Pre-doctoral thinking process

*Girl raises hand* “Excuse me, but how do you actually know you want to do a PhD? How can you tell?”

About a year ago I went to a career event from my alma mater on ‘Thinking about doing a PhD’. We were a bunch of graduates or graduants sitting in a semi-circle and listening to an academic talk about her experience doing a PhD. It was all very interesting and insightful, although I truly went there just to feel a bit comforted in my decision to start a PhD program the year after.

Everyone asked standard questions except for one girl who asked how one knew if they wanted to do a PhD. A few people sniggered in the room and the guest speaker painfully smiled back at the graduant. How can you answer that question? Either you know or you don’t.

A lot of people I meet think that doing a PhD means that you can just start a new ‘project’ for a few years. That it’s fun and you can stay a student eternally without worrying about the real world. If that’s why you want to do a PhD, forget it. What people never mention is how the PhD is just the beginning of a very long and tedious process to enter the academic world. Doing a PhD is just not enough these days.

*Guest speaker clears throat* “Umm…you need to figure that out for yourself?”

You either know or you don’t.


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