Are you thinking about applying to a PhD program? Are you already a doctoral student? PhD is a huge investment of time and money. So make sure you spend 15 minutes of your time reading this blog devoted to PhD program success and survival tips. I'm confident that these tips can save up to 10 years of your life, up to $1,000,000 of your money, and, most importantly, your physical and emotional health.

Friday, April 10, 2009

No Money - No Work!

Hoping to please my professors, I got myself into a state of things where I would perform a number of duties many of which were not directly related to my responsibilities as a doctoral student. I soon found myself not only doing research and teaching classes, but also managing a student organization, helping graduate students from other departments with my lab's equipment,and doing guest speaking gigs at places where my professors didn't wanna go. In addition to that, I was doing some analytical work for organizations in exchange of them giving me data for my dissertation.

Needless to say, in order to do all those things I had to work 24/7 and borrow time from my personal life and my main responsibilities as a doctoral student. Obviously, I wasn't paid for doing all those things. I was paid as much as any other doctoral student who did nothing but dissertation work.

At some point I realized that this is not working well and I need to stop. It wasn't pretty - some of my profs became a bit hostile towards me. But this worked out quite well, eventually. I acquired a reputation of a person who doesn't do any favors, so professors stopped bothering me with their requests.

Despite academia positioning itself as a very altruistic place where people don't care for money, I think it's very useful for a PhD student to think in economic terms when asked to do all kinds of favors. You always have to ask yourself:

  • Am I paid for this?
  • Is there, at least, a potential for being paid for this in the future?
If the answer is no, you probably shouldn't do it. Your goal is to graduate and get a job, and not be someone's servant.

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