I finished my doctorate almost four years ago. It was a massive challenge. For much of the first year I felt totally at sea, and right through almost to the point where I had a complete draft I was totally unconvinced of my ability to complete it. But I did, and I was really happy with what I eventually handed in. In the four years that have followed I have stayed in the academy as a contract researcher. This means that I am employed to work on a specific project on a fixed term basis, when that project is finished it’s time to look for more work again. There are several ways in which, I realise now, that all the time I was stressing and worrying over my PhD, in reality I had never had it better, and that has been thoroughly brought home to me through my post doc experience, which in several ways has been a more difficult and less satisfying experience. Have no fear though, I do not intend this to simply be a chance to have a good moan about my job – though I might occasionally – rather I would like to explore some of the difficulties of the early post doc research career, because to my knowledge, this stuff is not talked about that much during the PhD. I would also really like anybody who has experienced similar things to add comments or posts – I’m pretty sure there would be a market for a book in this area, and the more people who can contribute their own stories the better. Perhaps this is also good reading for any PhD students out there – of course you should be stressed and struggling through you PhD, that’s the nature of the challenge, but you should also try and enjoy it, and appreciate some of the things you do have, while you still have them!
You can read the following posts in this series here: