Sunday, September 02, 2007

After two years ...

On this day two years ago, I received that much awaited phonecall
from one of my supervisors about the results of my thesis assessment. Two years after, I am still buoyed up by the thought-provoking comments I received from the two external examiners.

What have I done so far after 'sort-of' leaving the halls of the academe and choosing to work outside the ivory tower? The first year out was devoted to producing conference papers (produced three for major conferences in my field). I also devoted majority of 2006 working for the School - organising an international conference where I also was a referee. I have yet to have an output this second year. I must admit though that I miss having to do research work. I long for work with more intellectual content and one that allows both research and execution.

Last week, an article in the Higher Education section of The Australian made reference to the the reforms being considered by elite universities in training PhDs. Naturally, this incited comments on the quality of the Australian PhD. The issue of a PhD's employability was also raised.

I consider my PhD as successful. Yet, I now work in the industry sector (though still within my PhD discipline area) that considers my qualification as not relevant to its requirements. I like to think however, that I have been able to express and convince my employers that my performance and work output to date which they value is largely due to the tranferable skills acquired through my academic research training.

I agree with James of London who commented that "Prospective and
current PhD candidates should see the reality of a PhD for what it is. PhD candidates should realise that a PhD is academic research training. This degree prepares you for a career as an academic. A PhD is
[also] a very individual affair, the outcome of which is totally determined by how the candidate responds to the factors that impact their study."

It goes without saying that having a PhD is a significant achievement and society generally views it as such. But as with everything else, it is up to the PhD to make it work - whether within the academe or in the industry sector. For me, at the end of the day, it is a skill - though a commendable skill and one should be proud to have acquired (achieved) the qualification.

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