Category: PhD Confessions
The decision to earn my PhD was an easy one. I excelled in undergrad back in the 90’s. I earned my masters with a 4.0 GPA. I built a 20-year practitioner’s career in human resources and workforce development. These things were doable, so I figured I’d take my education to the next level. Straightforward. Check mark.
I took a part-time job working from home and enrolled in a PhD interdisciplinary program. I skipped the department’s orientation and jumped into classes. I loved the discussions, the students, the professors. But I kept running across new and unfamiliar requirements. Comps? SPSS? Posters presentations? Read 40 articles before Tuesday? I felt lost, knowing I had severely underestimated the difference a P, H and D would make.
I began to realize the academic’s world was much different than the practitioner’s world, which I had known so well. I found myself reflecting on my past. I took more time making decisions. I began to think more deeply about the interrelated nature of everything. I considered theory and its applications. I annoyed my practitioner co-workers by totally revising their briefs and surveys. I presented a barely readable poster and had a great time doing it. I learned that “adequate” and “sounds plausible” are compliments in academia. I learned to repeat myself repetitively. Most of all, I slowed down to appreciate the tremendous talent of my professors and fellow students.
Five years later as I approach my graduation, I feel a calm confidence about the next phase of life. I feel prepared to navigate the way between my practitioner’s views and my newly developed Ph.D. mentality. I like this space in-between. And this time, there is no way I’m skipping the department’s hooding ceremony.