220: Debunking Private Sector Myths And Creating Impact In Non Academic Roles with Sandra Torres

220: Debunking Private Sector Myths And Creating Impact In Non Academic Roles with Sandra Torres


In this episode, we cover the topic of debunking private sector myths and creating impact in non-academic roles with Sandra Torres.

Sandra is a STEM career coach and entrepreneur. With over a decade of experience, she empowers PhD graduate students and postdocs to seamlessly transition from academia to the private sector, while honoring their values. Drawing from her own successful transition 12 years ago, Sandra offers unique insights into the challenges faced by academics. Sandra is committed to guiding STEM professionals towards fulfilling, value-driven careers.

On the show, Sandra addresses  misconceptions about the private sector, including beliefs that it is less flexible or fulfilling than academic work. She acknowledges the common challenges for academics entering the private sector include imposter syndrome, not knowing how to articulate transferable skills, struggling with corporate culture transitions, and feeling like a “sellout.” She also encourages listeners to  carefully consider what success, fulfillment, and impact means for them personally instead of just following a predetermined path. Tune in to this episode to hear all her tips for academics seeking to make the transition to industry!

You can connect with Sandra on Instagram (@lateracademia), LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/torres2sa2/) and on her website (https://lateracademia.ck.page/fbd15b4e74).

Preorder my forthcoming book by going to ⁠⁠⁠isgradschoolforme.com⁠⁠⁠.

⁠⁠⁠⁠Sign up⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠ for my group coaching program to start working on your personal growth and gain sustainable productivity skills.

⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Book me⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠ to speak at your upcoming professional development event.

Follow me on your favorite social media platforms: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Instagram⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠LinkedIn⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠YouTube⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Facebook⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠TikTok⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠, and ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Twitter⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠

Get my free 15-page ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠Grad School Femtoring Resource Kit⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠, which includes essential information to prepare for and navigate grad school

Click the links to support the show with a ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠one-time donation⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠ or ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠monthly donation⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠.

And to learn more about our sponsorship packages, email us at gradschoolfemtoring@gmail.com.

To download episode transcripts and access more resources, go to my website: ⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠https://gradschoolfemtoring.com/podcast/⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠⁠

*The Grad School Femtoring Podcast is for educational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for therapy or other professional services.*

Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/gradschoolfemtoring/message
Support this podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/gradschoolfemtoring/support

220: Debunking Private Sector Myths And Creating Impact In Non Academic Roles with Sandra Torres


Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: [00:00:00] Welcome back, everyone, to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring Podcast. This is your host, Dr. Yvette, and today we're going to be debunking myths about the private sector. We're also going to be talking about creating impact in non academic roles. That's right, even if you were planning to become a professor, I do think it's important for you to consider some options outside of higher ed.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Thank you It's very important. There are only so many tenure track jobs out there. And so today we have a special guest who's going to be talking to us all about those topics. Her name is Sandra Torres. She is a STEM career coach and entrepreneur. With over a decade of experience, she empowers PhD grad students and postdocs to seamlessly transition from academia to the private sector while honoring their values.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Drawing from her own successful transition 12 years ago, Sandra offers unique insights into the challenges faced by academics. She leverages [00:01:00] her extensive global leadership experience in the preclinical space and her current role as a product manager to emphasize the importance of diverse perspectives in shaping impactful patient solutions.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Sandra is committed to guiding STEM professionals towards fulfilling value driven careers. Welcome to the podcast, Sandra.

Sandra Torres: Thank you. I know that was a mouthful. I, I tried to, I tried and like, I reworked that thing like three times and still like what once, I don't know if it's For you, but like when you sit there and you like try to summarize everything you've done in your life, you're like, I don't even, how can I make this like three sentences, but it's.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I know. Yeah. Well, I appreciate you for keeping it brief because I do ask every guest to share a brief bio and not everybody can keep it.

Sandra Torres: Good. I did my best. I did my best. Well,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I'm excited to have you here. I'm [00:02:00] excited that you were willing to come on the show to share more about yourself for folks who are not familiar with you and your work.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Can you let us know about who you are, what you do, and maybe a little bit about your background and backstory, whatever it is that you are comfortable sharing today.

Sandra Torres: Yeah, yeah. So I as you said, my name's Sandra. I'm based in the Chicago area. So I was born and raised in the city. I was born in the U. S.

Sandra Torres: in Chicago, and about like six years ago I committed the sin and moved out to the suburbs. But born and raised in Chicago, depending on your definition, I'm first or second gen. I was born here, but my parents were born in Latin America from Mexico and El Salvador. Thank you. I'm the eldest of three.

Sandra Torres: I am the only daughter. So imagine everything that goes with that. And you know, got the typical, my, my parents were incredibly working class. My mom was a stay at home mom. My dad was very much a blue collar mechanic very much union [00:03:00] worker, not uncommon for Chicago in the eighties and nineties.

Sandra Torres: And really Had the whole message of, you know, education is your way to success, right? That I think a lot of people receive. And so that's what I did. I did. If you if you've read the Michelle Obama biography, she she describes like this very box checky type of You know, lifestyle, right? Like, I did what my counselors told me to do.

Sandra Torres: I was valedictorian. I did, like, very much academic driven because that's what everybody said. That would lead me to happiness, right? And that would lead to success. At no point did anyone help me actually define what success was going to be. It was just sort of defined for me. And it wasn't until well into like, I would say probably like my college years that I started to do that internal work of, well, what, what does success actually mean for me and how does that play out?[00:04:00]

Sandra Torres: What do I do with it? How, how is it different from? You know, my parents generation their definition of success and you know, extended family that's still at the, at the time and still now lives abroad. Like, success for them is very different than what success is for me. And so you know, had all those common tensions, right?

Sandra Torres: And, and sometimes very conflicting emotions. And so I've done a lot of work to kind of Understand right what what it means to me and define it for myself. And so that has translated into what I describe as a very jungle gym type of career. I jungle

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: gym. That's the first time I hear that phrase.

Sandra Torres: It's not linear like I think, you know, the game shoots and ladders like yeah like that, you know, the zigzags and that's what sort of how that has played out for me.

Sandra Torres: And so, Which, you know, that means, like, yes, I sort of, I went, I did the traditional four year [00:05:00] school. I got, you know, went to university. And again, did what people were telling me to do, right? Especially I think for me who grew up in like communities and environments where, uh, figures of authority were, you know, teachers, doctors.

Sandra Torres: Lawyers. And even for my parents, people are always like, you know, why does every, you know, immigrant and first gen kid like end up like going into these career tracks and it's like, well, and I remember asking my mom this too at some point and she was like, well, you know, in her country, those were the people that were not struggling.

Sandra Torres: Right, like the doctors, the lawyers, the business people, so they kind of took that framework and said, copy paste to the US. Let me take my children to this track. And so not to say that's not, you know, one definition of success, but it's not the only one. Right. And and for me, you know, like I said, during those college years when I [00:06:00] actually started to To do the deep work to identify it for myself, what that would mean for me.

Sandra Torres: Suddenly it's kind of, you know, when you take those like three day glasses and you're changing out the filters, I was starting to change filters and see like things that I hadn't seen before, even though technically nothing in my environment had changed. I had just started to shift my mindset to see what other possibilities were out there other than what would have been predetermined for me.

