Emily Roberts – The Power of the Side-Hustle or How to Set Yourself Up for a Healthy Financial Life

When talking about grad school, we often talk about the challenges of academic life, about mental health, and about physical health, but what about financial health? Academic accomplishments are paramount at this juncture in your life, but in the end, you want to be set up not only as a specialist in your domain, but you also want to come out of the process with a clean financial bill of health and ready to find your ideal place on the job market. In this week’s episode, we’ll be talking with Emily Roberts who will share with us how she became financially savvy during her PhD and how the financial know-how she acquired and shared with her community as a side-hustle ended up setting the foundations of her current career.

What was a hobby for Emily during grad school became her business! She earned a PhD in biomedical engineering from Duke University in 2014, and shortly after launched Personal Finance for PhDs. Her business is focused on helping graduate students, postdocs, and PhDs in their first (or so) Real Jobs make the most of their money. Emily provides financial education for universities and associations, coaches individuals, and creates digital products for individuals, on top of creating the free content available her website (podcast episodes, articles, and videos).


What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How doing a postbaccalaureate (postbac) program can help you decide whether to embark into grad school
  • How a side-hustle such as blogging, editing, or volunteering can enrich your graduate student life from year 1 and expand your community and your network
  • Building a financial transition fund to relieve some of the stress and anxiety that naturally come with transitioning to the job market
  • Why you should look for career centers and professional development resources at your university during grad school and use them as much as possible, even if they are not specifically intended or advertised for graduate students.
  • The value a PhD can bring to your professional life, in terms of translatable skills and of career opportunities
  • Overcoming the negative money mindset you are cultured into in grad school that leads you to devaluate your worth
  • How your graduate degree can allow you to create a rapport with a specific audience and eventually build a privileged business relationship with them
  • How going beyond your comfort zone and setting up informational interviews with professionals in your domains of interest can pay off when researching about jobs

This episode’s pearls of wisdom:

“It is possible for you to do what you would like to do and what’s going to make you super happy, even if it does disappoint people around you. You’re not really beholden to other people’s expectations, aside from, maybe, supporting your own family, your own responsibilities. Aside from that, it’s your life – do what you want with it.”

“I have interviewed many people who have had these kinds of side-hustles or side experiences during graduate school or during their postdocs that have directly set them up for what they’re doing after their PhD, not only exploring the careers, but then continuing to develop the networks and the skill sets that will help you find the actual position that you want after the PhD.”

Emily’s links: Personal Finance for PhDs: pfforphds.com; Twitter – @pfforphds; Beyond the Professoriate – BeyondProf.com; GradBlogger – GradBlogger.com

You might also like the following episodes:

Adriana Bankston – Science Policy: PapaPhD.com/12

Chris Kent – Biotech Startup CEO: PapaPhD.com/11

Fábio Rosa (PhD student), Gil Costa (scientific illustrator), Patrícia Monteiro (principal investigator): PapaPhD.com/24

Margaret Magdesian – Biotech Startup CEO: PapaPhD.com/21

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Happy podcasting!

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