ImmunologyGrad Posted September 11, 2012 Share Posted September 11, 2012 I apologize for the long post....whoever reads this and gives advice, I thank you SO MUCH in advance. I've been in my immunology phD program for about a month. I'm absolutely miserable. The classes are super fast-paced, which is fine, IF I actually had time to study. Right now I am working with my PI about 8-10 hours a day in lab in addition to class time, so by the time I get home around 8 pm, eat dinner, take a shower, etc, I have NO time to study much less relax, talk to my husband, or generally enjoy free time and hobbies. I have not been allowed to take lunch breaks or any breaks at all during the day. I have already lost weight (which I did NOT need to do.) Also, I feel completely incompetent in lab. I have no prior immunology experience, so everything is brand new to me. I love learning new things, but my PI is not patient with me at all. He rolls his eyes and gives looks of disgust when I can't answer his questions. My anxiety has gotten so high and I am so afraid to screw up, that I am screwing up even simple things that I've done 100000 times in my old lab. Basically, I have too much on my mind to think straight. I felt this way after only the first day in the lab. I thought it would get better with time, but it is only getting worse. Next month I will have to speak at 2 meetings and attend a conference. The next month I will have to present my research at a 2 hour poster session. Just thinking about these things makes me sick to my stomach. When will I have time to prepare posters and talks when I don't even have time to study for my next exam? This bad experience has made me wonder if I am on the right career path at all. I know my life will be like this for the next 4-5 years in this phD program, then postdoc, then first "real" job.... The thought of writing grants and publications is just awful. The writing itself isn't so bad, but not the time constraints and the competition/pressure. I see what long hours these PIs work, and that isn't for me. I need a 9-5 type job with weekends off to actually enjoy life. I have recently realized that life is too short to not enjoy it, and working 24/7 is not enjoying it. I miss my husband and the time we used to spend together, and he is getting depressed about this as well. I think I would rather be poor and happy than semi-rich and stressed. I realize that I should have thought about this before ever joining a PhD program, but the small state school that I came from did not have enough of this environment for me to truly see this. Now, I am at one of the best immuno phD programs in the country, and I am terrified of what will happen when and if I leave the program (will they even let me go? will they ask for the stipend back?) What are my options? What jobs are available for someone with a B.S. ? I do still love immunology and love lab work in general, just not in such a high stress environment. If I quit now, how easy would it be for me to find a lab job such as a research associate? Would I ever have to take work home, or would most jobs allow me to work 9-5 and then be done for the day? I don't mind hard work, I just need a break every now and then. I have an excellent GPA, 3 years of research experience in undergrad, and 3 solid references, if that would help my job search at all. I'm afraid if I quit the phD program, I am going to end up in a miserable stressful job that takes up just as much time as the program. If that is the case, I might as well get a PhD out of the misery if I can stay long enough. As you can see, I'm going through a bit of an identity crisis. I've known I wanted to go into science since I was a little kid and everything has always fallen magically into place for me. For the first time in my life, I am completely at a loss. Helpppppppppppppppp Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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