juilletmercredi

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juilletmercredi last won the day on October 22 2016

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About juilletmercredi

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    Cup o' Joe
  • Birthday 07/09/1986

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    Pacific Northwest
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    Working in industry
  1. I'm so intimidated by my advisor.

    This will be a very cold comfort, but please do know that those years of getting ripped to shreds actually do help you later on in life. I finished my PhD in 2014 and I currently work in a non-academic industry job. When my manager or senior peers give me feedback on my work, I barely blink an eye, because corporate feedback generally isn't anywhere near as bad as academic feedback (and my advisor was still relatively tame). I'm far better at taking feedback and criticism in both my professional and personal life because of my experience during my doctoral program. Is she giving you actual constructive feedback? Is she helping you identify areas in which you need to improve and giving you the tools to start working on them yourself? You say that you know you aren't making sufficient progress - have you been able to identify why you aren't and what you can do to improve? One thing that helped me get better at taking criticism (I used to be pretty bad at it) is reframing every conversation about my progress as a way to learn and grow. I envisioned that my professor (or whoever) were saying these things because they really wanted me to get better and improve the project (even if I wasn't...100% the speaker was). So if I was in situations when I didn't understand why a piece of criticism was delivered in a specific way, I'd say "Hmm, thanks for that. Do you have suggestions for how to deal with that area?" or "Hmm, so what I'm hearing is [...]. My idea for fixing that is [...]." In other words, turn it into a dialogue, so you're not just listening to an endless litany of your shortcomings but instead you're having a conversation with your advisor as equals (in your own head, at least) about how you can improve some work that you happen to be workshopping right then. You can even say something like "Hmm, I'm not sure how to take that. Are you saying that this section is completely worthless?" If she's at all a self-aware person and you are saying that multiple times, she may take a step back and realize how she's coming off. (But I would only say things like that if she's truly making it sound like specific thoughts or sections are without merit.) Also, this also sounds...cold-hearted, but really the guilt and anxiety is kind of a good thing. If you felt warm and fuzzy every time you came out of your advisor's office you wouldn't make progress and she'd be doing you a disservice. I'm not saying you should feel like a worm either, but use the knowledge that you are falling short as a motivation to identify those areas where you can do better.
  2. Accepting a job from my other advisor without offending my main advisor

    I have named your professors Alice, Belinda, and Celia, because letters are very difficult for me to keep straight in my head. (I will also use female pronouns.) Your university's policy may say one thing. What is the real deal? Because my university's policy also says that the examiners and the school are the ones with final say over graduation, but the reality is that until you have passed Step 3 of the process (defended your dissertation, made your revisions and had your advisor sign off on your completed diss) your advisor has an enormous amount of control over whether or not you graduate. Furthermore, professors who have been around a while know all sorts of petty ways to delay graduation even when they are technically within their bounds. if you think Alice is mean and petty, it may be in your best interest to preserve the relationship at the very least until you have defended. However, Celia's solution does not sound "perfect" or like it will alleviate anything. Honestly, it sounds like she's kicking the can down the road. Alice is being petty and taking her lack of funding out on you. Instead of stepping in to tell Alice to cut it out and do her job by reading your drafts, Celia's "perfect solution" is to make you do low-paid work to help Alice raise her profile to mollify Alice long enough to sign off the requisite paperwork. But Alice will inevitably get petty again. Funding doesn't come quickly, and there's no guarantee this grand experiment is going to work out, get Alice funded, or get her published in Cell. So what happens then? Quite frankly, it feels like the best thing you can do is leave this department altogether and get a different full-time job somewhere else altogether. Barring that, though, I absolutely would not work for Alice for any wage, much less less than what you'd make as a student. First, I would tell Belinda what's going on. She may be able to help you out. At the very least, she needs to know so she can help you if you need to delay your start date or any other complications arise for beginning your job. Then, I'd wait as long as you can. If you can wait until after Alice signs off, that'd be great. But I would at least wait until after your defense. Then explain to Alice (and Alice alone, unless you think Celia being present would help you) that you have thought about it and you won't be able to work for her after graduation. At most, I would offer to work for her for a time-limited/fixed amount of time, with very specific tasks ("I will help set up the first phase of the experiment and help train the new graduate student/RA for 20 hours a week between December 15 and February 1.") If she pressures you to do more, you say "I'm sorry, I can't do that." I absolutely would not work for Alice while you are also working for Belinda. That's a great way to end up doing two full-time jobs. If you are planning to stay in academia - pursuing a tenure-track position, for example - it is theoretically possible to move on without Alice and Celia, but it'll make your life a whole lot harder. The good thing is you've got Belinda, who can write you a letter explaining the dynamics and head off any accusations or suspicions that you are a problem child. If you plan to go into industry, burning the bridge with Alice and Celia is easier.
  3. How to tell committee you're exiting academia?

