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Feedback from mature student who dropped out of phd
T

Hi, Maturestoodent,

Thank you for sharing your experiences, I wish you the very best in your future avenues.

A PhD supervisor has the responsibility and are paid to guide the PhD students. Unfortunately good supervisors are few and far in between as they too are under the stress of continuous grant application, labwork and other admin tasks to secure their next funding and employment. And some just outright see students as numbers to prop up their career and do the bare minimum to train the students. What you are searching for, a person whom you can have many scientific discussions with is extremely rare. Supervisors are generally pretty overworked and simply don't have the time. So under the excuse that you are meant to be independent, you can be intellectually abandoned and left to your own device to sink or swim.

Leaving a PhD is a personal decision but unfortunately can be seen as failure by the academic community. Hence there will be no support and people who do leave normally do so under a lot of stress and do not want to openly discuss it. Ex supervisors never mention the student again and it doesn't get reflected in the supervisor's profile how many students did not complete.

It is actually quite refreshing that you leave very early in your PhD when you saw all the red flags and are able to reflect on your experience so rationally. Most find out too late.

Many universities do basic research due to limited fundings whereas industry has more funds to go deeper. In fact, it is hard to do good research if the environment of academia preferentially support the Profs/PIs and does not support the growth of upcoming researchers. Not great salary, limited career trajectory, no job stability and security despite lots of hard work. That's why more and more leave academia. https://www.science.org/content/article/professors-struggle-recruit-postdocs-calls-structural-change-academia-intensify?cookieSet=1

It is wonderful to hear you are in the company of colleagues who can mentally stimulate you. I hope you are happy back in industry. All the best.

Being enthusiastic/motivated towards PhD when you want a career change after
T

Do what you need to do to finish your PhD and get out.

You don't have to tell anyone about your plans to leave academia, including your supervisor.

Now that your are in your last year, plan your last months well. Do your week by week plan on what you need to do until you submit. Write down your essential tasks and commit to it with everything you have.

You owe it to yourself to work hard and finish the damn PhD since you are so close. Then get out with your PhD award in your hands and do something else that you love outside of academia.

There is no security in a research life in the university, living from grant to grant, and the pay is very low. Your decision to go is wise, but do not tell anyone until you leave academia.You do not want to be sabotaged (eg your superviosr takes you off first author because "you don't need it anymore", or your team treats you poorly because they won't be collaborating with you in the future)

Advice sincerely needed for the next step of my PhD
T

Giving up your precious limited time as a PhD student to build labs at different places for him? What madness!! Definitely the right decision to go. If this guy doesn't let you graduate with a MPhil, best you just leave because there is no way you can do your PhD properly if he continues to ask you to slave for him

Postdoctoral position: is it too late?
T

Hi, Sid,

This may be hard to swallow, but you have totally missed the boat. Usually the first postdoc is obtained immediately after the PhD with help from the PhD supervisor. You have no relationship with your supervisor or colleagues, so essentially no reference. You have worked as a lab technician in a school for the last 4 years, not producing any publication or getting any grant during that time. Usually, mid career is 5 years post PhD, so you are nearly at the mid career stage already. I am sorry, but you are not competitive at all for any future grant or academic position.

Could you try exploring other non-academic options? There will be something for you, even if it's not in academia

moving from doctorate into business, mid-career
T

As long as you can answer the questions on why you jump around so much, that is fine.

Do employers think 40s as old? I can't speak for others, but if you are asking me to choose between two equally motivated but inexperienced people for one entry level position, one in the 20s and the other in the 40s, I will choose the younger one who will likely be easier to train and manage.

Failed my 1st year viva, Is it possible Transferring another uni?
T

All the best, Hana.

One more thing to consider - supervisor. If you win this case, it would be best to get a different supervisor. I highly doubt the current one will be willing to guide you to completion nor give you a good reference. This relationship is dead. And I am sure that you can read up on bad supervisor stories in this forum.

Advice sincerely needed for the next step of my PhD
T

Why didn't your first supervisor let you finish with a MPhil before he left? You had done two years there and had one paper. You could have gotten a Masters rather than just quit. That's so irresponsible of him.