Sandra Torres: Which, you know, it was. A whole rollercoaster of emotions, but it really I appreciate that it came that early on for me because, and it came in fate, like, it's still ongoing now, right? Like, it's not that I'm done. I don't know if I'll ever be done. It has evolved. But, you know, sometimes people don't do that until they're like middle aged, right?

Sandra Torres: Like, they don't sit there and actually Start to define what success and fulfillment means for themselves until they're like way into their [00:07:00] life Yeah, and so which you know is is just heartbreaking sometimes because you think of like, what did you lose out? Right in that time that you could have started to question these things earlier on and so and the reason I started to question It was because I started During my college years because I, I was paying for school.

Sandra Torres: I had, you know, I, I, I had to get very scrappy and resourceful with how it was going to pay for my education. And so in the summers, um, I worked like, and I tried to find research. Opportunities because again, this was the career, right? Everyone said like, especially I think, and it's not done with ill intent, just my professors, that's all they knew, right?

Sandra Torres: So that's all they could advise in. And so they were like, you're really good at this. I had a natural aptitude for the sciences, my research and my actual like bench trainings in microbiology. They're like, Go teach, go research, like, like, stay in the, like, [00:08:00] ivory tower academic bubble, which, again, is an option, but it's not the only one.

Sandra Torres: And so and so part of that prep, right, was like, okay, in the summers, you have to go and do research and get experience so that when you apply to grad school, you have, like, a docket, right, you have something to point to. And so again, that's what I did. And every I did that for three years in a row before I graduated every summer.

Sandra Torres: And like, all my lab mates, even the PIs to some extent were just really unhappy. Like, a few, you know, a few. Hold up, hold up. What were they unhappy about? Many things. So they were unhappy about their, where their research was going if they happened to be stuck on something and they couldn't figure it out.

Sandra Torres: There wasn't a ton of support networks, right, to help navigate, whether they were at the PI level or even just like the lab assistant. There wasn't a ton of infrastructure in place [00:09:00] to help people kind of work through. Even just very technical things that they couldn't figure out in their research the lifestyle.

Sandra Torres: So they were grinding it out, you know, weekends, evenings, 10, 12, 14 hour days, if they were doing, especially for the research areas I was interested in, which was infectious diseases, you're doing time marked experiments, right? So you're taking time points over like 20 hours. And so it doesn't matter when, what day of the week it fell into.

Sandra Torres: And so just the, they had it. no life outside of what they were doing for their research. And and, and, and their just sense of self and their sense of identity was so tied to this that, like, there was just no room for anything else, even if they wanted to start to. You know, question and incorporate other things and I was like, yeah, I don't think I want that.

Sandra Torres: I don't like, and, and especially [00:10:00] you know, my, the only sort of job or like career references I had were within my family and they were all, you know, blue collar, right? They were very much in the trades several entrepreneurs, but like being it. You know, having a service based product, you know, landscaping or plumbing or but you have your delivery.

Sandra Torres: You have a physical product at the end, right? You have an output and so trying to again with their best of intentions, right? They were trying to give me advice and trying to give me direction, but none of it was reaching to what I was doing because it was so different. And so it's When, when I would explain, I would come back and I taught, you know, calling my mom, calling my brothers, whatever, how was your day?

Sandra Torres: Very typical conversations, right? And I'm like, yeah, I spent 12 hours trying to plot a growth curve. And every hour I had to take a time point. So no, I did not. Go out to [00:11:00] dinner with friends. No, I did not go to that like art festival at the square. No, I did not go to movie theater for two hours to see the latest MCU movie.

Sandra Torres: No, I did because I was in the lab taking these road curves. And then To have it not be statistically significant at the end of the lab. It just, it, and, and I saw this like repeatedly, right? Like I saw it, I was like, well, maybe it was the lab, right? Like maybe it was just something was up with this labs.

Sandra Torres: Their dynamics weren't great. I'm going to try another lab. Tried another one, same patterns. anD I'm like, and after a couple of times you're like, oh, this is a systemic thing. This is an institutional thing. This is not just particular to the personalities and the character of the people that are making up the labs or that are, you know, doing the fundraising to fund this particular study.

Sandra Torres: It's it's [00:12:00] all of it. Right. And it's and it's the The way things are structured and the way people are incentivized will just continue this type of environment. And so I just, I don't want any of it. I didn't want to be part of it. I through. For various reasons I have a lot of family members with chronic illnesses and a lot of it is genetic and so which was my initial interest in investigating infectious diseases and like epigenetics and and that that like was the area that I was very interested in because of that but I was like there I there has to be a different way that I could make impact that doesn't require like complete self sacrifice and such a consuming profession like it just it would it was not you know, like I had, there were people in the labs I was with that, you know, wanted to be parents, right?

Sandra Torres: Like they want, they, they had gotten married, you know, whether most of the [00:13:00] time to other researchers, um, but even if they weren't and they wanted to plan, right, they wanted to plan for, for a growing family, like there was just no way to do that, not, not for like what the requirements of the job demanded, right?

Sandra Torres: And even things such as like location, right? Like, okay, you're graduating, you get your PhD, what now, right? Like, you got in another job, usually probably at another university, you have to, like, the, the constant moving also was, like, not something that I was into. So you know, there, I had, you know, PIs, lab assistants, even people that weren't in the lab that were just part of, like, the programming, right?

Sandra Torres: For the, the, the, Doctoral program if they were doing recruiting that they every two, four years they were moving right because that's just sort of the nature of the job and I was like that. I just wanted more stability and just given my background and where I came from and. My parents immigrating not entirely [00:14:00] by choice, but my mom's a refugee from war, like, I have always seeked stability in many different ways, and that just seemed like a lot of very chaotic environment that I slowly started to realize was not one that I was going to thrive in.

Sandra Torres: And that forced me to start defining. Okay, what does success mean for me in my context, in my upbringing with the resources that I have? What does that mean for me? And so, but I, like, I also need a time to, like, grieve that loss too, right? Because I had had this career track in my head for 12 years, 15 years at that point, right?

Sandra Torres: Like, I had always been very good at science. I had always. And so I've been pushed by teachers, which, again, with the best of intentions, right? Teachers, counselors, other adults that I saw as like figures of authority that pushed me towards that because I had a natural aptitude for it and just, given my [00:15:00] upbringing, were trying to give me the resources, right, to succeed in that, which is great, but I had been doing it for so long, like, that was, you know, all of elementary school, all of, I was in, like, a gifted program for high school, all my entire curriculum was geared around this idea of, like, you're gonna be a professor, you're gonna be a researcher, and then once I started to question this and realized this is not for me, then there's, like, a whole period of, okay, but then if not this, then what?

Sandra Torres: Right. What, where do you go from here? And And it is a grieving pro and like for, like, I had to, and as with all immigrants, like I was initially pre med, I, I had applied to MD and PhD programs, combo. This is like the dumbest thing for me because I don't know not what suited my lifestyle at all. And so when I, you know, went to my family and was like, hey, so this thing that I've been planning since I was like 10, not gonna do it.

Sandra Torres: And then they're like, okay, so then what are you going to do [00:16:00] instead? I don't know, like, and so it, you know, there was a period there for like a year or two where I, you know, I still kept my bio major because again, it was something my where my intellectual curiosity went, but I knew I wasn't going to do premed.

