public policy too in my first masters). With this versatile background, it will be a difficult exercise to sell my narrative to the employer in bits and parts, but as a holistic skill-set offering it’s a unique offering. Well, this post is not a vanity initiative but a post I have intending to write for a while since a very good friend coaxed me to share my experience regarding making the grade from research in to consulting? I have a lot of friends who are in academic research who want to make the transition to real world aka Industry. Industry is a real contact sport, a lot less dreamy and lighter on intellect, more hands on business. It means dealing with real client pressures every day, navigating business cycles, making it better than the person in the cubicle next to you. Academic Research has the leverage of time. My first industry CEO told me: “Consulting, is quick, applied research”. I found my immediate connect, merging research and business. Bingo.
When I started blogging, a received a barrage of stinging reviews. ‘You write average stuff’ was the initial feedback, but i did not stop expressing. Three years down the line, i am on international TV (Al Jazeera International) on a debate with my icons, discussing the Food Security Bill. Have faith in your ability. A book is next up the bend.
Whatever subject you are majoring in grad school whether it is English Literature or Physics, here are a few simple things if implemented in a steadfast fashion could yield rich dividends in terms of making the right dent for you.
Start engaging in the clubs/non-profits in grad school– I worked with GIVE.Sg and AIESEC (Still work with them whenever there is a match) : This helps in expanding ones circle or ‘the network’, learning an additional skill-set like sales and proving ones mettle (I did research and strategy for them, my comfort zone). I learnt to be a better people’s person at AIESEC. It is soft boarding your surf into industry.
The key take-way from this : Create ‘Shared Value’ for yourself and your stakeholders that you operate in.
Start Blogging and Tweeting – Helps bring your passion and niche across : If you are a quantum physicist with an inclination for numbers and photography, start a photo blog or crunch data and distil insights for the uninitiated.
If you are an English Major, do PR/Communications for a start-up or for the more ambitious self-publish a poetry collection.
If people do not open when you knock, break the door not by banging it but manufacturing a gayle force wind which will unlock the door naturally.
Create a Linkedin Account : More Professional and impactful. Use the InMail function wisely.
Join Industry Groups and Associations as Student Member : Access to Industry Professionals (I was a student member of the Sustainable Energy Association of Singapore)
Try and get a mentor : makes life easy
These measures take time to gain critical mass, and if you are planning to take the Industry plunge start asap. There is no substitute to hard skill and hard work, but if you have a passion and skill, learn to demonstrate it to the world. Social Media is free. Social Marketing is not.
Get an Idea Sijee