Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dilemma of a PhD (thesis submitted) student

So what does one does one do after he/she has submitted their PhD thesis. Here in India it takes an awful amount of time for the process of thesis review upto the time of viva (The PhD degree is awarded on the day of viva itself). So what could one do with their time while the process takes its own sweet time. 

Normally after thesis submission upto the date of viva it could take around 6-12 months. It could take a huge load on the student , depending on his/her temperament. Usually students would like to apply for postdoctoral position or other suitable job openings during this time period. A few of them might get lucky enough to even get a position. however, with the ever increasing competition in the field and hundreds of applications received daily by each of the high profile research organizations, it has become a norm these days to shortlist or take candidate with a degree in hand. However, some organizations do relax the stringency a bit by giving time to the candidate to obtain a degree by the date of their joining if they get selected after several rounds of interviews and discussions. 

So what does one do during this "waiting period". Usually students compile their unfinished work, complete pending manuscripts to be sent out for publications or practice new techniques, while some may join collaborative labs as short term research associates or trainees to keep themselves updated with the latest in the field while also enabling them to get another recommendation letter. 

As hundreds of PhDs graduate each year in various disciplines of science, arts, humanities etc. the competition becomes tougher as each one would have multidisciplinary expertise these days. Also each one would want to pursue a career in the most renowned and high profile research organization in their respective fields, while some may chose on to take diverse career paths in industry, entrepreneurship, etc. Whatever the case may be, this period of wait form the time of thesis submission to the time of viva ma prove to be torturous and discouraging for majority of students esp. those who lack patience. On the brighter side, some might consider this as an opportunity to go on and explore new areas.

With the ever increasing competition it also becomes essential that this time period of wait should be cut down to minimal as some student easily get frustrated by the lack of ability to manage their time, while others may be crossing the age limit for applying to various grant programs and may be left behind in the race. After all it has always been the way of nature for the "survival of the fittest". Amongst all this there also comes added pressure from family and relatives that adds on to the confusion and frustration of those who might not have the self-motivation to utilize this time at and to the best of their capabilities. 

However one should always remember a few things in these times :

1. Tough times don't last but tough people do....
2. When the going gets tough the tough get going....
3. Its always the test of fire that makes the finest steel (as always quoted by my PhD supervisor)

It indeed is a tough time for some as they watch their friends and batch-mates move on in their career. However, patience and perseverance are the two qualities that could provide as supporting pillars of strength. It is not always be the most brilliant or the most ingenious of people that move on to be successful pioneers in their field but it is people with determination, patience and perseverance that do so. So one must learn to be patient and wait for the right moment to strike while also not wasting their time being idle. And most important of all one should not lose their hope and optimism. I most certainly know that it is more easily said than done but if it would be of solace to those reading this I myself am in this phase so I know a thing or two about what I am talking about. 

All I hope to achieve by this post is to pass the message across my fellow friends that tough time are here to test us. It is up to us to pass or fail in this test. All that counts is that you have the courage to keep moving on and not waste time idling as every second of your life spent is an experience gained. 

Whatever the situation might be or how hard the time may seem, quoted below are a few lines form Rocky Balboa that have guide me through several tough times and continue to encourage me to move ahead in the direction of my goals:

"......Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get it and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done! Now if you know what you're worth then go out and get what you're worth. But ya gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody! Cowards do that and that ain't you! You're better than that!......"

"......I mean maybe you're doing your job but why you gotta stop me from doing mine? Cause if you're willing to go through all the battling you got to go through to get where you want to get, who's got the right to stop you? I mean maybe some of you guys got something you never finished, something you really want to do, something you never said to someone, something... and you're told no, even after you paid your dues? Who's got the right to tell you that, who? Nobody! It's your right to listen to your gut, it ain't nobody's right to say no after you earned the right to be where you want to be and do what you want to do!... You know, the older I get the more things I gotta leave behind, that's life. ......"

You all got one life and its up to you and no one else to decide what you make of it....