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PhD versus regular work

by on February 20, 2013

Has anyone ever wondered: ‘Why did I start this PhD?’?????

During difficult moments of doubts and loneliness, you might have thought of what would be your life if you were not a PhD student.

Well, I suppose many of you would be working, probably in an office some where in a private or public institution.Do you think your life would be easier with a regular job then?

The answer is not necessarily yes….

Throughout my PhD journey, I undertook took several breaks to work in several international organisations. I really enjoyed these work experiences. They helped me to find a breathing space, and to do something different for while.  Yet, these experiences also enabled me to reflect on my PhD process, and to become conscious of the good sides of it beyond my regular complaints about it.

I made a comparative list  below that might give you an insight into my reflection:

PhD Regular work
Loneliness Collaborative work but it also involves coping with colleagues who are not necessarily easy to work with
No frequent deadline (for traditional PhDs) Daily or weekly deadlines
No proper boss you have to see everyday, expect your supervisor with whom you can discuss things to reach a consensus in case of disagreement A boss you have to see everyday, and whose orders you have to execute  without debating
Focusing on a topic  (that you have probably chosen) for ages Producing documents every week on various topics (chosen by your boss accordingly the agenda of your institution) without actually mastering them
Ownership of your work, and recognition (for it) through the viva No ownership of you work, and recognition for it goes to your boss or your institution

This list is not exhaustive of course, and if any of you who would like to complete it, feel free!

Also, I am conscious some of you may have had other work experiences, and could provide a list that could also present the bad sizes of a PhD versus the good sides of regular work, such as money wise…

But I hope it can help those of who you are in a moment of despair as regards their PhD to remember the positive sides of it!


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I am about to start my PhD (in Communication and Culture) next month and am looking forward to it! I have worked in many offices and coffee shops and can relate to your list. Must remind myself of your post/reflection when/if I start to worry about my decision to pursue the PhD!

  2. Thanks Tina for your comment! Let us know about your PhD experience in comparison to your previous work experience!

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