Good afternoon WildBiologists!
I know, once more I have not posted in ages and I know it might sound as an excuse, but I am honestly extremely busy. Ph.D, life is no life. That might be my life motto for the following 4 years of my life.
So, my last post has been about the differences between industry and academia life from my personal point of view and personal experience. From now in advance, I will focus specially in academic life, since it is what I am doing and what I am learning about. I believe it is a topic that might have been discussed in numerous blogs (which might make it a bit repetitive), however, it is needed to have a pool of information of personal experiences, academics, scientists, students, etc. to have a clear idea of what is really going on in the scientific-academic life.
I am sure if you are going towards an academic life, you might be asking yourselves millions of questions. One of the most important questions that needs to be addressed is, how can I chose the perfect Ph.D. without compromising my lifestyle?
Most of the Ph.Ds, specially experimental ones, need a massive time investment. So you have to ask yourself before choosing, how much time do you want to dedicate to your Ph.D. Based on that you can proceed to choose:
- The topic of interest. Most of the topics are quite interesting. Your research will be focused on a very specific portion of information. I cannot emphasize enough how much you have to love your topic in order to create a good research thesis. You will dedicate hours and hours to it and you will have to love reading about it, try different protocols in order to gather data, analyze the raw data, plot it and discard the hypothesis that you might have believed in for really long time, which is disappointing and time consuming. If you have to waste your time, at least do it in something you love.
- Contact different research groups through emails. Once you find your topic, go and search for laboratories that you are interested in. Contact them, ask if you can go and see how they work, what founding possibilities they have (no one wants to be a slave in XXI century, we all need a source of income and I think we can all agree here) and focus on the working environment. If you work in a positive environment, you will have a less deadly experience. Ph.Ds are hard. We really do not need a hostile job environment, or highly stressful, since we will be stressed enough with (let’s all asume it) negative or no illegible results.
- The supervisor or Thesis director. This is one of the MOST IMPORTANT things about Ph.Ds. Through this learning process you will need the right guide. A supervisor who is not able to read your thesis, provide you ideas about possible experiments, show you the right methods of analyzing your data, dedicate few hours a week to you, is no supervisor. It can get very unsatisfying, saddening and it had lead quite a few people to leave their research careers.
I would like you to ask yourselves also what are you aiming when you decide to follow a research career? Some people decide to go for really prestigious research groups because they have really great CVs and aim to be some day popes in their fields. They end up in very competitive groups (e.g some supervisors make two pre-docs compite for the same project and the first who gets data, gets to publish the paper), they end up winning or feeling useless. My moral from this is: you have to try to find a balance: you do not need to be in the most competitive research group to be successful. Try to be in a group where you have enough founding to be able to do your research but also not to be stressed about being kicked out because you are not a science super star.
Feel free to ask me anything! if there is something I didn’t cover you can leave feedback in the comment section and I will get back to you.
By now, until next wildbiologists