Welcome to The Doctorate blog. The idea to start this blog has been brewing in my mind for at least three years but I never quite had the courage or the time (!) to get it going until now. Thanks to COVID-19, I finally ran out of excuses – so here it is!
I am what the academic world would call an “early-career” academic, a.k.a. “on the market”, a.k.a academic in “no man’s land”. I have, over the last six years or so, met Phd students and post-doctorate researchers from all over the world, each on their own treadmill to tenured bliss, each burning out without realising it. So many of us have left academia after all those years of “heart” work feeling like we haven’t made a damn difference to anyone after all that sacrifice. I’m here to tell you — STOP! Don’t give up just yet. You are not alone. Hang in there…WITH THE REST OF US!
All the self-doubt, the moments of “WTF am I doing here?”, “why publish if I’m still gonna perish?”, “how many people are gonna read this crap anyway?”…we’ve all been there, we’re gonna be there again, and we’re gonna keep coming back to it. So buckle up and sit tight!
Shout-out to all the Women in the house
I know there’s already growing attention to gender equity in academia. I don’t want this blog to only be about “women’s issues” – IT IS NOT. But I am a woman, and an Asian woman. And I’ve come to appreciate that certain issues may be more of an issue for women and women from particular cultures where certain things are expected of us, and where our culture is perhaps less forgiving if we choose a different path or a different timeline.
In particular, how do I juggle starting a family and finishing my PhD? Or how do I convince my boyfriend or partner to relocate half way across the world with me for a two-year contract and give up his career progression so I can MAYBE get tenure after that? Do I really want to start a serious relationship when I’m in the final year of my PhD and have no idea where I’ll be after that?
Show me the money
Then there’s the financial aspect. I’ve seen so many PhD students struggle with their research because they struggle with money for their personal expenses and rent, and also money for doing the actual research. So much of this anxiety can be avoided by proper, honest and disciplined planning. Many of us tend to under-estimate the cost of getting a PhD done. I get it, thinking about cost is scary. But it’ll be less scary if you’ve planned adequately for it, just like the thought of climbing Mount Everest is scary, but far more manageable when you’ve put in the time and energy to train for it.
So this is what The Doctorate is about. It’s about the emotional, psychological and practical challenges of being or becoming an academic. Most importantly, it’s about sharing the little tools and tricks you can use to help you better manage the emotional, psychological and practical challenges that will come your way.
I’m still on this journey myself and I’m still learning. I still have my high days and my low days. But I hope that by sharing some of my experiences and insights that I’ve gained from talking to those who have made it, I hope that The Doctorate will help you on your journey too. I have a range of topics I will be writing about in the coming weeks. But if there’s any burning issue or topic you’d like me to discuss in this blog, please write a comment in this post and I will be sure to follow up on it!
Be well and stay strong!