Getting asked what you do....
I'm doing a degree in.... " Oh wow amazing, are you, tell me more". Smiles and looks vaguely interested.
I'm doing a masters in..."oh what's that then, what will it ht you? Smiles
I'm doing a PhD..."oh" gives you a weird look.
I'm starting to think when people ask what I do I'll stop being specific and say student as it's just embarrassing! What do you say when asked what you do?
I think that most people are genuinely surprised when someone tells them that they do a PhD. Don't forget that not many people dare doing so...
Yet, I have to admit that many of us who do PhDs, well...we are a bit 'weird'. Big Bang Theory weird... ('the nice way). Yes, I also tell people that a PhD is for life (especially we carry on working on our research post-PhD).
Yes Charlie, it's eternal student syndrome :D.
Marasp I'm big bang but more Penny than the rest ha ha ha. I think with me it's that imposter thing where I take those "oh's" as "oh so you think you're clever?" or "oh you must be really clever, we can no longer have normal conversations as you can't be normal!". I feel self conscious about it, that saying I'm doing a PhD is bragging, like wow look at brainy me, when actually, I'm Penny.
I love your response, wowzers. I’m more of a Penny as well :-)
I recently started a job and was introduced to everyone as a PhD student and it did no favours - initially my colleagues thought that I thought I was cleverer than them, and now that they’ve realised I’m not I think they feel superior, haha (“she didn’t even know the answer to x!”).
In general though I’ve found that telling people I’m “a researcher at the university” tends to get a more neutral response and we can move on to talk about something else.
I did a hybrid course abroad last summer. There were two Ph.D. students (including me), and three master's students who participated. I ended up getting along well with all of them. But, after the trip one of the master's students later confided in me that the three master's students had initially thought us Ph.D.'s were snooty and full of ourselves because we introduced ourselves as doctoral students at each of our many meetings with NGOs and other organizations. Of course, that image disappeared when they got to know us and realized we were actually normal. down-to-earth people. It had never crossed my mind that introducing myself as a Ph.D. student could put a bad taste in people's mouths.Nowadays, I tend to just say grad student since it is more ambiguous. Anyway, when I mention my major, most people's eyes glaze over because they have no idea what it is; it's easy for me to redirect the conversation at that point. It works for me...who wants to explain their research for the nth time?
I assume all the above are from UK candidates and graduates - the attitude discussed seems to be prevalent in some Anglophone countries including the UK (possibly Austrailia, Canada and New Zealand). Put simply, if you do something that puts across the perception that you stand out or are trying to stand out from the crowd then you are there to be shot at or brought down a peg or two. People don't feel comfortable with achievement and with having other people's achievements (or problems) pushed in their faces.
A PhD is perceived as a elitist degree and it is inevitable there are going to me misconceptions. I find it is best not to mention the PhD specifically, saying I was a researcher or post-grad. Those in the know will probe further and will put two and two together, however, the fact they have had to work to extract the information out of you at least makes you seem more humble let's say.
Those not in the know will probably ask what you are researching and you an give a vague answer. They will go away happy.
I remember being in the US and someone commented on the Dr. on some of my personal information. I was truthful (though made it sound a little more ordinary) and the response was "wow!!!". I would not get that in the UK.
I think with the title issue, we have to be indirect so as not to make ourselves a target. I'll point out also that fresh ordinary degree graduates full of ideas also have a breaking in period in the workplace, where the ordinary blokes (shop floor?) will bring them down to size or the older hands will tell then in a round about sort of way to be more circumspect. That's life folks!!!
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