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    Honestly, what have I been studying Politics and IR for? For the past couple of hours, I've just had this immense, overwhelming feeling that it's all pointless and I really need a time machine to go back and do it all differently. I should have done a natural science (even though I don't love it). I should have paid more attention to a useful language (I did German). And I totally should not have studied anything beyond a Bachelors (28 years old and very little relevant work experience).

    I adore Politics and IR, I do, and I could spend years immersed in it, but my chances of getting an academic career are small. And after PhD, I'll be qualified for little else. God, even if you make it into a bottom-rung position, those wages are terrible considering the amount of years pumped into your training. Job sites these days are gruesome places indeed. Just proverbial rocks to dash all your hopes against.

    It's a bizarre time for an existential crisis, because I recently nailed down a good funded offer for a PhD in International Relations. I'm in the final semester of my Masters with good grades and my family is proud and supportive. Tell me I'm not the only one who doesn't suddenly realise she might have just wasted half her life?
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    :hugs:
    I suspect this is at least partly pre-PhD nerves - it's a huge undertaking, and it's natural that you are thinking "what am I doing"!

    I could point out how many people did degrees they felt they "should" do and have ended up hating their courses or the jobs they do afterwards. The best motivator is love for what you do, and you have that.

    I don't know about the state of the academic jobs market, but I am sure that a funded PhD at a good IR uni (I can't remember but you are either LSE or Oxford right?) will give you a good entry. And I'd wager that giving you a funded place to start with is an indication that you have promise for an academic career. But also, you are completely not in a field where a PhD limits you to academia. You can also consider government, EU structures, think-tanks, consultancies, the UN, NGOs, World Bank, etc; I've even seen a few IR PhDs working in investment banks. Depending on your particular subject, even organizations like central banks or the BIS may be options, or multinational companies that deal with significant country risk or geopolitical risk in their operations. And I'm sure there are other options I just haven't thought of.

    So no, you haven't wasted half your life, and even if you are a few years older than some other PhD students, you have a long working life ahead of you! I think the nerves are normal, but don't let them stop you. Good luck!
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    I don't believe that a PhD in Politics and IR would improve your job prospects at all given that you're already doing a Master's. I can't imagine there being many jobs that you can't already apply for with your Master's. The poster above says that

    (Original post by sj27)
    But also, you are completely not in a field where a PhD limits you to academia. You can also consider government, EU structures, think-tanks, consultancies, the UN, NGOs, World Bank, etc; I've even seen a few IR PhDs working in investment banks.
    This is all true, but all of these jobs are available to Master's degree holders too as far as I know. I'm sure there are examples of where PhDs are required, but my point is that a lot of jobs in those fields are available to Master's students, therefore the value-added by a PhD in your case is far too low in my opinion. Do you honestly believe that the reason you haven't got a job in these fields is because you don't have a PhD or because you haven't tried hard enough/you've been unlucky with applications? If you genuinely feel that "oh I kept getting rejected because the interviewer picked a PhD holder over me", then I guess go for the PhD. If not, then how can you justify doing the PhD? Go and try getting a job first. Like really try.

    If you're not interested in academia professionally (or believe that you'd be unsuccessful in this career as you say in your post), then don't do the PhD. If you're doing the PhD just because you "love politics and international relations" then that makes no sense to me - you can just read politics and IR by yourself in your spare time :confused:.

    Seems to me like you're using the PhD as a means of stalling more time. You say you're 28 and have no relevant work experience. Why is that? It's because you were stalling previously and now you're trying to stall more by doing the PhD because academia is comfortable for you/something you're used to. Putting yourself out there, going through the painful job process is not something comfortable, so you haven't been doing it. There's no point turning 32 or whatever, realising that you still have no relevant experience, just another few letters next to your name.

    If you really MUST stay in academia a bit more then do a second Master's or something, making sure to focus your energy over the next year and a half on getting relevant work experience through internships.

    That's my opinion anyway.
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    Not all those jobs require a PhD, but some do. In any case, I guess I just have a different view to you. I think if the OP loves the subject and someone is prepared to fully fund her to do a PhD at a prestigious institution - a chance she may never get again - that she should do it. Sure, she will forego a few years' salary, but she would still be paid for research, just like a job, and should hopefully expand her contact network for jobs both inside and outside academia while she's doing it. If she was unfunded or at a uni not well-known in IR I would be more inclined to agree with Swayum, but neither of these are the case.
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    Chances of getting a job in the current climate, in the desired field - slim to none.

    Chances of getting a funded PhD in the desired field - 100% certain.

    In this specific situation, it sounds like a bit of a no-brainer to me.

    I'm doing a PhD because there are no job opportunities in my field and I'm desperate to stay involved in any capacity at all. If (in reality when, as the money runs out next year) I leave my PhD, I'll most likely be stacking shelves in Tescos if I'm lucky, and not working in my specialism.

