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Sunday, 12 May 2019 at 1:29am
Monday, 20 May 2019 at 4:30am
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Thread: Taking time off after PhD

27-May-19, 14:26
edited about 2 minutes later
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posted about 3 weeks ago
Thank you for the replies, some very useful feedback here. I know it is better for my career to look for a job immediately (well, 6 months ago, really), and it seems my family also wants me to do the same...

I would also like to point out at possible issues with your job search so you are prepared for them.

Thank you for those points! I was aware of all of these, but confirmation that my concerns are not misplaced is reassuring.

1) First of all, I have absolutely no way to apply for a work permit here (UK) unless I get a firm job offer AND the company agrees to sponsor me. Over half the workforce in a chemical processing plant nearby are in the same situation so it is not necessarily a death sentence if that is any indication of the wider distribution.

2) I would be happy to take on any role e.g. an assistant chemist or technician. I am aware that I do not know anything about the industry and am eager to learn. I am in a fortunate position where money is not an object pretty much whatsoever... the problem is wasting time - I dislike feeling useless more than anything.

3) I also felt like the "overqualified" label certainly will hinder my chances - to counter this, I might change the "PhD in so-and-so" in my CV to simply "postgraduate degree, environmental chemistry" or something to that effect... might this be advisable for some of the entry-level positions?

I am also realising that I will probably need speech therapy. My stutter is not always unbearable, but I need to control it more if I have any hope of a decent job. It's one of those fiddly conditions that's not considered a disability and is misunderstood by many. The number of times I've heard people talk slowly to me on purpose because they thought something was wrong with my mental facilities is staggering.

Thread: PhD student wellbeing

27-May-19, 13:03
edited about 18 seconds later
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posted about 3 weeks ago
Taken part!

Thread: Taking time off after PhD

26-May-19, 15:46
edited about 1 minute later
Avatar for Spykeeboy
posted about 3 weeks ago
Hello all! Finding myself at a bit of a crossroads and would really appreciate any and all advice.

The situation:

Recently completed a geochemistry PhD after a BSc in chemistry (focused on analytical instrumentation and organic synthesis). The former was a 50:50 mix of all-day lab work extracting and analysing samples (as well as maintenance of instrumentation), and writing (papers, thesis etc.).

Result: 3 first author publications, 1 other, and 3 more in the pipeline (under review/submitted). Have a chance to work on at least one more with a supervisor. Developed statistical programming skills throughout the project - am convinced there isn't a data processing/visualisation workflow I could not automate.

Am 24, approaching 25.

Require a visa to work in Europe (despite having two passports... heh), and thus realistically have 8 months left to find a job in the country where the PhD was done.

Having been a "student" for 20 straight years, do not want to stay in academia and want a lab-based industry job instead (e.g. working as part of a R&D team).

Have a crippling stutter - might take me 15 seconds of huffing and puffing to greet someone when nervous/stressed.
Plus, zero industry experience.

The question:

Would I be shooting myself in the foot by taking ca. a year off before looking for jobs? The dilemma is: Nearly everyone I know (including family) tells me I have got a "golden ticket" and would be an idiot to return to my home country (suffering from economic unrest - even MDs can't always find jobs). Plus, I already feel the post-PhD uselessness and the clock is ticking.

However, I have been away from family for 7 years and it's eating me alive. My father is in his 70s - would like to spend some time with him. I can afford a year off financially, and who knows - finding a job in my home country may be possible, albeit with an abysmal salary by EU standards.

What would you do? Thank you and apologies for the long post.

Thread: A perspective on passing the viva

20-May-19, 05:44
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posted about 1 month ago
Having passed my viva (STEM field) last week, I wanted to share my experience to put the mind of fellow PhD students at ease, especially at the last hurdles!

I think a PhD requires a general ability to shrug off looming mental (!) and physical ailments by taking care of yourself as well as your research. I have made the mistake of not doing the former. By running away from social anxiety and a stutter, I have reserved myself to a poor social life by worrying and over-thinking my every action throughout the project. Now, nearing 25, I am lonely with zero social skills, lost my sense of humour, and am more proficient in English than my native language.

I realize now that my fear of failure was utterly unfounded. So if you suffer from PhD-related stress and are 'stuck' in the final stages, here is what I did prior to/during the viva:

1) Have not looked at my thesis post-submission until 3 weeks before the viva (ca. 2.5 months). When I did read it, it was only twice - you KNOW your research. Focus on the broader context and really understanding the main terminology/concepts of your work instead of having the book definition of those terms you mentioned in passing!

2) Had a practice viva with my supervisor 1 week prior - instrumental! Do not forego this if you can help it, puts things into perspective.

3) Kept my viva answers minimal. If the examiners want more detail, they will ask for it. You might trip yourself by giving away too much.

4) Brought in a list of typos and work done since submission into the viva - shows attention to detail.

5) Left time for fun! Enjoy your hobby(s), go out. Do not strain your mind - it is only so elastic!

As long as you submitted a thesis you are proud of, the overwhelming likelihood is that you will pass. Do not compromise your well-being for it as I have.

I hope this helps somebody along the way :) Good luck!
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