Signup date: 20 Nov 2006 at 12:14pm
Last login: 06 Nov 2020 at 11:23am
Post count: 138
I often think that it's the former who produce the better work as they seem better able to stand back from it. Whereas those who are entirely consumed by it can lose sight if any problems or weaknesses that begin to see into the thesis.
A lot depends on the quality of supervision, though. A good supervisor will be able to direct you in such a way as to know when to stop reading a particular literature or what have you, whereas a poor supervisor will, happily let you spend months working seven days a week through a particular literature that may not even be all that relevant to you anyway.
As an aside, nowhere near enough is understood about the psychological fall out of the post-PhD years, or the impact this has on lifetime earnings and long-term health. I've been recovering from my collapse for three years now and I'm still not fully "there" yet, though I feel not far off full recovery - however, the person that eventually emerges will be very different from the one that entered a PhD programme back in 2002. We're very much forgotten about once we are perceived as having "left" (i.e. pushed out from, as a consequence of financial circumstances and absence of job opportunities) academia. My supervisor hasn't been in touch with me in over 3 years and doesn't bother responding to the occasional e-mails I send out informing academics about where I am and what I'm up to because I am no longer an academic and she has never worked outside of an academic environment in her life.
As far as I'm concerned, this experience makes me a stronger person than those who are fortunate enough to be able to go and hide in academia forever, most of whom would face precisely the same psychological turmoil themselves were they ever to be pushed out (which, with the redundancies likely in academia going forward, seems a likely propsect for some of them, sadly). I often look back at the state of some of the academics I used to work with and feel relief that I'm not going to turn out like some of them (which is to say, smelly, unhealthily obsessed about a particular subject and in poor health due to a diet of ready males and junk food as proper cooking gets in the way of reading journal articles, etc.).
======= Date Modified 20 May 2011 15:03:56 =======
Also PS - if you feel that the NHS hasn't managed your depression so far then I would go to a different doctor. Easy for me to say when I've recovered (mostly) from my own depression, and I know that depressed people tend not to seek out help proactively because of the very nature of the illness, but to get on top of it you need to do that. If your current doctor isn't helping you then you have every right (according to the NHS patient charter) to go round to different ones until someone takes you sufficiently seriously to follow it up properly.
Gaining employment alone is unlikely to resolve your depression.
You're defining your skills too narrowly. It's a common problem among PhD graduates; after all, you spent 3+ years immersed in that area so it becomes very easy to think that this is all you really know.
In reality, you're skilled at diagnosing the needs of different sets of software users - or, to take another angle, at diagnoising the needs that disabled people have regarding new technology.
We have an ageing population that is likely to require more and more assistive technology as time goes by - and for that technology to be home-based and easy for them to use intuitively (plus, older people increasingly expect to keep using new technology, because they're now so used to it - people retiring today have spent the majority of their working lives on computers). This is a massive growth area in our society and is one area of the economy that is quite literally future-proof as there will only ever be increasing demand. Furthermore, the likes of Apple and Nokia are now very much into designing smartphones that people who are blind, or who have MS or MND, can use hands-free in exactly the same way as you or I would use them. There is tons of stuff going on there that you could get into. I would suggest you begin by spending a week or two building the biggest database of accessible technology companies you can find alonsdie a record of every research company that has done anything in this field. Google every search term you can think of and then try to use that to figure out who is a reasonable fit for yourself. Search the wesbites of disability advocate organisations such as RNIB or MNDA to find out what is going on in software and accessibility. I can see you on both the design side of it and the evaluation side of it. Public sector organisations are required to make sure that everything they do is disability accessible - that has created a whole industry in evulation of room layouts, etc. - that could easily be applied to software too.
I get the impression that you would probably prefer to work in smaller teams and that big corporate life very well might not be for you. Which is good, since there are always far mroe opportunities in SMEs and very small companies than there ever are in big corporates.
I think there are zillions of opportunities out there for you but you have to broaden your understanding of the skills you have and you have to be extremely proactive. I know it's not easy, because I think part of the problem you have (and that you perhaps don't recognise) is that you are mentally exhausted after the PhD as well as depressed (again, a common experience and one that I went through). I would therefore recommend seeing a doctor as well.
