Define your objectives first – 9th February 2020


“Define your objectives first”


Q. I have done B.Sc. Biotechnology in 2015 and M.Sc. Biotechnology in 2017. I have been university topper in both the degrees. Then, after my graduation in 2017, things went into a downward spiral and I ended up losing two and a half years of my life. I tried to prepare for NET exam which is a National PhD fellowship exam on my own with the help of online coaching. I could not clear this exam even after several attempts. I also took IELTS and GRE coaching in the year 2018 and cleared IELTS with 8 band score. But due to lack of any planning and clear awareness of what I want to do further and why, I could not reap any benefits of coaching for these exams as well. So, due to hopelessness and depression (not clinically established) I ended up accepting a teaching post in a mediocre college and taught for 2 months (Aug -Oct 2019 ) after which I applied for the PhD programme of an institute near my home. I must enlighten that I had a provisional PhD fellowship from DST Inspire which was going to expire in Dec 2019. As I didn’t want to lose this fellowship, I gained admission in this institute (since Nov 2019 ). My dilemma: Is PhD really right for me? If yes: Then how should I decide the best research group or topic of research or the institute? As I will do PhD once and it should be something I don’t regret later on. If not : What am I supposed to do? How do I know which job I would like beforehand? Though I find jewellery making and scientific writing interesting, but I have already invested so much of time in academic courses and also these fields are unpredictable and I would have to start from scratch and a long process of learning is required until I can actually start earning from it. What if I don’t like these two areas after getting in deep and regret my decision afterwards? What should I do now? Should I leave PhD here and start preparing for fellowship exams and PhD interviews of other institutes while staying at home? If yes, then what if history repeats itself and I will be left with nothing but hopelessness, guilt and depression? Lack of preparation, not seeking active advise for preparation, lack of surety of the institute/research topic, lack of surety regarding doing PhD, being hopeless about getting admission even before attending the interviews. As you can see the situation is tangled and I feel constant pressure of doing something as people my age (I am 26) are already earning and building their careers. I don’t want to end up getting married with no financial independence.

Ans. You are right about the lack of awareness and proper planning of career. This is what typically happens when we do not think through the entire plan of career making from college education to taking up a job and even the progress on the job up to ten years or more. Most people would say or think that lets complete tenth grade and then think or let’s graduate and then we will see what to do then. This is certainly not long-term planning but piece-meal approach where we only think of one step at a time. This does not mean that people cannot make changes mid-way and must stick to the decided path but generally the career path that is chosen has to be thought through. When you opted for biotechnology course did you want to do research or teach? This is one question you must ask yourself. Doing Ph.D for itself makes no sense for it is just a degree. It is important for teaching as well as research but what is your preference? A degree is a training requirement and not the main objective. The other confusion you mention is you like the creative arts and would be happy switching to jewellery design which is a short-term course and can be done even now. Again, ask the question whether after the jewellery design course you would take a job or start your own business? I would advise you to think in a short-term basis like for next one to two years and also long term basis like ten years and have an insight into your life. Life is very long and you have ample time to plan and think. Define your objectives and re-track your life if necessary. However, it is important to keep earning money in whatever job you get in the circumstances -remember your limitations today. If you cannot help yourself then you would need to come for guidance and planning. Do not delay further.


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