New Kid has an interesting post about what the transition from grad student to employed junior academic with a PhD feels like. Like her, when I was a PhD student I had senior academics tell me how lucky I was to have all that time for research. “It never gets as good again,” they said, and I see what they mean now that I have to deal with the daily grind of finding a whole hour to read or write amidst meetings and teaching and so many people who need me. But no. Being a grad student isn’t better. Yes, you have more time, but you have so much insecurity, you don’t know whether you’ll make it, whether you’ll ever get a job, you’re badly paid and in this limbo of neither quite student nor employee while your friends are starting to do well in their non-academic careers, and because nobody needs you you don’t yet know the worth of what you know. Don’t get me wrong: being a PhD student is exciting too, and wonderful, but despite that, I’d much rather be where I am now. It’s completely true: People do take you more seriously once you have that PhD, and having an actual job is another step on the get-taken-seriously ladder. Nah, I wouldn’t want to be a grad student again. Now a sabbatical, ooh, I’ll really know how to use that once I get one!

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