Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

More on going to Grad Schhol

Last post I talked of going to grad school (and would I tell someone else to do so?).

In the comments were some other questions/views.

To pick those up.

Dr. J said
Just touching on a slightly different international aspect because you have a few international readers. Doing a PhD in Europe/Australia is only 3 years and is only lab work, which seems to be quite different to the US. In this case, I´m not sure its as critical to be the perfect candidate as it isn´t a 6 year slog through course work etc.

It´s also an important point that these days you almost need a PhD for any science related job. In fact, in Europe, you almost need a PhD, minimum of 3 languages and several years of international experience to get anything.

However, I still don´t think you should be doing a doctorate unless you REALLY want it. But don´t think you have to be commited to a life in science just cause you stuck it out. Nothing is wasted, even if afterward you do something completely different.
which really resonates with me. The European Ph.D. is shorter and they don't have classes. I will say that SOME of the classes I spent my first two years taking were actually useful. Some of the others were me, yet again, learning the Krebs cycle and spitting it back out on paper. Still don't have the thing memorized. Hope never to. That is why they invented wikipedia and other reference materials.

The qualifying exam that we did was also a big waste of time. There went 4 months of my life I don't get back. And, oh yeah, I still failed the written and had to retake it 2 weeks later. Beyond a stupid exercise to have to memorize stuff that most labs keep on posters that silly vendors hand out.

Anonymous added a paragraph agreeing with Dr. J plus this
The professors in the US love to drone on about the superiority of the American degree, but personally I believe that they're just trying to justify a 50%+ increase in degree time. As with the original post I feel like most of my education came in the first few years, and that my last few have been more about 'work' and less about 'learning'.
which it would be impossible for me to agree more with (i.e. 100% is kind of the max...). I was cheap labor. Thats fine, just don't pretend otherwise.

The statement by Dr. J about needing the Ph.D. for just about anything is pretty true. Becoming more true here in the US. I would be interested in knowing if there are more Ph.D.'s in Europe where it takes less time or here in the U.S. Would guess that we have more, but just because we have way more people. Could be totally wrong though and you could correct for population etc...

I agree you don't have to be committed to the life sciences once you have the Ph.D. and, as Dr. J does, do think that you have to be committed to them when you start it. You, in the US system where you are going to spend at least 5 years, have to think this is a pretty good life and be willing to take your vow of poverty to do it.

I almost find the post docs who are, as put, "just sticking it out" becuase they got the degree to be a little worse off. They haven't seen the options yet and are stuck in a rut.

There are so many options out there as to what to do with the degree. No one in grad school tells you what to do and your supposed to have learned how to think for yourself. BUT - those years of brain washing that this is normal and everyone does it are really hard to overcome.

4 comments:

Bill said...

Couple of points here. My experience in the PhD was somewhat different than yours and anon's, in that I found I learned more in the last year or 1.5 yrs, than in all of the others combined. Having to write my thesis, and write 2 papers based on my work, tied it all together for me in a way that I hadn't grasped before. It was in many ways rejuvenating, as I was bored and unmotivated during the middle portion of my PhD. Made me happy I'd done it. Guess we all take different paths.

I also have to disagree with this:

"I almost find the post docs who are, as put, "just sticking it out" becuase they got the degree to be a little worse off. They haven't seen the options yet and are stuck in a rut.

There are so many options out there as to what to do with the degree. No one in grad school tells you what to do and your supposed to have learned how to think for yourself. BUT - those years of brain washing that this is normal and everyone does it are really hard to overcome."

You make it sound as if it is easy for a postdoc to break into these seemingly endless, non-academic options. You should know from my experience, that this is decidedly not always the case.

Anonymous said...

I would recommend grad school to people, with the "it's 5 tough years" caveat, and the "choose your advisor VERY carefully" advice. My advisor has given us almost no supervision or advice, which has been great for me as i've had time to explore other options and still have enough research done to finish. For others, it's been a nightmare. Several have been "washed" already.

Anyway, Dr. Yes, i wanted to follow up on my startup v. product manager post and report that I've now had a few different interviews with a few different companies (all in the northeast), and i'm starting to feel mildly optimistic (which is always dangerous in grad school...). I'll post and let you know what happens (not all are strictly product manager)

-Dr. Head

yes said...

Bill,

Interesting.

With regards to the post docs just toughing it out, I agree with your "stuck in a rut". More of what I meant than what I wrote, as I agree as to how you end up there. Essentially - had to get a job and those are the easiest ones to get and you don't yet know what else to do because you don't know the choices.

The brain washing is hard to overcome!

I don't think it is easy to break in to the new things, and apologize if it came out that way. I do think there are a lot of options, but as with all change it isn't easy. They are there - just hard to get to.

yes said...

To anonymous:

"it's 5 tough years"

I wish...I was in for 6, with the last year lasting approximatly 2billion years. But yeah - it's a point.

My problem with that time was seeing my friends move ahead in the world, buy houses, go on vacations to cool places, eat out etc...

I had to get married in order to be able to eat out. Its a solution, and one that worked well for me (still married, quite happily, 10 years later) but I don't think they advertise that as the way to do it in the brochure!!!

GOOD LUCK with the job hunt.