Monday, September 19, 2011

Five reasons why I decided to pursue a PhD

Some time ago, I was asked why I decided to pursue a PhD, and how I got an idea of what a PhD candidate's work life looks like. In fact, I had always liked to idea of simply keeping on studying (there's always more to learn), but when I went to Georgia Tech and was in class with both MS and PhD students, I got a more realistic idea of what I could expect when deciding to pursue a doctoral degree.

Ultimately, these five reasons are the main reasons why I decided to study for a PhD, and why I enjoy my studies and research so much:

1. Curiosity

I wanted to know more, I wanted to figure out things - and for that reason, research is about the best fit possible. I was also curious to explore my own boundaries and abilities and to get off the beaten path and "work my way through the woods".

2. Intellectual freedom

Even though I do have deadlines, I still have enough time and space to spend on developing thoughts that simply seem interesting to me. Also, I dislike authority very much, and being able to work for my degree on my project in all the freedom I like, is about the most ideal work-situation for me.

3. Self-development

While pursuing my doctoral degree, I have been developing my transferable skills much more than I expected to do. I've had the opportunity to attend workshops and trainings for this goal, but I have also had the opportunities to bring into practice what I've learned from these workshops - by presenting for various audiences, traveling to conferences and juggling several smaller projects at the same time.

4. Challenge

The ultimate goal of a doctoral dissertation is to present an original contribution to your study field. To fulfill this requirement, certain intellectual boundaries have to be pushed, or -as my best friend states it- we have to reinvent hot water every day.

5. Fun

Science, and in my case experimental research, is fun. There's always an unexpected challenge (or, for the pessimists among us, a problem) which requires an original and preferable quick fix.

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