Not all career paths are linear, and people often move between sectors while still utilising the experience they got elsewhere. Let Minerva tell you about how she has used both her academic experience in industry, and her industry experience in academia.

Tell us about yourself!

I’m Minerva, I graduated in 2019 with a PhD in Chemical Engineering and Analytical Sciences. After uni, I came back to my home country, Mexico, but I had to wait a year before joining my first formal job in industry because of the pandemic.

What skills did you gain during this time that helped you in your first graduate role?

I had to take a year off due to the pandemic and other personal circumstances. During that time, I learned to be patient, resilient and most importantly, to keep a positive mind-set, even when I was facing hard times. All these skills helped me to see my first graduate job as an opportunity to learn and to grow personally and professionally.

What did you like and dislike about that first graduate role?

I deeply enjoyed my first graduate role as I had the opportunity to apply all my academic background in real life problems. I met people from around the world and made good friends. I am still in touch with them. I think it is always important to understand that recent graduates need a bit of guidance and training at the beginning of their careers.

What are you doing now?

I’m a full-time Professor of Chemical Engineering at Tecnológico de Monterrey in Mexico. I moved from industry to academia because I want to inspire the next generation of Chemical Engineers, sharing my personal story and creating bridges between academia and industry.

How did you find this opportunity? What was the application process like?

I started as a part-time Lecturer a year ago, while I was working at a global technology company. A few months later, I joined as a full-time Professor. The application process was varied from interviews with Human Resources, department leaders and a seminar in English about my PhD research. I enjoyed it.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you finished university?

There is no perfect job, the most important thing is that you really love what you do. People around you may or may not be kind with you, but if you believe in yourself, there is nothing that can stop you.

What advice would you give to a current student who isn’t sure what to do after graduation?

Take a moment to think about what activities do you like/dislike in a job related to your career. In an industry environment, be prepared to end up in a completely different role as the one you applied for. Companies tend to fill out the vacancies that they have in all areas. Believe in yourself and be open to take opportunities that you haven’t considered before. If you want to travel or take a year off, do it! No one will judge you for enjoying life before start working.