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The most useful skill after a Ph. D

Ph. Ds are intense. It’s pretty much like a rollercoaster ride, with lots of ups and downs, sometimes within a single hour. Lots of things can go wrong, and you only get the occasional, rare reward.

After weathering all that it throws at you, a Ph. D is supposed to train you to become a ‘good’ scientist, but…

What is that, exactly?

And what if you leave academic research, like I have? Is it still useful?

I’m sure the answer above is subjective to each individual person, but for me, the most useful skill I’ve taken away from my Ph. D is resourcefulness.

A Ph. D is supposed to equip you with knowledge and expertise, but… even after five years in the field I was in- it’s still only five years! I still feel like I know nothing- or at least, I feel like I know ‘something’, but no where near enough. There are many things I’m not 100% sure about, and will probably need to go diving back into literature before I can quote things. I’m still in awe of people who can just be like, ‘oh yes, I read that in “such and such et. al. 2012″‘ for multiple papers, because while I was sort of on the cusp of it, I think I’d need another five years on top before I could really quote papers off the top of my head.

A Ph. D is a huge accomplishment, but it still feels like it’s only just the beginning.

But is that a bad thing? Is it bad that I still don’t feel like I know enough?

I don’t think so, because at the end of the day, I know exactly where to look or who to ask to obtain the relevant information I need. I know how to skim text quickly and extract the bits of information I need in an objective manner…

No one can be a complete expert in a few years. Like with anything, it requires more time, dedication, and commitment…

But I’m okay with not being knowledgeable on all things.

At least I know who is more knowledgeable than me at certain topics, and am not ashamed to ask for help.

And that’s why being resourceful is probably the best skill I’ve obtained.

I might not know everything, but I know when to ask for help.

Obviously it has to be within reason- I can’t just give up without trying to figure it out for myself, but…

If I’ve tried to search for it, and can’t find the answer, I’ll find someone who might be able to help me continue my search, or provide the answer to me straight up.

At the end of the day, I would’ve learnt new things, improved the way I search for information the next time I need it, and maybe struck up a conversation with someone I wouldn’t have otherwise.

And while Wikipedia might not be the best place to search, at the end of the day…

Google is your best friend.

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A Ph. D graduate in Microbiology, residing in Victoria, Australia. Currently working in multiple locations but still in the STEM field. 👀 🦠 🧫 🧬

2 replies

  1. At the end of the day, I would’ve ….. maybe struck up a conversation with someone I wouldn’t have otherwise.
    A very good reflection. But you will never really be able to fully understand the huge benefit it has done to you.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. There have been some surprising collaborations and advice I’ve received from random people- all because I chose to vent and seek help. I had an experiment I’d struggled with for three years work four times in the space of a month, because someone gave me a better protocol. 😂

      I think overall it’s the drive to always be learning and trying new skills. I don’t like getting out of my comfort zone, but when I do, I always learn more about myself and others around me. It’s good, overall. ☺️

      Liked by 2 people

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