It has come to this...


My hopeful round of applications to pretty much everywhere I could think of have come to bugger all so far. As have my attempts to harry the temping agencies to find me something vaguely white collar. In order to keep myself from homelessness, I have spent the last 3 days working as a waiter. Yes. Thats right, I am on the 4pm -midnight shift at a medium sized "family" restaurant.

Needless to say I am hating this with every fibre of my being, and the second I hear anything I am going to be gone for dust. I am the only native Brit here, everyone else seems to be from Eastern Europe and our cook is Spanish.


Funnily enough I do not feel the need to mention that I spent the last 4 years doing my PhD, so lie and say "I was travelling". I now serve food to the type of undergraduate I once hoped to teach. Humiliating isn't the word.

My boss is an egomaniac (I seem to attact this sort), I honestly have little in common with my co-workers, some of whom only have a basic grasp of English. I am tired all the time, and barely get to see my girlfriend (who has also started to become frosty recently, and has been badgering me to do a PGCE to teach). I havent told my friends or my parents yet. I am just praying something will turn up.


If I had thought for a second that my life would come to this, I would have never set foot in university, let alone take up a PhD.

Perhaps I deserve this in some way, but am not sure what I did, or where I went wrong. My next real fight is going to be trying to find someplace to stay, as I can't keep paying the rent on my current place, so I still have some way before hitting rock bottom.

Words cannot describe how angry I am.


What was interesting was this morning, I got an email from a friend of mine, who writes essays for an essay mill. These are places where undergrads, and some postgrads can pay for you to write their essays for them. He (who did a MPhil in humanities) says the pay is good, and if you have some academic ability (which I still do, regardless of what my current employment says) they will hire you to write essays for the "instruction purposes" for others. Or lets face it, for others to hand in under their names, to get a good grade they didn't earn.

I know in my heart of hearts that this is dishonest (plagiarism etc for them), but I really do need the money, can probably do the job (mainly got firsts for my undergraduate work), and for my behalf am not doing anything wrong, writing research essays for cash (what the undergrads do with it is their business, right?). Also as academia has been so f***ing harsh with me, why the hell should I have any respect for it still?


I am not sure that I am the right person to reply to your post, as I am not British and I undertand you feel little sympathy for foreigners at the moment. However, I can sympathize with you. I was a teacher before I started my PhD, and I loved teaching. I had a great relationship with the students, I enjoyed myself there and learnt a lot, in spite of the fact that I was underpaid for my qualifications and experience. The problem was outside the classroom, with a collegue in a senior position: of course I was the last one, the youngest, who knows why she works so hard...she may be up to something... perhaps she aims to my job - of course none of the above!. Well, eventually I left the place. I was absolutely devastated. It took over a year to recover, in spite of the fact that my former students gave me a lot of support. I then had the opportunity to do a PhD and now I don't look back. Life is in this way, with good and bad periods.


You can make the difference by keeping a positive and open attitude. I learnt that things may change for good or worse, but ultimately we make the difference in the way we approach situations. It is hard and it may take time, but you will make it if you want to. Bon Courage!


I'm sorry you feel like that, you sound incredibly depressed.

Have you highlighted all the transferable skills from your PhD when applying for jobs, or seen a careers advisor?
You will be behind undergrads in the short time as you've not in the workplace, but you will overtake them in a few years and eventually on average be paid more.

My suggestions for jobs would be office temping while you found something better, and maybe changing job to one with different hours as it seems to be making your miserable. Is there anyone that could put you up on a sofa for a short while?
Don't give up hope, I was pretty miserable in an office job for 6 months before my PhD and lost the motivation to apply for jobs and PhDs.

Had you thought of supply teaching, I know people who have done that. They take on PhDs without teaching training in my area and it is well paid. The snag is that you would be sent to the really horrible schools who need teachers.


You could try the university dare I say it, I don't know what your situation was. Some PhDs get extra money for a few months from their supervisor. One guy finished in 3 years and is still here kind of doing a postdoc. Universities in general respect degrees so there might be some temporary work that is better than your current job. Don't let your bad PhD experiences get to you or it's won.


With temping agencies you have to be positive and point out what your experience is because they won't understand you can breeze the job. Maybe you could get them to let you try their tests as it will show how competent you area. They were surprised a clever Bsc (me) with no experience could do really well on their computer test.


Sounds like a very stressful situation Badhaircut. Definitely not what you've worked hard doing a PhD for. Have you considered some counselling? It may sound like a daft idea but it could help you to see your options more clearly and also help to re-gain a more positive attitude which will definitely help with job hunting. Positivity and confidence count for quite a lot in the job hunt and I think people can sense these things quite easily and can be put off by depression or negativity.


We've all done crap jobs to get by. See it like that - a short-term solution to your problem. You don't have to do it forever - you do have other options. Some people have no choice but to spend their lives being waiters. As a customer, good friendly service is important. Take the positive aspects out of being a waiter - you can sell the transferable skills, e.g. people skills etc - not to be scoffed at or looked down on even though I'm sure you would give anything to be elsewhere! Try to stay positive about what the future holds. CC is right - in the long-term you will be better off. This misery and depression WILL be short lived if you can stay positive and hang in there. Life is all ups and downs - you're on a downer at the moment but things will get better. Good luck and hang in there!!


I don't think you should write essays for students. It's bad! You won't be able to look in the mirror in the morning and you cheat on yourself as you probably worked hard all your life to be able to do a PHD. I hate rich students who buy essays and get a first as a result. Money rules the world - but not everybody's mind. You have a choice.

Apart from that, I wish you good luck and I'm sure you will soon see the light again.


I don't think you should be so hard on yourself. I've worked in a load of jobs unrelated to my PhD to keep myself going over the years. To make you feel better... I've worked in a fast-food establishment, a number of increasingly seedy restaurants, a couple of shops and (wait for it...) a double glazing call centre *hangs head in shame*. I enjoyed all of them and made some good friends. At least you ARE working, you have self-respect from that, surely? And the free time in the day gives you valuable job hunting time.


Krashty has summed it up perfectly - we've all done 'crap jobs' to get by (NB, I mean as I presume Krashty did, jobs we don't wish to do, not that any job is actually 'crap'). I understand how demoralising it is but try to remember that this is temporary. I remember only too well how I felt when my PhD funding (employment as a research assistant) ran out and I was still fairly far off finishing. Prior to that point, I had been in continuous (part-time if not full-time) employment since the age of 15. I was used to having some financial independence and felt incredibly unsettled. As I've mentioned elsewhere, I ending up temping as a secretary on minimum wage and the day I started that job, I felt rather depressed. That was not part of my life plan! You will get through this and you will find a job that you want. Meanwhile, remember that the type of person who will judge you based on the job you do is not worth knowing.


I can pretty much understand what you are going through but I more or less agree with others. Life is all about struggle and its so unfair. But at times when you feel low, its God testing your patience!!!I mean look at me, you should thank God for what you are. You could have been in a worse place like me...always look at people below you.