Quitting a Phd that I already accepted

posted
09-Sep-19, 16:42
Avatar for Sandrett
posted about 2 months ago
Hello guys,

I'm writing here because I think I need some advice. I want to start a PhD this year and after graduating at the end of November 2018, I worked in a lab as a technician and I applied for some positions during the summer. I got a really good position, even if it wasn't the one I was wishing for: nice project even if it's not exactly what I wanted to do, nice city even if it's not my dream one, really high fellowship (Marie Curie). When I got this position I didn't have anything else and I was waiting for some other results and even if I was about to refuse it I decided to accept because I was feeling quite stupid to refuse such a position. I've been told that it was a big chance for me (and I'm actually sure it is) and that probably I can't get better training than the one offered by the ITN. I signed a contract, not a very strict one in my opinion since there weren't my IBAN and ID on it, but still a contract. Now I should start the procedure to get enrolled and I should sign another contract when I'll be there, at the beginning of October. The problem is that I'm still not convinced. Moreover, it seems that I could get another PhD position, closer to my place, with a project that I would prefer, but with a lower fellowship and of course without all the advantages that being in a Marie Curie network could have. I feel bad in refusing the position that I already accepted because I think I can put the lab and the PI in a really uncomfortable situation and I still don't know if it would be the right choice to refuse this one. Would it be that bad and unpolite from me to refuse this position 20 days before starting? Is it really wise to refuse a Marie Curie position? Hope you can help! Thanks!
posted
10-Sep-19, 08:51
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 2 months ago
Hello. I do not like normally to be hard but unfortunately, I have to be.
You don't get how the way life is. Thinking that you always deserve better is wrong at the first place. There is a narrow borderline between being ambitious and being ungrateful. Life does not owe anyone anything. No one gets the dream project in his/her dream city. A good PhD position in a nice city is a dream of many qualified graduates. I know personally Master graduates who sent tons of applications to get a PhD in a close related field and they were not successful.
Regarding the lab and the supervisors, if you quit, you won't bother them at all. They are enough qualified PhD students waiting for your chance. If you quit now, it is even better for them.
Now comes my advice. First appreciate what you have. Start your PhD. Work and finish it. But if you start feeling you do it for the sake of pity to the lab or you feel you are sacrificing for them, there will be nothing good coming out of this.
posted
10-Sep-19, 14:11
Avatar for Sandrett
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From eng77:
Hello. I do not like normally to be hard but unfortunately, I have to be.
You don't get how the way life is. Thinking that you always deserve better is wrong at the first place. There is a narrow borderline between being ambitious and being ungrateful. Life does not owe anyone anything. No one gets the dream project in his/her dream city. A good PhD position in a nice city is a dream of many qualified graduates. I know personally Master graduates who sent tons of applications to get a PhD in a close related field and they were not successful.
Regarding the lab and the supervisors, if you quit, you won't bother them at all. They are enough qualified PhD students waiting for your chance. If you quit now, it is even better for them.
Now comes my advice. First appreciate what you have. Start your PhD. Work and finish it. But if you start feeling you do it for the sake of pity to the lab or you feel you are sacrificing for them, there will be nothing good coming out of this.

Hello, thank you for your advice, it will be useful and I appreciate you being hard on this because honesty is absolutely what I need, but please don't talk about things you don't know. I am grateful for what I obtained but I know how hard I worked to get here and I think I deserved everything. I just want to make the best decision for my future and I don't want to start something if I'm not convinced because this would mean wasting someone else's time and mine as well. I know that there are lot of people that don't get any positions, but this doesn't mean I should get the first one without evaluating what's best for me. I applied only to a few positions, I was good and lucky enough to get two and I don't want to make a wrong decision.
posted
10-Sep-19, 15:53
edited about 12 seconds later
by pd1598
Avatar for pd1598
posted about 2 months ago
I think eng is being harsh, you shouldn't take a position unless you are sure about it / can put up with it. My advice would be that, but to bare in mind that rejecting this position could be a very grave risk. I wouldn't reject it UNLESS you get offered something else you prefer, as you might end up with nothing. Eng is right, it won't be much of a strife for the Uni if you did quit, slightly annoying maybe, but plenty of others will be available to take your place. Your last question - is it wise? Probably not! But you only live once. Think long and hard about it.
posted
10-Sep-19, 16:08
Avatar for Sandrett
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From pd1598:
I think eng is being harsh, you shouldn't take a position unless you are sure about it / can put up with it. My advice would be that, but to bare in mind that rejecting this position could be a very grave risk. I wouldn't reject it UNLESS you get offered something else you prefer, as you might end up with nothing. Eng is right, it won't be much of a strife for the Uni if you did quit, slightly annoying maybe, but plenty of others will be available to take your place. Your last question - is it wise? Probably not! But you only live once. Think long and hard about it.

