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Dunham
Sunday, 19 April 2015 at 2:12pm
Sunday, 10 June 2018 at 7:25am
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Thread: Post PhD life

posted
04-May-16, 22:17
edited about 1 minute later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From Tudor_Queen:
It's an interesting career path isn't it... I can't really think of anything else like it. Pilot maybe? But even they get to live in one place!


I honestly don't get all the complains about relocations. What did people expect? Everyone knows that the path towards a permanent position in academia looks like that. Never have I once met a Bachelor student who was not aware of that. It's an open secret and still people choose to follow this path, do their PhDs and then complain about the system as if they had not known that an average publication list produced at the same university does not get you a decent job in academia ;) If you want to settle in a certain region at a certain time, then academia was just a poor career choice and deep down we all already knew it for a long time and hoped we might be the few exceptions. I think it is as advertised and it has not been fundamentally different 10 or 20 years ago. Most of the professors I met and that are now in their 40s or 50s spent substantial time abroad and moved quite a lot. People who stayed at one University or a certain region in a country always represented a minority (unless they were exceptionally bright and talented). There is simply an excess of people who go for a career in academia. Not surprising that we all have (or will have) a hard time to find jobs after graduation, no matter if in academia or outside, and no surprise that the working conditions, salaries contracts etc. suffer when there are 50 scientists waiting to take the position.

I just started my PhD 6 months ago. A bit early to think about the time after that but it will strongly depend on publication output. If it's going well, I would consider the "risk" of a Post Doc position as long as it is application oriented with visible industry-relevance. If you have a competitive publication list you can probably get a scholarship and don't have to apply for whatever position is open at this moment. In the long run, a job in R&D or an environmental agency would be nice. I would definitely not spent the amount of time in academia that it usually takes to find out if I you are one of the chosen few ;)

Thread: PhD or Job?

posted
25-Apr-16, 20:54
edited about 15 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
If a PhD is necessary/beneficial/detrimental depends also on the field. To me, management is one of those fields where I can't see any special necessity. The company experience is way more valuable. You can of course just do it for the PhD experience itself...

One German Biology professor wrote ones in a column in the labjournal that he generally does not recommend his students to do a PhD unless they really want to work in academia. In terms of a company job, the only thing you would get from a PhD is being four years older. There are of course exceptions but very often these exceptions published really good. However, most PhD students will end up with an average publication list and then you'll have a hard time....at least that's what I experienced with all colleagues who applied outside of academia so far. A PhD is required for many higher positions in companies but there are just not so many of those. Companies don't need hundred of team leaders and often when they search for a team leader, they rather promote somebody that already works for them. I recently saw job adverts from Roche (or was it Bayer?) that even specified that people with a PhD need not to apply....

The soft skills of a PhD are valuable as long as there are few people with a PhD. At several of these career day events, HR people told that soft skills are generally something that is a bit overrated by grad students. It is nice to have but at the end of the day, employers look for people with specific skills and a personality that fits to the team. There might be people who got hired because of general PhD skills but I am pretty sure that this is a small minority. If you think about how many people get their PhD nowadays it is just not that special anymore. If everybody has a PhD, no one has... :)

Thread: Advice

posted
12-Apr-16, 06:38
edited about 20 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From Adobe:
First, I bet the respondents are men. Second, I met with him and that's exactly what he meant.


they are not all men ;)

Thread: PhD in Denmark Dr. title in Germany?

posted
11-Apr-16, 19:52
edited about 2 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Being a German myself, I would say that it doesn't matter ;) A PhD from Denmark will be probably even higher regarded as you did something a little bit outstanding and not the usual Bachelor at Uni A, Master at Uni A, PhD at Uni A (assuming of course you perform as well as you would in Germany).
Maybe you'll get something like "chris077, PhD" instead of "Dr. chris077". It will be definitely no disadvantage in terms of jobs. Every employer will see in CV and cover letter that you did your PhD.

I disagree a bit with the statement that doctor titles have some value and advantages in Germany. It used to be like that but nowadays you impress some senior citizens...at best. You can pave the streets with Dr.'s in Germany, so don't let that be the reason to not pursue a PhD in another country ;)

I think it is a good decision. Usually you get 4 years of funding with a reasonable salary in Denmark. Good luck with your application!

