Friday, December 18, 2009

Still an Almost PhD

There are a million things that need to be done, but the baby has fallen asleep on my lap, and I’m afraid to move for fear of waking him and making him cry. We’ll see if I can blog while listening to his (adorable) snoring.

So I defended my dissertation a week ago, and since then, I have been getting cards, emails and even gifts offering congratulations. And I just have to say… seriously people, it is really not that big of a deal. All it takes to get a PhD is a little persistence, and I think (read Fig’s birth story, for example) we have established that I can be very persistent. After defending my thesis, nothing in my life has changed. I am still dealing with dirty diapers, mountains of laundry, a baby that wants to nurse 24 hours a day, and no time for anything. At this point in my life, the PhD just kind of seems irrelevant. And I feel really guilty… like I must have somehow misled all of you—to be getting such an influx of cards, emails, and gifts.

First of all, I’m not really a PhD yet. I still have to revise my thesis according to the loads of comments each committee member gave me, and deposit it sometime (hopefully) spring semester. Right after the defense, I half-jokingly asked Professor Pablo (my former cloth mother), if I could call myself “Dr” yet, or if I have to wait until I deposit the thesis and formally graduate. “You can call yourself whatever the hell you want,” was his smirking response.

And secondly, here is the truth: I am still not qualified for any job. My publication record sucks, and that is really what matters when you are on the job market. Seriously, the degree means next to nothing if you aren’t publishing loads of original research. PhD’s are a dime a dozen these days. For any given job, there will be hundreds of applicants. I am not exaggerating. If you don’t have a knock-their-socks-off publication record, you’re going straight into the garbage pile. I’m a long, long way from actually reaping any rewards from the PhD.

I feel like I’m caught between a rock and a hard place. If I want a successful academic career, I need to drop everything, put Will in full-time day care, and work like mad to get things published. In truth, I don’t even know how to go about doing that. And even if I managed to pull it off, the reward seems kind of grim: an extremely stressful academic career, involving coming up with and funding research project after research project, then publishing the results of this research, all the while teaching. Seriously, I look at the professors in my department and think that if I had to do all that they were doing, I would have a heart attack and die right on the spot.

I didn't really know all this when I started out in grad school years ago. If I had it to do all over again, I’d become a physical therapist. There. I said it.

Got to go, Will’s crying.


Ragfield said...

I'd say you're more perstubbent.

Unknown said...

I can totally relate to this. I don't have the teaching experience for any positions open in my field. And the number of music jobs is less and less these days. I decided against trying to get a job at a small college in the middle of nowhere and trying to work up the academic path. Even though I'm not directly using my doctorate at least the experience I gained through the program is how I get through my current super busy work. The two years in Paris probably prepared me the most! I love being Dr. Mommy and can't imagine taking care of Michael and having a university gig like I wanted back in 2001 when I started my doctoral program. Publishing isn't as important for music but at least I had my dissertation published. My friends still want me to write articles for journals, but I've hated writing! Good luck!!!!!!!!!!

amypfan said...

I'm with Dr. Heather.... take a deep breath, congratulate yourself on having made it through so much hard work, and enjoy where you are for a little while before moving on to the next stage. Oh, and change the title of your blog. :)

Unknown said...

In order to write a scientific paper, you need to spend a very long time trying to collect a large amount of information. It seems to me that not all students will do this, many of them will just buy it on the site like this and will be happy about it.