Mr. A (an old friend but not in the same geography anymore)
I am in trouble…I am really screwed. I don’t know what I am doing? I can’t keep up with this. I am done.
One fine night I got these texts. I was worrying and at the same time feeling guilty about why I didn’t make time for him before. Those texts made me realize that it is imperative to talk to him right now. He was trying to contact me from past couple of weeks but unfortunately or I would say as usual I didn’t care about it because of my newly assigned experiments.
Wait, why I am writing about the usual conversation between friends. Why it is even related to doing PhD?
There are times where you need your friend to seek advice or just to fill the plain void in your head. But I am writing about it because all of a sudden my friend, Mr. A bombarded me with his helplessness in current job and decided to switch in PhD. He was tired of marketing job; he was tired from politics of corporate sectors (which I think is inevitable). He was tired of being so straight forward and this is the least thing one need to be in marketing. He missed his bench job, his research and was thinking to get it back.
Honestly, I was shocked from this news…I remember talking to him a month before. He was very happy. He loves travelling in first class, meeting new scientists on daily basis, a good salary and his own startup idea. I mean what else one will need. But they say grass is greener at the other side. And I guess that’s what happened to him.
We have often heard about that how people get tired from PhD and switch to other fields…but Mr. A wanted to get back to PhD line. This is definitely an unusual case but not impossible. Before you make any assumptions let me tell u about Mr. A. He has a master degree in Bioinformatics from a reputed university. He has worked in national level labs. And later he has got a job in a good industry as a researcher. All look good on CV. He knew what he wanted and he was getting it, until he got bore from bench job. He started comparing pay scale to other fields and became demotivated. So he decided to switch into marketing in 2013 and since then he was happy about his decision.
He thought that I will be an ideal person to give him advice, which I doubted hugely. Our conversation began like this…
Mr. A : I have got many offers from reputed national labs for doing PhD. They are paying me good money. I can go to foreign countries and I can earn big chunks of money. I don’t know what I am doing in my current job.
Me: ahhhh….in my head.. I can’t advise him to come to this side of science but wait maybe I should…I will have a forever friend in the same field. This is the best thing. But at the same time PhD is hard and none of these sounds good advice to me. I was in a danger zone. Needless to say all these thoughts took so much time that there was a long pause which went unnoticed.
Mr. A: You there?
Me: Alright, that was the time to speak up. I needed to come up in my SPEAKING MODE. I asked him, what derive you? What keep you motivated in your job? If it’s money then you are on right track. Business and corporate sector is a place to make money. Use your experience for that. But if you want to pursue PhD and postdoc and think that you can earn big chunks then mind you my friend, are u not aware of the discussion about increment in the pay scale of postdocs because they are one of the most underpaid employee. And in return this is going to affect funding process of research projects by cutting down money or having less vacancy for postdocs.
You already have a job. You will go through PhD and postdoc and then be unemployed (no offense but for a while) in the market again. If you really want to pursue this path go for it. It’s your call. In fact I will love it because I advocate for higher education. But PhD is not just another university degree. You acquire mental skills during your PhD years. Don’t jump into this field bez u think it pays u off better than your current job.
I am not trying to discourage u by any means. In fact I will bring to love one more member in scientific community. Let me tell you about myself, I choose PhD with really clear head. I wanted to do it because I was and still I am passionate about research. I want to have a sense of pride to do a job with a purpose which will contribute in society rather than investing in consumerism. This is what drives me through thick and thin.
There are moments when I want to give up too just like everybody else. We all have weak moments and it is ok to have them. But remember that what brought you here in the first place and that will keep you going. You can switch whenever you want. It is never too late for anything weathers its PhD, marketing or anything but be wise to invest your 4 and 5 years of life into something.
Do remember that things come in a package, good and bad together. They don’t come in separate boxes. You need to take them as whole and figure it out with what sets of things you will be most willing to adjust. Why don’t you analyze your set of skills and goals that you want to achieve and see where does it fit? Which field can provide you all? Find out where you can get best reward for your hardship and efforts.
Me: So, what do you think? Do you still want to do PhD ?
Mr. A: ummmm…..that was a really long speech…btw