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I have been a researcher in academia for the past ten+ years.

Unfortunately, despite my love for this career, I arrived to a point where I need to move country (again) to continue my job. While I like what I do, I feel that it took too much from me already, and I am not too keen in re-organising my life from scratch again. For these reasons, I started looking for a job and luckily I found many opportunities, and I might start soon with one.

All that being said, I am completely afraid now. First, I feel that I have no experience in how to manage a "9 to 5" job. Second, I will be hired in a management position. I searched for this position, and I think I would not have accepted anything else (given that I do not feel as a software engineer anymore, but more as a PM). However, as I said, I am terrified.

In my current job, I work way more than the average but I am flexible. I can start and end whenever I want, I have pretty much nobody I have to report to, and I can take vacations whenever I think it is good for me. Of course, this context has many issues, first, I do not really go anywhere since I cannot plan anything ahead, and, again, it is always so precarious that most days are just filled with "what will I do next?".

My questions for you is, are there anyways I can make the transition in a more smooth way? Are there any tips you can give me on how to prepare, and are there any things that are accepted in the academic world that are an absolute no-no in a company?

tl;dr: I have worked in academia my whole life, and I have now decided to work for a company. I would love to hear tips from you on how to adapt in this territory (completely new for me). What strategies and practices will help me make this change?

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  • On the upside, just by asking the question you've learned one thing to be prepared for: be careful what titles/positions/slang you use to refer to people, especially to those who will be below you in the hierarchy, as some people are very sensitive to some terms which you didn't even know could be a problem. In academia, coding is a task to be done, and a coder is a temporary and often non-prestigious position (people can be coders and not even earn authorship on a paper). But its OK - if you can learn the weird culture of academia, you can learn the weird culture of business :) – BrianH Jul 29 '19 at 20:22
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I always think I am an academic. However, I ended up retiring from industry after 30 years of service. May be I can give you something useful and helpful.

I believe the most important thing for you to do is to adjust your mindset. Once you have your mindset right, you will be fine.

You need to have good skills and experience so the company will hire you. So, you really don't need to worry about lack of skills or anything. (Otherwise, you wouldn't get the job offer).

The real difference between industry and Academia is money. Companies are founded for money. People work for companies for money. Everyone in industry chase after money. Your value depends on how much value you can add to the company profit(or future profit). You are valued by how much salary you are making. Everything is about money.

On the other hand, Academia chase after research and fame. Rarely, people pay attention to money. Of course, people still get paid because they need food to eat and place to live. But, their primary attention is research and research outputs (papers) can bring fame to them.

Once you understand the above, you will be fine.

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The sentiments you are experiencing seem to be a mild form of phobia/ over anxiety to me. In general, using exposure and fear reduction strategies should help here - like keeping calm with breath control, imagining positive scenarios which reinforce ideas of success in your mind, and trying meditation/yoga/breath control exercises.

You should take heart in the fact that the organization you are joining is aware of your academic background and relative inexperience for the role, and has still chosen to go forward with your candidature. Which means, they see potential in you fulfilling the responsibilities of the new role, and will also be willing to help you in the transition. So, once you join, keep an eye out on your stress levels, and do not hesitate to discuss with your manager the issues you might face.

One more thing that you can try is to read up more on what the role demands, and start learning the jargon of it before hand. This will help you smoothen your transition into the work environment once you join. You mention PM role, so depending on whether its project management or product management, you might good questions at pm.stackexchange.com.

As for the 9-5 vs self-scheduled day - give yourself sufficient time and do not give into the anxiety - you may take anywhere from 21 days to over 2 months to form new habits, so know that the change of work environment will only gradually settle in.

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  • Thank you a lot for the advice. I find it very helpful.Yes, for sure there is a bit phobia around the whole situation. – Shinary Jul 29 '19 at 15:06

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