Initiative, problem solving and research and critical thinking

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are doing now.

I’m Jade and I still live in Manchester after finishing both my Master's and PhD in Psychology. After my PhD I did a couple of postdoctoral research roles and then in 2021 I joined Cauldron Science/Gorilla Experiment Builder where I’m now Head of Customer Success.

How are initiative, problem solving, and research and critical thinking important in your current role?

In my role, I need to understand the needs of our users. I do this by keeping monitoring user feedback, interviewing users, and running surveys, experiments, and usability tests with them. I actively use the research and critical thinking skills I gained during my PhD every single day!

I also have to solve a lot of problems. If I know that our users are struggling to complete a certain task or use our interface, it’s my job to work out the best way to identify the exact thing that they’re struggling with, which might be looking at data or talking to our users, and then work out the best way to fix it. My day-to-day job is identifying problems, researching them, and then problem solving my way to a solution!

Because I have a lot of responsibility in my role, I need to be able to use my initiative a lot. I try to bring a lot of innovation to my job, and that requires the confidence to know when a problem needs solving and having the initiative to find the solution!

How did you develop each of these skills during your degree?

A PhD is all about learning how to be an independent researcher. When I got to the end of my PhD I had an arsenal of research skills, but I did not fully realise how many transferrable skills I had picked up until I started my current job! Most of them came naturally with research. However, I think what set me apart is that I got involved in a lot of opportunities outside of my PhD too. I was very involved in the Open Research community, which meant that I was learning and developing leadership skills that in turn, really honed my problem solving skills and initiative.

How did these skills help you get your first graduate job?

The independence that I gained during my PhD meant that I was well equipped for my first job out of academia. It can be daunting to join a company where you do not know what is going on day-to-day, but anything I needed to learn to do the job I picked up very quickly because I had all the skills to think about my job constructively and work out what I needed to do.

One skill I do not think we realise that we acquire during a PhD is that we learn how to learn! If I need a new skill to complete a certain task in my job, I have all the relevant experience to know how to go and learn it quickly and effectively.

What were the main factors that influenced your choice of first graduate job?

When looking for my job I thought about what was important to me: I love research, but I was not keen on academia. User experience (UX) research involves all my favourite parts of the PhD with none of the bits I did not like. I do a lot of UX research as part of my job now. I also learned during the Covid-19 pandemic how important remote and flexible working is to me. The ability to live where I want and work from a home office was a game changer to me so a job where I could do that was perfect. My job was ideal in terms of my skillset, and there was more room for me to grow. I also adore working in a team. We all work together towards the same goal here, and my team at Gorilla are now like my family!