Thread: Funding in the second year of PhD

posted
10-Apr-16, 18:55
edited about 5 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Why does it have to be the UK? You could just apply all over Europe. There are tons of universities that are just as good as Edinburgh, UCL or Glasgow and you would be actually paid for your work. I would not recommend to start a PhD without a proper funding (fees AND salary). Nobody can tell you if you will ever receive funding after you started your PhD. I know that it is hard to get funding in humanities, but that's just another reason to be not too picky on the location. Maybe you can get funding in Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Sweden or some other country. Good luck

Thread: When can you legitimately use the title Dr?

posted
04-Apr-16, 18:38
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
I don't see the problem. If you apply for jobs you add a CV and a cover letter so the recruiting person knows that you are in the process of getting your PhD. I don't think you get extra points for referring to yourself as Dr. XY ;)

Officially, you are not a Dr. yet and could still fail (of course that is rather unlikely with minor corrections), so I guess it is not legit.

Thread: When people ask you what your PhD is in?

posted
29-Mar-16, 12:31
edited about 4 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
I'm a first-year PhD student as well and usually give a short and simple summary (few sentences) of the project and its goals if someone asks. If you say something like physics, people will automatically ask for details. If you give them a long and complicated title nobody knows what it's about. Usually they want to know what you are doing when you are at work (are you sitting in front of a computer, conducting interviews with people, doing literature research in a library, working in the lab, doing field work outside and so on) or why someone is interested in that topic, so just answer this in a simple way. Not that hard ;) If the person is from a related field you can be more specific.

Thread: Should you leave your fully funded PhD to a self-funded one because you dislike the place

posted
28-Mar-16, 14:21
edited about 12 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Get active yourself! If it is a university city, there are almost certainly facebook groups for newly arrived people. Write a few sentences about yourself and join for social things. I did this in several countries and it always worked (I had to find new friends in foreign countries several times). No worries that you might be too old for that. There are always PhDs and PostDocs joining because everyone has the same problems. Do team sports, go to gym classes or do other social things where you have the chance to meet and talk to people. It costs some effort in the beginning, but it's worth it ;) I don't believe in these stereotype country things. It is usually just easier to blame the whole situation on the reserved locals. You can do a PhD in Barcelona and be the loneliest person on the planet. This is not just a country thing. People are not chatting up strangers on the street and ask if you want to be friends. You really have to initiate things yourself and believe me, I know that it sucks in the beginning.

I hope that helped a little bit. Don't give up too easy and don't get yourself caught in that downward spiral. If all your thoughts are negative than all your experiences will be negative and everything looks worse than it is. It is always easier to return to places you are familiar with, where you already know people, but change is part of life and in the end you never know if you will find a job near your family after a PhD.

If it is not working at all, than you have to relocate and find something else. Suffering for four years is of course not and option. However, there are only a few people who really can't adapt to a country and quit a PhD because of that. In the end most people manage to grow a custom to their new location and enjoy it. I am pretty sure you are not alone with these thoughts.

Good luck!

Thread: Should you leave your fully funded PhD to a self-funded one because you dislike the place

posted
28-Mar-16, 14:21
edited about 56 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
I was also several times located in not so interesting locations and what I learned so far is that you have to make an effort. Many people think that it's the job of the natives to include them in activities and make their lives interesting but I think you have to do it yourself. I spent almost a year in northern Sweden and it was in the beginning pretty much like you described it above. Not a big city and almost no other cities around. In addition to that, you had the long and dark winter. If you arrive there and don't know anyone this can depress you. It is of course at least partially an individual thing but I also met many foreigners who adapted fast and were really happy there. The people complaining were often people who hadn't learned the language a little bit even though they were already 2 years in the country. In my opinion, learning the language is THE crucial thing. Everybody speaks English, so people get lazy, but as long as you can't speak their language, people see you as a temporary citizen, like a tourist that will definitely leave after some time so there's no reason to get too close. This is not something they do intentionally. The people who had their circle of Swedish friends were the people who spoke Swedish. The others only hung around colleagues they were working with.

Thread: PhD destinations: Oxbridge vs. Imperial

posted
28-Mar-16, 13:35
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
I guess this is rather the talk among students and not how potential employers see it. After finishing your regular degree, the institution itself is not that important anymore. If you want to pursue a PhD in agricultural sciences, UC Davis is most likely a better choice than Harvard or Oxbridge. Every agricultural company that is employing researchers in R&D will know that universities like UC Davis, Cornell or Wageningen (Netherlands) have the higher reputation in that field. I can't come up with an example for chemical engineering, sorry ;)
If there is an opening in a well-respected group at Imperial, no future employer would think that this is a step down. They will think that they probably just had a nice position open. Your PhD work will anyway speak for itself. If you pursue a PhD at Cambridge and end up with a mediocre publication list then it will be not seen as an accomplishment just because it's Cambridge. And even if you just look at the overall reputation, Imperial College is still one of the best universities worldwide ;)

PS: Maybe check out ETH Zurich as well. They are usually always ranked in the top 10 worldwide and have a high reputation in engineering (+ really good conditions for PhD students in Switzerland)

Good luck!

