Kateryna is a Postdoctoral student who embraced the uncertainties of moving from academia to the workplace by looking for new opportunities. This led her to the Career Mentor Program available through the Career Centre! For the next few months we will be following Kateryna's journey while she works with her career mentor.
Can you tell us about your experience so far with the Career Mentor Program and how you came to find yourself at the door of the Career Centre?
“So, what are my options, really?” I felt complete confused. “Do I continue teaching and make it a life-long career? To try to do something that correlates to my dissertation research? Or maybe to get yet another PhD?” These were the restless thoughts that were revolving in my mind last spring when I finally got on track with my thesis writing that would result in a voluminous piece of writing that could in fact reward me with a degree.
I have never had to make a living outside the academia so the idea of coming out to the job market into the real world was scaring me to death. That is when my friend, Ruslan Bergenov, referred me to The University of Alberta Career Centre. The referral was based on the fact that he had a fantastic experience with the Career Centre. He started a career path that looked right to him at the time and convinced me to go see Amy Roy Gratton at the Career Centre. So here I was, at the threshold of her office, disconnectedly narrating my story and asking infinite questions. This was only two weeks before I had to take a trip back to Ukraine to stay with my family over the summer, but I was so impatient and eager to do anything that would move me from where I was standing to some other (hopefully better) point in my career. I gladly took Amy’s advice on possible strategies of how to start building my network. I was starting from a point of not knowing anyone outside the U of A, and felt as though it would be impossible to find someone who had the qualifications, or who did the kind of work that would attract me to them. Looking back now, I can recognize how fuzzy my perception of possible careers was.
Amy suggested that I conduct some information interviews with professionals who could give me advice. With Amy’s close guidance on how to write messages to these professionals, I began to connect with them. I was deeply touched each time she got back to me with the third or fourth edited draft of an e-mail I was to send. I learned that cold-calling and cold-emailing was an art that I had yet to master. Luckily, a couple of her contacts were able to squeeze me into their busy schedules in the limited time that I had left in Edmonton, before going back to Ukraine. It was truly fascinating to discover that perfect strangers, who had never heard of me before, would sit down with me and honestly try discuss the directions that I might take professionally, let alone come up with several practical solutions – I am genuinely thankful to them!