OK, I just typed out a fairly lengthy post only for it to sodding disappear. So here it is in bullet point form in case it disappears again:
-thinking of leaving PhD.
-love science but not keen on having to do the science PLUS the PhD ie. write talks, give talks, attend conferences, go through assessments every year, be up at 2am trying to grind out a couple of paragraphs for an abstract/report/chapter (its a PhD and I know very well this WILL happen).
-I worked in labs before starting the PhD and I can work in labs again without having a PhD
-will be nearly 50 when I finish PhD (in 1st year at the mo) and will have the PhD but no job and no home of my own-this is extremely unappealing
-more appealing alternative is to return to industry, earn a salary for the next 3 years and actually have a life in the evenings and at weekends
-my pride, and reluctance to walk away from anything, may be standing in the way of a logical decision to not do the PhD any more
-I think I have almost arrived at my decision (to leave) but would be interested in others' opinions, particularly those who can be more objective than I can currently, and who very probably have wiser heads than I.
I'm just a bit worried I am throwing away an opportunity, albeit an opportunity which will involve a very tough, hard slog for the next 3 years. I am under no illusions about the day to day sheer grind that a PhD entails.
In advance, thank you for any guidance you can offer, Marigold.
TreeofLife, I left industry due to a stroke of very bad luck-the job description turned out to have been written in error (that is as much as my boss would admit to, after 4 and a half years of me trying to develop my skills there in a particular area of science, which I would have been able to do had my job description been correct). I know this sounds odd, but what it means is I had to float around other teams because we were so short staffed and despite repeated and polite requests from me to return to the original job I had gone to that organisation to do, the job did not really ever exist. My higher-up boss (boss of the whole site) was excellent and very honest, telling me that unfortunately, if I wanted to do the work I had gone there to do (relocated across the UK and all the other sacrifices associated with this) I would have to leave. This was hard to hear but I appreciated that he didn't fob me off by suggesting I wait even longer for the opportunity, which would never materialise.
This situation should not have happened, but it did. Cue me deciding sod them, I gave them all my commitment, got sod all back, was getting older and had been de-skilled. I was unable to have any control over my career or skills development at all, so I left and did an MSc to re-skill myself and become 'current' again.
I then intended to get a job and remain employed, having got myself out of an unplanned hole. However I saw my PhD topic advertised, loved the idea of it, got all excited (it would develop exactly the skills I had wanted to develop in the promised but non-existent job) and thought it was a wonderful opportunity after all my bad luck.
Felt very fortunate to be offered the PhD, and grateful. It involved relocating across the UK again, but hey-ho, I could cope with that.
But now I'm wondering if I should have gone for employment after the MSc, rather than the PhD. Just cannot trust my own judgement any more.....
Ok, I see what you mean. I don't know enough about job options in industry post PhD to advise you. I don't know whether you'd be better off financially now or in the long run if you quit the PhD and went back to industry, or did the PhD and went back to industry. If the PhD will give you extra skills for industry, then stick with it, if not, maybe find another job and then leave?
Thanks for taking the time to reply TreeofLife. Its not even really about money, as long as I can live I am fairly happy. But to be almost 50 with nothing except perhaps 3 more letters after my name....? And even after a PhD I would be a 'baby' researcher....and back to the bottom of the heap as it were. I have no interest in academia, doing the short term contract postdoc thing, done the moving around thing every few years for the last 20 years and if |I do this much more, I'll end up wearing a strait jacket in a padded cell. Sorry to be so un-PC; I used to work in mental health respite care before getting into science so I have rather a gallows-type sense of humour about these things. And a pretty healthy perspective on what's important in life too, most of the time. Although its not helping me in my current decision-making circumstances:(
I think I want to work in a lab, in a fulfilling enough job (I won't say career, all my attempts to develop one have been kiboshed by various out of my control circumstances) but the idea of doing all the really really hard things alongside the science, in a PhD, just seems so....NOPE.
I'm no closer to a decision. At some point I may just toss a coin. Why not?! Cheers.
Anyone else out there who'd like to express their opinion/encouragement on my circumstances and/or decision-making?
Ultimately I know the decision to go or stay can only come from me. But input from others is still very welcome, a wider perspective can only be a good thing.
I have tried the logical thinking route. I have tried the working out pros and cons route. I have tried to tap into the gut instinct thing....but I have no gut feeling for this, as I have lost all objectivity after all the twists and turns I have had to take over the years, which I have not gone into fully because I'm not comfy telling tales of woe. I know very well how life can be unfair to many. But now I have lost all direction and hope of finding a direction. Not sure how I have come to be this clueless at my age:(
Marigold, even though you might not want an academic career, would completing the PhD give you further opportunities and experience in the lab? Is it really an either/or situation? You sounded like you were passionate about learning about this particular topic and skill and knowledge set when describing it in your post.
I understand really well that having an income and a relatively stable home is important though and how one's age can have an impact on your life choices as well.
If working on this PhD for the next 3 years will jeopardise your chances of security with no definite outcome or reward, then walking away now might be appropriate. If though, the three years are unlikely to place future lab work at risk and the study currently provides you with a regular (albeit modest) income and further research experience and opportunities, completing it might be worthwhile. Not everyone works 24/7 on their PhD when a full time student. Many full time candidates work weeks that are more in line with a 40-50 hour working week and regularly take time out on weekends and some evenings.
I have almost completed my PhD, just waiting on reports (and what corrections are recommended). I completed it part time while working and it was tough. My age now is a little older than you will be on completion. I do not think that I will now have an academic career from my doctorate. However, I do think that it will enhance my capacity, experiences and expertise in the work I do do. So I am glad I have pretty much completed it now-though there were many moments when I wanted to walk away.
It's a complex decision you are making with no real right or wrong answer, so it's understandable why making a decision is so difficult and circular in process. Why don't you stay with the PhD at least while you apply for industry jobs. If you get a job that appeals and you really want to take it, then you will know what it is you want.
Thanks a lot for your very sage advice Pjlu. You have clear insight where I have none! I think I will, for now, continue with the PhD - unless I fail the next end-of year review and the decision to leave is made for me -whilst keeping my ear to the ground re. jobs. During this period, my motivation to continue will either grow or diminish....and there will be my answer. Thanks. And huge congrats on your PhD achievement. Part time whilst working....hey, you definitely did it the tough way:)
Marigold, it also seems clear that you are worrying about turning 50 and what material possesions you will have by then. You really need to stop thinking in those terms. Many of us are around your age. Not many 50 year olds go back to uni and get a PhD though. You will be joining an elite group of overachievers. You might be short on material crap in your life but you have made up for it with a whole series of very rare experiences and a more fulfilling life as a result. You also have the option of self employment when you finish. It would be a shame if you allow meaningless material desires to ruin what should be a brilliant few years for you.
Loads of people I knew from my first undergraduate degree 27 years ago are now Vice Presidents, Chairmen and Directors of massive companies and until a few months ago I was still at university (for the second time). It's easy to be jealous of their 6 and 7 figure annual salaries but virtually every one of them has sacrificed family and health to get to their position. A stream of broken marriages, bankruptcies and depression has been left in the wake of every single one of them. At one point I had to take an hour out of my studying to chat over the phone to a friend who was a successful director who was in total despair because he was 40 and had no kids. Just focus on what you personally want to achieve and don't worry about comparing yuor situation with anyone else. That would be my advice. Good luck.
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