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Making the Move from Academia to Industry

Category Event Recap

In March 2022, WREN held its first international symposium, “Collaborating for the Future”. Among the various activities, one, in particular, was a panel discussion focusing on career transitions from academia to industry. Chaired by Prof. Julia Mendes, the panel featured two esteemed guest speakers:

  • Dr Maina Portella Garcia – a Materials Engineer, who worked for five years as a Research Fellow at the University of Wollongong and moved to APA this year, a leading Australian Energy infrastructure business, to work as the Principal Materials and Welding Engineer.
  • Dr Erica Castilho Rodrigues – a Statistician and a Data Scientist, a professor at the Federal University of Ouro Preto for nine years and has recently taken up the position of the Head of Assessments and Examination at Galena, a startup that trains and connects young Brazilian to job opportunities.

Both speakers briefly presented their career journeys and shared some valuable insights.

Two critical academic skills that have been instrumental in the industry roles of both Dr Garcia and Dr Rodrigues are firstly, the ability to effectively search and gather information from academic and non-academic sources such as technical papers, journals and books, as well as their leadership skills honed through student supervision, participation in networks, and organizing conferences. These skills have not only played a pivotal role in their CVs when securing their jobs, but they continue to be highly relevant and actively used in their day-to-day activities in their respective roles in industry.

The speakers highlighted valuable insight in CV preparation, emphasising the usefulness of LinkedIn. Both Dr Garcia and Dr Rodrigues agreed that LinkedIn is an excellent resource for understanding how professionals in their field describe and present their expertise, career background, and experiences. They suggested using LinkedIn profiles of relevant individuals as examples to create and prepare your own CV. Furthermore, Dr Rodrigues emphasised that LinkedIn can be a powerful platform for establishing mentorship relationships. She mentioned that “of course, some people will not respond to your messages, but some people will, and you will be surprised with the amount of people willing to help”. Dr Rodrigues expressed that reaching out to professionals on LinkedIn can be a beneficial step in building a network and seeking guidance in one’s career journey.

The guest speakers highlighted that adapting to the new environment and the fast-paced nature of activities, along with demanding deadlines for deliverables, posed significant challenges. Additionally, they acknowledged that being female professionals in male-dominated fields had an impact on their careers.

Dr Rodrigues recounted a disheartening experience during her job search, where she participated in an interview and the male interviewer made assumptions about her coding abilities solely based on her gender, assuming that she could not code quickly. Dr Garcia emphasised that this underscores the ongoing need to address gender inequality in the field of engineering, indicating that there is still much work to be done to promote inclusivity and equality in this particular industry.

Recording of the panel session, “Making the Move from Academia to Industry”

If you are from Brazil and are interested in the challenges interconnecting education, industry and government, you should check out the first South America Education and Innovation Congress. The event is hosted by Lincoln Electric Brazil and will reunite leaders from a range of industries, universities, and government to share challenges in education, opportunities for the future and to discuss the role played by each sector in advancing innovation in Brazil and globally.   

The congress is in-person only on the 8th and 9th of May. Secure your place by registering (free of charge) at Lincoln Registration (