Post # 1
Sooo, I don’t know if I’m just going through a late quarter-life crisis or something, but lately I’m feeling very unmotivated to finish my degree (PhD in Communication Studies) and pursue a career in academia. I’ve put four years now (and taken on a good amount of student loan debt) working on this degree, but the idea of continuing on with an academic career is just not exciting me. I know I need to finish (I’m so close! I’m done with course-work, just working on my dissertation), but after graduating, would it be crazy for me to completely change career tracks?
Has anyone else done anything similar? I’m 27 years old, Darling Husband and I are planning to move to Seattle next summer after I finish so that he can pursue his business/career. I know it’s never too late to make a career change (there were people much older than me in my program starting a new career), but I think the biggest thing freaking me out is all my loan debt, and I would likely have to take on even more. If money were no consideration (if I were to actually go back to school for something else), I think I would want to get a nursing degree and become a certified nurse midwife (I know, totally different).
Right now, I kind of wish I could go back to my 21-year-old self and make some different decisions (my alma-mater offered an advanced nursing degree program that would have just added one more year to my undergrad education), but alas, that’s not possible.
This is partly just a vent, but also I’d love advice/thoughts/experiences from people who are not currently mired in my confusing thought process. Thanks!
Post # 3
I could have written this post (and would have done so if not for being too lazy). I finished my PhD in the spring. I do not want to continue in academia. I absolutely loathe publishing and presenting in my field. It’s also a really tough job market right now, so continuing likely means multiple moves, which would be tough on my husband’s career. It would also add extra stress to trying to get tenure (the same extra stress I had to finish my degree because he moved here for me, too).
It’s tough to leave, though, just because I know all of my fellow classmates will view me as some kind of failure. I’ll feel like I’ve let down my advisors, etc. But, at the end of the day, being happy and retaining my sanity is worth so much more than saving face. In the meantime, I’m teaching this year (which I LOVE — too bad being an academic involves all the other crap on top of it) and my husband and I are starting a side business.
I don’t have any advice as I am also going through the same kinds of confusions. I do know that some places have accelerated nursing programs for those who already have degrees. Some also have loan forgiveness programs if you work for the university-affiliated hospital for a certain number of years after graduation. (I might have thought about doing this for awhile as well….)
Post # 4
@bluegreenjean: That’s the thing, I do enjoy teaching, it’s just all the other stuff that comes along with an academic career that I’m not looking forward to right now :-
I think part of the issue for me is that I don’t plan on going on the job market right now anyways – Darling Husband and I are hoping to try for a baby within the next year, and I just don’t think life with a new baby and the time commitments of an Assistant Professor seeking tenure are compatible. At least not for me. I think right now my degree just feels pointless because of that (who knows if I’ll still want to be a professor in a few years when I’m ready to go back to work full-time?).
Post # 5
@SadieBee: Agreed on the having kids issue. I have no idea how women can handle having a baby while also trying to get tenure. I have zero role models in this area — I don’t personally know of a single woman in my program who has gone on to a tenure-track position and has had children. Most don’t plan on having kids at all. I think most of the women who have managed to have children in my field waited until after they had tenure. I’ll be 32 this year — I don’t want to wait that long.
Meanwhile, a huge number of male grad students have no problems having kids while still in the program . . . I get super jealous. If a woman in the program had a baby she would get written off as not serious enough about her career.
I hate to let the desire to have children be a factor in my decision to leave, but unfortunately it is a big motivator.
Post # 6
I am kind of in a similar situation and so frustrated and overwhelmed about it 🙁 I recently graduated with a doctorate degree in pharmacy. Sounds wonderful, right? NOT! I absolutely hate pharmacy, with a deep and sincere passion. It physically makes me ill and depressed, hence I haven’t even taken my boards yet. The only aspect that interests me whatsoever is academia, but the whole difficulty of planning and having children while trying to establish a career completely scares me away from it… Especially since my husband is nearing 40 and we would like to have kids soon. So if not pharmacy, what am I supposed to be doing? I feel that I have too much loan debt to even consider going back to school for something else and most non-pharmacy jobs will not even consider me, automatically assuming there must be something wrong with someone with a PharmD applying for lower postions. Like you, I wish more than anything that I could go back and do it all over again. I also am worried about other people viewing me as a “failure” and disappointing my advisors. I just keep thinking there has to be some reason for all of this and at some point I will hopefully “fall into” the perfect job. I don’t really have any advice, but just wanted to let you know that you are not alone. I hope we both can get through all this confusion and at last be happy with our careers 🙂