Post # 1
So, I am a (miserable) PhD student about to start the comp exams process. I am fully funded, so while I have no student loan debt, I make a stipend that would qualify me for food stamps. I am on track and on time, but my peers are busy publishing and love their work and I feel like I am “behind” when it comes to developing my skills toward a career they want, but I don’t.
I did not know what I was getting into in this program. I realize I don’t like research, I am not super passionate about my dissertation topic, or the type of research I would have to do to study it in a way my department would find acceptable.
Yesterday, I got a call out of the blue for a fabulous job that is the type of career I want.
Do I take it?
Try to take a leave of absence and come back in 9 months?
Stay and finish my qualifying exams for six months so that the only thing I need to finish is the diss?
I have a 20K fellowship for next year (starting in fall) that would allow me to take a job just like this, while still having a path forward to finish my PhD. But the job will likley be gone, and these positions are quite hard to get. I feel like I am only getting the PhD to “hedge my bets” and keep doors open for future opportunities. But I am also having to turn down opportunities now, and I worry that with a PhD I will be limiting the kinds of jobs I can get (that both employers and I feel are worth someone going to school for that long).
I absolutely do not want to be a Professor, and I am not interested in teaching.
What should I do?!
Post # 3
Sounds like this job would be a better career choice for you than the PhD would be (at least for the type of career you are interested in).
Based on what you’ve told us, I’d say stop the PhD and take the job.
Post # 4
My opinion…take the job. You don’t like your program, are not passionate about it etc. You are taking funding from someone who might really want to BE there, doing what you are not intrested in doing.
A career you hate will serve no purpose to your life. If the offer is something that can support, fulfill and satisfy your needs, I think you’d be crazy not to take it.
Post # 5
Three of my friends just finished their PhDs. They now are making more money than I am and I worked the whole time they were in school. They also all said “if you don’t question yourself multiple times every semester, you’re doing something wrong.” My husband just started his PhD and it’s really hard for him because it’s so much time, we’re broke, and the research is hard. I say STAY IN!
Post # 6
Sounds like your program is similar to mine in terms of career track/publishing/funding. I’ve felt like you have at times (and so have all of my friends in my program, so it’s definitely normal to feel that way sometimes) but am sticking it out because I know that I’ll be able to have more job options that I could enjoy with my PhD compared to a MS. Is there any *specific* career that you would need the PhD for versus just your Masters? If so, I’d maybe stick it out, but if not, just go for the job if that would make you happier. I don’t think the leave of absence will work out, honestly – everyone who’s done that in my program never returned.
Post # 7
@justelope: Don’t quit!!
I did and haven’t gone back 5 years later ugh.
Post # 8
I guess it depends on what your program is. For me, a PhD would allow me to make twice as much (if not more) money as I can with a masters degree so I plan to do whatever it takes to finish up grad school and earn that PhD even though most days I absolutely want to quit. If you can honestly tell yourself that you won’t regret dropping out and you think you will be happy in this new job then I guess you should go for it. I am very much an advocate for finishing something that you started though, especially something like a PhD. You’ve come this far, whats another 2 year or so? BUT if you aren’t happy and won’t be happy in that field then you should take the path that is going to make you the happiest!
Post # 10
@justelope: You aren’t happy with the research and you don’t want the type of job that you would be qualified for with the PhD. It might not hurt to ask about the leave of absence, just to keep the PhD door open a little longer, but based on what you wrote, I think you should take the job. I have a PhD and I’m making about as much teaching as you do with your fellowship. You always have the option to go back to school one day.
Post # 11
Thanks for the advice everyone! I am still really conflicted on it, but I will interview and explore my options regarding the leave option.
It’s a social science PhD, so nothing is certain regarding my earning power with the MA vs. the PhD.
I likely won’t go back to school since I am already in my 30s. Part of what makes it so hard to decide!
Post # 12
And ironically, someone just announced they were leaving the program today. Something in the water?
Post # 13
- Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort
It sounds like a PhD for you is a path towards a job and not something you want for its own sake, so since a job has landed in your lap, why take the long way to get to the same goal?
I’m in a field in which I can’t get a job without a PhD, but if that weren’t the case… I don’t know.
Post # 14
I think you should stay at your program, or finish the semester and then take a leave of absence. What happens if you go to this job and end up hating it, for one reason or another? I mean full funding is a pretty sweet deal. Is this a job that you would stay at for the rest of your life? If not, would having a PhD provide better job opportunities? Good luck!
Post # 15
@justelope: Can I ask which of the social sciences? And how you got a call out of the blue for job like that? The second question I ask just because it seems really unusual in the social sciences to get a job offer/interview for a full time job like that without the PhD. Usually things like that happen when its a short-term offer, or its a fairly new company–regardless, it is definitely something that makes me think you should do a LOT of background research on this opportunity.
That said…I am also getting a PhD, I’m in my 4th year, and can’t wait to escape academia and get a real career. However, in my program (social psych and neuroscience although I’d rather take a job using the social psych degree and not the neuro part), you get a lot more power from the PhD than the MA/MS even when you go into gov/industry. Better salary, more job security, more likely to end up in a supervisory position if that’s what you want down the road, etc.
These things obviously are not always easy to talk over with your advisor, so I’d try to seek out people in your field who have gone non-academic and see their opinions.
Post # 16
You should find out about the leave of absence and then pursue the job. Always good to have a backup plan! It’s also good to do things in life where if you had to look back, you don’t want to look back and regret something you should have done.
With that said, it doesn’t sound like you are happy in the PhD program and if this job will propel you in a positive direction, then I’d say go for it. But make sure you tie up any loose ends!