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Doing a PhD, feel like I'm wasting my life...

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    I've been doing a PhD, part-time, at Warwick Uni for the past almost 5 years. I've felt for a while like it's just a waste of time and money but I've stuck with it because I didn't like the idea of dropping out and also had no other more enticing options to lure me away.

    Over the past few years I've seen what life as an academic is like and I'm not sure I want it. The teaching and the research seem to be just an afterthought and all the academics I know spend most of their time dealing with administrative stuff.

    Anyway, what I came here to ask is, what career options are still open to someone like me? I've got a BA in Politics w/ Economics (2:1) and an MA in International Political Economy. Within a year I hope to have a PhD (my PhD is on a British Politics topic). I'm 28, can't speak any other languages and my only work experience is teaching some seminar classes, a bit of lecturing, and some research assistance.
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    (Original post by Tokido)
    I've been doing a PhD, part-time, at Warwick Uni for the past almost 5 years. I've felt for a while like it's just a waste of time and money but I've stuck with it because I didn't like the idea of dropping out and also had no other more enticing options to lure me away.

    Over the past few years I've seen what life as an academic is like and I'm not sure I want it. The teaching and the research seem to be just an afterthought and all the academics I know spend most of their time dealing with administrative stuff.

    Anyway, what I came here to ask is, what career options are still open to someone like me? I've got a BA in Politics w/ Economics (2:1) and an MA in International Political Economy. Within a year I hope to have a PhD (my PhD is on a British Politics topic). I'm 28, can't speak any other languages and my only work experience is teaching some seminar classes, a bit of lecturing, and some research assistance.
    Hey don't feel too bad man, after all, you're doing a PhD in Warwick.

    I'm sure you will be highly employable once you leave, and you'll have a lot of career prospects further down the road.
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    (Original post by Tokido)
    I've been doing a PhD, part-time, at Warwick Uni for the past almost 5 years. I've felt for a while like it's just a waste of time and money but I've stuck with it because I didn't like the idea of dropping out and also had no other more enticing options to lure me away.

    Over the past few years I've seen what life as an academic is like and I'm not sure I want it. The teaching and the research seem to be just an afterthought and all the academics I know spend most of their time dealing with administrative stuff.

    Anyway, what I came here to ask is, what career options are still open to someone like me? I've got a BA in Politics w/ Economics (2:1) and an MA in International Political Economy. Within a year I hope to have a PhD (my PhD is on a British Politics topic). I'm 28, can't speak any other languages and my only work experience is teaching some seminar classes, a bit of lecturing, and some research assistance.
    I wouldn't get too down, you've got strong degrees from a top-class university
    I know it's not a Warwick website, but take a look at this, it seems pretty informative and should hopefully give you some ideas. I'd finish that PhD, get that oh-so-impressive Doctor title, and then you'll be as employable as heck if you ask me
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    the economics will be valuable, and Warwick is excellent so don't worry too much
    You could take evening classes in a foreign language, and then go away for a month or two after your PhD, then you'll have a second language
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    Thanks for the kind words, guys. I think part of why I'm feeling a bit down on myself at the moment is because, being a part-time, self-funded student, I have more financial worries than most other PhD candidates and it sometimes feels like I'm not getting enough research done as a lot of my time is taken up with paid work.

    I never really worried much about 'careers' all through my education and now I kind of wish I did, because I'm realising that the type of research I'm doing isn't really the lucrative kind. Should have done a science degree...

    I don't know. I was hoping it might be fairly easy for me to move into a career in the civil service, but apparently there's a hiring freeze at the moment. I also would love a career with an organisation like the UN or EU, but I can't see a way in. I looked at the UN site and they're only taking on either unpaid interns or people with 3-5 years prior experience. I suppose I've picked a bad time to think about this, what with the economy being the way it is. It doesn't seem like there are very many good jobs out there for graduates at the moment.
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    (Original post by Tokido)
    ...........
    You need to start networking. Send an email to every academic and non-academic professional (ie not students) you have met during your research and ask them how they see you fitting into [whatever they do]. Are there any openings, what do they think their employer is looking for, what could you do to enhance any application you made etc. You can also cold call every single think tank/political organisation especially ones close to your subject. You need to make as many people as possible aware that you are looking.

    You also need to keep doing it, so after a round of emails this month, make an excuse to email and update people again in a couple of months time - and yes, make a spreadsheet of it all. It is a job getting a job at the moment. But if you have any aspirations to get a job that matches something as specific as requiring a PhD, let alone as specific as matching your PhD subject, then you have to take control of the search and network with everyone you know, or even know of, in this area.

    And when you get cold feet about exposing your hopeless situation to all and sundry, or being to embarrassed to ask, and all the other things that hold people back, put yourself in their shoes. If someone out of the blue emailed you and said 'Hi, I'm a Masters student and I'm really interested in your work and how you got where you are. Could you answer these few questions for me?' chances is are, if you are any sort of reasonable human being, you wouldn't take offence, and you'd give the person a decent accurate answer. Why wouldn't you, and conversely, why wouldn't they if you do the same to them?
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    Thanks. I will do that. Networking is important.

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