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Loneliness and Isolation during your PhD

Does your University have a post-graduate society? If not perhaps you could start one, shouldn't take too much time/effort (it could just be a weekly coffee morning or meet up at your student union on Fridays), will look great on your CV and I'm sure you will find there are many people who feel the same way you do. If you are based in a city some have their own post-grad/PhD student societies as well. I think it's important to be able to talk to people going through the same thing as you so if these things don't work for you then chat to people online as others suggest.

I joined some recreational sports teams outside my uni too and made lots of friends that way. Try gomammoth or if you don't like sports then citysocializer. But by 2nd/3rd year I found that doing a PhD ate up all my time prevented me from have outside interests and friends. That's the nature of the beast I'm afraid!

Are postdocs fun?!

Hey everyone,

I am half way through writing up my PhD and I have a really awesome postdoc lined up for when I am finished. So I should be happy shouldn't I? Sometimes I am but I am also apprehensive. I have had a very hard PhD and I guess I am worried that nothing will really change one I start my postdoc. Is it different? If so then how? I still really love most aspects of research but I don't love the pressure and stress I felt during my PhD.

I also suffer big time from impostor syndrome and I keep wondering if they made the right decision choosing me and I worry that I won't do well. I thought by now I would be over this. Any other post-docs struggle with this ever? Or just me?!

Thanks :)

Should I do a PhD?

As someone who is struggling through a write up after 3.5 years of hell (and may therefore be slightly biased/bitter!) I would say don't do a PhD unless it's really necessary for your career.

I am really focused on a career in academia and extremely passionate about my field but I still felt like quitting many times (including now!). My PhD was exceptionally hard because I was working alone and felt very isolated but this may not be the case for you. You often have to do reports and presentations as well as your lab work and keep up your records/lab book, regular analysis, attend training/seminars, teach yourself to use software and other skills. It's really difficult and stressful and you need determination more than anything else to get to the end of it. I had to work late nights and weekends and give up all my hobbies in the 2 years. This is not always the case but you need to be prepared for it.

The best part of the PhD for me (and why I want a career in research) is having creative licence to do anything you want (supervisor permitting!). I'm sure you would enjoy this aspect of it since you like to problem solve and invent things. Many industry jobs in my field do not allow you to be creative which is why I am doing a PhD. You end up doing what the company tells you and the work is very repetitive. So I would look into what kind of jobs you like the sound of and find out what qualifications you need and go from there.

So to summarize, if I could go back and do it again I would because I need it for my career and therefore it's worth the 3/4 years of hell for the happiness it will bring me long-term. But if I didn't need it/wanted a job in industry would I do it again? Hell no!