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How working in industry is different than academia

I was speaking with Paula Chambers of Versatile PhD the other day about why we scientists struggle to transition into industry. Our conversation got me thinking more about this issue. I think there are two different aspects to the challenges that scientists face:

1) Selling ourselves and securing a rewarding job
2) Ensuring that we provide value after they are hired so that our career advances at a rewarding pace

Excelling at 2) requires that we understand the practices and habits that are valued in industry, as they are very different than what produces success in academia.  Here is a summary of some key differences that scientists need to be aware of:

What matters in academia:

What matters in industry:

  Creating knowledge   Creating profit
  Demonstrating a complete understanding   Demonstrating efficiency
  Being thorough   Getting results
  Being an expert   Building a team of experts
  Proving with enough data   Making good decisions without all the data

These are very important differences, and it is not enough to simply understand or acknowledge them.  We must fully embrace them and incorporate them into our daily habits and decisions in order to be effective and build a rewarding career.

I’ll be posting more on where these differences show up in daily work life and how to take the actions that produce the most value.

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