Your supervisor B is using you as a cheap staff to set his lab up. From what you describe, the current environment is not good for you. Might be best to cut your losses and finish up with a Masters. If you do want a PhD in future, may I suggest that you take a break in between your current studies and the future. Take a job in a company in the field that you want and see if there is an opportunity to get sponsored PhD. That way, you get two things - sponsored PhD + job security. I have seen it happen to my friends and they are in a very very good place now.

moving from doctorate into business, mid-career
T

Whenever you change to a new career, you don't know much about it and so climbing up from the very bottom is necessary. It also means significant pay cut.

It is a big gamble as the change may not work out and you will have lost precious time while your peers continue to gain seniority and promotions because they continued to stay in the same career. This was what you saw with your marketing friends.

I would suggest you consider this your last career change. You have definitely jumped around a lot and it is absolutely essential for you to choose and stay in the same career now so you can build relevant experience and climb up the ladder. Otherwise, you will probably end up as a jack of all trade (with bits of experience here and there) but master of none.

Another thing to consider is age. In your 40s, less employers are willing to give you a chance at entry level position for a new career compared to when you are in your 20s. And your CV with many career switches will be less appealing to many employers too. Nothing wrong with changing career at your age, but know that you face significant head winds.

Lost after PhD
T

Write down a list of journals that you want to approach. Then on LinkedIn, see if you can find someone working in those journals and arrnage a meeting to ask them how they got in and what the criteria are.

Start from the bottom, maybe as an intern or publishing assistant. You don't know anything about the publication cycle and process and will need to learn from scratch. Apply through Job sites or through the people you talk to.

All the best!

moving from doctorate into business, mid-career
T

There is nothing wrong with changing career at whatever age, as long as you are prepared to start all over from the very bottom.

Why don't approach the startup company and get a full time job there? That will be a good start.

Lost after PhD
T

May I suggest a redirection? Have you thought about science communication, journal editorial/publishing roles, etc? If this door closes, then look at a different door. You have many skills that can be repurposed for a different role. May you be open to change.

Failed my 1st year viva, Is it possible Transferring another uni?
T

Dear Hana,

I am so sorry to hear of all the trials and tribulations that you went through.

No, I don't think you can transfer to another uni after failing your upgrade viva. What you can do though is finish up as a Master and use that master to apply for PhD in future, if that is what you wish.

If you want to fight your outcome, approach your students union and see if there is anything they can do for you. Maybe ask them to challenge the verdict or waive the payment.

Otherwise, all I can say is academia where the competition is strong and funding is tight has no compassion for anyone. It might be a blessing in disguise for you to get out of academia and get a job in industry in the long run.

What if a relevant potential supervisor is going to have a maternal leave?
T

The potential supervisor is a responsible person for rejecting you. She may extend her maternity leave beyond the first year if needed. You can ask her but she may be hesitate to commit with you. Additionally, having a small child to mind on top of normal research is hard and she may not be wanting to have a PhD student for a while

doctor's note , MH, department or supervisors?
T

Why do you need to provide doctor's note to your college and department? Your medical situation is your privacy unless you needed something from your uni. If you do need something from uni and they need your supervisor to keep an eye on you to keep you safe because of your medical situation, then yes, they will be notified.

RnR Correction Phase
T

Dear Starsister87,

Why is your supervisor insisting that the RnR will take 12 months to address? If it is something that can be done sooner, you are right in pushing for an earlier submission. But is it a doable time frame?

You have made right decision in returning to your stable industry job. A PhD qualification is not a guarantee of future job prospect. I know of so many PhD graduates who remain jobless and some had to settle for a position of research assistant which does not even require a PhD. Many postdocs I know want to leave the broken academia system.

It has been a very heavy sacrifice on you to had to sacrifice your relationships for this PhD. I completely understand your needs to want a stable future, financial stability and get on with your personal life and family at your age.

I suggest that you be frank about wanting to complete in X months and reasons why to your supervisor. They may disagree and not support your re-submission. Depending on your uni policy, you may or may not be able to resubmit without their approval. So check. Another matter is can you resubmit without any input from them? If yes, go ahead. It is not easy to resubmit without approval from supervisors and have a chance of being knocked back and downgraded to Master, but it is not impossible. Do you have a postdoc who is willing to be your pseudo supervisor if your supervisor refuses to help you?

Your position is difficult. i hope that your supervisor will come around after you explain your needs to them. If they don't, you will have to submit on your own.