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:

Increasing knowledge Increasing profits
Achieving a complete understanding Achieving results
Being an expert and standing out from your peers Knowing how to get help from your peers
Demonstrating thoroughness Demonstrating efficiency
Collecting enough data to draw an accurate conclusion Making a decision without as much data as you would like to have

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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