What field do you currently work in? *
What is the highest degree in astronomy/physics you have received? *
What is/was your most recent academic position in astronomy/physics? *
What has been your career path since you completed your degree? *
Soft-money postdoc -> Soft-money Postdoc -> Data Science
What were the most important factors that led you to leave astronomy and/or academia? *
Wanting to live in the same place as my husband
What is the job title for your current position?
What is the name of your company/organization/institution?
Centre for Transformative Innovation, Swinburne University
What city and country do you live in and/or work in?
What is your social background? Are there any identifiers that you think are particularly relevant?
I’m a laaaaaddyyyyyy. Also a white lady who came from a relatively stable family structure, aka my parents could help me out when I was poor in grad school, among the many other benefits being white affords me.
What do you do for fun (e.g., hobbies, pastimes, etc.)?
Yoga, Cooking, Watching cat videos
List your favorites. Band (or singer/composer/etc.), recent film, current TV series, food, color, pet.
Titus Andronicus (band, not the play), Stranger Things, American Gods, All pets forever, everything should be dogs.
What’s something you greatly miss about grad school? What about something you definitely don’t miss?
Being in the same place for 7 years and able to build a social structure around that. Camaraderie with fellow grad students.
If you have made a career change, what was your age at the time?
What have been particularly valuable skills for your current job that you gained through completing your degree?
Programming, statistics, ability to google things.
What advice do you think advisors should be giving students regarding their career path?
You are getting a PhD in creative problem solving. Learn how to code. Learn how to ask for help.
What, if any, additional training did you complete in order to meet the qualifications of your current position?
I did a NSF PIRE Data Science fellowship. I also kaggled, code academied and utilized other online resources. Also, the Penn State school for Astrostatistics for R coding.
What job hunting or networking resources or other advice/resources did you use to land your current position?
I knew a guy who knew a guy who got me this job. It helps to know people. And the best way to know people you don’t know yet is to email them. Don’t give up after the first email to a person doesn’t immediately land you a job. These things take time.
Describe a typical day at work.
Get in around 9, Leave around 5. I require extra time in the morning now because people here dress like adults with actual jobs (things they don’t tell you when you leave astronomy!). Right now, I’m working with MySQL databases of patent information.
How many hours do you work in a week?
What is your salary?
What is your level of satisfaction with your current job?
What opportunities does your job provide to be creative and/or to take initiative?
It’s up to me what projects I want to take on.
How satisfied are you with your work-life balance in your current job?
How family-friendly is your current position?
I don’t know, but I’m guessing good. My office is right next to the child’s play room.
What advice do you have for achieving work-life balance (including having a family)?
Do you still interact with people who work (directly) in astronomy and/or are you still involved in astronomy in some way?
Yes. My husband is an astronomer so I would have to even if I didn’t want to.
Were there any emotional difficulties or social consequences to your career choices? Do you have any advice for those who are thinking of switching careers, but are wary of the side effects?
It was hugely emotional for me to leave astronomy. I’d been doing astronomy research since I was 17, so that’s 14 years of astronomy. It definitely felt like an identity crisis. What do you say to the person on the plane? Not astronomy anymore! I honestly don’t have an answer on how to make this better besides talking about the emotional cost of changing careers.