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Fork in the road - find work or PhD?


User: CJS_25 - 19 November 2020 16:51

I'm having a nightmare making up my mind, facing the same decision for years. I've always loved science. In my final year of undergrad, while writing my dissertation, I got extremely lonely and depressed. I studied every night to get my work done and shut myself off. At the end of the year my supervisor offered me a PhD but at this point I didn't feel I could face another 3 years at the same university near my home, isolated. I wanted to get out and experience life.

I definitely don't regret that decision, as the 3 years following were the best of my life. I got a job in London in Meteorology and made great friends and plenty of great and crazy memories. It really improved my confidence and I loved the lifestyle - it brought me out of my shell. However, my work soon became unfulfilling and I was sad that I was no longer learning. I wasn't using much of the science I had learnt in my degree.

After a year, I took 15 months out to travel NZ, Australia and SE Asia, and worked in Melbourne. I had another amazing year. After travelling, I came back to London to the same company but I have now been made redundant. I'm now back to square one. I miss learning and the reward of studying but I'm not sure I can handle the 3 years of doing a PhD with no idea what I would do after it. An academic career sounds like a lot of sacrifice for me, along with having little choice over location.

I'm passionate about climate science but the PhDs in this field are mostly in either Cambridge or Exeter, so I'd have to leave London, my boyfriend and friends. I feel like I have to choose between the lifestyle which makes me happy or the career which makes me happy but can't have both. I keep going back and forward over the decision.

Sorry for the rant but I'm driving myself crazy.

User: eng77 - 20 November 2020 11:26

Knowing what to do after PhD is not that critical as it looks. What would be wrong is to start a PhD because you have nothing else to do.
But if you love science, doing a PhD might be a good choice. You do not have to choose a "perfectly" matching subject. If you want to stay in a certain geographical location, a bit of compromise is expected. You do not have to choose between career and life style. You can sacrifice half of each. For example, some commute (one to two hours) with a job or PhD which satisfies you 60-80% would be nice. After Corona, commute will be the new normal as allowing employees to have a considerable time working from home would be not unusual.
One pro for PhD is that if you complete a PhD, you will have a chance to work in research institution or in a company that does some decent work utilising your education and knowledge. It is still possible with a Bachelor but with PhD the chances are higher.





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