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Blog Comments posted by juilletmercredi

  1. I remember feeling this way well into year 4 of my PhD as well.  I felt like I had wasted a lot of time, like the enterprise was kind of pointless and I should've just gotten a master's degree instead.  My field is a lab field and is similar in some ways.  In addition to that, I also developed a set of skills that no one else in my lab really had, so I was also the go-to person when these skills were required (and they are for every project we do.  In some ways, I know more about this skill set than my advisor now.)  So I also felt like a technician or research assistant largely through my fourth year, until I passed my oral comprehensives at the end of my fourth year and began working on my dissertation proposal.


    This is going to sound weird but I really think it'll change once you begin working on your dissertation (if you haven't already).  When I started doing the deep, focused work necessary to write a dissertation, that's when I really started feeling like a straight-up doctoral scholar, and like this PhD was worth it.


    Yes, middle-author publications count - I think as long as you're before like sixth or seventh those are still seen as good, as long as you also have some first- and second-authored publications as well.  I also want to agree with an above point; having a particular technical skill set that no one else has, or few other people have, is really awesome on the job market.  I have a postdoc but I've been perusing job ads and there are SO MANY that come my way that prefer someone with the qualifications I have, but I know that it's a methodological skill set that not very many people within my field know how to use.  If you can do something unique and do it well, you set yourself up not only for great postdocs but also faculty positions that want someone to teach that thing.


    But still, sometimes I wish I joined a better established lab. Instead of devoting copious amount of time laying foundations for the lab, I wish that the time I spent would be more beneficial in moving my own projects further. It's hard being someone's only-second grad student. Want to pack up and go home.


    Haha, maybe we're the same person?  I am also my advisor's second-and-a-half grad student (he helped one doctoral student finish up, but I am his second that he's had from the beginning).  When I started working with him, he didn't really have much of a lab, and now he has several employees.  There were several things we had to do ourselves that in other labs there were RAs and postdocs and stuff who did it for the grad students.  In the moment it kind of sucked, but now I'm glad I had the experience.  I got really familiar with my data that way - not just the dataset but how it was collected and the people it came from - and I got an inside look on how a lab gets built up.  It's a struggle but really it can be beneficial, too.


    Hang in there!

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