WHat if................


Dunno why I was thinking about this today.

(1) What do you think you'd be doing if you hadn't got/accpeted/applied for your PhD?
(2) Would you rather be in that alternative future?


and my answers...........

(1) I was offered another 9 month contract at my Teaching Assistant job and would have carried on doing that then tried to get a PhD to start a year later probably staying in the city where I worked previously. I would possibly now be going into my third year rather than my forth year and probably be living in the North West rather than the south coast of England.

(2) Is tricky. There’s a lot about my PhD I’ve not liked, but on balance I’ve had a good experience, I get on with my supervisors and feel I’ve learnt a lot. I really like the city I now live in and wouldn’t have met some fantastic friends if I’d not moved here. On the other hand my boyfriend has struggled with work and the cost of living is higher here so we could be better off had we stayed in the North West. It would certainly be interesting to be able to pay a visit to that alternative future….but whether I’d then stay there??????


(1) Struggling to find work in an area that is saturated with graduates. I would probably be fighting for temp jobs and being told that I am over-qualified (as happened over the summer). I would now be frantically applying for PhD places...

(2) Defo NO!! I would be gutted! Although there are aspects of my life now which could be better (I've moved to another country to do the PhD) and have few friends and no family here I would not be in the alternative future for any money!


This is a nice thread. I can only say that if I'd decided not to do a PhD, I could now be in a really good job and (because life may have turned out differently) genuinely happy. However, it's all 'ifs' and buts'. I could be one of the thousands of graduates currently looking for a job. I could have started my own private business on the basis of my original degree and be doing well. I'm slowly writing up and it's proving to be a painful process. So, I'm probably not currently best placed to answer whether I'd rather be in the alternative future. A year from now, life could be completely different for me (sun, sea, sand...as if!), I might be really happy and I wouldn't want to swap it for any future. So, I don't know really.:-)


Nice questions!

For question number one, I would have been working in a company, something to do with supply chain.
For question two, no. I can imagine myself being in the alternative future, but the opportunity to grow, mature, and really think about what I want in life is priceless. The phd gave me a chance to do this.

I would have matured in the "alternative" future as well, but the phd gives you intellectual and emotional stress while leaving you alone with your thoughts, something which is also possible (but minutely so) in a fast-paced company. But that's just me :-)


1. Getting frustrated in some job somewhere as I am not made for anything but academia (research, that too)

2. No, definitely not.

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1) probably either as a consultant in my current field, or just doing vague office work locally, that I could have done without the BSc and MSc.

2) no, but sometimes I think it would be so much easier and I would have been saving and earning money for 4 years which would have been nice and I wouldn't feel so behind my friends who didn't do PhDs who are all doing up their houses in nice slate and stuff :-(


Yeh, interesting thread. If I hadn't been accepted, I'd be working in my dream job, managing a team of civil servants in an area I'm passionate about. I was doing this job but had to give it up because of the Phd - and am still bitter that I've had to make so many sacrifices for this thing. In a way I wish that I'd gone down that path instead, as there are no academic jobs in my area and I've done all this work for very little gain...


I would have stayed in industry earning a large salary with lots of perks - but I would have been unhappy.
No - that's why I changed career.


Lovely question ...

1. I would be working more hours, unpaid overtime, in my current job; a job i don't enjoy. As it is now i do my hours, and then leave to do my "other" job ... one i do enjoy (up)

2. Hell no.


1) I would have found a research assistant's/technician positiom somewhere in the field of my BSc and MSc, but still be in academia, and possibly applied for a part-time PhD.

2) Probably not, since I like what I'm doing now and this PhD will lead to a research/lecturing position in a field I really like. Might have gotten there eventually, but would've taken too much time.


1) I'd be unemployed like I was for nearly 2 years previous to starting my PhD or I would have enrolled on some other course - another master's or maybe something like pharmacy or radiography.

2) I'm glad that I'm not unemployed. But sometimes when considering my future options I ask myself whether I wouldn't have been better off doing something with an almost guaranteed (and stable) job/profession at the end, something that can't be said about academia. But on balance, I enjoy my project and I've got good funding so we'll see.


Really interesting question - I love threads like this!

1. If I wasn't starting my PhD next year I may be training as a psychoanalytic therapist instead, I am very interested in psychoanalytic theory and I pursue this in my PhD. I was thinking of becoming a therapist and doing some teaching/research as well but at 22 I think I lack the confidence to help others properly, I think I'm too young. I may still do this later on though. If I hadn't started my MSc I may have gone into journalism, a friend of mine is a showbiz journalist and it seems like a nice life! If I hadn't gone to university I would still be hairdressing and earning much more than I am now!

2. Not at all at the moment, I think there will come a time when I want to try different things, like being a psychoanalyst, but at the moment I'm just excited about starting my PhD! And I definitely don't want to go back to hairdressing or anything in the service industry!

Avatar for Batfink27

1.) I'd either still be in my old job and waiting for redundancy like all my old colleagues are (and no fat payouts either, I'd have got a month's wages and that would be it), or I'd have managed to find another public sector job after finishing my Masters, in something I was more passionate about and earning more money, but would also still be looking at the possibility of redundancy.

2.) No, I was out with old work colleagues last night and they're all deeply depressed and demoralised and can't see any future apart from unemployment and severe poverty, so being a PhD student is way way way better than that!


I would be still in my old job waiting for the axe to fall in March.

No, I am really glad I took a positive step and jumped before I was pushed.

Good thread!!