I have been meaning to write this article for months now. With my thesis, it’s the same. Why didn’t I?
I am a PhD student for almost 5 years now and about to finish. It has been a time with ups and downs and I want to unveil some of my insights and experiences. There are a few things on my mind that I consider worth spreading and hope you would agree!
Sometimes you read that life as a PhD student is pretty tough: Experiments don’t work and the speed at which you make progress is frustrating; wages in the biological sciences are mediocre compared to other fields and to those in industry; working hours are long (unlimited?); and dependencies on your supervisor and his funding also does not necessarily make your life easier.
For me, it has not been too tough, I can’t complain much. My life has been a rather good one in the last 4 or so years: Funding, luckily, has never been an issue. My working hours were flexible, not 9 to 5, but not 5 am to 9 pm either. Sure, sometimes I spent a weekend or a night at the institute but I’m fine with that and, most of the time, I wouldn’t work much more than 40 hours a week (I never really counted…). I enjoy this kind of flexibility even though it comes at a prize. The money that you get is not great, that’s true, especially if you count it by the hour. Yet, it has always been enough to live a good life – certainly not a life of luxury but one without financial worries. In fact, it has been enough to live in a nice city, to travel to decent places around the world regularly and even to save a little every month.
So is that why I’m still a PhD student, not a PhD? Is this life just too good to take the next step? Too cozy to leave it behind? Too pleasant to do “something real”? It’s not! It is absolutely not!
Let me stop here. I might ruin my good mood today if I go on right away. I’ll explain to you why I haven’t graduated yet another time.
Just don’t dare to ask when that other time is gonna be!