Advice needed

Betty Woolf woolf at
Wed Mar 26 10:49:32 EST 1997

In article <33392DDB.59C6 at>, Bob Phair <rphair at>


> If you permit yourself to be used as a pair of hands, and if you
> graduate with a PhD but without an education, you will be seen, by
> prospective employers, as a glorified technician, with no breadth and no
> vision. No one will pay doctoral-level wages to a technician with a PhD
> degree.

I was doing fine with your answer until this point.  I chose to work after
my B.S. degree while I decided what the next step was for me.  What I saw
my boss and his postdocs go through convinced me that I was not suited for
the path of PhD, postdoc, PI.  I was fortunate to be in a department where
senior technicians were given credit for having brains as well as hands
and not in a department with the attitude that the above paragraph seems
to indicate.  

I stayed in that department for 6 years, worked as hard in the lab as the
graduate students and got an education of my own that didn't happen to
include a PhD.  It did include how to plan experiments and develop
research plans and write papers and grants.

> Fortunately, you can take the situation into your own hands. You can
> take responsibility for your life, and your education. Talk to people.
> Find out what's really happening in your field (worldwide). Read an hour
> a day in your field. Use the web. Then make a plan for your life. If you
> have no goals of your own, you are doomed to work for those who do. Your
> plan will not always work out as you had hoped, but if you plan and take
> good risks for yourself, you will succeed in living *your* life. In the
> end, that is what each of us is here for.

I did all these things, and while I understand that my education is
lacking in some areas, I resent the implication that my vision is also
somehow lacking.  I'm in industry now, in an excellent company, doing what
I'm suited to doing.  I've left the lab in favor of a sequence analysis
position and continue to educate myself in a field that didn't even really
exist when I began my career.

> {Bob smiles, climbs down off his soapbox, and waves as he wanders off}
> Good luck!
> --
> Robert D. Phair, Ph.D.  rphair at
> BioInformatics Services
> Partnering and Outsourcing for Computational Biology

Sorry for veering off-topic, but I feel strongly about this particular issue.

My $.02 on the original question is that it sounds like the situation has
been going on for a long time and won't be getting better any time soon. 
If you have the strength and desire to fight this battle as well as try to
complete a degree, there should be people you can complain to, but it
might be better to change programs now.  At least from your wiser
perspective, you can ask the appropriate questions and minimize the
likelihood of landing in this situation again.

Betty Woolf

My opinions are my own, and only my own

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