Sandra Torres: So that was like the first thing I knocked out I'm like okay well grad school right I'll at least keep the PhD portion I won't keep the MD portion. And then I started again, started to do these research internships. And I was like, Oh yeah, not that either. No, that's not going to work. And so and it, when I, I like went to the, like, I, I did try to ask for help and I went to the career center and I talked to my professors and mentors and, but because their experience had been, pretty much limited to just academia.

Sandra Torres: They knew everything and everything about academia. Outside of that, there wasn't a ton of guidance. I also graduated like right after the 2008 [00:17:00] crisis, when like there was already just the market itself wasn't, there wasn't a ton. Of options out there to begin with and usually when there's volatility in the market people for safety reasons right will default to grad school doesn't do that because you're speaking, you're like, okay, well, I mean, at a stipend, it won't be that much, but at least there's a steady paycheck right it's better than nothing.

Sandra Torres: And so I think there would. I'm almost glad that that didn't work out because it forced me to get scrappy and to get resourceful. I graduated. I didn't have like a job offer. I had no plan. Right. And I was like, and you know, student loans were not good too. And I was just like, I have to like, I almost like put myself in a corner that I had to like dig myself out of.

Sandra Torres: And. I will date myself a bit, but I, I remember going on a Yahoo search engine because Google was not what it was. And I, I like searched for [00:18:00] templates for resumes because I knew I at least needed that and like the before I had graduated my career center. I'd like sort of helped me put a resume together but it wasn't targeted to anything it was just like, here's just a word vomit of the things you've done in the last four years of school.

Sandra Torres: And so And I ended up posting that on monster. com because that was the only job board that existed at the time. Really, LinkedIn was not what it was. And I had no network. Like, yes, I had people that I knew from my research experiences, but again, all in academia, like they could only really point me towards opportunities in academia, which I knew was just not going to work for me.

Sandra Torres: And there was a period where I was like, I should just like. Take a lab assistant position just to like start paying these loans off just to like, you know, do some right. But I'm kind of glad that didn't work out because I ended up a staffing firm ended up picking up my resume through Monster.

Sandra Torres: And that staffing firm was filling a role in Chicago for this like small organization, [00:19:00] private company. And like when the universe works for you, it just does. They were looking for some, so their tech, they, they sold basically capital equipment, they sold lab instruments to quality control labs and commercial spaces.

Sandra Torres: They specifically focused on like pharma and like high grade consumer products. So think of like very high end skincare and like medical grade stuff. You buy it like a dermatologist office. And basically it's screen product to make sure it was safe to be, you know, sold to. Everybody else to the public.

Sandra Torres: It was a microbiology based technology, which was my background. They needed someone that knew how to teach because the job was a field application scientist. I had been TAing the entire time that I was in school and they also wanted someone that was fluent in Spanish because the territory that was going to be covered that was open, that the role was open for was Latin America.

Sandra Torres: And so I checked off all the boxes. Oh, and then there was the other caveat that it [00:20:00] was like 90 percent travel, it was field based, so they needed someone that would be okay with being a road warrior and not really being at home. At 22 when you have no responsibilities and it's like yeah we'll pay for you to go to Latin America for 90 percent of the time and talk to your people and train them in science and just it was like a dream the way it was presented to me.

Sandra Torres: And, and so I took it and I interviewed and passed and, and that was sort of my initial track into the private sector. And then I just never looked back. Like I, over the years, like, built up my experience and became a people manager. I was director. And I moved into the preclinical space, which is basically all the testing and all the work that goes into developing drugs and treatments for people before it goes into, like, clinical trials before it goes into an actual human.

Sandra Torres: And so I liked preclinical because it was a lot more experimental. It had the [00:21:00] vibe of early stage academia where you're just throwing everything at the wall and seeing what, like, what works. And the risk is relatively low because you're not putting anything into people or animals quite yet. It's all like in vitro, very little is in vivo.

Sandra Torres: And I liked working for Contra. So CRO, so contract research organizations, are basically companies that all the major manufacturers and drug developers outsource work to. As with most industries in the world now, a lot of it is outsourced. They're the actual manufacturers, not the one that's doing the development.

Sandra Torres: And so I liked working in that space because I got to learn everything. My two small set tendencies would like come out here because then like I could learn about cardiology, I could learn about immunology, I could learn about neuro, because we would get all the the service contracts and all the works from all these different companies as opposed to if I worked for the That company itself, I would only be doing the one disease state area.

Sandra Torres: So highly recommend for [00:22:00] people if they want, if they're not sure, right. Like what they want to specialize in, if they want to specialize at all, it's a good place to sort of play around. And so I did that for like. Over a decade. And then eventually also in growing my own teams was tasked with hiring researchers, right?

Sandra Torres: And hiring PhD level candidates, master's level candidates, even some postdocs and that's when, like, I saw. The challenges and the contrast of, oh, wow, these people really don't know how to articulate their skills, and they really don't know how to, like, frame their experience in this particular sector and even when I did hire them, it, like, took them a while to, to onboard and to really understand the culture, to, it's a whole different framework from, from academia, and just, like, even deprogramming a lot of mindsets, right?

Sandra Torres: Like, they, I, I vividly recall one, she, [00:23:00] she was the first female researcher I hired. Her, her expertise was in molecular biology and it was, she was a postdoc. She did the typical track, right? Like, she did undergrad, she did High school, undergrad, master's, PhD. She was in like her mid thirties at this point, right.

Sandra Torres: And she's trying to get her first private sector job. And at least from her resume looked like she, she had what I was looking for. And struggled a bit during the interview, but like, I was like, well, you're not going to be client facing. So that, that eliminates the hesitation and the concerns, but she, she was clearly very competent.

Sandra Torres: And I, for what I needed her for the role I needed to fill that she was going to work out. And then. When it came time to, like, discuss compensation, um, she, like, one, didn't negotiate, um, and two, she, she called it a stipend, as [00:24:00] opposed to a salary, which was, like, sending off alarm bells in my head, and I was like, girl, no, we need to fix this right now.

Sandra Torres: And so, you know, eventually got her and explained how this worked, and she was very appreciative, but, she's a grown ass woman in her, like, mid thirties, and, like, this was the first time she was figuring this stuff out. And keep in mind, like, you know, the internet was not what it was now. I think you can, if you just do some Googling, you might get a little bit more ahead than probably what she was at the time.

Sandra Torres: But it just, it was heartbreaking for me because... I could see how these inequities compound, right? One, because I experienced it myself, and eventually once I, people told me and I educated myself, I, I could advocate for myself. But even that part, right, like just advocating for yourself, a lot of them are coming, a lot of the candidates that I, that I was interviewing were coming in with this, lack of a better word, vibe of like, Not figures of authority, right?

Sandra Torres: Like they weren't very firm in their answers. [00:25:00] Which is the nature of academics, right? They don't give straight answers for things, right? Like, cause they're trying to see the nuance, which as an academic researcher, you should, right? You should, when someone asks, you know, ask you a technical question.

Sandra Torres: You should say, well, yeah, it depends. What's the context. What, what am I, what are the constraints or the limitations? And while that works in academia. It's not work in the private sector. You're, you are, and and again, it depends on the role you're interviewing for and there's nuance to everything, right?

