My PhD and me… (or, why I quit when I did)
Having a PhD was something that I thought I wanted. I thought that it would validate me and say to the world: “See, I told you I was smart!” and “See world! I am someone!”. I also thought I wanted to be an academic.
I completed my Master of Arts in Communication Management as the post-grad student with the highest GPA (I was the Schultz Communication Prizewinner for 2008). I was head hunted by the University of South Australia to go into their Doctor of Communication program, so I was very flattered. I had also resigned from my job as a PR Manager, so I didn’t have a job when I started the doctorate; I thought I would make my living as a communications self-employed consultant (boy, was I wrong about that, but that’s a post for another day!)
I completed the Research Proposal, the Literature Review and was just about to go to Ethics (about 18 months in) when I decided to pull out. In the end, I found the learning too restrictive, too process-driven. As a doctoral student, one has to more or less do what one’s supervisor wants one to do. I wanted to build a reputation publishing in electronic journals: my supervisor wanted a more traditional publishing record. I had very different ideas to her about which way my journey should go, and how I should approach my topic. Having said that, my supervisor was very good and I have the utmost respect for her. And through the process, by all accounts, it would be unusual not to tousle with your supervisor!
In the end, though, I think the thought of committing to something for that length of time was actually a bit depressing. I like variety; I like learning about different topics and subjects, and I could see that a PhD would actually be a bit too narrow for me. I’d end up knowing a lot about one thing, but I’m more the sort of a gal who likes to know lots (or conversely not much!) about different things.
I’m not ruling out the possibility of me ever going back; however, I’d rather have another Masters degree!
For the record, I tell people: I was smart enough to get in, and smart enough to know it wasn’t for me.