I think I was about seven years old when I first told mi abuelo that I wanted to get a PhD; at that point, nobody in our family had gotten one yet and I wanted to be the first. It was a topic of pride for him - one that he still reminds me of today, even as I sat across from him at his new place - that I be the first Villalobos to have "Dr" in front of her name. Me wanting to make him proud of me was just a small percentage of the whole reason to why I really wanted to pursue a doctoral degree - and to be honest if that was the only reason then I wouldn't have done it at all. (I've shared other bad reasons to pursue a PhD here)
But are there any good reasons? In my opinion, here are some damn good reasons for why you should want those extra letters in front (or behind) your name.
yOU LOVE ACADEMIA!
Look, the academic environment is something else. The intellectual stimulation, flexible working hours, mixture of lab, field and/or office work... there is a lot to love! (Don't get me wrong, a PhD can be pretty tough, lonely, and super frustrating but there is a lot of amazing opportunities and people that comes with working in an academic environment.)
CONTRIBUTE TO NEW KNOWLEDGE IN YOUR FIELD
Do have what you think is a really novel research idea that you would like to further explore? Want to get (further) experience in that field while you get a PhD degree?
Each and every degree contributes new knowledge to the subject area you are studying! So regardless of what you do after your have that PhD in hand, you have helped make the world a better place - answered a missing piece of our solar system's puzzle - with what you've done. Way to go!
BECOME AN EXPERT
Many who pursue a PhD do so because they are passionate about that specific subject and want to make further discoveries within that field. You conducting your own research and having that down the track referenced means you've not only made a meaningful contribution to a specific research field but you could be seen as a leading authority in that specific niche.
In fact, if you decide to do multi-disciplinary work, you can help blend theories, approaches and expertise across fields that didn't exist before, creating world-leading research that has never been seen before!
Networking and Travel Opportunities
A PhD can be a very solitary or lonely pursuit at time. But thanks to networking opportunities like conferences, you have multiple chances throughout your PhD to get out there, meet people and share your knowledge. Not only will the professional contacts you make during this time be invaluable, but you can come up with collaborations ideas for some amazing future work! Depending on the type of PhD you are getting, you will more than likely travel to different parts of the country (or world if the conferences are global) to convey your ideas... opening all sorts of doors.
BROADEN YOUR CAREER OPPORTUNITIES
Want to pursue a career in academia? A PhD is pretty much a needed qualification to not only continue doing research but teach university students. Not to mention the process of getting a PhD allows you obtain a bunch of skills you need to compete in the university sector (and beyond). Want to work in the public or private sector in industrial research and development? A PhD can help with that. Keen to advise governments or not-for-profit organizations on policies that make an impact on your local region or country.... or the world? You can do so with a PhD (and some consulting jobs actually require the degree). Like the idea of communicating your complex research as an expert?
There are so many job opportunities that are possible for doctoral degree holders outside of the academic industry!
ONE LAST QUICK NOTE...
If you've been questioning whether or not to pursue a PhD, going back and forth and not really knowing if this path is "right" for you then I have a secret: you aren't alone. I was in your shoes just a few years ago! But after an insightful conversation with my dad, I sat down and listed my motivation behind wanting this degree and decided they were good enough for me to apply to a project/school. It's a good practice - sitting down and really doing some introspective reflection on what is a very big decision - and I encourage you all to do it!
ARE YOU THINKING OF APPLYING TO PHD PROGRAMS? I am happy to SHARE (general) ADVICE AND RESOURCES FOR PROSPECTIVE, CURRENT, AND POST DOCTORAL SCHOLARS. slide into my dm's, amigx!
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Hi! I'm Melissa, an Australian-based Latina science educator, podcaster, and freelance writer. I spend a lot more time on Instagram and Twitter, but blogging is my first love. Thanks for stopping by — I hope you stay a while.
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