Sandra Torres: But you know, I'd ask a question and they'd take 20 minutes to answer it and I was like, well, that goes your entire interview time. And so it just, it's stuff like that, that. It's, it's the intangibles, right? It's never about the skills or the technical capabilities. It's how they presented themselves. The, the, you know, gravitas that they had or didn't have when they were trying to make a point.

Sandra Torres: When they [00:26:00] started taking not being able to take messy action. So like, especially if you're like a startup or a smaller org, you, you can't, you don't have the luxury of time, right. To wait to get something perfect. You just have to release it and like iterate as you go on. And that's just how product development works, um, and R and D in general.

Sandra Torres: And. They would just like, you know, take three weeks to research something and before they even like came up with a plan. It's like, sir, we needed to do this in two days. We need to fix this. And so it's it's stuff like that that. And and the good thing about that is it's not an innate skill, right? You can learn it.

Sandra Torres: You can't. It is something that can be fixed. But it's going to take work and sometimes You know, I use the metaphor of you, you need someone else to shine the flashlight because you're not even holding the flashlight. Right? Like, you can't see your blind spots unless someone points it out to you. And [00:27:00] you have to have enough discernment and enough humbleness to say, Thank you.

Sandra Torres: Now, how do I fix this? How do I fill in the gaps? And sometimes it's not even that, it's just reframing what you already have. You know, I would sometimes, especially for the more business And the more commercial roles, uh, and I've mentored formally and informally people for, for years now as well. And their immediate reaction was like, oh, well, I guess I could just go get an MBA or I could just go get a master's of finance to learn this.

Sandra Torres: And I'm like, No, you don't go and get another degree to like qualify for this job. And so can we talk about that a little bit more though? Yeah,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: because that is a thing degree inflation and this obsession with credibility, especially in higher ed. And one thing that I noticed that actually struggle and wrestle with a lot is the fact that I know.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And [00:28:00] studies have also shown that for women of color in particular, as they advance and get more degrees, their salary doesn't go up along with that. Instead, it's actually the opposite. So it's interesting to hear from you as someone who hires. You know, PhDs, recent graduates, you know, they might even be the same stage of life as you, same age, but because they've been in school and you've had a lot more professional experience in the private sector, you're not starting at the same, you know, playing field in terms of salary.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: So can you, can you talk a little bit more about,

Sandra Torres: about that,

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: about the degree? Cause I, I, I struggle with that. I struggle with that. A lot of people think they need more

Sandra Torres: degrees to pursue what they want to pursue. Let's peel that back, right? Like, why do people think that? Why do they think that they need to go and get extra letters at the end of their name to get a job or pivot into a new industry or, you know, insert career move here, right?

Sandra Torres: [00:29:00] It usually comes from a place of not having enough confidence in yourself and your own skills and like what you have to offer. And to your point, right? Like, you could, and I think the The age thing really sometimes throws a lot of researchers off because they have spent so much of their, and again, their sense of self and identity is so tied to either the research itself, the role being an academic, right?

Sandra Torres: They will, it's hard to let it go. It's hard to let it go. If that's all you've been, and similar to what I, like, you need a grieving period, you need a period of letting that go so that you can start redefining yourself. And it could, you know, with some of the clients that I coach, like we do an exercise of skills mapping and we go through like, okay, what do you what self identify what skills you have.

Sandra Torres: And then I'll start out. They'll do it. I'll start asking some questions and slowly uncover other skills that they didn't even think about. Right. But they just needed a [00:30:00] reframing and like extra context. To like, for those skills to start to come up. And I'm like, see, you already have this. You don't need to go get another degree.

Sandra Torres: You just don't, one, don't know you have it. And two, you don't know how to articulate that to the world so that they know this person is competent. This person is hireable. Right. And so it's gonna, it takes, it's not so superficial as like, The piece of paper and the, the, the research area or the degree, right?

Sandra Torres: It's much deeper than that. It's, you, you think you have to go and do all this extra work, commit yourself to extra time, spend all this extra money because you, you think that what you have now is not enough. Why do you think that? What, what, what feelings is that bringing up? 90 percent of the time that I start like, you know, why this why that we start going deeper.

Sandra Torres: It has nothing to do [00:31:00] with a profession and 100 percent to do with people's upbringings, the environment that they're in who they consider to be figures of authority. And the advice that they heard from those people. And then, you know, I always frame it as, okay, and, and like, again, similar to my parents, similar to all my counselors, teachers, it's never done with ill intent, but everyone has blinders, right?

Sandra Torres: Everyone has limitations on their, their experiences. And when they advise others, thinking that it's helpful. It is to an extent, but if you reframe that as this is the only option, it just, it closes, it closes all the options and possibilities and it closes, you know, the mentee's ability to see themselves in different roles.

Sandra Torres: And it's a muscle, right? Like you have to, you know, people approach this different ways, right? They'll do meditation, they'll take out, you know, [00:32:00] walks in nature, they'll pick up hobbies, they'll find ways to sort of like, almost like shake creativity and shake this framing into themselves so they can be in a space where they can start to do this deep work.

Sandra Torres: But some people don't even realize that, like, that's something that needs to be done. And so you know, I, so, so yeah, I take people through that. It's, it's uncomfortable. It's really hard, um, because you Especially if it's things that are so, so tied to your identity, right, your race, your gender your immigration or citizenship status, um, if you had to do any sort of assimilation, um, the your, your socioeconomic status, did you grow up in poverty, like all, all these things influence how you see yourself.

Sandra Torres: And for, unfortunately, or unfortunately, the U. S. [00:33:00] has systems that force you to question that. All throughout, right? Through school, interacting with the healthcare system, just trying to land a job, right? Like, something super simple, I just need a job, to put a roof over my head. And the process to do that makes you, like, pushes you into questioning all these things.

Sandra Torres: I think it, I think there's better ways to get there that are less. That involve less suffering, but for, for a lack of, you know, that's what the U. S. has. That's what it forces you to do. And so I would say instead of shying away from it and like rejecting, like people's immediate, it's, it's painful, right?

Sandra Torres: It's not, it's uncomfortable. People immediately. Try to like shove it, right? Mm-Hmm. They shove it in a box. Mm-Hmm. And 20 years later it comes out in like, bad parenting. . Mm-Hmm. . It comes out in all these ways that you don't expect it. And so that's one approach. You could take. The other approach where you are, you sit with it, you, you feel the [00:34:00] uncomfortableness, you feel icky, you feel gross.

Sandra Torres: 'cause you're like. Okay, well, I and you start like, you know, picking up behaviors and seeing patterns that you like, don't like about yourself and you're like, okay, well, and like, when I went through this, like, there was a period of. Okay, thank you, therapy. I'm self aware now. What do I do with this? Like, am I like this forever?

Sandra Torres: How do I change this? And so the great thing about your brain is that there's neuroplasticity, and you can change it. There are, you can create entirely new neural pathways. It won't be easy, and it's going to be really uncomfortable. But I promise to people, like, you are so much better for, even if the end result isn't far from it, right?

Sandra Torres: Like, there are some people and mentors and mentees I've taken through, you know, this journey, and they end up being like, actually, no, I think I'm fine with academia, but I think I'm going to do a different role. Like, I want to be in an incubator, for example, [00:35:00] that maybe it's a combination of the public and the private sector, and I want to be able to take a Early stage technologies into commercialization and incubator work within a university works out for me because that like some of them maybe don't even deviate that much from academia, but their entire like mindset has shifted.

