PhD blues

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 46 total)
  • PhD blues
  • Junkyard
    Member

    Yes and I left

    Do think about it but I dont regret it

    chambord
    Member

    Yes and I left

    If you don’t mind me asking what did you do when you left? Did you stick to the same industry as your undergraduate degree? Have any difficulties finding work?

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Subscriber

    Half a dozen of my friends from uni started PhDs. Only one finished.

    HTH 🙂

    Why bother with a PhD if you don’t want to be an academic?

    Yes, but I stuck it out (all 4 years in the end) and treated it as a-means-to-an-end – didn’t get drawn into the academic posturing/politics as I knew I was getting out and into industry once it was done. It was just a way of making me more employable in the job I wanted (which it did).

    stevego
    Member

    I finished mine here in Australia, did 2 post-docs (Holland and London) before jacking it in to become a secondary-school teacher and dragging my family back to Aus.
    It is a long slog, especially if you don’t enjoy it, but all Ph>D’s (well most) have their ups and downs with collections of disasters. At least you aren’t in biological sciences, I had a -70C freezer die and lost 6 months of samples along with numerous other problems. I don’t think I was really cut out for research.

    Junkyard
    Member

    If you don’t mind me asking what did you do when you left?

    Went travelling

    Did you stick to the same industry as your undergraduate degree?

    No did a degree in Psychology , did acadmeic stuff and tbh I despised so many people and the egos that I decided i could learn nothing about humanity /people from this shower, TBH my heart was not in the subject I was just good at academia

    Have any difficulties finding work?

    Not really but at a lower level than if I had done a PhD
    As molly said though all it would have done for me is let me be an academic and it was not for me [ well not in that subject area]

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Subscriber

    molgrips – Member

    Why bother with a PhD if you don’t want to be an academic?

    This.

    I finished mine, and loved every minute of it. In fact, I did more riding when I was a doctoral student, but I used my bike as a cure for word block. And I got word block alot.

    But don’t do it unless you love academia. There is no point as far as I’m concerned.

    Premier Icon fabs
    Subscriber

    Don’t know if I can help with answering your question. Just to say i totally sympathize!

    I am trying to finish a PhD at the moment. I have had waves of doubt throughout the last four years. If I am honest, I wish I hadn’t started. I should have probably picked a taught masters in the area instead – I would have been spoon-fed the information, and it would have been constrained to a year. I could have learned more on the job afterwards.

    The thing that brings me down with the PhD is the sense of complete isolation. I generally find it far more motivating to work in a team of people!

    Might change my negative view if I ever get the damn thing. It hasn’t been the inspiring thing I hoped it would be. It also hasn’t been the doss my working friends think it is. I have lost count of how many weekends I have worked!

    One thing I would say is that it has helped me become a lot better self-learning. And I have learned a lot. Think my research is probably a bit weak though!

    I work in engineering. I and I share some of your feelings about the tech industry.

    Anyway back to the dreaded thesis…

    perthmtb
    Member

    I’m two years into a PhD and have just jacked it in to get a job – luckily in a related field so what I’ve done so far hasn’t been totally wasted.

    As others have said above, it’s not a lot of use in getting a job, in fact one of the things that made me jack it in was that in job interviews it was coming over as a negative. I found myself having to defend why I was becoming an out of touch, over qualified but then not qualified to really do anything practical, academic!

    Yes, all PhDs go thru bad patches and a bit of self doubt, but if you really aren’t interested in becoming an academic, you have no motivation for your subject, and don’t like the industry you’d go into at the end of it – then why put yourself thru three years of torture?

    But, and its a big but – if you don’t have a coherent alternative plan at the moment, its probably better to be doing something than nothing. But, like me, use your spare time to plot a good escape into something you do want to do, and go riding 😀

    ianpv
    Member

    I’d quit if I was you.

    I loved my PhD, and am now an academic.

    There are lots of things about academia that are terrible, so if you don’t have an appetite for the intellectual side of it (i.e. the ‘fun’ bit, which is all you have to do as a PhD student), it just isn’t worth it.

    good luck!

    bajsyckel
    Member

    Yeah, currently writing up (in theory at least). Pretty depressing and demoralising time in many ways, it can seem to consume all of your life, and all your energy and enthusiasm for anything whatsoever. Not helped by the fact of not wanting to be “an academic” – though I’m lucky in that I have some great colleagues and friends (and supervisors who are both).

    However there are some amazing things to doing a PhD which you will rarely get the chance to do otherwise, even if your project is crap (I should know). Take advantage of all of these things as much as possible.

