Working as an academic; is it for you?
A career in academia is not the right choice for everyone. Applying for a PhD is something you have to think about carefully to see if it is right for you. I will try to answer the age old philosophical question of: what does a PhD student actually do?
Well, the most crucial aspect of a PhD is research. Most of your time as a PhD student will be spent laboriously in the lab with a cup of coffee (*other hot beverages are available) slaving over SPSS until nightfall. I hope this doesn’t sound too disheartening, but a PhD is 99% research related. The most influential person in regards to your project, ideas and making sure you are on track is YOU. PhD’s are for those that are truly dedicated and self-motivated in achieving what needs to be done to get the project finished. This doesn’t always work right the first time, so you need to be patient and diligent in order to keep things moving. Plus this will prevent you from hating your PhD.
But in order to know whether a PhD is right for you, you have to weigh up whether a career in academia is something that you’re suited to. Most academics fill their time with a combination of research, teaching and admin things, like marking. Academics tend to going to conferences; apply for funding, network and work alongside fellow researchers. As you could imagine, these duties are all quite time intensive. So, if a life in academia is really for you make sure you are passionate about your research, fanatical about organisation, like networking and are flexible with working hours. As an academic the days will start early with meetings and end late with readings (so make sure you keep up with the literature within your field).
What does life look like after a PhD?
After a PhD most students take up a Postdoctoral (Postdoc) position within a university which is 9/10 times research based. Then, after Postdoc training a lectureship is usually the next step.
Ok so still unsure if a life in academia is right for you? Take my 2 minute quiz – it’s just like the ones we used to obsess about in the 00s in Shout and Kerrang magazine!!! It won’t tell you who your dream celeb date is, but will give you some things to think about to see if you’re suited to a life in academia.
-Dr. Double D