4 years and 100,000 words later, I am at the end of my Ph.D. journey. To be honest, I started it at a whim. Did I want to do my Ph.D.? Sure somehow, but I was not going to pay for it. I applied for a scholarship and got it, which was a big surprise to me. So after slogging it out for four years, here are a few lessons that I have learned.
A Ph.D. May Not Pay You Well
After spending four years on my Ph.D., I was told that there will be no promotion or any form of pay raise. This does not bother me but knowing that I may get a bit more work for the same pay got me thinking, was it really worth it?
I suppose at the end of the day it really depends on what you mean by "pay". The only "pay" I would receive in the long run is perhaps recognition. However, I do get paid in learning a whole lot of new skill sets (sci-hub ... cough cough). So that has been somewhat worthwhile.
So then, why is talking about pay an important aspect? Well, it is important to know what you are getting into. Four years can be a very long time and there are times when you can get very demotivated so knowing exactly why you start doing your PhD in the first place is very important.
It's Like Pitching Your Startup
I have joined a few startup competitions, one of these startup competitions include those organized by lean startup machine. One interesting takeaway is that a lot of what lean startup teaches is similar to writing a long Ph.D. thesis. Not much is quite different really. You have the proposal for your project and you will have to pitch it to a panel. In Ph.D., I had to pitch my proposal to a panel exactly like how I pitched my business proposal during lean startup.
At the end of my Ph.D. journey, I had to pitch my entire study like how I am pitching for venture capital for a startup. They are very much similar and in both instances, not everyone would like your idea. There is one valuable lesson that one can glean from such pitching.
Be Sure and Be Bold
There were many times when I was told that my work was not good enough. In all those situations, it's important to believe in what you are doing. Granted, there are people who have had years of experience in their field. But they do not have the combined might of Google scholar and other tools at their fingertips. Sure, they may have some experience elsewhere but it may not apply to the context of your research.
In sum, if you know why you are conducting research, you can pitch it well. However, when you are pitching it, despite what others may say, hold your ground and be bold. Before you know it, you will complete that long and arduous Ph.D. journey.
Hope you have enjoyed this, stay tuned for a darker tone of this article, coming soon!