(Closed) Has anyone ever done a 180 in their career? Quarter-life crisis.

posted 5 years ago in Career
Post # 3
1059 posts
Bumble bee

Hmmm this sounds tricky. I would say that you probably should not be doing a PhD unless you are completely into it – it’s a big commitment, and it’s hard to find motivation if you aren’t completely into it. I would also say that doing things like video editing and such while appealing, might not pay the bills easily, though I’m not so sure about that. I have a friend who works in health research (she just has a Bachelor’s), probably makes around 75K a year from that, and is a professional photographer on the side. She gets to have stability from her regular job and get creative with her photography jobs. Could you maybe consider something  like that?

Post # 4
3572 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

Honestly, sometimes I think about this. I’m right about to leave my job and look for another job in my field somewhere else. Before this contract though, I hated my job so much I was really doubting what I wanted to do with my life. To be honest, sometimes I still do. I spend a ton of money and time getting my bachelors, masters, interning for years, and everything to get to the point where I am now. A lot of people thing my job is fascinating. There are good days and bad days, but it’s schmeh.

If I was going to do something else, it would actually be something that I never needed a degree for anyway – like personal trainer/wellness coach, designing langerie, or opening my own bakery. All really different stuff from what I do now – but stuff I really love to do! 

Post # 5
1855 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@qwerty2k1:  Would you have any interest in turning your research background and love of writing into a technical writing or editing career?  You could do clinical/regulatory writing for studies, summarizing clinical findings, writing abstracts and journal articles, editing book chapters, etc.  In most cases, you just need a writing certificate that can be easily obtained by attending a seminar and getting continuing ed credits.

Post # 6
1458 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

@qwerty2k1:  If your heart is not in it, do NOT do the PhD! I just finished up a PhD in Biochemistry/Pharmacology and I was miserable. I did feel like it was expected of me by my family, and they were SO proud that I got into an amazing school. I thought I couldn’t pass up the opportunity after college and I really had no other plans, so I went for it. 

From day 1, I was so much less motivated than the other students. I got my work done, did well, published a great paper, and defended, but I grew to actually hate what I was doing. I did a complete 180, applied to a teacher preparation program, and am now teaching 9th grade science at an inner city school. I really could not be happier! My family can no longer brag about the amazing things I’m doing, but in my mind, NOW I’mactually doing the amazing things that I’m proud of. It’s crazy how happy you can be when doing what you love. Find your passion and go for it no matter what anyone says!

Post # 11
3572 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

@qwerty2k1:  Kinda. Right now I’m kind of stuck because I’m in Afhganistan. As soon as I get out though, I’m going to buy a sewing Machine and maybe take a couple classes in pattern making. Even if I did eventually want to do it full time, everyone with a successful business like that starts doing it a little bit at a time until they can get it to take off. I WAS going to import a decent sewing machine, but we ended up deciding to move back to the states anyway so I’m just going to wait because it would be more expensive than it’s worth. 

I do LOVE doing some craft stuff though. I just came back from a visit, and I bought some stuff and am expiramenting with flower scarves and crocheting some stuff. Just stuff for me or my friends, but it gives me something to do when I’m not at work. I love doing stuff like that. 

It’s funny, because I’m a lot happier in this job than the one before. So hopefully it will go up from here, but I still sometimes can’t shake that I might even be happier doing something that I enjoy more on a day to day basis and that is less stressful. Or at least stressful in different ways. 

Sorry for rambling!

Post # 12
54 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I haven’t although I sometimes wished I had. My SO quit his PhD program and thus switched out of an academic career path.

Regarding your situation, and speaking out of practicality, I’m glad you realized out of practicality, it’d be difficult to do a complete 180. If I was in your position, I would go with the PhD route anyway.

I don’t know how common it is in psychology, but in my field, the university usually pays tuition + a small stipend. At least with that, you’d be taken care of for 4+ years.

As you apply to PhD programs, they’ll probably invite you to campus and speak with their current students. Ask them about their work/life balance. I have several PhD friends in hard sciences, and they actually have tons of time to travel so I don’t believe time would be that big of an issue, but check.

My friends also get to take random electives. Perhaps you can use those to your advantage, so once you graduate (or decide to quit your PhD), at least you have some academic credentials.

I personally think PhDs are awesome. I am super jealous of my friends who are in doctoral programs and go to far off places for conferences and have times to take language courses etc etc and also get the opportunity to advance their field. Unfortunately for me, it’s not financially the best move.

Post # 13
1458 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

@qwerty2k1:  I’d just suck it up and go to the interview. I’m assuming they pay for it right? Just play along since you haven’t made a decision yet, so you don’t want skipping it to come bite you in the butt.

So, ironically, my PhD made me realize I love working with kids and I don’t think I ever would have figured this out had I not went to grad school. My family is FULL of teachers and I never ever thought this would be the career path for me. In grad school, we had a TA requirement – I did both regular TAing for a college class (which was just okay) and I also volunteered leading an AP biology afterschool program which I LOVED so much. I decided to volunteer with different age groups of kids over the next year or two, and turns out I loved working with inner city high schoolers. At this time, I told my advisor about my plans to teach and he was so suppportive and helped me graduate in 4 years (typically it takes about 6 in my program). So I’d say I needed a good year to get things in order to be ready to graduate, apply to teacher prep programs, and get outta there. But I’ve never looked back 🙂

It wasn’t hard to re-establish myself since I’m going through a non-traditional teacher certification route where all teachers are new and most are fresh out of college. I’m also at a school with high turnaround, so being a first-year teacher isn’t too abnormal. Feel free to PM me if you need some extra support.. believe me, I know exactly what you’re going through!

Post # 14
5001 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

I’m finishing my PhD in psychology (neuroscience, but still in a psychology department) in a few months, so I’ll chime in. First of all, go to the interview and slap a smile on your face! You never know what’s going to happen and it should be paid for, so you might as well.

I will say, every grad student I know has had a case of burn out at some point in their program and by the end, very few are head over heels in love with their research. It must come back at some point, because most faculty members are very passionate about their research. That said, only a small percentage of PhDs actually stay in academia, so there are other options. I’m planning to do a post-doc to learn some new techniques, and then high tail it for an industry job in something like project management or science writing. 

The previous poster’s friend who makes $75K with a Bachelor’s sounds very lucky, and likely has many years experience. It’s possible to make that much (especially in a big city), but you will hit a lot of walls if you’re in research without a PhD (even with just a master’s).

What type of programs are you applying for? Clinical Psychology? If you do clinical, it is research based in grad school, but you will also receive clinical training and be prepared to just see clients if that’s what you want. A ton of Clinical Psychology PhDs just see clients and make a fair amount of money, my mom does this actualy and loves her job. 

It sounds like you could get into the line of work you want (working with kids, intervention work) with a MSW (master’s in social work), but you would have to pay for the degree and the job does not pay well at all. I have a good friend who’s an MSW and it seems like a very frustrating, trying career. 

If I were you, if I got into a good Clinical Psychology PhD program in a place I’d be happy living, I would do it. Yes, graduate school is draining and long and everyone wants to quit at some point, but I don’t know anyone who regrets getting a PhD or is in a career that doesn’t utilize it. You can do art on the side, you can even do it part-time some day, but unless you’re 100% committed to going to art school and giving up Psychology/research entirely, I would do the PhD. 

I’d be happy to answer any other questions about a Psychology PhD or grad school life. Ask away!

Post # 15
249 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

I was an opera singer before I began law school. BIG difference, but so very worth it for me. I’m much happier in law school than I was singing. 

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