Thank you for your answer! I opened this topic yesterday and today I've been offered with the position I was talking about. I should decide not later than tomorrow, it won't be easy but I'm really trying to evaluate everything without ignoring the gut feeling that is really personal and important. At the moment I should just choose one of the two and I have to compare prestige, money and curriculum against a project that I prefer and being closer to my home. Not easy at all, hope I can make the right decision without regrets.
posted
11-Sep-19, 08:05
edited about 53 seconds later
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From Sandrett:

Hello, thank you for your advice, it will be useful and I appreciate you being hard on this because honesty is absolutely what I need, but please don't talk about things you don't know. I am grateful for what I obtained but I know how hard I worked to get here and I think I deserved everything.

Ok. Now the situation is completely different. If you have two offers, absolutely, it is wise to compare. Put also in comparison the prospective supervisors. If possible, try to see review about them not only their research output but also how they deal with PhD students.
If you feel that you deserve your offer and you are grateful at the same time, then you have the right attitude. I just warn you because I have seen some PhD students who think they are the gift of heaven to the lab. I do not want you to fall in this trap. Appreciating what you have and still feeling qualified for it is a difficult but a helpful mixture.
If I were you, I would go with my gut feeling. The difference in money does not matter much if you would be able to pay your bills. The reputation of the lab will not make a big difference. The project, supervisors and your personal gut feeling are more important especially for people who passionate and emotional. I personally follow my gut feeling and passion and recommend everyone to do this unless it is really crazy.
Whatever your decision is, do not regret it and close the page of the rejected offer and move on.
posted
11-Sep-19, 13:41
Avatar for Sandrett
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From eng77:
Quote From Sandrett:

Hello, thank you for your advice, it will be useful and I appreciate you being hard on this because honesty is absolutely what I need, but please don't talk about things you don't know. I am grateful for what I obtained but I know how hard I worked to get here and I think I deserved everything.

Ok. Now the situation is completely different. If you have two offers, absolutely, it is wise to compare. Put also in comparison the prospective supervisors. If possible, try to see review about them not only their research output but also how they deal with PhD students.
If you feel that you deserve your offer and you are grateful at the same time, then you have the right attitude. I just warn you because I have seen some PhD students who think they are the gift of heaven to the lab. I do not want you to fall in this trap. Appreciating what you have and still feeling qualified for it is a difficult but a helpful mixture.
If I were you, I would go with my gut feeling. The difference in money does not matter much if you would be able to pay your bills. The reputation of the lab will not make a big difference. The project, supervisors and your personal gut feeling are more important especially for people who passionate and emotional. I personally follow my gut feeling and passion and recommend everyone to do this unless it is really crazy.
Whatever your decision is, do not regret it and close the page of the rejected offer and move on.

Thank you a lot and apologize if I sounded rude in my previous message. I'll be following my gut feeling and it's probably leading me to the position I just got. Probably I'll be reminded as the only one that refused a Marie Curie, but who cares if I'm happy! :D
posted
13-Sep-19, 09:49
Avatar for Sandrett
posted about 2 months ago
Hello guys, I just want to tell you that I refused the Marie Curie position. I hope this will be the right choice, in this moment I feel really strange but I think I will be happy in the lab I'm going to join. I'm a bit afraid that I won't have all the doors opened when I'll finish with this, but maybe if I do a good job I will still have good chances when I'll be done.
posted
13-Sep-19, 21:16
edited about 2 minutes later
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From Sandrett:
Hello guys, I just want to tell you that I refused the Marie Curie position. I hope this will be the right choice, in this moment I feel really strange but I think I will be happy in the lab I'm going to join. I'm a bit afraid that I won't have all the doors opened when I'll finish with this, but maybe if I do a good job I will still have good chances when I'll be done.


The main thing is that you took this into account before making your decision.
Eng77 was entirely wrong to tell you to "be grateful". You owe nobody anything and should do whatever you feel is best for you. Others may well have given their right arm to be offered that opportunity but that is their problem not yours. You can't spend your life toning down your ambition because others out there fail to achieve theirs. You earned the right to turn that position down. They did not. Their problem, not yours.
Good luck on your decision. I think you have done the right thing for the right reasons.
posted
16-Sep-19, 10:37
by eng77
Avatar for eng77
posted about 2 months ago
Quote From pm133:

Eng77 was entirely wrong to tell you to "be grateful". You owe nobody anything and should do whatever you feel is best for you. Others may well have given their right arm to be offered that opportunity but that is their problem not yours. You can't spend your life toning down your ambition because others out there fail to achieve theirs. You earned the right to turn that position down. They did not. Their problem, not yours.

Thinking there are plenty of opportunities there because you have one is not helping. Believing that what happens to others cannot happen to you is wrong.
I would prefer to take a wider look of what is going there and what are my opportunities comparing myself with peers with equivalent qualifications and the available opportunities. Are the opportunities by any means in academia sufficient to accommodate well-qualified candidates? If someone stands as an average or slightly above average, he/she should be then very careful.

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