Tuesday, March 11

PhD or not to PhD that is some peoples question

A good mate of mine, who I shall call Miss A & I have been discussing getting a PhD. She's waaaaaay further ahead of this planning process than I am, as she actually has applied & gone for an interview & toured the campus. She emailed me today to say she doesn't think she wants to do it anymore & did I think this was weird. Here is my reply, which some of you might find interesting since I'm sure you've wondered, when or why has she not gotten her PhD yet. If you have more questions feel free to ask away.

Miss A,
I never even made it as far as an interview & visiting a campus, I just have this gut feeling like I'm not meant to be a PhD student. I don't think it has anything to do with me not being smart enough, just the stuff they (PhDs) do seems less like what I actually enjoy about the lab. I'm not into the writing of papers & grants. I enjoy the lab section of the job - I like playing around with media & bugs & at times even enjoy the LFU (email me if you haven't figured out what that is yet) work, that is when they're BALB, but even the B6 I'm getting use to - did I tell you I can now ip inject a B6 . . . I'd never done that before in my Trudeau life (as I like to call it).
I see Greg, Ulrich, John, Helena & Quentin pulling their hair out over money & grants. All worried they're research will be scooped by another lab or PI (principle investigator). Maybe I'm just not cut-throat enough for that position. I wish I knew exactly what it was, though I guess in a way it doesn't really matter, I just know I don't want what they have. That's not to say I won't want it in the future, just for now, I can't or maybe I don't want to handle it. I don't think it's a bad thing by any means, as I love my job & the work I'm doing now. If/when the day comes when I suddenly have the urge to go for the PhD, then hopefully I'll be in a position where I have the time & can pursue it.
Anne-Marie (a receptionist) had a bit of a go per say with me over this issue just last week when I bumped into her whilst on my way back from getting my new glasses (see photo in older post). She said, so when you gonna be done with your PhD? To which I explained I wasn't a PhD student, just here working for now. She said, oh come on, what a waste of time, you know you want one. I thought, the cheek of her to tell me it's a waste of time, how the heck does she know what I want & if what I'm doing is a waste of time?!?!?!?!
There are lots of things I still want to do in my life, like more travelling & in my mind signing up for 4-6 years for a PhD doesn't really sound like fun when I could spend that money & time doing other things. Some might call it laziness, but as Greg always says PhDs come & go, but the technical & administrative staff are the ones who run this place! So my point is that your decision not to get/want to get a PhD right now is nothing to be ashamed/embarrassed/worried about at all!

Anyone have thoughts/ideas/comments about Miss A & me not wanting a PhD?

On a completely different topic, today I'm thankful to the porters who scrubbed, cleaned, polished, and waxed our lab floor - it looks beautiful!!!

Okay off to have movie/curry night with Shani & Ellie now.

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At 11 March, 2008 20:42, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I absolutely understand your current reasons for not getting a PhD. I would also understand completely if you felt the other way. I guess what I'm saying is: I'd always support whatever you decided to do.

Quid went to meet Karen's 2 standard female poodles today. They all got on very well!

Love, Mommio--and I fell in their driveway--elbow sore but that's all. Ha, ha . . .

At 11 March, 2008 22:23, Blogger PCS said...

I've been told that, at drug companies, a person with a Masters degree does almost as well financially as do persons with PhD's. Probably more jobs for people with Masters degrees too. Besides, what's the hurry. You have many decades of life ahead of you yet.

At 12 March, 2008 01:32, Blogger Zee said...

I'm not in the sciences field so pardon my ignorance on those subjects, but for my part I find it outrageous that anyone would question whether or not you're getting an advanced degree in the first place! (And the fact that this came from a receptionist? Well.. don't get me started... ;-)

Anyway, getting an education - any education - costs money: here in the states it's tuition + room & board + books + misc. expenses; in other places it's just room and board and books and what not. But in either case you're taking time away from doing full time work, which means you're either doing something to advance your career or you're not.

If getting a PhD will help you get where you want to be in your career, great! In some fields you have to have an advanced degree just to get in the door. But if that's not the case, it seems a bit extraneous to do it unless the pursuit of the additional knowledge is really what floats your boat.

Maybe I'm just not one of those people who's keen on being poor and in school for half my adult life. But then, I haven't ever found anything I was interested in enough to take 2+ years to study to the extent that you do in grad school. Perhaps once I decide what I want to be when I grow up?

I think your advice to Miss A was right on: it's her life, she can do with it what she wishes. Getting a PhD she doesn't really want seems like more a waste to me than spending 4-6 years doing something you wish you weren't doing.

(Oh my, that got long in a hurry... So sorry!)

At 12 March, 2008 09:57, Blogger Sara said...

Thanks! Glad you didn't hurt yourself falling, where you wearing your yaktracks?

very good points, cheers

thanks for your input, I'm going to make sure Miss A comes by & reads all of these comments!! cheers my dear, xx

At 12 March, 2008 14:39, Anonymous Amanda said...

I love re-reading our emails on this blog!

At 13 March, 2008 13:34, Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I didn't know you were struggling with this, but I have to say that after working in research science for a long enough time, it's a common dilemma. I went back and forth on it too, but like you, I didn't feel that I wanted to spend all that time and work getting a degree, so I could do less of the things in the lab I actually enjoy. But there is a sort of a Catch 22 in this because you never feel quite up to standard if you don't have one. We often talk here, that you don't get nearly the same intellectual respect if you don't get your PhD. But I say screw it. Also like you, I've got way more interesting things I'm doing and anxious to do. And PCS makes a good point (I was kind of surprised at his view on this actually, I thought he may have felt the other way).

At 14 March, 2008 18:33, Blogger Andrew said...

I'm intending on getting a PhD somewhere down the road - I think that I'd like to teach at the college level, and well, for history, you kinda need that. I've just started my Master's, so I'm making forward progress, but we'll see if this burns me out or not...

At 20 March, 2008 17:57, Anonymous Susan said...

I completely agree--I think that you should do whatever makes you happiest. There's no reason to do a PhD just for the sake of having the degree especially if you don't want to be writing grants and such. I can't believe that Anne-Marie said that! It's none of her business and it's true that it's the technical staff that really make sure that things get done and are done properly ultimately.

At 23 March, 2008 01:12, Anonymous dad said...

interesting dialogue on the issue and food for thought.

Like Mom, I wupport what you want to do and would be glad to discuss the options,if the occasion arises!

love, dad


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