27 and a PhD

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Search terms -short answers

Welcome to my blog!

Hello there, awesome reader. My name is Dr. 27. I'm older than that now, but I'm staying faithful to the origins of the blog.

This blog started 2 months before completing my PhD in a pretty southern university back in 2009. It was a way to practice my writing and take a break from all things thesis. My PhD is in a branch of structural biology where I studied some rather impressive stuff.

After completing the degree, I packed my life of 6 years in 3 days and moved to Canada to do a postdoc in a completely different field. Two years later, and after attending a lot of seminars, workshops and doing some much-needed soul-searching, I ended up getting out and looking for an alternative path to academia and industry.

The blog chronicles my mishaps, ideas, musings and tips on entering, staying and finishing grad school. It also talks about some (or a lot) of personal stuff. For a while, the blog became a place to talk about the frustrations of not knowing what to do after PhD. I wanted to explore alternatives to the traditional paths of research (academia, industry and goverment) whilst going back to my field of training (if at all possible). Eventually a job materialized. Follow my quest as I navigate the waters of being a staff scientist at a core facility.

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I’ve done three entries on search terms used by WordPress readers to get to this blog. Usually these entries are VERY long, not only because my opinion on things is usually quite long, but because I tend to let the search terms accumulate and the entries end up looking huge, so to avoid that, and possibly shorten the length between entries I’ll just write small entries based on different search terms. Let’s hope this is helpful.

The first entry in the series is: Did you enjoy doing your PhD ?

Yes and no. For various reasons. I’ll just list some of each side and discuss a bit.

On the why I didn’t enjoy doing my PhD. Well, damn, it was a little bit too long. When I started my PhD the average time to get the degree was ~5 1/2 years. For some it took more, for some less. So, back home, before I even started my degree I used to tell my friends they’d see me back in the local working force in exactly 5.5 years. Yeah, no, it didn’t happen quite like that. It took me almost exactly 6 years to get out. Partly because I was scared of what would come next, partly because although my projects worked beautifully, it still took me all that darn time to complete it, and also because I lost some valuable time getting ready for my qual, then falling flat on my face. It was partly my fault, partly my previous boss’s fault. On the other hand, I think that things happen when they’re supposed to, not a second sooner, so the defense and finishing up happened when they needed to happen. Second, insurance at my old school sucked! so being at the mercy of whatever was left of my stipend with little money and money to pay up on other things didn’t leave much wiggle room for getting sick AND affording treatment … major sucky situation. I also wished I could have taken time off to pursue things that interested me, but then again, you basically belong to the school and they pony up all the money, so you better behave and do as told. I was also in a town (and region) that was very conservative. I had to swallow up my pride a few times while letting my liberal thought go away into oblivion, so it was hard to stand comments and people who told you flat in your face what they thought of life, women’s issues, liberals, government, war, etc.

On the good side, I got a top notch education. I went to a Big Name U in which I was doing research close to “science stars” and famous people. I met a t least a half dozen Nobel Laureates and attended some beautiful talks and workshops. Quality of life was good overall, and had I known how to better manage my moolah, I could have done better money and time wise. I was close to other states with interesting places to visit, so when the BF was visiting, or even living there we packed up our things and headed off to a lovely weekend elsewhere. Food and entertainment were top notch also. Above all, my research project and work ethics were awesome. And I miss the place, my old university. I miss heading out of my known place, my niche, and having a clear cut plan of what to do. Because postdoc’ing in a temporary thing (at least how I see it today), it’s hard to make plans in the long run. I know I’d love to go back home, but right now the stupid job market is in the trash, and what appears to be most needed are neuroscientists and cell biologists, none of which I am (or like to do).

Feel free to check some of my entries about grad school and my experience here and here. And as always, if there’s a question, just leave a comment and I’ll reply soon.


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4 Comments

  1. leigh says:

    nobody wants the really cool kind of neuroscientist right now, either. i feel your pain.

  2. 28 and a PhD says:

    It’s really hard trying to look for a job that uses your capabilities to the fullest. I decided that instead of “perfectly” matching what I want and what I know with what is needed, I’ll just “market” myself as a PhD with vast knowledge of the certain areas I know, and see what happens.

  3. momromp says:

    Hey – I tagged you on my blog to write a post. It’s not usually what you write about, but if you would, that’s great. (The post on my blog is “Story and Song Meme”. Thanks!

  4. 28 and a PhD says:

    Oh Thank you!!!! I will, and hopefully will have something by tomorrow afternoon. Congrats on reaching the WP front page again 😀

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