Friday, November 21, 2008

Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD)

I am in the fifth year of my PhD program. A few months from now i will be graduating and while i spend another weekend writing out my job applications, i am filled with mixed emotions. The joy and excitement that i am finally graduating and the sinking feeling that this will be the last time i will be a "Student", last time that i will be attending an University. My student life is soon going to come to an end forever (and NO i am not planning to do a post-doc).

For as long as i can remember i have lived a life of a student in some form or the other. First it was because i had to be educated so i had to go to high school, then to get a job just a high school degree is not enough, so you go to college. When you complete a bachelor's degree you realize the whole world has it, so you need something more and that leads you into grad school and finally when we are not just satisfied with a masters, we pile ourselves higher and deeper (PhD). So i won't be wrong if i say that i have pretty much spent all my life studying :)

A lot of people hate student life, well yeah, student life is synonymous to being poor, not having a car, enough money to buy good clothes, dine and shine, sharing a house/room with other intolerable people, home works and assignment and of course the pressure to get "good grades". I on the contrary have loved it specially the last five years of my PhD. Lots of flexibility, you work on your own schedule, get up at 10am, sleep at 3am, no tensions of going to "office" the next day, lots of friends that come automatically just because you are in "School" and no "office politics". Life is like a smooth sailing boat just that you are sailing on a small dilapidated boat and not the billion dollar yacht.

These thoughts are not just some random thoughts, they are pretty important thoughts because they in a way are steering my decision to the type of job that i want to do when i graduate. Do I want to apply to the industry or do i want to apply to academic teaching jobs? Please do not get me wrong the job of a teacher is in no way less stressful and should not be undermined but of course its different from a job of a consultant or an Investment Banker. Do i want to work in an environment that offers me flexibility and work on my own terms, do research on topics i am curious about and educate students out there? Or do i want to work in a fast pace throat-cutting job where each one just looks out for himself, your success is measured by how much you are making or which "brand" of company you are working for? Do i or should i get into that "Rat" race?

When i entered the program i was pretty confident that teaching was not for me, and as i am here about to leave the program i am pretty confident that teaching may also be for me :)

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