Without going into too much detail, I'm going to be 30 by the time I submit, and perhaps just 31 when I actually take my viva. I'm in science, but is this too old to move into a new career path? I would have no house, no car, and not that much to my name at that point...
Opinions gratefully received.
I hope not seeing as I will be the very grand and very old age of 33 when I submit!
I have no house but I do have a car ;-)
I am making a career change and I don't see how my age affects that - except that maybe now I'm supposed to be wiser than I used to be :$
I know for a fact that I would not have been able to cope with doing a phd or making a career change any earlier than I did but I guess it will be different for everyone. I was 27 when I started my career change and so it's been a lengthy process but I don't regret it.
your situation is far from unusual. i am 33, submitting in a couple of months and surrounded by others skirting their 30th birthdays.
as far as auditing my possessions or other tick-boxes, i have no car, house, kids or dogs. i do have a husband. my marital status does impact on my career choices, but i would not change anything.
there has been a real air of comparison around this board for a while, particularly wrt what some see as major life goals. personally i find this approach both unhelpful and meaningless. it seems to imply that doing a phd is in some way putting your life on hold. it's not - it's as unpredictable and insecure as any other job, just with a damn sight more freedom.
I think the issue, well MY issue, and perhaps shared by others too, is that PhDs are like treading water. You improve your skills, yes, but you don't necessarily climb any ladder other than the ladder of academia, the PhD itself pays worse than being a low-skilled worker, and at the end of it there's no guaranteed job. I know I want to EITHER stay in science OR do something analytical with the transferable skills I've learnt, but is the PhD actually going to count for anything? I never really see jobs outside of academia or drugs companies which ask for a PhD.
I just sometimes get the feeling that 30/31 is too young to be starting on another new ladder, especially if you've nothing to your name.
Matt, I'm nearly 30 and I don't think of myself as old. Still get asked for I.D. when buying beer (though I've heard that's just company policy now - pffffff). I can tell you what I own: 25 books, 1 laptop, a bedroom heater, some clothes, 1 ancient Nokia N95 (doesn't work properly), an Asda Price suit, 1 PS3 (though a mate still has it) and 3 bottles of Listerine and a tooth brush (they were on special offer at Boots). I'm expecting a new delivery in the new year - a PhD.
The way I see it, I've got nothing tying me down. When I've done my PhD, I can go anywhere (all of my possessions can fit into the boot of a car) and try anything. If things do take a turn for the worst and I become homeless, I can easily stick everything in a stolen ASDA trolley and shuffle around. To be just at or in your 30s is certainly not too old to be starting a new career. Trust me on that one. I'm banking on it.
I think 4matt this is your issue and you're going to need to think carefully to work out how best to sell yourself. At this point in time you're the one under-selling yourself for jobs. You don't want to do that when you get into the jobs market!
Personally I don't think 30/31 after postgraduate study is too late at at all. I'm concerned though that you do. That is a worrying attitude to have for a soon-to-be job hunter!
I would recommend that you contact the careers service at your university and seek their advice.
It's possible your PhD won't count for anything outside academia, but you're in the situation now, and you are going to have to make the best of things. So think more positive!
======= Date Modified 09 Nov 2010 16:10:10 =======
I went to a career event recently aimed specifically at people with PhDs. There was lots of talk regarding applying for jobs in academia, but there was always a lot of focus on applications for jobs outside of academia. There were lots of representatives from a variety of companies that said that even-though they didn't have specific entry level jobs for people with PhDs that they would most certainly take people on with PhDs for a huge variety of roles. Although this initial starter job may not be akin to an academic/ first post doc job, having a PhD would help you climb the career ladder. The take home message was that in applying for non-academic jobs where having a PhD wasn't particularly a pre-requisite for having the job, you need to focus on all the transferable skills; communication skills, problem solving, statistical analysis, team working, etc etc. It really annoys me on here when people basically say that having a PhD is worthless unless you want an academic career. There are so many people with PhDs that have jobs outside of academia and are doing extremely well for themselves. I don't want to work in academia when I finish my PhD, and I never have done, but I think that by focusing on skills gained whilst doing the PhD, other than being an expert in some very specific area is key. I guess it's all about marketing yourself for the specific post that you're applying for.
In regards to 30/31 being old to start a career, if you think in terms of the fact that 'our' generation will probably be working well into their 70's or even longer, 30/31 doesn't seem old at all!
I moved into a new career at 31 and then another at 33! So it's definitely not too old - everyone's right; it is about transferable skills. I spent nine years in the travel industry after my BA in Linguistics and then after a very short stint in uni admin, I was able to use my considerable intercultural skills developed during years in travel to land an EFL job, along with the basic CELTA qualification that I got in a month when I left the travel industry. This EFL job coupled with my MA in TESOL, taken during the uni admin years, got me my first lecturing roles and that subsequently led to a successful PhD application and here I am...
So, one thing leads to another and as long as you demonstrate good skills, I can't see you'll have a problem.
Hope you get what you want.
Sorry, Starshine, but in my opinion a PhD generally IS worthless unless you're going into an academic field or a job requiring PhD level knowledge - on job experience is FAR more valuable to employers and, whilst you certainly have a good amount of transferable skills from a PhD, it just isn't the same.