    The sun outside makes this even worse I might go out for a ride.

    This is one of them. Do this. Even for an hour or so. It will make things better. Try not to think about work too much but don’t stress if you do. Don’t start the working week on a downer, and don’t try and force things when they aren’t going for you – leave the unending despair for 3rd year (and beyond).

    Oh and +1 to fabs and loads of the other stuff above…

    [edit] I was feeling like I’m just exiting a massive downer, but reading others’ comments on here, I hope I’m not going to get pushed back over the edge again 😉

    chambord
    Member

    Thanks for responses everyone.

    Why bother with a PhD if you don’t want to be an academic?

    It opens up a lot of job opportunities as well in the tech industry – many roles are not suitable for graduates. Unfortunately I think I’ve fallen out of love with the industry anyway, and to be honest even my research area seems a bit pointless to me.

    Many people ask me “What is the point?” and I struggle to answer.

    At the moment, it just feels like I’m going along with it for the sake of it, and not because I want to. I’m not sure whether this is just a phase, and I’ll wake up tomorrow full of renewed vigour and interest in the area.

    I have been thinking that for well over a month now though.

    chambord
    Member

    But, like me, use your spare time to plot a good escape into something you do want to do, and go riding

    This is my current plan.

    CaptJon
    Member

    chambord – Member
    I’m a new (First year) PhD student…I am interested in the subject, but can’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel.

    You can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel because you’re in your first year. It will appear, it will get brighter, it will dull, at times you’ll turn your back on it, but in the end perseverance and guidance from good supervisors will get you to the end.

    Many people ask me “What is the point?” and I struggle to answer.

    At the moment, it just feels like I’m going along with it for the sake of it, and not because I want to. I’m not sure whether this is just a phase, and I’ll wake up tomorrow full of renewed vigour and interest in the area.

    I have been thinking that for well over a month now though. If you really can’t articulate what the point of a PhD is for you, at all, then you should call it a day.

    It’s a tough decision, everyone suffers during their PhD (or at least they should). Real contributions to knowledge are not easy to make. So you don’t have a reliable baseline measurement for comparison to your own individual case. Have you tried talking with your group, supervisor to get an idea of your performance? Like if you quit tomorrow, would everyone say that was to be expected, or would it shock the whole group?

    IA
    Member

    CompSci Phd here…

    Read the book “how to get a phd” phillips & pugh. Probably a copy in your uni library.

    I did it fully intending to go back into an industrial R&D setting. Which I’ve done (I make space robots smarter). It definitely helped me get my current post. They’re not just for going into academia.

    The thing to remember is that it’s the skills you learn during the PhD that are important, not so much the topic itself – it’s unlikely to be directly relevant.

    However –

    (Computer vision and pose estimation

    As I speak I’m watching a testbed rover navigate the office using pose estimates from a stereo camera pair…. so there’s definitely a lot of application of vision work at the moment!

    A few other comments: hardly anyone fails a PhD but 1 in 4 never submit.

    My glib response to how a PhD works is always:

    1st year work out what the hell you’re doing
    2nd year do it.
    3rd year do it again, properly this time.
    4th year write it up.

    Highs and lows are normal. Especially when you’re working out what to do. Are you self directed (EPSRC scholar or similar) or on a project with fairly clear goals? The first is harder/more uncertain at first I think, but offers more freedom than the second (good or bad!) pros and cons to each.

    The above might sound a bit pro-phd – I really think they’re not for everyone. You see folk doing them just because they’d no better ideas, or they got offered funding… that’s the wrong reason IMO.

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    At 28 your young enough to do anything you want – take a month off and have a serious think about what you want to do. I binned my PhD in yr 3 and got a job in a related but applied field, in hindsight I should have done something completely different, but I’m there now 🙂

    IA
    Member

    Also:

    use your spare time

    I see where you went wrong there, don’t remember any of that* ;-).

    *actually that was just the end of it, rode my bike lots, fenced lots, for most of it.

    chambord
    Member

    I’m a new (First year) PhD student doing some computery stuff (Computer vision and pose estimation for anyone who is interested).

    I am interested in the subject, but can’t really see the light at the end of the tunnel. The tech industry bores me like no other and the thought of socialising with academics for much longer makes me want to cry.

    I don’t know whether this kind of depression is usual this early on in a PhD, or whether I’m making a huge mistake commiting to it and should jack it all in and retrain as a lumberjack or some other wholesome trade which might make me happy.

    Anyone done a PhD and experienced similar feelings? Anyone been my age (28) and retrained in something completely different (I have £0 so don’t really see how retraining is feasbile).