Thread: is a post doc position possible without my PhD supervisor's reference/reco letter?

posted
28-Mar-16, 13:11
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 3 years ago
Quote From jaganmoy:
thanks TreeofLife. i was looking for a PhD again because I am not sure with what i have achieved till now may get me a post doc position. What do u mean by difficulty in funding another PhD in Germany? and why is that so? can you please tell me what the supervisors are looking for when a student write them for a post doc position?


You already hold a PhD degree and are quite old for a PhD position. As a German, I think that this is nearly impossible unless you have connections or work in some special field where it is hard to find PhD students.

You can always try to apply for PostDoc positions but keep in mind that the competition is very, very high. Especially in Germany, PostDoc positions are rare because they are very expensive compared to PhD students. Without a reference of your PhD supervisor(s) you need a really good explanation why she did not provide you with one and even if you have an explanation, they will still contact her to hear her side of the story. So it is often her word against your word. As there are tons of applicants for these kind of positions that have a good reference from their PhD supervisor, potential employers usually won't risk it.

I don't wanna discourage you, but maybe you should also think about a plan B outside academia. The assistant professorships or associate positions usually don't forgive flaws in the CV. There are so many people with "perfect" CVs that still struggle to find a tenured position that you would need a lot of luck or really good connections to land one of those.

Thread: Viva - anyone else with a similar experience?

posted
30-Oct-15, 20:09
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 4 years ago
Quote From pd1598:
I don't know - what did you want them to do? Give you a pat on the head? They are academics and the key word in academics is criticism. All academics are perfectionists. Well done by the way, a great achievement.


I agree with pd1598. There are tons of people who achieve that goal and as an examiner this is probably routine. So i wouldn't be surprised. For them, it is probably an average PhD thesis. Nothing major to complain about, but also nothing to be excited about. For the individual it is of course a huge achievement but not necessarily for an examiner. However, I think you should at least congratulate at the end (I hope they did).

Anyway, good job ! Congratulations.

Thread: Trouble with supervisor

posted
26-Oct-15, 18:35
edited about 7 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 4 years ago
I think there is not so much you can do besides what TreeofLife said.

I think I can understand that she might be a bit pissed. The internship was your choice and you could expect that six months in a completely different culture with a comparable low level of English can be isolating. Maybe it would be different if your supervisor would have obliged you to go there for experiments. Nothing wrong with not doing something like that, but if you decide to do it, do it. That's what you expect from an adult. If you know you are a person that feels easily homesick or that has never been away from home for a longer period, then 6 months Japan is probably nothing for you or at least nothing to start with. Maybe she's also afraid that it redounds upon her group and that future students might not get this opportunity (not implying that it is like that).

However, sometimes you just don't know it in advance and world's not coming down because of this. Give her some time, she'll get over it. No worries :) Good luck with your PhD!

Thread: Unemployed postdoc

posted
30-Sep-15, 15:34
edited about 10 minutes later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 4 years ago
Quote From PhDefault:

My phd ex-supervisor has given me crappy references too in the past, and I've lost job offers due to them (it's really poor form! I don't know why it's not illegal to give a bad reference!)


In Germany it is "illegal" and it does not help at all. You are obliged to write a positive reference, but in the end this just led to the development of a code language, where certain phrases are equivalent for certain grades. So if your letter does not state that your one of the brightest minds the boss ever met and that you are god's gift to employers, it does not help you at all. Your letter then might say you did a good job, but everybody knows that "good job" stands for satisfying and not good.
In the end, if your employer is not happy with your performance, why should he be obliged to write otherwise? He could just refuse to say anything about the ex-employee when asked but I doubt that this would help your application to succeed :D

@Dr.Purple

Sorry to hear that you're having such a hard time :/

Personally, I think I would stop searching for these dead end lecturing/teaching jobs and search for something more stable/permanent. There are just too few jobs for too many people. Minimal flaws of the CV or references are making the difference, so maybe it is worth looking into other, more promising areas. Maybe you have to start at the bottom again and work your way up, but it is at least a perspective.

Thread: Best strategy for applying for MSc programs in Europe?

posted
21-Sep-15, 17:50
edited about 45 seconds later
by Dunham
Avatar for Dunham
posted about 4 years ago
Why Europe if you only apply in the UK? I think you can get a much cheaper education in other places ;)
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