Most of us who had our academic dreams well and truly stamped on by the deletrious, appalling nature of the academic job market (150 academic positions applied for; 0 interviews) end up doing jobs that bear little direct relationship to the knowledge gained during the PhD. A PhD gives you an outstanding skill set in terms of project management, time management, commitment, research skills, etc. - but employers often don't realise this. These really have to be spelled out to employers.
If I were you I'd ring up the comapny that said you would be happier in an academic position, tell them you appreciate the feedback but that you were disappointed by their attitude toward you and calmly exlpain that a commercial career is indeed your aim, that you were greatly excited by the prospect of the position available, and that you wish to clarify what they would expect to see on your CV that would make them take you seriously as the outstanding candidate that you believe yourself to be. Seriously, I would do that - and pin them down on it as well - and then explore if providing some freelance or intern-based work for them, or for someone else, would help to build that type of CV.
You also need to read the most recent Vitae reports about developing careers for research professionals and read smoe of the case studies of those who have segued into non-academic employment, if only to get an idea of what sorts of roles they go into.
PhD students nowadays should be reading that sort of thing from the beginning of their studies, just to get them thinking about the range of careers they can potentially get into, but universities do an exceptionally poor job of making their students aware of them.
Large consultancies such as Accenture focus almost entirely on new technology; not sure how far that corresponds to your PhD though.
What kind of science, Rigel34? I would be willing to wager that there are considerably more than half a dozen employers that you would be suitable for if you think a bit more widely than the specific content of your academic research alone. Commercial science-y stuff is driven by SMEs. Is there some kind of Centre of Excellence for science in your region? Have you looked through the Technology Strategy Board's website to investigate which companies aer applying for R&D money for new projects? Our company does a lot of research work for new tech companies, which I end up doing and my PhD isn't even in science! It's the ability to do research that counts, not the specific subject matter.
If your work is anything to do with pharmaceuticals in any way, shape or form then I can immediately think of several dozen research companies in that field that would be suitable for you - and who may be interested in letting you freelance from home if you prefer.
======= Date Modified 20 May 2011 12:51:35 =======
Commercial jobs for new graduates with PhDs are usually obtained through recruitment agencies that specialise in precisely this sort of endeavour - placnig people with appropriate companies after a lengthy discussion with the candidate to determine their needs and wants. The above links, as well as advertising myriad jobs currently available in research, also contain links to specialist recruiters such as Sue Hill Recruitment and Hasson Associates. I suggest you explore those to see where they might lead.
If you really are location-fixed then it would be worth exploring the freelance angle. You suggested that one company wouldn't take you on because they didn't respect your academic research experience. I suggest you contact other companies like them and offer yourself up as available for freelance research and consultancy work on an ad hoc basis for now. You might even think in time about converting that into full-time self-empoyed consultancy work. But you have to make this sort of happen yourself, because unfortunately no one is going to come looking for you and employment in the West is increasingly becoming a freelance exercise anyway. A lot of companies that downsized during the recession have increased their output again, but are using freelancers rather than employing anyone "properly". Most companies will meet a propsective freelancer if he/she has written a tailored letter explaining their offer.
I would suggest you take this route, rather than panic yourself into applying for menial work. What I've suggested here would be a more fruitful use of your tmie than just rushing for a job for the sake of having a job.
Once you get a few freelance projects under your belt then so long as you have been good to work with then people will keep going back to you and recommend you to others. It would take some time to be so established as to guarantee a regular stream of work, but at least you get to be self-employed and get to determine your own role, which is something that those of employed in the private sector by someone else never get.
When I read stories like this I want to take academia to task for failing those with the commitment and dedication to hang around for PhDs when those students could have gone off years earlier and got decent jobs elsewhere. Any PhD that does not include a significant a lengthy internship or work placement period is simply no longer worth the paper it's printed on. There are no jobs in academia. Ergo, PhD graduates must go and work elsewhere upon completion. In order to do so, they must become known to potential non academic employers well before the PhD is completed in order to appear credible to non academic employers.
