Who is Pepe Bonet and what is this blog about?
Hey! That is me! I am a third-year PhD student in Barcelona working in the field of computational oncology. We will definitely talk more about what I do in later posts, but let's first address the question of why would somebody like me start a website like this. It truly all comes down to help prospect or early career scientist as well as other student finishing up a master or PhD by telling and explaining my PhD journey and the last year of it.
I keep dreaming about somebody coming and guiding me on whether I should go to a big tech after my PhD, start my own thing, work in an early-stage startup, or stay in academia. I could have also used a better explanation of what a PhD consists of and all the things that can happen in the process. As subjective as addressing these things are, I think I find myself in the position to give my point of view and try to help people with it.
Should I go to a big tech, start my own thing, work in an early-stage startup or stay in academia?
Sometimes when you want to do something new or different you always receive the question of whether you are ready enough to lecture about it, or whether you should wait until you have more knowledge. Although one is never ready enough, I feel like sharing my thoughts might benefit people if they can extract something positive from it. I am starting the last year of my PhD and, in my humble opinion, I am entering one of the most beautiful and challenging periods of my life. I will need to finish up publications, write the PhD thesis, and apply for jobs to finally decide for my next career step. All of that, while I carry out an executive master in Business Analytics at ESADE that I am starting in January. There are a lot of exciting moments coming up and I would like to share it with the most people possible in a real-time fashion.
“There are a lot of exciting moments coming up and I want to share it with the most people possible just in case it could be useful for somebody else in the future. ”
In helping others, you help yourself
I would like to use this platform to address different important topics and questions as well as letting you guys know about my story and how I deal with things that have happened throughout my journey or things that I see happening shortly. Among some of the topics I would like to cover we could find:
Why do a PhD and why it can be good for my future? Should I do a PhD or go to a company?
Life after PhD. Which options do I have and which ones am I interested in.
Is a PhD hard? Should I be afraid of it? What should I expect?
Big Tech, start my own thing, go to an early stage startup, post-doc, or any other?
Why start a master in Business Analytics in the last year of your PhD?
The main goal here is to talk and discuss different questions so that people have a clearer picture of what a PhD journey is. I hope everybody understands that by portraying a single person's experience one cannot extrapolate my thoughts to all PhDs in the world. However, I will do my best to give an unbiased opinion on the different topics. In that direction, I would like to stress that any suggestions, comments, and help from anybody will be more than welcomed. Carrying out this project means a lot of positive things to me and I will be incredibly happy if I can help anybody. I am also aware that l am exposing myself to being misunderstood or to making mistakes, but I will do my best to present a fair and balanced point of view.
Why should you trust what I say?
This is a really good question! My immediate response would be: "I don't know". Bottom line is that I cannot instantly convince you to do it. Probably the real question would be whether you are open to, at the same time, trust me and come up with your own opinion about the topics. I can certainly tell you that I am not a CEO of a big company, I did not start a company which is at a 500 million valuation and I am far from being the model example of the best possible PhD. But as academic achievements are nowadays needed for almost anything, I will talk a bit about me and see if that helps to improve your trust in me.
I did a Bachelor in Biotechnology back in Valencia (Spain) with a 1-year Erasmus in Bonn (Germany). At the end of it, regardless of the grades and possibility to go and join one of the best pharmaceutical masters in Europe, I decided to move to a completely different field. I moved to the University of Maastricht (The Netherlands) to start a 2-year Master in Systems Biology. It was a bold decision, I moved to do more math and computational stuff having barely any background on it.
I loved mathematics since I was a kid and I had realized that nothing felt better than doing technical stuff. The most important thing I would like you to know here is that I did what I loved and I selected what would make me happy. I would say that only because I started doing what I enjoyed, I was able to excel academically.
"I did what I loved and I selected what would make me happy"
If for anybody is still more important to point out my academic performance. I was able to carry out my master thesis at the Carnegie Mellon University in the United States (one of the top universities in computer science and information systems in the world). I got a summa cum laude distinction for my master as well as two different prizes for my master thesis (best Systems biology master thesis and best master thesis of the Faculty of Data Science and Knowledge Engineering). Right after finishing my master's, I got a Marie-Skłodowska Curie fellowship to develop my PhD at the Barcelona Biomedical Genomics Lab (BBGlab) at IRB Barcelona. The fellowship is embedded in an Innovative Training Network named CONTRA (Computational Oncology Training Alliance), which has allowed me to perform several stays at the ETH, University of Vigo and KTH as well as to assist to different summer schools, conferences, and training events all around Europe. Finally, in parallel to the last year of my PhD I will carry out an Executive Master in Business Analytics at ESADE.
With that being said, believe, both, when I say that I have no real answer to some of the questions I stated before, and when I say I will search for that response. The reasons for this quest for information are implicit in everything that has been said. I am about to face one of the most exciting and challenging years of my life as well as one of the most important decisions regarding my future. I am going to work my socks off to find out how to be in the best position possible when the decision time comes. And I don't want to keep all that learning process and experience for myself. I want to share it, I want people to know about my struggles and my thoughts and I want to make people better with it. I would love to motivate people and encourage them to expand themselves. You can always do more than what you think and you can always be a better version of yourself.
"You can always do more than what you think and you can always be a better version of yourself"
This is not a one-way blog. Please ask, engage, suggest and let me get inspired by you
Finally, just mention that I am unaware of the dimension that this web can take and how many people it can reach, whether they will be willing to read what I write or will find it interesting at all. Therefore, it is difficult to comment further, but I would like to say that I would love to see people asking questions or suggesting to start a discussion on a given topic. As I mentioned, I will definitely try to do my best. Please also, let me get inspired by you and your stories.
From a friend,