Having something of a mid-4th year crisis

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ddek
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Ok so I'm in the final year of an MChem course. The only thing I want to do is pursue a PhD in materials chemistry, preferably with some sort of collaboration with Engineering.

As with most final year chemists, I'm currently doing a research project. When we chose projects we ranked our potential supervisors in order of preference. Out of my top five choices four were in materials, the third was a medicinal project that did sound really interesting. It seemed to allow me to play to my strengths, so I ranked it joint 4th.

Predictably, the only non-materials project available was the one I was allocated. There was supposed to be another masters student in the group with me, however they dropped out after they missed their grades.

When I met my supervisor (about a week after everyone else did, she went on a sporadic trip to China) she asked me what kind of project I wanted and I told her. Another week later she told me what I needed to do. I wont go into the details, but the project involves making many small compounds to screen against a protein for pharmaceutical activity.

It could be a really interesting project, but it has two problems:
1. Chemically, it isn't very challenging at all. The syntheses are not hard. It's just mix a few things, then repeat with different things. Purify, send for screening, get results (this bit hasn't happened yet, whether it will happen before I graduate I don't know).
2. It's completely unrelated to materials chemistry, the field I want to study in.

I've applied and been interviewed for several PhDs in materials chemistry, and not got any of them. When I ask for feedback I get the same feedback from all of them: my application is strong and I fulfil all the criteria to make a good researcher, however I do not have enough relevant research experience.

So basically I'm left thinking that the only mistake I made in this whole process was ranking my current supervisor too high, then getting unlucky in the random selection.

It's way too late in the process to switch projects, and as far as I know I'm not allowed to choose to retake my final year.

Unless I get some sort of scholarship, which I think is quite unlikely, I doubt I would be able to afford to self fund a masters.

At the moment, it looks a lot like I'm going to be graduating Uni without anything lined up for the future. All I can really focus on is making the best of my current situation, score well on my January exams and get as much as possible done in lab before I have to finish after Easter.

Other than that I really don't know what I can do.

Does anyone have any advice on where I should go from here?
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alleycat393
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It is a difficult situation but unfortunately a lot of people who do projects as part of taught programs don't end up doing exactly what they'd like to for a number of reasons. That's just how it goes. If the feedback's been about getting more research experience and you can't afford a masters then look for research assistant jobs for when you finish in the field you want to end up in. If you want the PhD badly enough it will happen at some point so keep trying. I probably spent most of my final year applying before I got an offer.
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