Reaching out to a few fellow postgrads as feeling pretty low at the moment.
I'm 34, single and living with family as I can't afford to move out and live independently again.
After years of studying (BSc, MSc, msc, PGCert, phd) a near complete self funded professional doctorate (not a phd), nearly 12 years experience in psychologically relevant psychology graduate roles, Msc lecturing and a few postdoctoral jobs (research fellow etc) ive hit a brick wall.
Due to depression, things worked out rather poorly at my last research fellow job and I left shortly before my health deteriorated. I was offered another research fellow job at another university, but this job was withdrawn at the very last minute due to a bad reference from my then employer. This was back in December 2014 and I haven't managed to find a new job. In the meantime, in an effort to improve my mood, I visited Australia for nearly 2 months stayed with family and obtained a revise and resubmit verdict on two journal papers.
Now I'm feeling a little better, I'm continuously applying for research/lecturing jobs and looking into volunteering. I have an interview for a paid nhs role, a voluntary nhs role and a voluntary assistant psychologist position in a few weeks time. I may have to drop out of my current training as I can no longer afford the fees
I'm trying to stay positive but I'm finding things very difficult at the moment :( this afternoon, my dad is pushing for me to apply for Christmas sales assistant jobs. I've nothing against retail, but I feel utterly deflated and embarrassed that my life has turned out this way. At a young age, My parents always used to say I would end up as a checkout girl and I can't help but feel that their aspirations for me seem to be in motion?
Feeling very sad and demotivated :(
I would appreciate any advice
Sorry you're going through such a difficult time. I think that as well as the problems with your depression and getting a bad reference, it's also such a tough job market. Hopefully you'll get an offer from at least one of your interviews that you have coming up. I do know what you mean about feeling deflated at the thought of taking on paid work that you're so overqualified for, but it may be a way of paying the bills while you do voluntary work as well? You don't need to see these jobs as the end of the road, they're just a means to an end. I wonder if it would also be worth talking to a careers advisor and trying to sort out longer term plans/goals, as it seems like you have done an awful lot of education/training and you mentioned that you are training again - maybe it is worth spending time trying to look at all the things you are qualified for? The other thing I would say is that if you haven't had formal support for your depression, it may be worth asking your GP for a referral to counselling, since that has caused you to leave a job. Hope things improve for you soon.
I feel for you. I've been there. But it does get better (for want of a better cliche). The interviews in a few weeks time is a good sign, so keep your hopes up :).
My phd ex-supervisor has given me crappy references too in the past, and I've lost job offers due to them (it's really poor form! I don't know why it's not illegal to give a bad reference!)
The worst thing you could do is feel like what your parents (quite meanly, if you don't mind my saying) thought out for you is manifesting itself. It might be because you're not feeling particularly at a high at the moment that it's feeling that way.
In no way should you feel embarassed at your life. You've achieved alot, and you're feeling a set-back at the minute. But yeah if your feelings do continue, seek some help maybe?
Is there a possibility that you could continue your training part-time, while you did a part-time job somewhere? (even if that part-time job wasn't what you were looking to do in the long term?)
Basically it just says that employers have a give a fair and accurate reference. Obviously, that's rather subjective so not very helpful.
You can ask for copies of your reference if you are worried for next time; you're entitled to see it I believe. I've seen a reference written for one of my fellow PhD students, and I would judge it to be 'fair and accurate'. It wasn't a great reference, but it did highlight her positives and negatives fairly so I think that's fair.
OP regarding the fees and the professional doctorate - could you talk to someone about a suspension of studies rather than a withdrawal, then you could go back later perhaps?
Good luck with the interviews, but I think you need to think about the best way forward with the bad reference in case they don't work out. I think it depends what the issue was and how professionally damning it is. So for example, if the reference reports you were falsifying results / plagiarism / sexual or racial harassment then you can probably forget a research / lecturing role. If at the other extreme, the reference is accurately reporting the numbers of days you had off sick (and referees in the UK are required to be truthful when that question is asked) and that is off-putting, then perhaps the easiest way round that, now you are better, is to take any job and then have a new reference that can speak to the fact that it was a temporary problem now passed. If you can see a not so great job as a temporary means to an end, then perhaps it wouldn't be so demoralising.
Thanks for the replies.
I haven't read the said reference, but from the phone call I received from the head of department who offered me the new full time research fellow position - it was a pretty bad reference and she had to withdraw the job offer. She didn't disclose what was said but she advised me to take action with it. No evidence of serious misconduct (no plagiarism, no harassment, no falsification of results, no harrassment, no sick leave etc) or anything of that nature. The professor who wrote this reference immediately left this university to work elsewhere, but it seems as if it was her intention to ruin things for me before I left :( I was (and still am ) in a bad/dark place and haven't got the strength to read the reference.
I've used other referees, applied to numerous jobs, but have yet to receive any interviews, with the exception of one minimum wage job,which I didn't get due to lack of experience.
I've already requested one intermission from professional doctoate and I'm not sure I'll be able to request a new one. I'm due to start again asap with my professional training , but without finances to pay for it, I may have to pull out.
On a more positive note, I have one interview for an nhs trainee position on the 8th of October which I'm preparing for. I have secured two voluntary placements working within my speciality which sound promising and would allow me to complete my professional doctorate. Two of my articles received a revise and resubmit verdict, so something positive perhaps.
I've decided to leave the house today and spend a few days with a very old friend and her family. Their extremely positive and supportive people and probably just what I need just before my interview.
I feel as if I've completely failed in life but it's taking all my energy to stay postive, which im finding very difficult at the moment :( very demoralising place to be :(
So you have done "BSc, MSc, msc, PGCert, phd - a near complete self funded professional doctorate (not a phd), nearly 12 years experience in psychologically relevant psychology graduate roles, Msc lecturing and a few postdoctoral jobs" and you feel you've "completely failed at life".. those are some high standards you are setting yourself!!! Sounds like you have done very well in life.
Good luck with the interview.. just keep plugging away. I know Thomas Edison was referring to Genius but I think it applies to life "is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration."
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