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174. I Have a Degree – Why Can’t I Find a Job?

Andrew felt like he was on top of the world when he finished his Master’s degree in History. He had excellent grades, experience teaching, and a willingness to explore new fields.

But as he submitted resumes and job applications, he noticed a pattern. Either he didn’t hear back from the employer, or they turned him down due to his lack of experience.

“It’s this cart and horse or chicken and egg thing where you can’t get a job because you don’t have the experience, but you can’t get experience because no one will give you a job,” he lamented.

Andrew’s job search stretched on for month after month, and he realized he had a problem.

“I didn’t know how to articulate my skills,” he said. “I really had trouble figuring out what was transferrable, what was not. And I had a lot of misconceptions about the face value of an advanced degree, and I was emphasizing all the wrong things”

That’s when he turned his attention to the study and practice of finding a job.

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173. Mailbag: I Have a Master’s Degree – Now I Want a PhD

There are many paths to a PhD. In the humanities, it’s common to earn a Master’s degree first (or so we’re told…)

In the biomedical sciences, students regularly skip the Master’s degree entirely, enrolling in a PhD program that includes coursework.

This week, we hear from two aspiring scientists who used the Master’s degree as a stepping stone, and now they’re looking to take the next leap.

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171. The Life and Times of a Humanities PhD Candidate

Sometimes, your humble HelloPhD hosts forget how narrow our experience has been in graduate education. We’re both biomedical PhDs, and while we trained in different departments, there was a significant amount of overlap.

For us, a PhD meant classes, comprehensive exams, rotations, lab meetings, experiments, seminars, and so on.

While those experiences were common across biomedical programs, the similarity starts to fade when discussing other bench-sciences like chemistry, or even patient-focused fields like epidemiology.

If those adjacent fields reveal unique and instructive differences, how much more exciting to explore the distant reaches of the PhD universe – the Humanities PhD!

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170. Mailbag: Should I Quit Grad School?

If you’re a grad student who hasn’t thought about leaving your PhD program at least once, you might not have a pulse. When experiments fail, grants are rejected, or you get reprimanded by the PI, it’s often comforting to remember that all of this suffering is self-imposed and you could simply leave the University and start a book shop somewhere.

For most students, that moment passes and they move on with their training and career. But sometimes, the moment doesn’t pass, and students begin to ask more fundamental questions.

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169. Change Your Plans, Not Your Goals

Even as a child, Alexandra wanted to study space. She had a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Cambridge University, so she seemed like the perfect candidate to for a PhD program.

But after graduation, she didn’t feel ready. She’d need a Master’s degree first, but money was tight and her student visa had run out.

She found a job prospect at a particle accelerator lab, but was turned down because they wanted more programming experience. So she packed her bags and headed home.

Her goal remained the same – to study astrophysics and earn a PhD. But due to circumstances, her plans had to change.

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