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where can I go to seek career advice?


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I'm caught in a situation at my school where I want to leave the program but at this time I've hit the rock bottom. I don't see myself using PhD in a traditional sense. I'm not able to get along with my professor at all. He thinks that most women in science and math are idiots. So, I'm not sure even if I hang in there, will I ever get my PhD? I'm not able to share my grief and agony with anyone. I really want someone who understands my situation in terms of visa and my career situation. I tried to talk to a lot of American friends and colleagues but only a few can understand my visa situation and at the end if they do end up understanding my situation, they tell me "I'm sorry, I don't know what to tell you." Where can I go to ask for help? I want someone who understands 1) my situation as a foreign student 2) my career situation.

I really want some guidance.

I'm desperate to get answers so that I stop wasting any more time in this program and can move on in my life, whether that means going back to India and starting over or changing programs in this country and starting over.

I've tried to ask my colleagues for advice but I don't think they get me and also they have their own life problems that they are dealing with now and they are beginning to avoid me now. I don't know where to go for advice? What to do? Please guide me.

Thank you.

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at my university, we hold a PhD career day, where we have people who have PhDs who have gone into traditional and non-traditional PhD routes. i can give you an example list here:

 

1. Faculty at a large research university

2. Faculty at a small teaching college

3. K-12 education

4. Large pharmaceutical company

5. Small pharmaceutical company

6. Non-profit pharaceutical company

7. Clinical chemistry (working at a hospital making sure that the diagnostic equiptments are in order)

8. Government research

9. Science writing (being an editor for a scientific journal)

10. Public policy/outreach (helping government officials and the public better understand science issues)

11. Army/military scientist

12. Patent law (you don't need to go to law school to be a patent officer)

13. Forensics/state crime lab

 

look up some books on 'alternative career paths for phds"

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Tinu, having followed a number of your threads, I am not sure if you know yourself clearly what your priorities and goals are in life. This is the first you should try to figure out for yourself. Once you know which direction you want to go, it will be easier to ask/ receive advice how to accomplish it.

 

I have a PhD myself and have been living in a foreign country for the past decade, so I know the stress involved in going through a tough program while you have to handle living in a different culture as well.

 

I also know that being dependent on a visa only adds up to stress.

 

Obtaining a PhD in Life Science is tough, for nearly anyone I know. Many people reach a point where they want to give up, it somehow seems to be a part of the deal. I was there myself, struggling to please 3 different supervisors who didn't want to agree with each other for personal long-ongoing reasons; one of them was the head of the department, so not a lot of options there to complain to someone.

 

But I didn't give up and I hung in there (without going to my PhD committee with complaints), because I knew I needed/ wanted the PhD for my longterm career goals.

Unknown to me, my professor was so impressed the way I handled the stress and hadn't given up that he organized a position for me, that I never had believed I would qualify for (I had already signed up to go somewhere else, when he told me about the other position).

 

I would usually always recommend to someone to stick it out if you are so close to a goal, but if you know you will not need this degree and it will not be beneficial for your goals, then I don't see the point in torturing yourself.

 

So you have to weigh what it is that you want from your life, not just from a career perspective but also from your personal life: where do you want to live, what job would you like, do you want a family, do you want a family back in your home country or in the US.

 

What type of visa do you have? is your stay dependent on your specific program? If you change programs, do you need to get a new visa?

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There's probably an office for "International Students Services" -- you could try them for advice re: your visa status.

 

I dont think there is ONE single place that you can get a comprehensive answer/advice about your particular situation.

 

I agree with Penelope that you probably need to figure out what exactly it is you want to do and then find ways to address both aspects of your problem -- the professional aspect (i.e. do I continue on here OR do I transfer to another program or do I go back home and return to the US under a different program?) AND the "INS" aspect (i.e. what happens if I decide to transfer to another program? what happens if I drop out of the program and then take a non-academic job?)

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Does your university have an office of career services? If so, at the very least you could make an appointment with them and explain your situation. They should also be familiar with the terms of the visa you're on and inform you on possible positions you could take or paths you could go if you decide not to remain in your PhD program. I'd also suggest you speak with your uni's international student affairs office--they should have the very best understanding of your visa situation.

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Tinu, having followed a number of your threads, I am not sure if you know yourself clearly what your priorities and goals are in life. This is the first you should try to figure out for yourself. Once you know which direction you want to go, it will be easier to ask/ receive advice how to accomplish it. Thank you very much for a helpful reply. I agree with you. I am not super clear on what I want from my life, but I'm relatively clear. I'm clear on what I DON'T want. The reason why I don't want a PhD in life sciences is b'coz after having gone through the program for so long now, I've realized that I'm not as scholarly as some of my peers. I don't care if science advances or not. I'm really looking to get a stable job. Predictability, stability, certainly, career mobility means a lot to me. I don't derive my happiness from working (don't misunderstand, I take pride in doing a job well) I derive my happiness from little little things I do, volunteering, painting, gardening.