    The sun outside makes this even worse 🙁 I might go out for a ride.

    rwc03
    Member

    Can I have a vent too. End of 3rd year here and similar feelings of doubt but too late for me to quit now! Just lost faith in the work I’m doing and resent my supervisor for talking me into it when I should have gone to a more respected university and done a Master’s.

    You’re better taking advice from someone who has come out of the tunnel but my advice would be to leave now if you’re not interested in the indusrty and as above use your time to see what’s out there. One year out isn’t a long time really

    TheDoctor
    Member

    You have to enjoy your phd subject or it is going to be really hard!

    On the job front, it can be a double edged sword as mentioned above. Mine is definitely a hindrance at the moment as I am 10 months unemployed, with most comments along the lines of “over qualified, under experienced”

    Early onset 18 month blues.

    Completed mine after almost jacking it in. Two mates did. Now a teacher. Was a means to an end, mind you that end was 3 more years of being paid to be a student. Do i regret it? Nope. would I have done it if I knew then what I know now? Nope.

    Premier Icon SaxonRider
    Subscriber

    IA – Member

    My glib response to how a PhD works is always:

    1st year work out what the hell you’re doing
    2nd year do it.
    3rd year do it again, properly this time.
    4th year write it up.

    That’s very good. I think I may use that if you don’t mind (with proper attribution, of course). 8)

    chewkw
    Member

    This is based on my observation … only do things that motivate you otherwise it’s a waste of time.

    Premier Icon marko75
    Subscriber

    My glib response to how a PhD works is always:

    1st year work out what the hell you’re doing
    2nd year do it.
    3rd year do it again, properly this time.
    4th year write it up.

    This sums it up. Lots of the time its a slog <shudders at thought of the literature review>

    I worked in industry for almost 10 years before returning to read for an MSc and then a PhD. Even if you dont work in academia then a PhD is still a good thing to have IMHO. They can never take it away with you and makes working overseas a lot easier (hence in my case the MSc and then PhD).

    My blues lasted for 18 months of a 3 year engineering PhD. I was looking at novel alloys (intermetallics) and kept on getting silly results – It wasnt till I was in the SEM lab at 8pm at night after searching for 18 months that I had my Eureka moment and realised it was all down to carbon content. Freaking carbon!!!!!

    Just ride and think about the topic whist on the bike – both wins!

    Good luck and dont let the buggers grind you down!

    Premier Icon Northwind
    Subscriber

    Completely normal to hit a bad patch (I don’t have one myself but I work in the field). Have you spoken to your supervisor or to other support people?

    What we find is that undergrads and to a lesser extent masters students are more likely to seek/find help when they need it, phd students tend to assume they’re on their own and that this is just part of doing a phd. It’s not so with us, it’s probably not so with most decent institutions but it’s always proved hard for us to get people to the support that’s available, at the right time.

    Supervisors aren’t always helpful with this, even though we push against it there’s still an attitude of “If you can’t take the heat” from some. It is bollocks though.

    chambord
    Member

    There has been a lot of helpful information shared so I’d like to thank everyone for that.

    I actually feel a bit better this afternoon, possibly because I’ve been sat in the park in the sun for 2 hours (With a Feast/Festival of course, I challenge you to find a better icy snack).

    I’m going to have a word with my supervisor about everything tomorrow.

    Thanks again – not a bad bunch when you’re not arguing about wheel sizes ;).

    IA
    Member

    (With a Feast/Festival of course, I challenge you to find a better icy snack).

    Dammit, now I want a Feast and I’ve no idea where I’d get one round here. Truly a prince among iced snacks.

    As well as your supervisor, speak to your second supervisor – they’ll likely have different opinions – perhaps also a bit more distance which may help. If you don’t have a second yet, perhaps now’s the time to get that sorted out?

    alaslas
    Member

    Whatever you do, don’t jack it in on the basis of comments on here! There are some absolute push-over perspectives on this thread, and you’d do well to discuss everything in full frankness with your supervisor.

    There’s a reason why you engaged on a PhD – find out what that was and decide if you still want to be that person. You might feel you let yourself down if you quit now.

    Oh, and I very much wish I’d found riding and running before the end of my PhD, when the workload and stress was so great that I cracked and started commuting by bike. Not looked back since. Managed my stress levels, broke the writer’s block. Now trying to finish up.

    Best of luck.

    ska-49
    Member

    Nearing the end of my MSc and can’t wait to finish!
    I loved the subject at the beginning of the year (and before) but this year has really taken the fun out of it. I was considering a PhD in this subject. Glad I didn’t! Best of luck to you though.

