The selfish PhD
Many have read how genes, molecular unit of heredity, want to propagate itself through population, ie, the concept of ‘selfish genes’. PhD students would do better, financially and career-wise, if they were ‘selfish’, ie, taking an active approach in asking simple questions, like ‘what lies beyond my 7 year PhD?’ is a good start. 7-year-stint have been mentioned in many articles in this blog, but its worth mentioning, because the project time is so long and results are so well-known and dismal that .. you get the point, right?
Academia is a fancy word, its a collection of tenured professors who ruins young PhDs’ lives by giving them false promises of how fast you can get out. Not only that, after all these years of voluntary slavery, your poor brain thinks that your ‘best friend for life’ is your supervisor. Your supervisor is almost as stupid as you, but he has more experience, so he gets an upper hand in ruining your dreams if you had any. Since you ‘believe in him’, you will ‘follow your heart’ to postdoc, ‘very reluctantly’ and tell other people that you will try for ‘positions’. If anyone asks, positions in where, you smile and say ‘time will tell’ or something to that effect. Right here, a PhD is being phenomenally hypocrite and thinks others haven’t caught the problem in reasoning. You probably know this is junk, but won’t admit lest you lose your imaginary place in imaginary ‘ivory tower’.
Regardless of your beliefs about your supposed smartness (academically yes), one objective reality is that you won’t get any faculty job anywhere. Middle of nowhere jobs with graduate student pay (20K/year) don’t count. While your childhood ‘less smart’ friends are having pretty decent lives, a house, decent salary and retirement money, how does it feel to pretend smart and have no future prospects? Is your PhD supervisor still ‘your best advisor’? Surprisingly, many think he still is and they (PhDs) must have missed a few steps along the route to ‘tenured position’. Delusion dies hard. If you have read this far, here’s another question, when do you think you can retire? Before that, have you started a job, that pays money, yet? Are you packing suitcase for your next postdoc? Here’s THE question again, ‘when can you retire?’……. sound of silence? I can hear that, so can you, you don’t have an answer.