Is there a good way to list an ABD instead of a PhD on a resume?
January 31, 2013 6:36 PM Subscribe
About a decade ago, I had a quarter-life crisis and decided to drop out of grad school in science... how do I deal with that now?
posted by lostguy to Work & Money (18 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
I went to an Ivy League university and then a very prestigious grad school for chemistry. I spent about 3 years earnestly working towards a PhD, but the work seemed to become unrewarding and my prospects in academia looked bleak (I hit that 3rd year wall... really hard). I was mentoring an undergrad who was applying for grad schools and he came to me one day with a letter of recommendation from our PI -- and it was not glowing. It was actually the opposite of glowing. I was shocked. (This undergrad had gotten a "backup" letter of recommendation from another professor and used that one... but wanted to let me know what my own advisor thought of our work together.)
That was the data point in my mind that made me think that I really needed to quit and do something else. (Other grad students in this lab had quit before me, and I heard I wasn't the last one to quit after I left, either.)
So I've been at a couple of jobs now, but I haven't really built a "career" in my mind. I may still be stuck in a mindset that I don't have any credentials to show that I'm a PhD-level employee. I don't really regret my somewhat rash decision to quit a PhD program (and I quit it totally, without getting the consolation master's degree). But I've take jobs so far, where I haven't needed to really demonstrate an advanced degree. And now I think it's time to try to move forward a bit more career-wise.
I don't want to go back to school for anything. I just want to start exploring my employment options more, but I still haven't sorted out how to explain this non-PhD on a resume. Do I leave it off entirely? It's only 3 years of a PhD, after all. Is a 3 year gap right after college a no-no? Or do I leave it on my resume (and even list the publication that actually has my name on it, even though I didn't finish that work...)? How do I really explain the quitting to an interviewer in a way that doesn't sound like I'm blaming my advisor or that I'm prone to making rash decisions? (I wouldn't even call it a rash decision because I really did actively decide to quit my PhD program for the sake of my best emotional well-being at the time.)
Hive-mind, let me know if there's a way to sweep this under the rug now that it's a decade old... or help me figure out a way to explain my situation that.. presents me in the most favorable way to someone who doesn't know me at all.
Thanks in advance.