Sandra Torres: And now they can create meaning right they can create something fulfilling in it. And so. You know, people think that, you know, they try to mold themselves to jobs, right? They Google, they're like, okay, here's a job description. How do I make myself fit that? Which, that's a short term solution. That's not sustainable.

Sandra Torres: It's not going to work out. And which is why, you know, two years in, people are like, this isn't working. I gotta find someone else. And so, the, the, I wouldn't say the correct approach, but the, the path of better fulfillment is. Identifying for you, again, what is success for you? What areas, [00:36:00] how do you want to create impact?

Sandra Torres: And then finding the roles that fit that versus you trying to like mold yourself into it. iT's a lot harder. It's gonna take longer. yEars even maybe but with each step that you take, you get closer, right, you get closer and closer to it and you learn along the way. Right. And it might be that.

Sandra Torres: Again, like I mentioned, some of my mentees, they don't actually leave academia completely. They might stay adjacent to it. They might go into a nonprofit that's a public private sector partnership and it's funded by both and it, you know, the mission is a bit different. But now they can like create and people think that it's something that's passive, right?

Sandra Torres: Something that just happens to you, but you have a lot more control than you think. And so, you know, and Nothing is permanent, right? Like, you can try something if it doesn't work out. You can buy something else. It's fine. It's not the end of the [00:37:00] world. And once you do this several times over, that like grieving process gets shorter and shorter.

Sandra Torres: And it becomes easier and easier. And if anything, you become more adaptable, which makes you more hireable. Because what a lot, and I speak specifically for the private sector, but I think this applies to, you know, government, public sector, even academia, the only constants change, right? Like, we see all these layoffs.

Sandra Torres: We see the downsizing. We see the reorgs. The better you can adapt to that. the more likely you will stay employed. It just, that's just the facts. And so whereas if you have a very fixed mindset and you, and it's tenacity, like I'm not saying tenacity, persistence, that's all great, but being able to identify When it's time to throw the towel to wave the white flag and be like, yeah, this isn't working your ability to say no, your [00:38:00] ability to recognize that something is not working and leaving that situation.

Sandra Torres: Ooh, that's hard work. Like, you know, that, and that applies for any sector, but specifically for the private sector, right. That's what we're talking about right now. And so, you know, I'm not a people manager now, I've pivoted into tech, I'm in the private sector, more because the contracts and the projects I was working in when I was in biotech, tech just started infiltrating everything, right?

Sandra Torres: And, you know, if I was working on a project where we were developing an insulin pump for people AI and machine, we were at the time we called it basically just applied statistics. That's what it was. But you were creating a method for the delivery of the insulin. And instead of having the patient having to write in a notebook and monitor everything, you now have this device that does it on its own.

Sandra Torres: And it just, it was a lot more interesting for me and I did, but I didn't want to be in the lab. And so prod like R and D and PMing was[00:39:00] Co. The, the comp the best compromise for me where I could get every, the best of all the worlds that I wanted to do. So in r and d and

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: PM you're talking about research and development and product management?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Mm-Hmm, . Okay. Just wanna make sure that my audience, 'cause they're undergrads,

Sandra Torres: they have . Yes, yes. And so and there there's also program management. So that's sort of like an adjacent all the, the, what I call the alphabet suite of PMs. You have product management. product management program management.

Sandra Torres: And so all of those you're managing programs, you're managing a specific group of what I call technicians that could be engineers, they could be lab scientists, they could be, you know, computational biologists. But you're all trying to work towards like creating a product, a service that will help people.

Sandra Torres: At the end. And so that seemed like the best sweet spot for me and I came from like sales and BD. So like I had you know, a nice shiny wrap bow that like the staff would give me that R& D would give me like, okay, go and sell this to clients now. And [00:40:00] so I did and I did. Was very good at it. But I again, she's most of tendencies.

Sandra Torres: I wanted. I was nosy. I wanted to be in everyone's business. I wanted to be more involved in the actual development of it, which is what I do now. But specifically my company does data storage. And so these stories and everything. It's in your phone. It's in your car. It's does it have any electronic chip?

Sandra Torres: And does it store data? We probably are involved in it. And so and because of my background, I work a lot in it. Sectors in the vertical that's more med device and biotech and that kind of stuff. And, um, and the reason I bring this up is. Like, it evolved, right? Like, I, I went to, I, eventually after like a decade plus, I went back to school because again, I was listening to figures of authority when I was interviewing for roles and they were telling me, you're great, but you're losing out to the person that has the MBA and you don't.

Sandra Torres: And then, which was some interesting feedback to hear, because I was like, I'm pretty sure, sir, that you have been in this position for [00:41:00] 20 years. If you tried to get this job now, you wouldn't get it either, but neither here nor there. So there was that, but then I was also wanting to pivot right into the more technical aspect of it, as opposed to going out and selling the product.

Sandra Torres: And I didn't want to start from scratch. I just didn't want to start entry level, especially since I had put so much work into my career already. So an MBA was a good pivot point for me and it worked out because like I got to the type of role I wanted and I, you know, erasing the name brand, right, is another big thing that people get stuck on.

Sandra Torres: They specifically want to work for a company and I'm like, well, what are you going to do there? What's your day to day look like? Walk me through a day working at Google. Walk me through a day working at AWS. And they kind of like, they're like, Oh, well, I didn't think about that. And I'm like, okay, but the day to day is what you're going to do eight to 10 hours a day, five days a week, at minimum, some of these [00:42:00] companies work you a lot more than that.

Sandra Torres: So you're stuck on the name brand, but you don't even know what you're going to do day to day. And. Or they'll have like the title in mind, but I'm like, okay, but, you know, a product manager working for hardware in tech, their day to day is very different than someone who does software and it's very different from.

Sandra Torres: A med device company that the product is a physical thing. It's an insulin pump. It's a pacemaker. It's, you know, a hip replacement that's going into someone that you, now you have to think of a supply chain. You have to think of all the different vendors that are involved in like making the raw material creating price points, right.

Sandra Torres: For everything along the way, intermediate product, finished product. How do you test and do quality control? All of these steps look very different for. a med device product, then a software product, then data storage that's going into the device. And so [00:43:00] I, when I started to like, kind of ask those questions, it again, forces people to actually think, okay, what's actually going to make me happy.

Sandra Torres: And so, you know, you don't need a coach. You don't need someone to, you can do this yourself. You can do it at home and like go, some people, it helps to write it down. Some people just think about it and that's good enough, but truly think. Day to day, what can I tolerate? What the next level is? Okay, what can I not just tolerate, but think I can actually contribute something good to?

Sandra Torres: The next level is. Not just tolerate, not just contribute, but create real impact. And there's, you know, multiple levels, right. To all of this. And so depending on your situation, some people are like, I just need money. I need to pay these loans. I just need to put a roof over my head. And then I'm like, okay, so then stop looking for fulfillment in this role.

Sandra Torres: Just look at the money then just keep it transactional. Keep it superficial. Keep it [00:44:00] time bound. I'm only going to do this contract job for six months, or I'm only going to do it for 10 months. And once I hit that 10 month mark, I'll be a bit more stable financially and I can start to actually look for the role that's truly going to be a bit more fulfilling.