    OP, I left academia a year after finishing my PhD, when I was one year into a two-year postdoc. I had my graduate school advisors to tell as well as my postdoctoral advisors. Personally, the way I did it was I waited until I had a firm job offer in hand - that I had accepted - before I told my advisors. I had worked a lot of other positions in graduate school so I was able to get around using my advisors as references (although I did put one of my grad school advisors as a reference on some applications - my primary advisor - but I had been frank with him before about perhaps not wanting to go the academic route). Then I presented it as a done deal - "I've accepted a job at X company doing Y thing, I'm very excited. Here are my plans for wrapping up my work and handing over my projects in the next six weeks." To my surprise, everyone (with the exception of one person, whose opinion I did not care about) was pretty supportive. They were also very curious about the applications of our field outside of academia. Few of them knew many students who had gone to non-academic jobs. I got requests to come back and speak about my job to the department/program some day. And I have found that there are actually more academics who are very receptive to this than I otherwise would've thought. I've spoken on several panels now about leaving academia and what doctoral and postdoctoral fellows can expect when they leave. Anyway, my advice is that you give it some time and wait until you are more sure of what you want to do. You also don't have to tell them all at once - you can start with your primary PI and work your way outward.
  4. Dropping out on first year?

    Wow, rough crowd. I don't think it's an uncommon reaction from PhD students to be somewhat dissatisfied with their classes. The professors weren't really interested in teaching in general. I learned some good stuff, but the classes weren't super rigorous. (The reading lists were sometimes quite long, but that's not the same as rigor.) To be fair, though, they aren't supposed to be. As has already been stated, classes are the least important part of your PhD program. OP, when you say you "feel like" you aren't learning anything, do you mean that you are actually not encountering any new concepts in your classes? Or are you just concerned that because the classes don't feel Nintendo Hard that you're not learning enough? The former would be concerning, but not the latter. At many programs the doctoral classes are deliberately kept under control so you can devote your time to teaching and/or research. So I think the question of whether to stay or go should be less about the rigor of the classes and more about 1) Do you need a PhD in public policy to achieve your career goals? (In other words, do you want a research career somewhere?) 2) If so, is this particular program you're in a well-reputed, high-quality program where you can do the kind of research and career preparation you need to do to reach those goals? If the answer to #1 is "no," then drop out. If the answer is "I'm not sure," start doing some career exploration and see what kinds of jobs really appeal to you - and whether you need a PhD for them. There are lots of research careers that will take you on with an MA in economics - think tanks, government agencies, NGOs, nonprofits. The PhD is only really necessary if you want to direct or lead research and/or want positions at specific kinds of places that only hire or strongly prefer PhDs (academic faculty, senior researchers at certain think tanks, etc.) If you end up answering "yes" to #1 then the next to consider is #2. Set the classes aside. If they are easy, that's simply more time and energy you can put into the real meat of your program, which is research and professional development. That's some time you can spend interning or networking, too. Don't bother with the MPP if you already have an MA in econ, and I also wouldn't bother with trying to complete an MBA along with your PhD courses. First of all, it's probably not actually possible to do that - and even if it were, it's unlikely to be easy or doable in 2 years. If you want an MBA, leave and get one. (However, if your university has a certificate in business or if you can take some classes at the business school, by all means do that.)
  5. Job Skills "They" Don't (Really) Tell You Abou

    When I applied for non-academic jobs, I framed my time as a PhD student like a job in and of itself. I had a section titled "Graduate Researcher" or "Research Assistant" or something like that, and I described the skills and accomplishments in that section like I would any other job. The fact that it's 7 years won't make employers think "They took 7 years to learn what everyone else does in 1-2." If framed correctly, it should be more like "This person has been using and improving these skills for the past 7 years." So yes, it should be focused much more on skills and techniques used - and accomplishments made in a way that non-academics care about. I don't think it's necessarily wrong to refer to the scope of your research, as long as it makes sense in context. A lot of the jobs I was applying to weren't in my specific subfield but they were in the social sciences, so I talked about my research more broadly to exemplify the kind of social science research experience I had. But I didn't do it in my resume - I did it in cover letters and/or in interviews themselves where it made sense.
  6. Job Skills "They" Don't (Really) Tell You Abou

