514. Too Many Graduate Students, Too Few Jobs
Halfway to her Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience, Anna saw herself becoming a tenured-track professor, following her two great loves: teaching and figuring things out. Then, reality set in: Far too many graduate students were chasing far too few jobs. “Figuring things out” took on a new meaning as she faced a pivot point in her life.
Anna Cragin is the Productivity Advisor at Freeficiency. She teaches online entrepreneurs how to improve mindset, reduce anxiety, and design their ideal life through effective time management. Anna has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience. She applies brain and behavior research to design ways to work with and around our brains to reach our goals in business and in life.
How Did You Start Using Your Talents?
“I was born in Russia, where there wasn’t an entrepreneurial spirit. But there was a belief that if you want to change your life—if you want to do something—you have to do it yourself. That’s something my mom started telling me at a very early age: ‘No one else is going to hand you anything. You have to go out and get it.’ I think these ideas came together for me when we moved to the U.S. when I was in high school.”
The Most Impactful Turning Point?
“Graduate school was the pivot point for me. In my academic program in psychology, we had a wonderful course called ‘professional issues.’ In it, we talked about what it really takes to make a career as a tenure-track professor. They told us there were far too many PhDs and not enough jobs for them. They told us, if you want to become a tenure-track professor you have to really want it and put in the work and the hours. You have to be better than everybody, because you’re all going to be competing with each other for a few jobs. That class was an eye-opener for me. Up until then, I just assumed I was going to be a professor.”
The Most Powerful Lessons Learned?
“Everything in my life seems to come down to teaching. I absolutely love it! The key for me is to realize that there are role models, and then to go out and find them. Connect with them. See what they’ve done. Model their success. Know that it is possible. Always keep your eyes open because opportunities will come when you are able to see them.”
Steps to Success from Anna Cragin
1. Look for a role model, mentor or coach who is doing what you are trying to do. Reduce your learning curve.
2. Instead of setting deadlines for completing projects and achieving goals, set a specific time when you will consistently work on them. This is unusual advice, coming from an efficiency consultant, but I believe this works better.
3. Join a business community. “Doing this has skyrocketed my education!”
4. Keep your eyes open. Opportunities come when you are open to seeing them.
On Her Bookshelf
Leaving the Ivory Tower: The Causes and Consequences of Departure from Doctoral Study, by Barbara E. Lovitts
Create or Hate: Successful People Make Things, by Dan Norris
Connecting With Anna Cragin
Free checklist on how to overcome being stuck in analysis. Visit: www.freeficiency.com/unstuck. Aimed at entrepreneurs, but can definitely be used for personal life goals, too.
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