Academia has taught me that...
1) I am not in academia to make friends - this never happens in my field. Academics (and PhD students) have more enemies / competitors than friends in their field.
2) There is not such a thing as 'sympathy'. In fact, most likely our supervisors and our department don't care about us.
3) There is too much gossip in academia, in the field, and of course in the department.
4) Academia is not for people with weak nerves.
5) Academia (and the process of completing a PhD) can cause serious mental and physical problems, from driving people mental to adding them several layers of fat around their waistline.
So, what has academia taught you so far?
From my own experience (obviously we all have very different experiences of the process)
1. Academia is not what I want to do as a permanent thing, but then I didn't think it was anyway - always a means to an end
2. Academia is not always as hard as is sometimes made out
3. Academia is also not super easy
4. I prefer working in project teams for a clear goal when compared to working on my own towards a moving target!
5. There is as much gossip and back stabbing in my department as there is/was in industry. Office politics are unavoidable in any work environment
6. Academia can be a lot more up and down than my previous jobs - probably because there is no team to talk things over with.
very much agree with all of these! though one thing springs to mind for me, especially considering the situation im in at the moment. am weeks from submission, with last bits of feedback trickling in very slowly from my supervisor. am also waiting to start a post-doc that i was interviewed for, but the start date for that has recently been put back to the autumn.
so the one thing i have learned is that things will happen when they happen. you might push for tasks to be finished by a certain date, you might get impatient and curse the fact that in academia, everything seems to take 10 times longer than it does in the 'real' world, from getting back supervisor comments on your writing or conference expenses. but the moment you stop fighting it, and accept the fact that things will just trundle along at their own pace, the more serene it is possible to feel!
at least that's what i'm trying to tell myself at the moment!
I think I had a very different PhD experience to a lot of people. I made a lot of friends, in my department and in my field, I got on well with my supervisots and didn't have any mental or physical problems.
I learnt -
1) it's important to keep a work life balance and not get totally absorbed in your project to the detriment of other life aspects. I knew far too many people who would work all hours and feel guilty for any time off. Ok so my PhD took four years to complete, but I got there without a break down.
2) a thesis doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be good enough.
3) if you want to stay in academia publications are the most important thing you can have.
4) If you're recruiting from the NHS, clinicinas will promise you the world but wont deliver unless your sat in front of them.
5) In a similar vein academics will often say they'll do something and then not actually ever do it. They need to be subtlly managed.
6) NHS research ethics is one of the most painful procedures you can go through.
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1) a PhD isn't 'a journey' its just a big project.
2) everyone you know will at some point say "I'm going to do a PhD next year" no they won't, they have no idea what it involves and think it will just be like an undergrad degree.
3) Male academics do not do admin or do it badly so female academics have to take up the slack at the detriment of their research (currently happening in my uni)
4) the Dr title is worth it, especially when you can casually pull it out when talking to cold callers. "is Mrs Sneaks there??" "No, Dr. Sneaks is here though"
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