Wednesday, March 9, 2011
To a PhD and beyond
Recently I attended a session on post-doctorial positions which prompted me to give some thought to my career options once (if) I finish my PhD. For those like myself who are interested in research and aspire to forge a career in academia the obvious and arguably necessary next step is a post-doctorate position. A post-doctorate position is exactly as it sounds. It is a position for those who have completed a doctorate and it is often used as a stepping stone into a fulltime academic position. In fact as I understand it, a post-doctorate is becoming a necessary position to fulfil in order to progress along the academic career path. The trouble is there is an oversupply of PhD students in the system and as a result the competition for securing a post-doctorate is fierce, very fierce.
Although I already had some appreciation for how just fierce this completion is, I would be lying if I said that walking out of the information session I didn’t feel a little anxious and unsettled. The CV’s of UQ post-doctorate and ARC post-doctorate recipients were intimidating. Far beyond what I can imagine, at this point in time, achieving over the next couple of years. There are of course other avenues to securing a post-doctorate position, namely academics recruiting you using grant funding. This I am led to believe is the more common method of securing a post-doctorate position though be aware, the competition for these positions would seem to drop off only marginally if at all. On top of this I came across the following article published in Nature by Jennifer Rohn which paints a pretty grim picture for aspiring researchers.
All of this together, I can’t help but let my mind wonder to a number of my friends who many years ago completed 3-4 year business degrees and are now reaping the financial benefits.
So have I made a huge tiny mistake? Well time will tell I guess. Perhaps I am naive but for now I am comforted by the fact that I can honestly say I love what I do and that I wouldn’t trade it for close to anything. I chose this path because I am driven by curiosity to no other end than to finding answers to my questions and right now I am being funded to do so! That I think, as well as being infinitely cool, is a privileged position to be in and I intend to make the most of it as this opportunity may not arise again. (Warning! Cognitive dissonance detected)
May your curiosity drive you to success.