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Felling Push.eD

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Hi! I'm currently a Graduate student going for a Masters degree in Meteorology. I am relatively enjoying the program and the people (I'm homesick as I'll get out though), but I'm starting to experience something that is disturbing me. I'm starting to see my adviser try to plan my future. I feel like it's her full expectation that I'll go on to get a PhD and become a scientist studying exactly what she studies (which is interesting, but it's really not for me). I'm starting to see this in general in my department as well. I feel like I'm being pressured into internships I'm not interested in, and I feel like I'm being pushed in a direction that isn't what I want to do. No offense to the PhD's here, but after reading the Carriera letter and hearing other horror stories of PI's and Advisers that expect their students and postdocs to spend roughly every waking moment of their lives in the Lab, I'm officially scared away from getting a PhD and becoming a scientist. Don't get me wrong, I'm willing to work hard, but I want to get married, have a family, and enjoy my youth while I still have it, and spending every waking moment in a lab doesn't sound like it would be compatible with that. I know other jobs and fields expect crazy work from their employees at times as well, but I've just realized that there's a line.

Even if I wanted to go on to getting a PhD, I don't want to continue in my Adviser's area of interest. It's interesting, but not quite what I'd like to do. I'm simply doing it because she signs my checks. I feel nervous because I feel like she is pressuring all this stuff on me that I'm not interested in and if I confess to her that IF I go on to get my PhD, it would not be in her area, that she would cut me loose, and I'd have to start back at square one. I know I can simply keep mum, put my head down and get through my masters and drop off her radar forever, but I'll likely need her LOR if I ever continue on in school, or if I get a job in this field, so I don't want to burn bridges. What should I do?

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Have you spoken with other potential advisers at all? Maybe you could talk with some others to see if anything they are doing would be more in tune with what you would like to do. If you have an adviser for a PhD lined up before you have finished your Masters, then you can simply finish your Masters and then move over to the new adviser. I don't think completing your obligations to your current adviser is going to burn any bridges. If you did your job and did it well, then they can't say anything bad about you when it is time for you to move on.

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Haha, sounds exactly like my situation. My advisor fully expects that I will be pursuing doctoral work in my future, but I'm mostly decided against doing it.

However, I think you should at least give the opportunity full consideration. Of course, though, that is your choice. If you know that you never wish to do a PhD, then the choice is pretty clear.

What I told my advisor is that I intend to work for a year or two before entering a doctoral program. I also made it clear that I was only considering the possibility of doing a PhD (along with other options) and wasn't get committed wholesale to the idea. This will allow me to come back to the opportunity without much difficulty explaining why I want to do doctoral work (after all, I was "considering" it for a year or two), but also allows me enough time to distance myself from academia (and my advisor) if I choose not to pursue that route.

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