    Hey all, After a somewhat disastrous presentation I saw at my job the other day, I started reflecting on the importance of job skills that professors don't really teach you or even discuss when you're in doctoral program, particularly if you want to be a non-academic researcher and/or are interested in having one foot (or toe) outside of academia. The one I was specifically thinking about in this case is ability to present and translate your findings for a non-scientific audience. I'm a non-academic researcher who spends the majority of my time working and talking with non-scientists - software developers, game designers, producers, program managers, marketers, artists, etc. When I do research, it's so important for me to be able to translate my research and explain research concepts in plain English. It's also important for me to be able to assess what my audience cares about and what they don't. Developers don't really care about the nitty-gritty details or the theoretical foundation for my work; what they care about are the results and how they fit into a framework that will affect their work. They especially want some recommendations for what they should do with my findings. I actually spend a significant amount of time teaching my co-workers about basic scientific principles, how to interpret findings, how to not contaminate research, etc - but all in language and concepts that's easy for them to understand without a PhD. Ironically, that actually makes them trust me more, not less. In academic science it may be more important to speak the jargon, but in non-academic science it's important to be able to speak their language. It helps them understand I'm not doing any funny stuff just to make myself look better. I saw the flip of this in the presentation I mentioned above - the person in question is also a researcher, and was presenting some results, but this person did not adequately define how they were measuring an important construct, and they used a lot of jargon of their field (one that intersects with mine) when they were explaining the results. Even I had a hard time parsing what they did and I knew how to perform the analysis they did. The rest of the people in the room drilled down, and it was painful. So how to develop these skills? I found that teaching was probably one of the best ways to do it. When you teach - especially when you teach introductory courses in your field - you have to get really good at boiling down concepts (sometimes sophisticated ones) to a group of bright but uneducated students. Teaching at different levels teaches you how to scale up or down based on your audience. So get some teaching experience if you can, because it can translate really well! Freelancing as a corporate trainer or consultant can also give you similar experience - I worked as a statistical consultant for four years in graduate school, and in that case I was more often working with other doctoral students and professors/researchers who I had to explain statistical concepts to. And practicing grant-writing can help, too...that's kind of an in-between area, because there is some academic language, but I've found that writing NIH grants especially is a lot more simple and jargon-free than most scientific papers. *** What about you other graduates - folks who have finished your PhDs and are now postdocs or professionals? Any skills that you've found indispensable to your careers? And how do you suggest current PhD students develop those skills? Or PhD students? Are there any skills that your professors are pushing you to learn but you don't know if they're actually that important? Or do you want suggestions on how to sharpen a skill?
  7. Site like GradCafe for postdocs?

    Some fields have the 'rumors' sites - like Political Science Rumors, Sociology Job Market Rumors, etc. Not every field has them but they are entertaining. I don't know if anthropology has one.
  8. @hats You are correct - I was talking about the representation of people of color as historians, in response to someone else's comment about the number of historians of color earlier. Although I would also argue that the treatment of race in history has also not been fully represented. It may have increased and improved since the 1970s, but the achievements and contributions of people of color (especially in American history) are still mostly suppressed, especially in history that escapes academia and is disseminated to the public.
  9. Politics in Academia

    Remember that people in general are more likely to share negative experiences than neutral to positive ones. The reason you don't hear people say "I'm having a great semester!" is because...well, why would they? There's not as much a motivation to share when nothing is really happening. It's like the joke we tell about public health - you know public health is working because nothing is happening. You hear about the water crisis in Flint and other Michigan cities a lot; what you don't read are news stories like Water in Redmond, WA Is Totally Fine For 11th Consecutive Month This Year or There Have Been No Measles Outbreaks in Atlanta for 5 Years. Likewise, you're not going to hear a lot from the people who are doing fine, because they are doing fine. You're going to hear a lot of horror stories, but that doesn't necessarily mean that there are more of them in academia than anywhere else or that most graduate students encounter them. I didn't have the most positive of experiences in graduate school and I got my PhD from a department that was sort of dysfunctional. And even in that space, none of the really unethical things that were listed above happened there that I was aware of. There were other, messy things that happened. But not those. I'd guess that most graduate students (thankfully) do not have first-hand experience with people stealing their work, for example. But yes, the other thing is that your views on what's "ethical" and permissible - and what you are personally willing to do - may change over time as well. Playing with authorship on papers, for example, seems like it should be straightforward but often is not (especially when it might, say, help get the paper out the door faster). Everybody has to stroke some egos from time to time; it's the magnitude and frequency that may become alarming. Staying behind an extra year to finish up some projects and push out a couple more papers is often a mutual decision between a PI and a doctoral student.
  10. It is a factual statement that people of color are underrepresented in history. For example, only 4.6% of the history PhD recipients in 2015 were black (and only 7.7% were Hispanic/Latino). The academics who study slavery and African-American issues are a minority in history as a whole.
  11. researching a disease you have

    Your motivation needs to be a genuine scientific interest in the unique research/scientific challenges and questions that this particular disease provides, and not only an interest in trying to solve some of the problems or cure the disease yourself. Otherwise you'll be super frustrated.
  12. Qualitative and Quantitative Jack of All Trades ???

