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Letters to my younger self – best career advice from accomplished scientists in academia and industry

In this blog, we compiled a list of advice that accomplished researchers would give to their younger selves - the tips they wish they had known. Whether you are a college student considering a future career in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), healthcare or an early career researcher, you’ll find this blog full of invaluable wisdom not only for your career, but for life. After all, what better way to prepare for the future than learning from the experience of others? Enjoy!

Advice from academic researchers

1. PeerJ’s advice to my younger self blog series

The PeerJ communities have invited renowned professors around the world to share their thoughts in 5 tips. Their research fields span from Evolutionary Biomechanics, Psychology, and Anatomy, to Marine Ecology. If you are interested in pursuing a research career in academia, read this blog and you’ll learn the essential things too.

Advice to My Younger Self – 5 Tips for Early Career Researchers


2. Advice to my younger self - thoughts from Professor Mark Costello and his 16 colleagues

Professor Mark Costello is the first professor who began the PeerJ’s advice to my younger self blog series mentioned above. Professor Mark Costello was invited to give a talk to the Science Faculty Postdoc Society on this topic. This blog is a summary of the key points of his talk. In addition, he emailed colleagues for their perspectives and listed a summary from 16 of them. This list of insights and advice from 17 seasoned researchers gives you a bigger spectrum of perspectives and backgrounds to help you find the one most related to you.

Advice to my younger self; thoughts for early career researchers


3. Letter to My Younger Self: Dean Dr. Cynthia Peterson

Dr. Cynthia Peterson is the head of Louisiana State University (LSU)’s college of science. Her younger self had a lot of questions, such as what does a career in science hold? Do you have what it takes? What is a pathway to success? Can you balance a scientific career with other things in life? Dr. Cynthia Peterson’s letter offers answers to those questions and an assurance that she is on the right path. I’m sure that you’ll really enjoy reading this inspiring life journey that Dr. Cynthia Peterson has shared.

 Letter to My Younger Self: Dean Cynthia Peterson


4. Advice to my younger self: world’s top researchers share the tips they wish they’d known

A list of shorter but succinct responses from a handful of world-class researchers about advice they would give to their younger selves. Here is what Dr. James Levinsohn, Professor of Economics and Management, Yale University, has to say “Work on problems that are interesting and the rest will work out.”


5. A letter to my younger self from distinguished professors across the University of Southampton

Four distinguished professors (PhD/EngD/Psych/DEd Psych/EdD etc) shared their own journey through their doctorate. Read the following paragraph from the letter by Professor Chris Howls, Director of the Doctoral College. Have you ever been in a similar situation?

“You are probably going through one of those long periods of frustrated progress, where nothing seems to work. You may have just spent three weeks working on a problem, day and night, and have just proudly shown the results to your supervisor. It’s a fair bet that they will have crushed you within two minutes, with their favorite phrase of, ‘Chris, that’s exactly what it isn’t’. Persist.”

Read on…

A letter to my younger self


Advice from industrial scientists

6. Novartis female scientists - letters to their younger selves

Not everyone’s dream is the same. If your dream scientific career resides in industry, you’ll find the blog from Novartis, one of the largest pharmaceutical companies in the world, inspiring, and helpful for planning your future career path in industry. In this blog, 5 accomplished female scientists at Novartis shared their wisdom in an inspiring and touching personal story born from the difficult moments in life. For those who have never worked in industry, this blog will definitely be eye-opening, a reality check with broad horizons. In addition, this blog especially sheds light on whether a woman scientist can have it all - balancing work life and home.

 Letters to my younger self: Female scientists share their wisdom


7. Data science job-seeking advice to my younger self from Dr. Schaun Wheeler – Co-founder, Anthropologist and Data Scientist

Data science started to become popular in 2012. Dr. Schaun Wheeler had started in the data science field a few years before most people realized this trend. Over the course of his career, he has held data science positions and founded/managed data science teams across the security and intelligence, travel, asset management, education, and advertising industries. In this very insightful blog, he shares his hindsight about how to work as a data scientist, the things that are really important to this profession, and the hard lessons that he has learnt along the way.

 Data science career advice to my younger self


8. Career advice to your younger self from remarkable women in TechWomen community

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2021, women made up 32% of the STEM workforce, a tremendous increase from 8% of STEM workers in 1970. As more women join the STEM workforce, career advice demands more from young women who are interested in pursuing a career in STEM. TechWomen is an Initiative of the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. They reached out to its community and asked the past emerging leaders, mentors, female tech enthusiasts, entrepreneurs, investors and role models, “What career advice would you give to your younger self?” This blog is a summary of 10 of the most powerful insights that the community shared.



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