Adulting means wearing many hats. Personally, we wear the ‘family’ hat (and all its subcategories: daughter, mom, sister, wife…), the ‘friend’ hat, the ‘co-worker’ hat. Switching can be tough sometimes, but in the end they are all part of who you are as a person. Professionally, things can get a little trickier. In academia, I feel there is a progression from the ‘student’ hat, turning into a ‘researcher’ hat, with moments where you have to switch to your ‘mentor/professor’ hat. But again, everything is somehow related to your field of research, making the back-and-forth seem a little easier.
When I left academia, I had to put on the ‘sales rep’ hat, what was an interesting challenge. Except that’s not a single hat, because I don’t work for one company, but represent a bigger one along with other smaller ones. We also started our podcast, and wearing the ‘recovering academic’ hat is something that brings me immense joy. Helping others to transition out of academia is truly rewarding. But even after leaving academia, I never wanted to let go the ‘science advocate’ hat. I kept wearing that hat mostly on Twitter, and when I was offered the opportunity to join the protocols.io team it seemed I could finally do something towards making science a better place.
When I left academia I had some sort of ‘Twitter-crisis’ (along all other crisis associated with such a big change) and I wrote a blog post about it: Who am I on Twitter now? After almost four years, I can see clearly now that this was just part of the whole changing process I was going through. I cannot describe how much I have learned and grown after leaving academia. Little practical things like how a mass spectrometer works or general analytical chemistry knowledge – I am not a chemist, so I usually need to study before talking to customers! But more importantly, I learned to understand how a company works, all that’s needed to provide value, from hardware to personnel, but more importantly, money and profit.
I am a very different person from the one I was 4 years ago. I deal with far more diverse people, and many of those have completely different views and interests. In real life conversations are easier, because you always talk about specific topics with different people you meet. That’s just life. However, when it comes to building an online presence things get a little harder. Most of my Twitter followers are not interested in knowing about the latest mass spec technology. As most of my LinkedIn connections couldn’t care less about Plan S or my opinions about it.
Of course, you can always do a little bit of everything, and that’s what I try to do now. But I feel like when you try to do a little bit of everything, you end up doing it superficially, not bringing any real value. I’ve thought about starting a sales blog, with tips on how to choose the best instrument for your needs, and links to grant opportunities where professors could apply for funding. On the other hand, I’d simply LOVE to spend more time on Twitter to read all about how to increase reproducibility, Plan S, and Open Access. I just don’t have the time for any of those.
Exactly. The easier solution is to choose a main hat to wear and fully embrace it. But one of them is my work and the other is my passion. Tough choice.