I would suggest that you simply have no choice but to move location, tbh. There are a lot of market research positions out there that would take on someone such as yourself as an entry level Research Executive but you have to be prepared to go and live in London to really get on in that profession. You should also go back and speak to your old uni careers service. Most careers services will continue to deal with graduates until around five years after their most recent degree qualification, and it sounds like you are well within that window. These people have a duty of care to you, and ought to have at least some contacts out there that you can investigate.
It's very easy for PhD graduates to complete their studies and then be left dangling unless they really push for better things from the services they are entitled to. There is a lot more out there job wise than data entry work but it's not that easy to find and universities currently do absolutely sod all to help their PhDs to find it. As a PhD you're just a bum on a seat to the dept concerned, sadly. You need career plans from day 1 of the PhD and that includes a clear understanding of non academic careers that interest you. I managed to get on in market research; it's not what I thought I'd do and I don't massively enjoy it compared with academia but you have to understand that a PhD is worth considerably less to a CV than you want to think because of the work that has gone into it. Unfortunately no one ever tells you this, certainly not academics who have a vested interest in lying to you about the doors it might open up simply to get talented people into their PhD programmes to boost the dept's esteem. End of.
Yes, that is right.
The Research Councils wll allow you to apply for postdoc fellowships before you finish the PhD but the British Academy will not. Personally, I think this shows the BA to be a bit out of touch regarding the realities of immediate post-PhD life, but there you go.
Well, I was a Research Fellow in 2007-08, and after a long period out of academic employment I am about to be interviewed for a Research Associate position. Downward mobility!
The difference can often be one of control over the research - and RA will typically be contributing to a Principal Investigator's (usually RC-funded) resarch project, whereas an RO will typically be working 100% on their own research (as long as that research accords with the needs and themes of the relevant dept. or research unit).
Much of the enjoyment of an RA position is dependent on how far the PI trusts you with significant autonomy over the research vs. how much he/she just wants to "dump" the undesirable aspects that they would rather not bother with onto you.
YOur university employer will have put you on a particular grade and this will set out the grades you will advance through year on year.
You will still advance through the grades, but the pay level of those grades will be frozen for 2 years, rather than increasing in line with inflation.
Sadly, such is the depoliticisation of contemporary society that the civil disobedince that ought to accompany this budget will be non-existent vis-a-vis the shoulder-shruuing, atomised apathy that will form the largest social response.
I'll be very blunt about this. Right now I wouldn't bother with pursuing an academic job (either research or lecturing). I realise (from my own experience) that the most desirable thing is to go on to be employed in academic work after a PhD, but the austerity blowing through HE today, coupled with the colossal backlog of academic hopefuls who have struggled to find work since 2005-06 (when the pressure to recruit only those staff who could make a massive contribution to the RAE effectively froze recent PhDs out of the job market altogether, a situation that has not improved since) means that the academic job prospects for anyone, even those graduating with a PhD from Oxford or Cambridge, are more or less nil.
Fro the discussions I've had, it seems that universities in the UK simply won't be recruiting significant numbers of new academic staff until 2015 at the very earliest, and many departments simply won't replace retiring academics, they'll just have smaller departments trying to cope with increasing numbers of UGs.
I hate to break it like that, but you deserve to know the truth and not the half-arsed vague assertions about "possible openings" that academics mutter to new PhDs simply to keep them interested in being extremely low-paid TAs within the departments where they studied their PhDs.
Unfortunately, we've never been in a situation when so many PhDs are "out there", so it remains to be seen how far the non-academic job market (itself very slender for now, although it will recover a lot more quickly than its academic counterpart) can absorb these people in roles suitable for their qualification level. I sometimes think that school teaching could be the way to go - that's one of the few areas beyond academia where I could see possession of a PhD being a significant advantage when competing for jobs.
Right, here goes. I've thought long and hard about everything over the last few weeks, and although my market research job gives me an income, I just know hat I'll look back on my life as being essentially unfulfilled if I don't go on to spend at least some of it working academically again. So I'm going to finish drafts of 2 papers that are in advanced states of completion. I've got a couple of people who are prepared to look them over and offer comments. I aim to submit them for consideration at particular journals that I have in mind by January. That would get me up to 4 articles. Then we'll see what transpires after that.
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