06/08/2016

Why did I do my PhD?

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Source: own resources, Authors: Agnieszka and Michał Komorowscy

This is my second post about the longest project I've ever participated in i.e. about doing PhD. I decided that at the beginning I'll write why I actually started my Ph.D. studies and what I think now about my motivations.

I remember quite well this time in 2009 when I made my decision to get a Ph.D. It was supported mainly by a few things. Firstly, at that point I was a newly minted graduate of Warsaw University of Technology and I had a very good memories of my studies, being a student... and I wanted to continue that. Secondly, I wanted to do something different from what I was doing professionally for money i.e. typical applications for business.

Thirdly, I associated Ph.D. title with the some kind of prestige that will allow me to distinguish myself in the future. Fourthly, a half year earlier my wife and a few of my friends also started Ph.D. studies. Don't understand me wrong. I wasn't jealous, I didn't feel worse or something. But taking into account what I've written earlier it was an additional motivation for me.

What I think about these motivations now? I'd say that they are neither good nor bad but they simply are. However, I think that I missed a few important thing in 2009. Do you agree with me that my way of thinking was somehow romantic? Now, I know that it was. I assumed that I would be working professionally for money and I would be doing Ph.D. to "do something different". I didn't think much about my future scientific carrier, doing habilitation... I also didn't think much what I actually want to achieve during my studies. Though thanks to that I had an occasion to play with technologies like Azul Systems or Agilent N2X before focusing on historical debuggers :)

Briefly summarising my Ph.D. studies were a little bit like a hobby. And as any hobby, on the one hand it gives you fun and satisfaction, but on the another hand it doesn't necessarily lead you to something, and can be easily set aside or abandon. Many times I had a moment of doubt or wanted to say stop.

Would I made the same decision if I could go back in time? Definitely yes, but I'd consider it much more carefully. I'd think through area of my research so that it would be more perspective and more valuable on the market. Probably because of financial reasons I'd share my time between Ph.D. and the professional job. However, I'd try to find a job somehow related to my studies, where Ph.D. could be potentially beneficial. Currently in the vast majority of job offers (that I receive) it isn't. I'd also consider doing Ph.D. abroad (outside of Poland) where funding is better so that I'd be able to focus on science. Thanks to that my result would be also better.

You must be both romantic and pragmatic when doing Ph.D.

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