Wanting to be titled ‘Dr’ is not a good enough reason for becoming a PhD student. Nor is it a good reason to do a PhD because you hate your current job or cannot get a job. Doing a PhD is hard work, a long slog, often with little reward along the way. It takes determination, stamina and an incredible amount of self discipline in order to complete a PhD. The pay is not great and you may work on a project that becomes useless by the end of the PhD. There is no guarantee of a job at the end (nor should you expect one) – read this article in The Economist for more information about PhDs and jobs. If you are thinking of starting a PhD you need to be clear in your mind why it is you want to start (it may help to write these reasons down, to remind yourself when you are two years down the line and tearing your hair out why on earth you started it in the first place). SO why do it?
- The challenge - A PhD will challenge you in many ways. You have to be disciplined, organised (although people that can see my desk may disagree with this point) and have endless energy and enthusiasm for your subject.
- You enjoy learning – You have to have detailed in depth knowledge of a subject (you should become an expert on your particular niche subject) and constantly keep learning more about your subject area.
- You love research – and I mean REALLY LOVE research. You have to get a feeling of excitement from results or findings (this feeling can be the only thing that keeps you going).
- You can deal with disappointment – this is unfortunately something that will happen along your PhD journey. Something will not work, someone may publish something you have been researching for the previous 12/18 months before you do and you may not get a job at the end. These things happen, you have to be ready to face it, deal with it and move on.
If you still feel like you would really love to do a PhD then go for it! PhDs are not all doom and gloom…. if you are already doing a PhD, then remember why you started it and learn to love it!