PhD major wobbles...

(9 Posts)
highlycaffeinated Fri 10-Apr-20 09:02:23


So just looking for some advice really, apologies if this is the wrong place to post. No one in my family has as much as an as-level so i have no one in my personal life to talk to!

I am currently a final year BSc student due to be graduating this summer in a relevant but ultimately niche field (Agriculture related). I have never really known what i wanted to do afterwards, but the opportunity for a funded 4 year PhD has come up in my area of interest and by some stroke of luck i have been offered it!

Was feeling pretty positive...until I sent them my confirmation of acceptance. Now having major wobbles about the whole thing. I have been thinking about pros and cons and will try to put them into words as best as i can.

- I have always enjoyed problem solving and finding answers and have
hence really enjoyed my undergrad research project this year
- The field of study is largely aligned with my interests (granted I wouldn't have necessarily come up with the question myself but I can see myself finding it interesting nevertheless)
- The salary is more then enough for me to live off of
- The location is ideal
- I know the supervisor well and have a good relationship with them

Pros that are ultimately not very good reasons but i will list them nonetheless:
- It would be very cool to be Dr HighlyCaffeinated
- Goodness knows how the job market is gonna end up after all this, so I would have at least 4 years worth of financial security
- I would always been academically minded and would just like to see if i can do it!

- I doubt my abilities --> more of a confidence thing, always have done
- I am fully aware of how awful the academic job market is and really don't fancy moving all over the country fighting for temporary post doc positions
- If i don't end up in academia, i will be 27 upon finishing with no 'real' industry experience, is a PhD likely to be a barrier to getting industry jobs?
- If I do manage to move into industry, i will be years behind and will likely be on a much lower salary than if i were to just start now
- I have suffered with anxiety badly in the past so concerned for my mental resilience as i know its going to be a stressful old slog

If anyone who has, is working towards, or has decided against a PhD (science or otherwise) could offer any sort of advice, I would be hugely grateful! My heads a bit all over the place at the minute.


OP’s posts: |
tinselvestsparklepants Fri 10-Apr-20 09:17:39

Congratulations on your offer. First of all try to ditch the imposter syndrome. Really common in women in academia (I know- I have it!). Secondly I'd allow yourself to ditch the long term vision for a while. Who knows what the next few years will be like. You have secured a PhD position in a subject and a place you like, that'll give you a salary and a propose. I'd suggest throwing yourself into it. If an amazing industry position arises you can always think again, but in the mean time you're on your way to becoming Dr. I'd really try not to second think it but to concentrate on all the Pros, especially in this strange time. All the best.

TheLovleyChebbyMcGee Fri 10-Apr-20 09:30:02

I don't have a PhD, but my DH (36) and my closest friend (29) does, with very different current circumstances. I also considered one after I graduated, but decided against it. I just couldn't face anymore studying.
I did end up taking a year out after my BSc, did some travelling, then came back and doing a masters, I now work in the NHS doing a job very much related to both my degrees. We are all science based, but very different parts of it iyswim

DH currently working in higher education, teaching students, doing research and working with outside companies. Really enjoys it. He has found it really helpful in his subject, and if his academic job falls through he's made enough contacts that he could get a job in his industry without too much trouble. We hope anyway, like you say, god knows what the job market will be like in even 6 months, never mind 4 years!

My friend is current unemployed after graduating maybe 3 years ago, they had a job not related to their subject in the meantime, but were made redundant several months ago. They are desperate for a job in their field, but right now would settle for pretty much anything.

I think for me it was job security as well. I knew I could get a job in my chosen field without a PhD, where if I had one it'd put me down a different path. I was never very confident in my own research though and was too shy to ask for help a lot of the time. But you sound a lot more put together than I was in that aspect. I'd be tempted to do it in your position, especially if it gives you 4 years of job security.

Sorry, not sure if my ramblings will have been helpful, good luck!!

P.S my DH loves his title btw, he's got it on all his cards, utility bills etc but is always slightly nervous in case a medical Dr is called for in an emergency and everyone will expect him to step up!!

highlycaffeinated Fri 10-Apr-20 18:40:08

Thank you for your replies. Definitely food for thought. I am not going to rush into anything as have a few months yet before i start, so will keep thinking it over for a while. Nice to hear some positivity though, feeling much more positive!

OP’s posts: |
GCAcademic Sat 11-Apr-20 08:27:17

It's a bit unethical to hold out until just before the start date before making a final decision, having already accepted the funding. That funding could go to someone else if declined now. But not if you were to decline in September. Given the dire state that finances are going to be in next year, there is no guarantee at all that they would be allowed to advertise the scholarship again next year.

Sorry if this comes across as harsh (and especially if I've misread the situation) but having been messed around like this in the past, it is incredibly frustrating. The supervisor / department will have gone through hoops and spent a lot of time to secure that funding.

Brenna24 Sat 11-Apr-20 08:37:53

I would say that GCAcademic is right. Don't leave it until just before the start date to pull out decide by,say, the end of April and then stick to it. However the other posters are right. If you love your area of study and will enjoy doing it it won't harm your job prospects later. Spending a few years as a postdoc after might make it harder to get into industry but your PhD is unlikely to. If you can put a bit of a slant on it so that you make contracts with industry during it would help further with getting into industry afterwards. I regret my PhD because I didn't get I to any of the areas that interested me or would lead to a broad range of jobs. Instead I took one that I was offered in a very niche area that was unlikely to lead anywhere afterwards and gave me a very limited skill set as I was basically doing the same thing on repeat for years. I did it because my parents were desperate for me to do it, not because I was. I then went straight into a postdoc in one of the few related labs in the world and totally fell apart. I hated it even more. But that was more to do with my poor choice of subject than the PhD itself.

highlycaffeinated Sat 11-Apr-20 10:36:19

I didn't mean leave it until the last minute at all..I have until October so was just giving myself another week to think. Thank you again for your inputs

OP’s posts: |
CatteStreet Sat 11-Apr-20 10:44:23

I agree with the others - make your decision and commit. And my decision would be a yes (DOI: I have a doctorate and now work for myself providing a particular type of specialist service to academics - I like to call myself a para-academic grin and publish the odd thing myself now and again. I love the world of academia but am fairly pleased not to have to have made it in it full time). It's partly your sense of being drawn to it that makes me say that, but also it sounds as if your research might be quite transferable to an industry setting if you needed it to be. It won't be that you'll be 27 without any experience. You'll be 27 with research experience and a doctorate. And in many places 27 is still remarkably young to hold a doctorate, so there's always the option of going elsewhere, Brexity limitations notwithstanding.

MaybeDoctor Sun 19-Apr-20 13:40:39

Think of it as a job. If someone offered you a four-year job in your field, you would accept it wouldn’t you?

Being strategic is great, but sometimes the here-and-now is fine too.

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