Graduate school is hell; what is a job an ex-grad-student can possibly get?
January 7, 2010 1:51 PM Subscribe
Help me out here -- who will hire grad-school dropouts to work for them after they have royally screwed over their chances of having an academic career, what are they likely to pay said grad-school dropouts, and how do I convince them that they want to hire me against their better judgement?
I'm in the second half of my fifth year of a Ph.D. program in a biomedical field. I started to feel completely burned-out and sick of grad school immediately after completing comps, in my third year.
Two years later, things are only getting worse. I hate my thesis project, which has completely derailed to the point where even the data that looked so awesome in my second year are coming into question (methodological problems that I didn't know were problematic when I started running these experiments). My committee isn't happy with me, my advisor isn't happy with me, I'm not happy with me, my program isn't happy with me for not making fast enough progress (I have to submit a report next week about my research progress, which will probably end up saying that I may have actually made *negative* progress, given that I just realized that I did half my thesis experiments wrong). I don't care about getting a Ph.D. anymore, I hate benchwork, and at this point the only question is whether I will quit before getting thrown out for my epic research failure. Probably I'll end up availing myself of the terminal master's option.
I really don't have any idea what I could get a job doing, particularly a job that would compensate me anywhere near my graduate student stipend (about $24k/year plus free health insurance for me -- I pay for my husband's). This is especially crucial because my husband has been laid off for over a month now, and both of our health insurance coverage is obtained through my university. We're already completely broke, and we both have a lot of student loan debt, so I need to make some money immediately upon leaving the hallowed halls of academe. (Borrowing from family until I find something is not an option -- the family members who would be inclined to lend us some money don't have any money themselves, and the family members who have money will be inclined to view my grad-school tribulations as not only an unforgivable fuck-up on my part, but also a personal betrayal. Trust me on this one -- it may seem histrionic, but I know my family and they're less-than-functional.)
I know I'm kind of a fuckup for fucking up my research so badly, and I can't really fathom who would hire me after this. But I also don't want to end up eating my dog and living under a bridge, having doomed myself and my husband to a life of abject poverty culminating in Sallie Mae sending agents to repossess the pine boxes at our funerals.
(I really don't want to work in a lab anymore, because I absolutely loathe running experiments. I don't really have any other work experience, except for a broad cross-section of food-service jobs. I'm not under any delusion that my failed education is actually worth anything in the current economic climate, so I'll take what I can get, but waitressing is not going to pay off my husband's and my combined loan debts of $50k. I really don't want a job that would involve my spending any more time or money in school, because I simply can't afford it. I can move pretty much anywhere in the US, since neither me nor my husband has anything keeping us in our current city such as, you know, a job or prospects of a hopeful future.)