The Afterwards of the Thing

Perhaps you are one of those lucky ones that has a job, and you’re doing the PhD part-time, or by a distance. When you finish, you will still be employed. Or perhaps you’re even luckier and you will have a job offer by the time you complete, or be in the process of securing employment in your field.

If, more likely, you’re like the rest of us, well…welcome to the club. Luck doesn’t have much to do with it, although sometimes it seems like it has everything to do with it.

Unemployment sucks. Unemployment in your own field that you’ve dedicated so much time and effort to pursue, sucks even more. I get that.

Inevitably, if you have not secured a job by the time you viva, or at least by the time you’ve submitted your corrections, everyone you meet (even those you know but haven’t seen in a while) will ask ‘so have you found a job yet?’ As if, if you had, you wouldn’t have screamed the news from the heavens for all to hear.

It gets old very quickly. It’s very much like the ‘how is the PhD going?’ that everyone asks while you are a student. It’s the most hated question. We have no good answer, because our answer is about two thousand words long and involves things that no one who has not done a PhD can understand. And a gantt chart. Searching for a job post-PhD is like that. It comes with its own set of issues.

But let’s put that all aside for right now. I’ll get back to it later (much later).

Right now, if you are about to complete, or have just completed, or are looking really far ahead, I only want you to worry about one thing if you are facing unemployment.

This year you did a PhD. This year you finished a PhD. This year you are doing a PhD.

That’s A LOT. That’s HUGE. That’s an enormous achievement. Savour that for a moment, I’ll wait.

Now, every morning, savour that again. Don’t ever let yourself forget how BIG this is.

It is 2015. This year I got my doctorate. And that’s enough. That’s more than enough. 2016 will leave plenty of time for what comes next. But instead of feeling like I failed at the final hurdle, I’m going to end this year appreciating the fact that I won the race.

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