Tag Archives: careers

The Road to El Dorado Part I: PhD or job?!

1 Feb

The day I dreaded is finally here. Semester 2 has arrived and the only thing on the mind of us poor folk facing eviction from our cosy university world (more commonly referred to as ‘graduation’) is what the hell we are going to do for the next 5, 10 or 2o years. I successfully avoided this delightful circle of hell last year thanks to said cosy university taking me back for an MLitt. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not just one of these types that is throwing Daddy’s hard earned money at more education because I just want to avoid the real world for as long as humanly possible. I actively enjoy studying and know that the day I am forced out of it will be one of the saddest days of my existence (yes, I am a geek). However much I may moan about writing essays, I actually do really enjoy it (especially when writing about war films). I have always been the goon who enjoys going to school and learning something new, so the decision to pursue an MLitt was something like 75% academic goon continuation and only 25% real world avoidance.

However, with the finish line of my foray into post-grad life coming into view, I once again find myself debating where I want to go next. For months I have been banging on about a PhD. For an self-confessed academic goon it wasn’t a difficult life ambition to dream up. A PhD seemed like the holy grail of academia; 3/4 years of research and writing on a topic that is completely of your own device. I’ve been the sort of person who has struggled during the undergrad and MLitt with ‘compulsory modules’ that include a lot of stuff I wouldn’t touch with a barge pole given the choice (Giles Deleuze I’m looking at you). A PhD cuts out all the faff and lets you go crazy on the things that you really care about and enjoy. And heck, if there is one life philosophy I live by it is that you should always strive to enjoy life because tomorrow you might be dead.

However, now that decision day is here I find myself with a dilemma. A PhD is ultimately something that I want to achieve in life, but I’m beginning to have doubts that it is what I should pursue right now. I have the luxury in my academic subject of knowing that I could come back to it in 5 years time and the theory won’t have changed so dramatically that I would be left redundant. There is also the fact that funding opportunities are pretty dire at the moment. Funding is the curse of the PhD dream, the one thing that will disillusion you to the point of no return. It would all be fine if I had an extra £30,000 or so lying about. However, I don’t and that means you have to enter the competition for funding. This to me bears some resemblance to Ancient Roman gladiator fights. Actually, I kind of wish the competition was a physical battle. I’d back me and my rage blackouts any day. Alas, it is your academic aptitude and the whim of the university department that counts.It’s not enough to just have an undeniable amount of excitement for your chosen area and a love for eduction, you must be now deemed ‘worthy’ and every PhD hopeful will have the same polemic in their applications proclaiming their worthiness and desire and all that jazz. Needless to say, you are fighting a losing battle unless you can provide evidence of your unnaturally large multiple brains.

So having been disillusioned by the funding problem I now find myself toying with the idea of making money, hard-earned money that can one day be used to fund myself.  I’m pretty sure that is the only way I’m ever going to get the chance to explore the depths of memory and commemoration in comedy war films. Plus, lately I can’t shake this overwhelming feeling that I don’t just want to be the person who comments on film any more. I’ve always wanted to actually be a part of the making of films and lately that dream has been whispering away at the back of my mind. I know I’ve got something that the world will want to see, and that may sound big headed but hey, only a fool humbles herself when the world is so full of others eager to do that job for her (thanks George R.R Martin for that philosophical gem). So, I’m going to throw my proverbial hat into the ring and give the job hunt a try. With my ambitions I am probably doomed to fail. I won’t settle for a life of misery in some job I constantly want to get out of, even if it is a ‘step on the ladder.’ Stuff your ladder where the sun doesn’t shine. I’m pretty confident that there are some entry level jobs that won’t make me want to jump off a cliff after 6 weeks, and by God I will find them. I’m not going to be ridiculously picky. Anything involving film or music or television I’ll give a shot (within reason of course, I’m not about to give in to the dark side and enter any sort of financial department…shudder).

This little blog diary will attempt to chart my progress as I attempt to apply for both PhDs and jobs. Afterall, by some miracle I might get funding from somewhere and I’ll be able to tick that life ambition off earlier than realism might have expected. Aberdeen is looking most likely if anywhere, but even then it will be a gladiator fight worthy of General Decimus Maximus. God knows I would love to stay in St Andrews. There are many pluses, namely remaining in a department I know and love, with possibly the best supervisor that I can find for my topic. Alas, I feel St Andrews slipping away from me. I’ve resigned myself to thinking of these next few months as my last in this joyous place I have made my home for the last 5 years. However, wherever I end up come September I’ll know it is where I am meant to be. I’m a big believer in destiny, so whatever happens will have its purpose in the grand design, no matter how much you didn’t want it to turn out that way or whatnot. As long as you keep striving for happiness and fulfilment, you’ll never go wrong.

And whatever happens dear readers, I will endeavor to make it somewhat informative and entertaining. For those of you yet to come to this point in your life, maybe something you read here will help you out in the future. For those of you experiencing the coming hell with me, I hope you can find some mirth and solace in my ramblings to help you along your own road.

So keep your peepers pealed for part 2 and hang on to your hats because it’s going to be a bumpy ride…

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