Small actions, big results

The highlight of 2017 for me has been an email.

Well, no. It was a person – Natalie (von der Lehr). But it started with an email. And a step out of my comfort zone. As most great things do.

But let’s take it from the top.

Way back, before Emmanuel Macron and Stockholm terrorist attacks and #metoo and season 7 of Game of Thrones, what now feels like ages ago – though the weather was pretty much the same – on February 1st, myself and 39 other hopefuls showed for a course. The subject was “job after PhD – are the legends true?” (though now that I think about it, I believe the official title could have been “Career Skills For Scientists”) and I was rather skeptical. Well, there were some internships on the table at the end. But I already knew how to write a CV and that most jobs are gotten through contacts and that apparently, as PhDs, we have all these wonderful “transferable skills” (to this day, I doubt the actual employers know this though. Maybe they should take this course?). What would I possibly get out of this?

There was one thing I didn’t know at the beginning of the course, however, and come to think of it, it’s rather a big one. I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grow up.

And then there was the first speaker, Natalie. Who talked about freelance journalism and switch from science and diving into deep water and learning how to swim. And there was this feeling that… this, this is what I want to do.

At the end of the day we all got assignments – to find and interview PhDs in academic and non-academic professions. Thanks to Natalie, I knew what kind of person I wanted to interview – I just didn’t have an actual name in mind. But I figured she if anyone could help me. Hence the email. Hopefully, Kerstin Beckenius, Anethe Mansén and Emma Hägg will be proud – I had the mantra of the “career skills for scientists”-course: “Networking. Networking. Networking!” in my head while writing. It was also very much a step out of the comfort zone for this introvert, also in line with the commandments of the course. (See, it made an impact 🙂 )

Well, this email led to coffee and to life talks and to meetings with other scientific journalists and fascinating scientists. It led to some “grown-up” writing opportunities for me. It led to a completely new skill and a more eye-catching CV. Some of this was a part of the internship ( I ended up doing under the tutelage of Natalie and her coworker, Lisa. A lot was Natalie taking her time to help me, completely pro bono, to give me a leg up without needing anything in return.

Am I a lost cause cynic who doesn’t take this for granted in people? Thank you, Natalie.

Anyway. Back to science. As a part of my internship, I was fortunate enough to produce a scientific podcast episode of my own. A degree project, of sorts, I guess. Today it goes live and I think you should listen. My personal involvement aside, it’s actually really, really interesting. How often do you have a chance to hear science that rewrites text books and has implications for understanding the very origin of life? Well, you could today.

#61 A family reunion


Natalie von der Lehr

Natalie von der Lehr

Thank you Margarita, this was a heartwarming read. Being that person who makes a difference for somebody is a somewhat strange feeling. But also nice and very honoring. Keep up the good work!

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