I'm not looking for advice on whether to quit - I've come to that decision on my own, with surprisingly little dithering. Just if you're curious, I've just finished my 3rd year of a Ph.D. program in the U.S., but it will take me 3 more years to finish (this is pretty much a set in stone timetable, don't want to get into that on here though). So I've decided, rather than do this for 3 more years, I want to look for a job. I realize that getting a job is highly unlikely, especially because there is a certain state I'm limited to looking in, but I've decided to try hard, and to leave if I do get one. I did get my master's at the end of last year.
I've generally always felt grad school is a job like any other, and if it's not taking you where you want to be, you can look for another job anytime. So that's my reasoning on that and in a nutshell is why I want out and I am comfortable with my decision.
But I don't know how to tell my advisor. Some of my friends say, "Don't tell him till you have a job in hand." Others say, no, you need to tell him now. My advisor and I do have a fairly good relationship, but I do not think he will be supportive on this. He will be hurt and mad and can be petty. So I don't want to sour the relationship because if I don't get a job, I will want to stay here and finish the degree - something that obviously will be difficult if not impossible if my advisor finds out about this. Thoughts, anyone?
Thanks in advance for input. I can't talk about it with people here in my city, because I cannot risk this getting back to my department.
In the way I've read your post you've seemingly answered your own question. You've said "if I don't get a job, I will want to stay here and finish the degree"
Therefore is appears pretty "simple", get job hunting and once you've got one quit. In the meantime continue with the degree.
All the best. Chuff
Thanks for the reply, Chuff!
That's what I want to do - get a job, then quit. That would be best for me, but makes me feel incredibly guilty. I'd be leaving my advisor in the lurch since I am the only one working on this one of his grant-funded projects. So I guess I'm wondering how *obligated* I am to tell him (as a good person, not really in a legal sense) so that he can start looking for someone to hire to finish the project...
I would definitely recommend having something lined up before telling your advisor that you're going to leave. Letting them know about this without doing so can be very damaging to the student-advisor relationship, especially if you do decide to continue.
When it comes down to it, be honest about your reasons for leaving. Sure, they'll be hurt and possibly quite angry, but the least you can do is tell them the truth. Hopefully it will be appreciated in the end.
I'm with the 'don't tell your supervisor / advisor' camp I'm afraid. If you tell him now, then he could say 'fine, leave' or at the least become completely uncooperative (you've said yourself he can be petty).
The worst situation you can be in is out of work when looking for a job. Whilst looking, you really need to be staying economically active (i.e. stay where you are). Employers are far less likely to look at you if you're not in some sort of current position.
I hope you're not relying on your supervisor / advisor for a reference as he sounds like the one person you don't want to rely on. If you are, then only tell him once you have a firm job offer and ask for a reference only at that stage. Have a good explanation ready and perhaps a little white lie is called for - even the most petulant person has to accept family reasons as an explanation.
I hope you get sorted out. If you don't get a job, then I would strongly advise you to remain in a situation where you can continue. I had my own experience of petulant and moody during post-doc and that directly affects the advice I am giving you now.
I agree with the others here. May be best to tell your sup when you are sure about a job offer. Can be awkward when you need to stay in research anyway. Hope it works out for you, phd and jobwise.
I have a similar question to the others who are reading this post. I'm on my final phd year, and my sup is asking me about where I want to do my post-doc. I am already sure that I don't want to stay in research. How do I tell her I do not want a post-doc? If I did tell her, then maybe she will not help me make a good dissertation, because she will think I'm a waste of space and time. But If I don't tell her, that is like leading her on, right?
Thank you very much for the advice you've given me. It basically agrees with what I have been thinking. Since the odds are good that I won't get a job anyway, and will have to stay here, I don't want to shoot myself in the foot by souring the relationship with my advisor. And I would be honest with him over my reason for leaving. I do feel pretty loyal to him since he kindly took me on after my troubled/tumultous first year in a different lab. So that loyalty is a big part of why I feel guilty over thinking about leaving. But I will not leave without something definite lined up. It's taking my friends months on end to find jobs, and I don't want to be in that situation.
I am actually in a bit of dilemma over my references. I'm not using anyone from the department (including my advisor, obviously), because I can't have word getting around. I am using one person who just graduated, and if a potential employer wanted more refs, I have a couple of people in mind for refs who also just left the department, but who know me and my work. So that is how I'm planning on handling that.
To OoOoo: What I would try to do in that situation is to find another professor in the dept. whom you trust, and talk to him/her about the situation. There are hopefully some profs who realize that there's a whole wide world of employment out there outside of academia. Try to get advice from one of them. Good luck :-)
Thanks Mackem. I'm afraid I cannot continue to post-doc :$:-( academic work is really not for me, not that I'm complaining here, sorry. My sup is just asking, she's not really doing anything to help me get one, which makes it awkward. I guess I'm lucky that I don't have to stress about paying the bills :$:$:$ I just want a satisfying career, and *thought* that doing academic work would be it.
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Tell him the truth. For only the trusth shall set you free. You can't have your life be dictated by other people like your adviser. You gotta live it according to your liking...
Keep on keeping on...
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