The Dark Side of the Moon, or how life looks after a PhD


I know this doesn't probably belong in the current PhD thread--but was not sure where else to put it. So what does life look after a PhD? Well, for me, pretty darn good on the whole. The stress of the PhD did not go away all at once as I had envisioned--just sort of drained away little by little. I am doing some publication and on going research, but have such an allergy to my thesis and its work that I can barely stand to go near it--so sensible or not, my research is NEW--building on some theoretical interests in the PhD, but not the PhD itself. Should I mine it for publications? Yes. Will I? some sense....I am doing related and new work, to be honest, the topic of my thesis is of such little interest to me now I am not sure I could face mining the thing....I was told that this happens after a thesis and PhD, that you are so sick of the research you move onto other things. I could not imagine that happening, but indeed, it has.

The stress is gone, the job market...well....bleak...but I am in a better position than some! I am trying to put my head down and publish, publish, publish, and so in some sense, life feels not so unlike the PhD, since I am still churning out research as fast and hard as I can....

How has life been for others, post PhD?

On the whole, I feel more healthy, more rested, less me the fact that I can literally hardly bear to touch my bound thesis copy speaks to the extreme stress and agony of the entire process...


There is a post-doc section of the site, and this post would have been good there ...

As for me I'm busy turning my thesis into papers. I can't work due to long-term neurological illness, and am knocked out for most of the time, and extremely ill. But I can spend an hour or so now and then thinking about how to adapt what I've done into papers, and do the necessary rewriting. I've submitted two more papers recently, and am now thinking about what the next likely ones will be, assuming the first two post-PhD ones are successful. I'm also hoping to do new research, as an independent scholar (quite a common thing in the humanities), to produce new publishable work.

Completing the PhD has given me a lot of confidence in my ability to produce interesting new research, and to have a valid reason to present those findings. I feel validated as a researcher, which I suppose is how things should be. On a personal note it also brought to closure a long-held upset at having had to leave a full-time science PhD after the illness developed. So it's been very positive all round.


I'm currently awaiting my viva, so not quite finished yet. I actually wish I was still writing my thesis, because it actually gave me something to do and it was a reason to get out of bed in the morning! :-s

Trying to find a postdoc position somewhere, but it's rubbish at the moment. It's all skills I don't have, and in industry it's all experience, experience experience.... I currently feel like the most unqualified person in the world :-(

Mother in law reckons I should try working in a supermarket for a bit ("I know it'll be a bit soul destroying, but...") and to be honest it seems like a good option. Hoping it'll get my confidence going up somewhat :-(


I am 4 months from starting to write my thesis and I am really depressed about what life will be like after my PhD. I would like to be an academic but there seems to be not many post doctor positions in the UK in social networks. I really like doing my research and dread the prospect of not being able to develop my research after my PhD. I would go abroad to find a post doc position but the problem is that I have a disability so it would be better if I stayed local or at least in the UK. I would like to know what sorts of jobs PhD graduates do if they don't get to become an academic.


Quote From fluffybear:

I would like to know what sorts of jobs PhD graduates do if they don't get to become an academic.

It varies a lot by subject. What's your PhD in? Mine is in history, and in that field it's quite common to move into the heritage or public sector, working in museums or archives, or the like. Or people can become teachers. And there are general jobs that certain subjects can qualify you for, though there's the risk of the PhD over-qualifying you. See the subject leaflets at and specifically


Generally, life for me post PhD has been great. However I must admit I am completely on the other side of a lot of other people here - I have no intention of publishing from my thesis (despite my main supervisor trying to get me to, several times!) as I am more than happy to turn my back on a research career. I work now in the private sector in finance and find my skills have been put to good use. I also like the change of pace much more instead of something that takes months, years, to come to fruition.

I sympathise with your predicament though Claudia, when I was first looking for jobs it was the double edge sword - needed a job to get experience, but couldn't get experience without a job. I was lucky to find a company that valued my PhD skills even though I hadn't been in the workplace, but I had two interviews for two other great jobs where I lost out to a candidate with workplace experience. It is a really tough market at the moment.


BilboBaggins, I am doing a phd in computer science so there is some ability to go into different areas. Thanks for the web link.I will definately look into it.


Quote From fluffybear:

BilboBaggins, I am doing a phd in computer science so there is some ability to go into different areas. Thanks for the web link.I will definately look into it.

Ah right. My first go at a PhD was in computer science. Lots of industry options for you there then. Good luck!


Call me crazy....but I am putting together an application to do a higher doctorate! Madness or what? I have been thinking about this option since about a month past the award of the PhD, and am still keen on it, have had some contact with relevant members of staff at the uni, and honestly, I am going to put in the application and see what happens. Its not that the PhD experience was so wonderful I want to repeat it all again, or that I have forgotten the stress and strain, but this higher doctorate would give the ability to work with some of the best of the best in the areas I am interested in, and sounds structured so that there is also an eye on your marketability in the academic world when you finish--helping you get papers together for conferences, feedback on papers to submit for publication, teaching experience, networking, etc.


Crikey. Good luck. But doesn't that mean you risk going back to the less healthy, less rested, more stressed time?! Or will it be different?

I wouldn't be able to do another doctorate now. I have a progressive neurological disease, and it's enough of a miracle that I made it through this one. But I'm still studying, with the OU, but for fun. No pressure, no exams. No thesis. And no more PhD 8-)


Life outside of academia (particularly post-PhD) is very good. The PhD almost feels like a distant memory. I can't say it was a bad experience but I really hated being a student for so long. Once I started working I felt like my life was finally moving along.

I did get a couple of papers out of my thesis but I'm glad I don't have to do anymore writing EVER AGAIN!

I was extremely lucky jobwise, I had three job offers when I was finishing off year 3 and was able to pick the best one (best paid one).

Olivia - yikes!


Well I'm submitting in the next few days, I'm just doing the final formatting and checks before I print it off. Anyway, post PhD life, I've just started a PGCE (Secondary). I'm settled in this part of the world and I'll be doing a job I thoroughly enjoy, even if the pay is crap for the first few years. I'm aware that jobs are not exactly abundant for NQTs, but I'll have a PhD which should help my applications for the few jobs there are.

I looked at academia but having seen people who are really talented struggle from short term contract to short term contract for years and years, whilst some people I think are downright incompetent (or brown nosers) land good jobs, I'd rather get out. I want to buy a house, and need a permanent job and a career. It'll take years for me to get a permanent job in academia, if ever. In fact very few of the PhD students who left the department in the last few years have stayed in academia. Those who have continue to struggle to find good jobs.

As for publishing papers from it. It'd be nice just to say "I did this". However, it's not exactly high on my list of things to do, so probably won't happen.


Sounds like there is life at the end of the PhD for all--interesting to hear the different career choices that get made, and the views on academia....I know, yikes is about the best description for what I am thinking about. :D But then again I have thought this over for weeks and months, and know its not just some weird post PhD whim made by faltering and traumatised braincells. ( or at least I don't think so...)

So anyway I am going to check this out.....and will keep people posted ( literally!) about what happens next!