    It's quite possible. One of my friends did a dissertation with both a quantitative and qualitative component. (My advisor wanted me to do one, too, but I refused because I knew it would take me a lot longer to finish.) My department also required both qual and quant training. I originally took the qual training kicking and screaming, as I was a quant person all the way and only wanted to do quant work. It ended up being really useful in my eventual non-academic job, where I am one of the few people on my team formally trained in qualitative research methods and serve as the expert on it.
  13. Tips for transferring to another PhD program?

    Yes, most of the time changing programs isn't so much 'transferring' as it is simply leaving one program and starting over somewhere else. Usually when you are coming from one PhD program what you need is a strong recommendation from some faculty in that program. This will be doubly true for you since your undergrad advisor is now your doctoral advisor. So at some point, when you're ready and have decided for sure, you will need to tell her that you are planning to leave the program so you can secure a letter from her. It probably would also be good to get at least one other letter of recommendation from someone in your department who knows your work and can verify that you are not leaving the department because you didn't get along well with others or do good work. (The third letter can be someone from your undergrad, but having a third one from your current department wouldn't hurt either.) Typically when you are explaining why you want to switch programs, addressing fit is fine but the fit needs to be research/professional fit. So you would frame it in terms of trying to find a better fit for the research and professional interests you have - more faculty support in Area Y, more coursework, a special program or concentration in that area, whatever. So basically, a polished up version of reason #2, with parts of reason #2 (particularly the lack of autonomy in your research interests). Reason #1 is a good reason to leave a program but not the kind that you talk about in your statement of purpose. Consistent 14-hour days is a ridiculous and unrealistic expectation. The way you do it is frame it in terms of what you want, rather than what you are running away from. So if you don't have enough autonomy in selecting your research interests, you say something like "I am interested in Department X because of the flexibility and autonomy that students have in designing their own research programs and interests" or whatever.
  14. It's not true that you should NEVER talk about any negative issues in your personal statement - if there were a string of bad grades in through your junior year, or a gap in your studies due to time taken off, sometimes not addressing it will raise more questions. There's a finesse to these things. However, I agree with the first comment that this is something you absolutely don't need to address. You have a very high GPA and are otherwise a strong candidate, and a few Bs and Cs in your freshman year are not the kind of thing you want to try to explain or even need to.
  15. First of all, there are other ways to become licensed and qualified to help people with mental illnesses other than a PhD in clinical psychology. You can get a master's in mental health counseling or a master's in social work and becoming a licensed clinical social worker. Most mental health therapists are actually master's degree-holding professionals. That aside, you are in a pretty unique position and really, your best advice is going to be talking to some clinical psych professors at departments you might be interested in attending. Clinical psychology is very competitive - as competitive or more competitive than medical school admissions, depending on the year. The typical competitive applicant for top clinical psych programs has a high undergrad GPA (3.6-3.7+), 2 years of psych or closely related research experience in undergrad PLUS an additional 1-3 years of psychology research experience as a lab manager, research coordinator, or research assistant/associate after college; and usually, some experience doing clinical volunteering at a mental health clinic or hospital. The research experience doesn't have to be clinical psych in nature, although it can help. I think how competitive you can be depends really on how you pitch yourself and what your interests are. If you have research interests that lie at the intersection of biology and clinical psychology, and are applying to programs where there are faculty doing that kind of research, then you may be competitive right now without any additional preparation. I would imagine that your biggest hurdle would be explaining how you came to be sure that clinical psychology is the field for you, particularly since it sounds like until now you've only read about it. You can mitigate that concern by learning more. For example, is there a clinical psychology PhD program in your university? Learn more about it, talk to the students, maybe some professors. You can do this casually without revealing that you want to switch, at least at first - visit some lab meetings or maybe get involved in a project or if the opportunity arises. If your research interests are completely unrelated to biology and are a complete switch, then you may run into some additional difficulty without further experience. One thing I do want you to be wary about is that if you are a scientist in academia doing research, you're not necessarily any 'closer' to helping people with mental illnesses in psychology than you are in biology. Doing research as a clinical scientist in academia is similar in concept to benchwork - not actually at a bench, but similar in that it's a super academic field that doesn't necessarily have direct impact on clinical practice or policy unless you take the kind of job where it does. So before you do make the switch you need to get super clear about what kind of career you want and whether your ideas line up realistically with what's actually out there. Again, talk to or observe some of the psych professors at your current university. Or, if you have the funds, visiting an American Psychological Association convention may be a good way to talk to a lot of psychologists and go to panels where you hear about academic and research psychology. The next one is August 2018 in San Francisco. There are also regional psychological associations (like the Southeastern Psychological Association or the Western Psychological Association) and APA divisions (Division 12 is the Society for Clinical Psychology) that meet in smaller conferences outside of the big APA one. But yeah, this is something that will require a personal touch and communication with the appropriate PIs.