Beyond The Bench

According to an article published in The Economist, Doctoral degrees: The disposable academic,we the current graduate students in universities around the world are pretty much screwed!

“Research at one American university found that those who finish are no cleverer than those who do not. Poor supervision, bad job prospects or lack of money cause them to run out of steam.”

After years and years….and years of “seven-day weeks, ten-hour days, low pay..”, our job prospects out in the real world are bleak.

“100,000 doctoral degrees produced between 2005 and 2009 and only 16,000 new professorships.”

We have a higher chance of being diagnosed with cancer than we do of landing that gig as an assistant professor we’ve been dreaming about since we were 5 years old. Not motivated enough to pour your blood, sweat and tears into that western blot? Well, how about this….

“Over all subjects, a PhD commands only a 3% premium over a master’s degree.”

or this…

“As this year’s new crop of graduate students bounce into their research, few will be willing to accept that the system they are  entering could be designed for the benefit of others, that even hard work and brilliance may well not be enough to succeed, and that they would be better off doing something else.”

After reading this article, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry…so I did both (making sure I included a control).

Upon further evaluation, I decided that the message of this article is not all bad. For current graduate students, we know that the system is not necessarily designed to work in our favor regardless of whether we want to remain in academia or go into industry. We also know the areas which need to be improved upon..

“…many PhDs find it tough to transfer their skills into the job market.”

“Some universities are now offering their PhD students training in soft skills such as communication and teamwork that may be useful in the labour market.”

The purpose of this blog is quite simple

      • Provide a central location for all the tools that might make us  more attractive to prospective employers (academic and non-academic)
      • Serve as an outlet for current graduate students to express their ideas, frustrations and solutions to problems we face
      • Promote networking among graduate students around the world
      • Reassure prospective graduate students that life as an indentured servant a grad student is not all bad

On the contrary, beyond the bench, graduate school is an adventure of a lifetime. Where else would we get paid to learn, do cool experiments that may or may not work, attend seminars by renowned experts for free, work with some of the greatest minds of our time while establishing long lasting connections? Nowhere I tell ya…absolutely nowhere.

Leave a Comment