Sandra Torres: And like, you have control over this. Don't you? Yes, I know the market is wild right now. Yes, I know. The world always seems to be falling apart, but you do actually have more control than you think, and you tell people how to treat you, right? You show people how to treat you, and so if you are, something as simple as trying to negotiate your salary, right, for a job.

Sandra Torres: And if you, you say, I'm looking between X and Y for this range, you've told the recruiter that you've told the hiring manager, you told the, like, 10 people you've interviewed for at this point, you get to the end and you get an offer. That's not in that range. You're like, well, what the hell? And then you talk to them and, you know, they.

Sandra Torres: They might not budge there, [00:45:00] you know, there's different scenarios, but if you then go and take that job, will you just show them that you're not that you are terrible at boundaries and that you're not very, you know, and that plays out in your day to day job, right? Like, if people are asking you for reports, if they're asking you to send an email or to do this or to do that, and if you.

Sandra Torres: are trying to hold firm your working hours, or you're trying to hold firm your vacation time, right? If you're going to be out and don't be checking your email, you show people in your actions how you want to be treated. And if you're constantly flip flopping, that's how people are going to treat you. You set that standard, right?

Sandra Torres: Not everybody else. And that's another thing a lot of academics struggle with because, you know, they're used to people stepping away from their boundaries. anD so they, they would struggle sometimes with that and, and, and it would, and like, [00:46:00] they wouldn't realize that that was the root cause. You know, if I would have one on ones and we're going through and in corporate environments and private sector, the purpose of one on ones is one for you to build a relationship with your direct manager, but also to.

Sandra Torres: bring challenges to them that you can't solve, that you need help with to remove obstacles for. And they would come with like a list of questions and, you know, and as most like they've tried, right? Like they already tried a couple things and they couldn't figure it out. And so they come to me and so we'll work through it.

Sandra Torres: And then halfway through realize, well, you attempted to do this with so and so. They only gave you like half the information. Why didn't you go back to get the rest? And they were like, Oh, well, like, I didn't want to bother anyone. And I'm, you know, because they feel new, right? Because they've just transitioned from academia.

Sandra Torres: They feel like they're beginners, which you can be, but you, again, [00:47:00] you have skills, you have competence, or else I wouldn't have hired you. And so they would, you know, struggle with like being persistent in getting information because they saw that as like being in a position and in academia like it's almost like you're brainwashed and you're trained to like here's what you get if you can't like I'm not giving you anything else right or or the constant like applying for grants right because you're constantly trying to look for funding.

Sandra Torres: And in working with like very extreme constraints, and they would still try to apply that mindset to projects. Right. And if I like, for example, I had someone on my team who was a vendor manager. They managed all the, you know, you're you're that bought the gloves, the petri dishes, the auger, you know, whatever you're using in the lab and.

Sandra Torres: They would always buy the cheapest. And I'm like, thank you for sticking for the budget, but this isn't giving us the results that we need. You can spend a little bit more money. It's [00:48:00] okay. Like no one will die as long as you're not blowing the budget out of proportion. And even then, if you can give me a justifiable cause enough that you need approval for something, then do it.

Sandra Torres: I might approve it, but like, explain to me why. And so it was all those, again, very like small. Minor things, but then over time it accumulates and then it just makes people seem like they're not subject matter experts when they really are. And again, it's that route of like not feeling like an imposter, not feeling like they're competent enough because they spent so much of their time in academia and they feel like they're catching up or something.

Sandra Torres: And it's just not true. Like, again, it's all reframing. Are there any

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I'm curious. You've mentioned some along the way as you've had this conversation about like folks reassessing what they consider to be success and thinking about other career options. But like along the way, some of the hurdles that might come up are just having these [00:49:00] misconceptions.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Or having like these myths associated with the private sector. So are there on other misconceptions other myths that you've run into that you've noticed that recent graduates, especially recent PhDs have, and also along the lines of that. What are some of the biggest challenges you've, I feel like you've named a lot of them, but if you could name like the top two, three challenges, you know, whether it's the imposter syndrome phenomenon or, or not knowing how to set firm boundaries and not knowing how to like ask for help.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: What, what are the things, I'm just saying the things that come to mind for me, but I want to hear from you about what you think.

Sandra Torres: So I, I will say A lot. So, and I think, again, this is part of just the general culture of academia of feeling like they're sellouts. Yes, thank you for bringing it up in the private sector.

Sandra Torres: And I'm like, I, I'm, I'm sorry, I grew up in poverty, trying to get a job that [00:50:00] will give you more than just the bare basics is not like you being greedy. It's not like not wanting to, you know, be skimming the poverty line that you basically can qualify for food stamps. Depending on the cost of living of the area that you're in because your stipend is so low and you wanting to not constantly be in that state of panic, that's not a bad thing.

Sandra Torres: Like, it's not bad to not just want to be surviving. It's okay to, like, want more for yourself. And so But I think, you know, because, sorry, sorry, can we

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: go back to that selling sellout question or comment because it does come up a lot. It comes up a lot in conversations and it's not just about the money aspect of it, but I think sometimes folks make associations about, oh, if you go work in industry, you're working for the bad guys.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Like they make this association that all companies are bad and that only non profit work or, you know, academic work, or you name it, certain fields are quote [00:51:00] unquote, like not bad. You know,

Sandra Torres: you know that I don't agree. Yeah, I mean, I, I get that a lot too from mentees and people that I coach, I would challenge them and be like, In your current predicament that you're in, who stands to benefit if you stay ignorant and you stay in this position?

Sandra Torres: Who's benefiting from this situation? It's not you. Sure, it's a non profit. Sure, it's academia. Sure, it's publicly funded through a land grant if you're, you know, in a public university. But, it's still a capital enterprise. Everything is. So, who, out of all the stakeholders, you know, the trustees, The fundraisers, the alumni group, the sports, you know, teams out of all of these stakeholders that are in this [00:52:00] institution that you're in, who stands to benefit the most if you continue to do this incredibly grueling work for incredibly low pay and how do they perpetuate you thinking?

Sandra Torres: That you are the problem when it's not and so and that's again that also goes for the private sector right like if you're trying to figure out like which company you want to work for which job you want to work for always question always question be the contrary and always question who stands to benefit from me being ignorant and not knowing certain key pieces of information and then you can decide accordingly right like is that something I'm okay with is that something I'll tolerate And more often than not, people make the switch.

Sandra Torres: People make the switch out of academia because they're like, well, if I'm going to be here, constantly being [00:53:00] gaslit, and, and, and also the money, and, and especially for basic science research, where you're just doing research, you do research, right? Like, it's not necessarily being, you're, you're pursuing some sort of, like, academic curiosity and there's this institution that funds that especially in the U.

Sandra Torres: S. Outside of the U. S., you kind of have to find your own funding if you want to do graduate studies, so there's an extra layer of nuance there, but for the U. S. specifically, you, because you are in that framework You don't question it. Is this bad? Because everyone around it supports that structure, right?

Sandra Torres: From the lab manager, that's just like their, you know, sterilizing equipment, and the IRB panel that's over here, you know, helping you write grants to get a study done, to the professor, to everyone, right? Their job is to support this existing structure. It's not to change it. It's not to challenge it. It's to [00:54:00] keep it going.

