I have actually had several people say to me that they regret their Ph.D. they’re either several years graduated or several months. It might be a surprise to hear, but people look at their achievements in different ways.
Most them feel that their Ph.D. was not required for the career they’re in and could have gained an extra three or so years of industrial experience and climb the ladder quicker. Whilst others have gone into a career completely opposite to what they had studied.
Currently, I’m on the fence between regretting and firmly satisfied with the decision I made.
Let me break this down.
Regret – I do not want to go into academia. An additional three years for a doctorate has only reduced industrial experience and the job market is dismal. The advantage of having a Ph.D. from say fifteen years ago where you could enter a job quite high up, on a good salary has long gone. There is a saturation of both science graduates and Ph.D. graduates because funding for Ph.D.’s has become more accessible.
I recently read an article that was describing the issue with degrees these days, where there are so many science graduates but not enough jobs or the ability to gain footing on a career other than going through a graduate scheme because universities aren’t giving more specific training for industry. Technician jobs are therefore not being filled because they don’t have the training but are overqualified. It really a roundabout problem, which universities need to collectively solve.
This is where I’m at now. Applying for a range of laboratory and office based scientific jobs that I am somewhat qualified and overqualified for with no industry experience and it’s frustrating because I know I can do these jobs given the chance.
Comparison is another reason why I’m leaning to regret. I see many people who I went to secondary school with or university who have just bought their first homes, they’re settled into careers. Earning money. Appear happy on the surface. Where am I? Potentially unemployed if I don’t find something before my Ph.D. funding runs out, with absolutely no savings or a chance of owning a home before I’m 30 because a studentship isn’t exactly allowing me to live in Edinburgh and save at the same time.
Satisfied – Back three and a half years ago I couldn’t see myself doing anything but a Ph.D. I’d just finished a six-month MSci project in a research laboratory and I wanted to just continue working in a lab doing novel research. A Ph.D. was an obvious step for me. I remember feeling so excited when I was accepted on my place here and when I was accepted at my undergraduate university. I also remember how dejected I felt when I failed to secure funding for the position at my old uni. I had a pit in my stomach that I wouldn’t be able to do a Ph.D. Then I was offered my current post.
Applying for jobs wasn’t on my radar because industry wasn’t something I wanted yet. I wanted a gap between finishing my Master’s. I firmly believe I’m currently where I’m supposed to be. As anxiety driven I am. I follow the everything happens for a reason outlook on life that my mum has drilled into me since I was young.
Whether I end up in a laboratory after so many years of research work or in an office-based job instead, remains to be seen.