    Loving your subject is a perfectly valid reason for doing a PhD. And it's probably the only motivation which will keep you relatively sane throughout.
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    Thanks for the hugs, sj27!

    swayum, the reason I have so little relevant experience (I do have very good international experience and much of it volunteering - and I have had to work, even if it's paid jobs totally unrelated to the field) is not because I was stalling, but because I was always aiming for a Masters.

    My parents don't have money, so I worked a couple of years before my BA and I worked a couple of years before my MA (before realising, screw it, just go to Germany to do you Masters because it's free!). But then during my Masters I realised I would love to do academia as a career, so PhD became necessary. My Plan B, should academia not work out (and that is statistically very likely), is to work for an NGO/IO/think tank as a researcher.

    But just doing a preliminary search around revealed how shoddily paid early academic jobs are and how rare the alternatives are. Last night it just truly dawned on me how risky an option it was to go for my dreams. *le sigh*
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    Can I make an observation: I checked your post history, and you have offers of funding from both LSE and Oxford. Statistically, that is also very unlikely! I don't want to raise false hope about job seaches, but you are clearly not the average person. Raising funding is important in academia and you already have two awards on your CV...
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    Thanks for the encouragement, sj27. I have good opportunities and I'll do the best I can with them. But there are no guarantees for anything. Funding's being cut all across the board, all I read on PhD websites are how supervisors screw their students and people want to give up, and how PhDs still spend months on the job market and end up in jobs that aren't necessarily better paid.

    Things like that do tend to make you pause and look back and wonder if you should have done things differently and if there's still a chance to change things. I guess last night's crisis was just an extreme form of that. And I've thought through the alternatives and really, this is still the only thing I want to do with my life. Better to regret the things you did than to regret the things you didn't do, right??
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    (Original post by DeMoomin)
    Thanks for the encouragement, sj27. I have good opportunities and I'll do the best I can with them. But there are no guarantees for anything. Funding's being cut all across the board, all I read on PhD websites are how supervisors screw their students and people want to give up, and how PhDs still spend months on the job market and end up in jobs that aren't necessarily better paid.
    A PhD is certainly no guarantee of a job and in some fields (like mine) actually hinder your chances of employment. Anyone who's tried to sell you a PhD as a good career move outside academia, probably needs to take a long hard look at real life.

    As you say - there are no guarantees. But as you actually have PhD funding offers, these are the best you can hope for. And many people are desperate for PhD funding and can't get it. You really are ahead of the game here.

    Things like that do tend to make you pause and look back and wonder if you should have done things differently and if there's still a chance to change things. I guess last night's crisis was just an extreme form of that. And I've thought through the alternatives and really, this is still the only thing I want to do with my life. Better to regret the things you did than to regret the things you didn't do, right??
    If you spend your time looking back, there will always be things that you wish you'd done differently. You can't be driven by past regrets - that way lies madness. If you take an alternative path, it's all just part of the journey and will give you life experience that you can't have anticipated.

    However, as far as I can see from your description, you have a clear vision of what you want to do and have been given the means to achieve it. In your shoes, walking away from the opportunity would give me the biggest regret of my life.
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    Stupid remark, but I thought a PHD in Politics might open you more doors in this field than without it? You can either work in academia or as expert in the mentioned Think Thanks, etc. The question wether a PHD will open you more doors or not also relies on the topic, the political climate (right after 9/11 chances for people having specialised in the near east/Islam/etc. raised immediately), the area and environment you aim to work in.
    Concerning your experience in Germany: As you might have noticed a PHD is well regarded in Germany and concerning job prospects in consultancy and banking, you are way ahead of Master students, as they (in Germany) prefer people with related subjects or PHDs. So with excellant grades in a political science you have more chances as with a average/bad degree in natural sciences in some areas, of course not, if you want to apply as chemist.

    Concerning the regret not having focussed on a more exotic language:
    1) At least you could use your German (which seems to be quite good, according to your stated experience) to enhance the area where you can search a job (and also where you can apply as academic). As EU passport holder this is a great advantage, also regarding the aim to stay in academia. I mean you have: Ireland, UK, Austria, Germany and Switzerland, as European countries you master the main language. That is not that bad!!! (Yes, English is widely spoken, but someone with fluent German will be prefered.) See the advantage!!!
    2) You still have time to learn another more exotic one to calm your nerves.

    Maybe you "end up" in a job, which only requires a Master, but having spend three years of your life with something other people are proud of and somehting you love, isnt bad either, or not?
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    (Original post by Klix88)
    In your shoes, walking away from the opportunity would give me the biggest regret of my life.
    This.
 
 
 
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