Sandra Torres: So are you okay being part of that? If yes, then fine. No judgment, right? It's not good or bad. It just is. But be aware of people trying to frame something that's not. And so I think it like it and it's, it's so hard, right? Because if that's all you're around, and everyone you know. That has been there for so long.

Sandra Torres: Like, you see that as stability, right? If you, especially if your own background comes from instability, as I was, and you're trying to seek stability. Academia seems like they, because it's a, it's a. The path has already traveled, right? Like there, there, there is a free, they're like, okay, if you get your, your GRE, if you do this, if you get the three letters, their recommendation, the path is out, you just like, check it.

Sandra Torres: It's literally checkboxing, right? And, and you know what the outcome is going to be. And I think people, when they start To even question [00:55:00] what life outside of academia could be like because it's unknown and because it's self defined. It's not defined for you. That's scary for people. And so that feeling is very much exploited in academia where they make you feel like you're a sellout because you're already unsure, right?

Sandra Torres: Because you're like, okay, well I know what the outcome is going to be if I stay here. But I don't know what the outcome is if I go to the private sector, if I work for government, if I, you know, any, any option, like that's not academia. Because it is different for everyone, right? It's not the self defined, it's not predetermined for you, you are self defining.

Sandra Torres: And if people haven't done that work, the deep work, right, to get to know yourself and identify for you what's important. It's almost like, you know, you're just kind of floating and so, [00:56:00] and, and, you know, the institution that you are in is going to exploit that because that's how the system is set up.

Sandra Torres: That's how the system thrives. That's how it keeps going. Can you imagine if, um, like I, I think of even the way, you know, some unions work right and they set their comp, it's set to the market rate. And I know it's just because my dad was a blue collar worker and he was in a union his whole life. The, it's constantly adjusted by cost of living increases, it's adjusted to what the market is paying.

Sandra Torres: The market being public or private sector. Can you imagine if stipends were tracked that way?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: Oh my goodness.

Sandra Torres: Can you imagine? And for, okay, and forget about money. Like, let's put money aside. The actual tasks and the responsibilities, right, that you have day to day. The research that you're doing. Is funded by who the [00:57:00] university or whatever grand or whatever organization is giving them money, probably taxpayer money.

Sandra Torres: If it's a land grant university. You don't own any of it. You can't get it. If you make some groundbreaking research, there's no patent. There's no, you're not being, sure, you might get a Nobel Prize. Great. Is that gonna help you buy a house? Is that going to give you the financial security to, like, start a family if you want to take time off and raise kids?

Sandra Torres: Like, no. Because the system is not set up that way. And so, because the system is set so that the cost of labor with graduate students And even professors to some extent, even the PIs themselves, like it, you know, if you, there's a lot of things to be bad at. If you're just curious one day and look up the tax returns, if it's a public [00:58:00] university of what the administrators are paying, the Board of Trustees, if you look at the endowment and the size of the endowment and the fact that some universities can completely not charge any tuition, For the rest of forever and live off just the interest dividend of those endowments.

Sandra Torres: The only way that that functions. is because grad students are on these stipends. I want to

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: be mindful of time. I know that we are close to time, but I also want to make sure to leave a little bit of room for you to answer one more question, which is a pressing question related to providing advice for folks who are listening to you.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And maybe things are starting to Make a little sense and click for them. You know, like I mentioned earlier, I do have some undergrad listeners. I have grad student listeners. So on both ends, you know, for undergrads and grad students, what kind of advice would you give them if they're considering a non academic [00:59:00] path and even a path in the private sector?

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And maybe this

Sandra Torres: is new to them. Yeah, so I think regardless of where you're at in your track, undergrad, grad. Not even in those tracks, right? Community college, who cares, right? Find the people that are doing what you're curious in, which may be not people in your social circle currently. And may not may not be the current environment that you're in.

Sandra Torres: You're like, okay, well, how do I get there? Exactly. There's a, the way I started and the way I like I started to find people to ask questions to so. In university, you know, all the clubs, right, like internal club and the different extracurriculars, those are some initial sources, but sometimes they're still populated by, like, the same people in your environment.

Sandra Torres: And, you know, you're trying to find something else. tHere's professional organizations. And so, and a lot of them are nonprofits and they have memberships. And there's usually, [01:00:00] I think, almost always a student level membership. That is probably the most discounted. And so sometimes the university might cover it.

Sandra Torres: Sometimes you might have to cover it, but. They're not high. So I think, so for example, Women in Bio. I've been part of it for years now. The student membership is like 50 for the whole year. And so there's multiple chapters across the country. We have chapters in Canada and chapters in the US. Chicago has one of them.

Sandra Torres: I happen to be part of the leadership team, just because, again, it's something I'm very passionate about. Totally volunteer basis. And they will have programming, right? They will have webinars, they will have workshops, they will have networking hours. I know that scares people sometimes. They think networking is showing up with like a business card.

Sandra Torres: Please, that's not the 80s. We don't do that anymore. Like there's other ways. And take a crew with you, right? Like if you have trusted people, friends in your social circle that are also starting to question things, take your posse with you. Don't go alone. [01:01:00] Go in a group to these these events to to some of these workshops.

Sandra Torres: Figure out a way, get scrappy, get resourceful, figure out a way to get there. Sometimes, and so, and like, I have a LinkedIn, feel free to follow me. I post a lot of free events throughout the city of Chicago and some virtual as well. If you email the organizers, you're like, Hey, I'm a broke student. I really want to attend this.

Sandra Torres: Here's the 10 new reasons why I would like to go here. Sometimes they will just give you a free ticket. Like you don't have to pay for it sometimes, even if you're not a member of the organizations. Because again, a lot of these women, I speak specifically for women in bio because that's what I'm a part of now.

Sandra Torres: The whole mission is to, to make the table bigger, right? To get more people that are from different backgrounds into these roles, specifically in the private sector, but we also do workshops around the government jobs, the public sector so some VC funding as well. People are like, what is that?

Sandra Torres: They think of VC and they immediately think of like BlackRock and all these like, You know, the people that get the bad press and I'm like, you do realize [01:02:00] that some of these people fund minority owned businesses. Like, again, they, you know, they only hear about the bad press, right? So I would suggest get into spots, places that have the people that you're looking for.

Sandra Torres: A lot of those can be professional organizations, Women in Bio is one of them. Healthcare Business Association is another. So a lot of health care, health tech sector jobs. The Society of Women Engineers. That's another one. There is there's a product centered one and I'm forgetting the name now.

Sandra Torres: It's, it's PDA. It's product development alliance. I believe it's a product. R& D type organization Tequeria, specifically it's spelled tech, but kind of like that, like Tequeria, but it's Tequeria. That's another org that, and a lot of these have conferences as well. So, and again, if you're a student, you can usually get like a free ticket or like a very, very discounted ticket.

Sandra Torres: If you volunteer at the events, you get a free entry. So. If, like, let's say [01:03:00] Grace Hopper is another organization, it's a little bit more tech focused, but it's specifically for underrepresented groups in tech, um, there's so many, like, if you just start Googling, you know, professional organizations in healthcare, professional organizations in biotech, like, pick a sector, right?

Sandra Torres: And you'll, you'll start to find them. Some of them have local presence. Some of them are national, some are international. I, I would say since the pandemic, there's a ton more virtual events now. And so just like starting that path to educate yourself, cause then those are the external people that will start to light the flashlight, right?