    It’s supposed to be bloody hard. Worthwhile things often are. At the end of it, you’ll have proved to the world, but most importantly to yourself, that you can turn yourself into an expert in a small corner of your subject area and then do some independent, original work. If you want a job in academia, you need one of the damn things. If you want a job at the cutting edge of any technology (where the good stuff happens) then you have no idea how valuable that PhD, plus maybe a bit of post-doctoral research work (which I found to be much less stressful than the PhD) will be in landing that job.

    Good luck.

    Premier Icon marko75
    Subscriber

    I’m going to have a word with my supervisor about everything tomorrow.

    Thanks again – not a bad bunch when you’re not arguing about wheel sizes ;).

    So you are going to talk to your supervisor about changing your topic to include computational modelling of 26, 27.5 and 29″ wheels and the influence of different size tyres and pressures?

    lovewookie
    Member

    I completed the whole 3 years of my PhD, loved the research, loved running the lab, loved the subject area, hated the lack of support from the uni, understood that my supervisor was in the same boat and struggled with getting funding and general support from the rest of the uni so was unable to fit me in most of the time, got fed up with this about halfway through the final year, but the final nail in the coffin was the complete lack of interest from the funders. After 3 years of work and 5 80 odd page interim reports it was pretty clear they just weren’t interested at all about the findings, regardless of potential future financial savings (it was environmental geochemistry and reuse of waste materials).

    10 years on and I decided to finally destroy the work I’d been storing.

    the letters mean nothing to me and would not impact my day job now anyway.

    TiRed
    Member

    Get a kite. Go out and fly it. Go back to work. Repeat. Then learn to juggle 😉

    You said you like your subject, that’s the most important part. PhD’s aren’t just about becoming an academic. Being interested in what you are studying is the most important part.

    Keep at it. Or give it up. Just don’t linger. One of my colleagues left after two years with an Mphil, moved to Japan to teach English and never came back. She saves turles now (far cry from Quantum Gravity). I read that about half of PhD students can be classed as clinically depressed at some stage of their studies. You aren’t any different, I’m afraid.

    IA
    Member

    r they just weren’t interested at all about the findings

    Another glib remark I’ve made about PhDs, with more than a small element of truth:

    “A PhD is basically becoming the world expert in something (so specific) nobody else cares about”

    Premier Icon geoffj
    Subscriber

    Just a bit more empathy – I’m on the home straight of my MBA. I’ll be glad to see the back of it in October 😐

    chewkw
    Member

    One of my friend got a PhD in Engineering in his 30s who later went on to post doc research now he earns less than a secretary. He would be better off being a tube/train driver. Another one gave up his PhD to work with council and he earns more than the one with PhD. Others that I know who become academics struggle …

    If you are doing PhD in social science related subjects than chances is that you will struggle for a while before settling down … Not advisable if you intend to start a family. Even if you got the job you will be job hopping for at least a decade before you settle down at a location.

    However, if you are doing PhD in science related subjects your chance of getting a job with pay higher than a secretary is higher, but only if your research falls into the category of demand. Otherwise, you will struggle to find a job that pay you for what you have.

    Worst case scenario is that you do a PhD just because you think it will give you a better job prospect. No it does not because unless your research is in high demand you will start from the very bottom again … you pay will be less than a secretary and definitely less than a bureaucratic manager. The reason is simple that you have not accumulated enough research experience to warrant bureaucrats’ pay level. To gain those experience you need to slave yourself as lowly ranking post doc research maggots. Then you need to justify your skills to those peers who think you do not deserve it because you are a smartar*e or being better than them. You go back to the square one trying to understand the nature of things. Too late. The bureaucrats win.

    🙄

    Premier Icon fabs
    Subscriber

    I feel this is relevant to the subject of PhDs:

    coffeeking
    Member

    Pose estimation from an eye to hand position or eye in hand?

    I love academia. My PhD was long and hard and isolated and isolating. My post docs hard and interesting, all of which made me much more employable. Not much richer, but I get access to jobs that interest me, I’m not really too bothered by cash. If I could go back I probably would but right now I’m learning lots and dealing with far more politics, ego and nonsense in industry than academia, but that is part of working in a high tech team with several other PhDs and many years experience.

    chewkw
    Member

    coffeeking – Member

    … I’m not really too bothered by cash.

    Remain in this position for another 20 years then see if you are still not bothered by cash or wait until you have a family … you may starve but should your family?

Viewing 40 posts - 1 through 40 (of 46 total)

The topic ‘PhD blues’ is closed to new replies.