And I sympathise, 4matt, I had all the same thoughts and feelings - but it depends on your approach to life. If you let it bother you, it will. I've learned to just let it wash over me and taken the following view - my 20s were my "uni years" and my 30s will be my "career years". It makes me feel slightly more at ease for some reason!
i agree with Starshine. a phd does not necessarily mean academia. i for one am not and have never been interested in being 'just' a lecturer. in other countries where titles matter - a phd would get you any job. in these countries, people value qualifications and it would be a very well paying job. 4matt - maybe you should cast your net wider and see if you won't get your phd valued. in my case, the fact that am working towards one has resulted in being offered jobs post phd even before applying and consultancies. try to keep an open mind to where you start. you can always come back home when you've made it elsewhere. like someone said, pack your stuff into a suitcase and go. the world is truly your oyster! that was the same advice a friend of mine got at his viva.
4Matt I think it depends on whether you see the glass half full or half empty... You keep saying things like 'not much to my name' or 'nothing to my name' and seem to think that the lack of house ownership and other things constitute the gold standard of 'having things to your name' - this a topic on which you've posted before. I'm sure that to get to a phd position you must have notable achievements to your aim otherwise if you really were Average Joe you wouldn't be where you are now. Not owning a house and other things of that ilk is a temporary state of affairs not a lifelong condemnation. You don't have to have everything all at once to be successful. You're in a privileged position being able to study for the highest academic accolade (apart from the Nobel of course) there is. That's something to celebrate right?! So what if you're doing it in your late 20s - there are people on here of all ages which should tell you that doing a phd is not age specific. I know someone who graduated in their 70s!
Try not to let these worries bog you down. Houses, families and other things that you might want will follow - just because you haven't got them right this minute doesn't mean you'll never have them. Personally I think it's better to make a change rather than stay in something not fulfilling. I started in Law and had I stayed in it there's no question that'd I'd be in a very lucrative position right now but being satisfied in my work is really important to me and I've chosen an impossibly long and expensive course of retraining so that financially I'm a lot worse off but I'm happier than I could ever have been in law. Even considering the days when everything goes wrong and I hate my project.
Chin up I say. Take time to go back over your achievements and remind yourself that you do already have lots of things to your name and that you'll have more things to add in times to come.
4matt, I'll be 32 by the time I submit... I'm already working full-time (outside of academia) but I'm anticipating that when I have a PhD under my belt I'll shift companies, perhaps take a change of career direction... and generally become more serious about my career.
Perhaps it might be an idea to get SOME practical experience in your intended career area? Even a short internship of some sort if you can find the time... some employers attach no value to a CV with incredible academic achievements but absolutely no work experience.
On a related note: http://www.marriedtothesea.com/021008/my-degree.gif
======= Date Modified 10 Nov 2010 09:13:43 =======
I submitted in October 2010 and I'm 29. I'll be 30 when I have my viva (most likely!).
I've spent the last decade in education (BSc, MSc, MSc, PgCert, PhD) and building up experience (about 8 years relevant NHS, researcher, academic and clinical experience). I have no house, no car, no job (preparing for viva) I'm not married (but still with close with ex) and I'm wondering the same kind of thing- I not much to my name other than degrees! Sometimes, I feel whether all this studying was worth it and whether I've made the right decision in making my choices given that everyone else my age appears to be married, with children, in a stable career and a house. So a grass is greener type approach. As a result, I'm simply dreading turning 30 as there appears to be an implict underlying view that by 30 someone needs to have achieved X, Y and Z, that is, a stable career, house, etc etc. I also feell more and more like Bridget Jones every day, but then again, I've made my choices, but it doesn't mean how I feel right now will continue for ever more- I think my feelings of 'grass is greener' is very temporary. But, I have days when I feel very inadequate, but this is just my issues and working out who I am. I agree that comparisions with others are not really helpful , but I think its only natural to compare. On a related point, some friends of mine (who never went to university or dropped out of uni or finished education at MSc level) tend to mock me for staying within education for so long and seem to have a massive problem with it (ie some friends think I have a psychological problems with staying in education so long!!) I don't see it as a problem or a result of an underlying psychological problem, I've simply stayed in education to improve my employment prospects and to allow for options in similar professions. Just because friends of mine mock or make fun or question what I'm doing doesn't mean I'm going to stop it! I've also worked in various job so its not all about studying (which they seem to forget!). I know where I want to be and I know what I have to do to achieve it.
In terms of life after PhD, I'm not planning to work within academia/research only so you could say that I'm heading for a career change. I order to progress into professional psychology, I need a few more years of studying in practitioner type doctorates ie doctorates awarded after developing competencies in some areas of psychology and I'm happy to committ myself to 2-3 more years extra study in order to get to where I want to be. In 2011, I have a conditional offer for the 2 year Doctorate in Health Psychology in order to progress to be a chartered health psychologist and I'm also planning to submit for the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology in order to progress to be a chartered clinical psychologist. I think the average for chartership in psychology is around the late 20s so I'm not that far off in terms of age of potential applicants. I still feel one of the older candidates, but then again, that may just be my interpretation/bias.
I do however, think my PhD will help me with my potential career choice in professional psychology- and I'm starting to see the benefits of having a PhD (other than regretting and hating my PhD). I'm just hoping I pass my PhD at the end of the day.
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