 

I have a PhD myself and have been living in a foreign country for the past decade, so I know the stress involved in going through a tough program while you have to handle living in a different culture as well.

I also know that being dependent on a visa only adds up to stress.

Obtaining a PhD in Life Science is tough, for nearly anyone I know. Many people reach a point where they want to give up, it somehow seems to be a part of the deal. I was there myself, struggling to please 3 different supervisors who didn't want to agree with each other for personal long-ongoing reasons; one of them was the head of the department, so not a lot of options there to complain to someone. Yes, this sure is a tough situation. Wow, you must have some resilience for you to push through this.

 

But I didn't give up and I hung in there (without going to my PhD committee with complaints), because I knew I needed/ wanted the PhD for my longterm career goals. Yes, this is very important. I have not been going to my professors whining either. My problem with them is on professional level only. Even with my PI. He is a wise man. I have enjoyed my conversations with him but he is not helping me where I want to go in my professional life and that is my issue. They are not telling me what more needs to be done in order to graduate. So, I can't see the end of the road yet.

Unknown to me, my professor was so impressed the way I handled the stress and hadn't given up that he organized a position for me, that I never had believed I would qualify for (I had already signed up to go somewhere else, when he told me about the other position). I agree. This is very true. I'm glad you shared this with me. I'll remember this point.

 

I would usually always recommend to someone to stick it out if you are so close to a goal, but if you know you will not need this degree and it will not be beneficial for your goals, then I don't see the point in torturing yourself. Right, thats what I thought to myself as well. Thats why I was pushing them to tell me what more do they think needs to be done to finish my PhD so that I can assess where I'm at and take an inventory and then decide if I've to go forward or not.

So you have to weigh what it is that you want from your life, not just from a career perspective but also from your personal life: where do you want to live, what job would you like, do you want a family, do you want a family back in your home country or in the US. A lot of men said straight no to me b'coz I'm not able to give them a timeframe of when I'll finish my PhD. So, you see, how it has begun to affect my personal life? and you know what I don't want to turn bitter from all these experiences. I feel like losing my positivity and it will only hurt me if that happens. Thats why I'm looking to leave PhD. Job stability, security, predictability matters to me. A job after PhD won't offer me that.

What type of visa do you have? is your stay dependent on your specific program? If you change programs, do you need to get a new visa? I'm on a student visa. My stay in this country depends on whether I go to school or not. Out of school = out of country for me now. No, if I change schools/programs, I don't need to go for a new visa. I'm begun my application process for a new program. They said that they will get back to me with an answer within 2 weeks.

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You could try a life coach, if you can find a good one and not just someone calling themselves that.

I'm looking for that, but I'm not sure if I can afford a life coach at this time. I've to conserve whatever little money I have.

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There's probably an office for "International Students Services" -- you could try them for advice re: your visa status. Yes, we do have a Foreign student services center and I'm in touch with the person there on this matter. Yes, he is able to answer my Qs.

I dont think there is ONE single place that you can get a comprehensive answer/advice about your particular situation. Right, I think, that is what my issue is. I am looking for a one stop shopping. I am not going to get that. I just have to understand that. Ask various different people who know various aspects (professional and immigration) and then join the dots. Get information from one source, go to other source to ask if this can be done.

I agree with Penelope that you probably need to figure out what exactly it is you want to do and then find ways to address both aspects of your problem -- the professional aspect (i.e. do I continue on here OR do I transfer to another program or do I go back home and return to the US under a different program?) AND the "INS" aspect (i.e. what happens if I decide to transfer to another program? what happens if I drop out of the program and then take a non-academic job?) Right, I'm beginning to realize that. I 1st need to sit down with myself and understand what is it that I want? Where do I want to see my life go?

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Does your university have an office of career services? If so, at the very least you could make an appointment with them and explain your situation. They should also be familiar with the terms of the visa you're on and inform you on possible positions you could take or paths you could go if you decide not to remain in your PhD program. I'd also suggest you speak with your uni's international student affairs office--they should have the very best understanding of your visa situation.

No, my university doesn't have an office for career services and I'll tell you why. My university is only for medical and paramedical degrees. So, it doesn't have an undergrad. It only offers graduate level degrees. So, kids that come here KNOW what they want to pursue. But yes, the office of foreign students is able to offer some help at least on the visa situation.

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