In my previous post, I started sharing with you five good reasons for doing a PhD. These are: 1) Drive for research; 2) Becoming an expert in your area; 3) Enjoying the academic environment; 4) Available opportunity; and 5) Developing important transferable skills. But I had promised you ten good reasons, so here are the other five:
6) Better prospects for later job. If you wonder how acquiring important transferrable skills can give you a better prospect at finding a job, you may want to have a look at two recent publications by the UK Science and Technology Facilities Council (career paths and 14-years on) to find out about possible employment destinations of successful PhD students.
7) Passion for your subject. You can go along a long way with this one. I have seen several people keeping through against all the odds, just because of the huge passion and enthusiasm for their projects. If this is you, then you are off to a great start!
8) Freedom. I guess this is my favourite! A 9-to-5 job would simply kill me and there is nothing I valued more about my PhD (and indeed about being an academic) than the freedom to manage my own time. Don’t get me wrong! This does not mean less work. In fact, I cannot count the number of weekends I have spent making sure I would meet the next deadline or the number of night shifts I have taken during experiments. But it has always been my choice and I simply can’t value this enough.
9) Good academic grades. Sure you need to have reasonably good grades! In the UK System this means at least an upper-second degree classification. However, academic grades are only part of the equation. I have seen students with excellent first degree classifications failing to successfully complete a PhD, while others with barely average grades shine through. This should not come as a surprise, though, as the set of skills and attitude required to be a successful undergraduate are very different from those needed for a PhD (more on this topic in a future post in this series).
10) Zest for the challenge. I just came across an estimate that only about 1% of the population in the UK holds a PhD. I guess, if you get that far, it is something you can be proud of.
So, now, does any of these reasons resonate with you? If so, then my advice would be exactly the same I received when I had to decide whether to do a PhD or not: Just invest in yourself and go for it!
PS Did you find this post useful to make up your mind about starting a PhD? Do you have some other good reason you want to share? Then please leave a comment below. I’ll be happy to hear form you.
PPS This is the first in a series of posts about doing a PhD. If you are interested in reading more, you can subscribe by email to this blog, just to make sure you will not miss any. Simply leave your email address in the box and press the “Follow” button. See you around next week.