Sandra Torres: That you'll start to see a spotlight and it'll just feel more questions. And you're like, oh, well, I didn't even know that existed. I want to learn more about it. And so, and especially if you can go to some of the in person stuff, that I feel is more impactful because then you get people face to face and I've never gone to any of these events and people not been very giving in answering all my questions and giving me information [01:04:00] because that's what a lot of people are there for.

Sandra Torres: And if anything, if you can't find the subject matter experts, you find more people like you. You start finding more like minded people that are asking the same questions and are trying to find a way out. That's a good start. You know, for me, I have a LinkedIn page and then it's later academia. It's all one word.

Sandra Torres: I do have a coaching business that I do one on one coaching specifically with I focus on kind of PhDs that I've already defended or kind of looking for that next step or like very, you know, preemie postdocs, right? It's their first postdoc or their second postdoc and they realize this is not working.

Sandra Torres: I need to get out of this. Yeah. And because I've, you know, I did the transition. I've been on both sides of the hiring table. I know what people are looking for. And I've also done a lot of like the more deeper transformational work that's not technical. So I help people do that, but I also, you know, I try and be better about posting just more educational content so people could [01:05:00] learn because especially, you know, people look at job titles and they're like, what is this?

Sandra Torres: I don't know what this is. And so, you know, but I think and. But I think that the free thing you could do right is to just try and educate yourself and put yourself in places where there are people and experts that have the knowledge that you don't. And, you know, and it will bring up uncomfortable feelings, right?

Sandra Torres: You will feel like, Oh, God, these are very important people. They're very experienced, but to not be shy about it. And, you know, how do you mitigate that? Well, don't go alone. Go with other people. Like, don't try and like embark on this journey by yourself because that's just a surefire way to fail. Like, and, and, you know, build on.

Sandra Torres: Build your, your, your village, right? Some of that might be blood family, some might not. If you have access to mental health care. Probably get some sessions books, [01:06:00] because this whole process will start bringing up some feelings for you that you, you know, sure you can box it and shove it and it'll come out in like 10 years and not so great ways but working through it will put you in a much more robust position to stand up for yourself and to advocate for yourself.

Sandra Torres: I know it's easier said than done. I'm still doing it and it's been years, you know, but it, that with each step you get closer and closer, you feel better, that grieving period gets shorter and shorter. And, and, you know, you, you can actually start to, to define for yourself and feel more in control as opposed to what I find a lot of people in these situations, they're very passive, right?

Sandra Torres: They feel like things are happening to them. Which is true. You're part of systems that are not built for you, right? You're part of systems that are actively trying to work against you. So don't, you know, let's not gaslight people into that. Yes, it is [01:07:00] true. Money is important. These structures are important.

Sandra Torres: They're, you know, trying to keep you ignorant on certain information so that you don't start questioning things. But. You're not this like passive thing that things just happen to you can take control and you can't take ownership. You don't have to do it alone. And, and I, you know, the, these skills of like questioning things and.

Sandra Torres: Figuring out who stands to benefit from you not knowing certain things. That can apply to anything, right? It doesn't matter if it's a job, if it's a relationship, you know. It, like, who stands to benefit of you not knowing information or you not advocating for yourself. And that will give you all the information that you need to then make a decision.

Sandra Torres: And, and also, like, don't feel bad about the decision that you make. If it's something that works for you, who cares what other people think? Who cares? Like, if, you know You know, it took some [01:08:00] time for my family to get over the fact that I was not going to be a practicing medical doctor, but when I framed it as, like, look, these people, you got to do X amount of years in med school, then you have residency, then you have fellowship, you will never see me, okay, you will never see me, I will never have money because I will be working to pay off this thing, and then I'm, you know, going to be part of this healthcare system where so much of it is administration, it's very little actual patient care.

Sandra Torres: Once I start to, like, Point these things out to family or friends that were questioning that decision. They're like, oh, yeah, I would like to actually see you more like it. Can we get to that? And so It's, it's a process. It's hard. It's really uncomfortable, but it is absolutely worth doing because no, like, it's your life, right?

Sandra Torres: Like, you know, you only have X amount of years on earth and you choose how you spend it. And so some of it is in your control, some of it it's not, but I guarantee you more of it is in your control than you think. [01:09:00] I appreciate

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: you sharing all of that advice and also sharing a little bit about your services too.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: That's really, really good for folks to know. For anyone who wants to connect with you, reach out to you, to learn more about you and your work, how can they find you? How can they reach you?

Sandra Torres: so LinkedIn and Instagram is probably so lateracademia all one word. You'll, you'll find a company page on LinkedIn and I also have an Instagram and there's a link on there to my calendar actually.

Sandra Torres: So if you want, I do free like 30 to 45 minute consultative calls. Whether you book my services or not is, you know, not the point there. It's really for you to get some value and to get some direction. And so. You can, you know, it has on there which hours I'm available and which not. Thank you Calendly. It does a lot of that for you.

Sandra Torres: And so if, again, if it's, if you even just have an inkling that academia might not be for you, [01:10:00] I would suggest booking it. You won't hurt my feeling if you don't book the service. It's fine. But yeah, you can find me there. And I also starting in January I have a lot of stuff going on in my life right now, but starting in January, I am going to have a newsletter that'll be free as well.

Sandra Torres: And it'll have a lot of educational content as well. If people want to subscribe to it and you'll, you'll be able to subscribe through those links and in my LinkedIn page. Oh, that's perfect

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: timing because I. I mean, my audience may or may not know this, but I record episodes one to three months in advance.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: And so this will probably be coming out right around the new year. So hopefully we can get some of that info in the show notes

Sandra Torres: as well. Yeah. And like I I'm starting through, through the holidays. I'm sort of testing it out right now just to see if it resonates with people on LinkedIn. And if it does, I'll Make a more detailed thing in the newsletter, but I'm doing a, a 25 days of impact campaign in December.

Sandra Torres: So similar to like, and I'll be highlighting. [01:11:00] Different functions, different job titles, what they mean, how, how can you create impact in those roles entirely free. So, you know, if, if you, if you follow me or connect with the pages, you'll be getting the updates. And then, you know, if people want to learn more, I'll probably expand on it in the newsletter, but through December every day for 20, well, every weekday, because I will take weekends off, but every weekday I'll, I'll make posts around.

Sandra Torres: around those 25 Days of Impact campaigns. That is awesome. It'll just highlight for people, this is the title, what are the day to day activities involved, and how can you actually create impact in those roles. And you know, go and make it happen. Like, you have, you have all the power, you have all the direction.

Sandra Torres: If you don't have the resources, go find them. Like, you did, like, if you got, if you managed to get into this position in school, whether you're undergrad or grad, you got there because you were resilient. Already, like you had tenacity already. So like use that same [01:12:00] superpower to get out of the situation that you're in.

Sandra Torres: You don't need to like come up with these new things to get out of it. Well, I

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: appreciate you so much. I hope folks will continue to, you know, reach out and follow and connect with you and perhaps work with you. So I want to thank you for your time for being so generous with your time today, Sandra, for sharing your knowledge, your experience, so many gems that you shared today.

Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu: I'm sure folks are going to gain a lot from this conversation. So thank you again.

Sandra Torres: Yeah, no problem. Hope to connect with all of you.

Did you ♥ this episode? Let me know.

Grad School Femtoring
Email List