Workstation Live 9.6

Online journal by Srinwantu Dey

“My PhD Life” – diary of a scholar

Posted by srinwantudey on May 1, 2009

 

Author: Apala Guha (http://www.cs.virginia.edu/~ag2dx/ )

**The author is Ph.D. Candidate and Research Assistant in Computer Science at University of Virginia

 

          PhD Life I have been in this PhD thing for over four years now.I don’t know how many more are to come, but I hope not too many. When I think about PhD lifestyle, the first thing that strikes me is how my perspective has changed dramatically over the years. When I started out on graduate life, I was still debating whether to go for a PhD or be satisfied with a Masters. And whatever I was to do, what would be my topic?

           My first line of action was to check 1) where the jobs are, and, 2) in which area can you finish PhD faster. The answer to the first question was hard to get, because in the 5-6 years of her PhD, a student sees very people graduating from her area. Also, the people who graduate take up jobs based on their preferences – academia, industry etc. So, most of the info is hearsay and unless you know what you want to do after graduation, you can’t base your decision on this info. The second question was even harder to answer because the time to graduate varies widely depending on your field, advisor etc.

            So I finally went by what I like and though I did not expect it then, it has really really paid off. This is beacause for one year of diligent research, people get 1.5 papers out on average. This means you will see your work pay off on about 2 days of the year (when you hear about your paper getting accepted) . So what about those remaining 363 days? Well, here is when your liking for what you do comes in handy. Because you won’t last through your PhD unless you like your research, no matter how lucrative the jobs, how fast the degree can be obtained.

              The one other thing about PhD that comes to mind is the art of expression. Many of us do not give enough importance to this skill. But I can never say enough about the importance of writing well and presenting well. No matter how tedious, these arts have to be mastered (I am still trying). And they have to be mastered because there are too many researchers out there, too many conferences, too many papers. Nobody will read your paper unless you can catch their attention in the first page of your paper or in your talk at the conference.

            Overall, PhD can be very enjoyable with the right attitude, especially if there are friends to share with, activities to participate in. And the most fun part about PhD is it totally belongs to you – its your work. Your advisor will be there to guide you, but the final call on evrything is always yours.

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