|by flickr user StuartWebster|
The fact that I am leaving the PhD program with my MS means something about my aspirations must have changed. What happened is that I got a wake-up call in the form of experience. I was allowed to co-teach a course, and really got knee deep into what it's like to be a professor. I think I had to deal with a little bit of everything in that one course. I felt under-prepared for lectures and had trouble getting the timing right, seeming to always go faster or slower than I had planned. Toward the end of the course I had worked out that issue, but I also began to see just how repetitive lectures would become as I taught the same course year after year. Between preparing for class and grading (and having a life) there's not a lot of time to revamp and revolutionize a course.
|by flickr user rocknroll_guitar|
Finally, I was surprised by the number of committees and non-teaching responsibilities that faculty have to attend to on a daily basis. Faculty meetings, department meetings, committee on committee meetings. I had the opportunity to attend some of these meetings and I realized how politics are intimately involved in academia. Each faculty member, each department have their own strong opinions on how the college should be run and their own agenda on how to accomplish this.
My disillusionment complete, I realized that even though I would enjoy teaching I wasn't sure it would be the perfect job I once thought it was. I also started reading more blogs and hearing stories from older grad students and post docs that the job market (even when the economy wasn't in the toilet) for academic positions is über competitive. To be considered for a professorship at some institutions you have to have a remarkable publication track record as a graduate student AND complete one or two (maybe more?) post docs. So not only was the light at the end of my tunnel (perfect professor job) getting dimmer, the road was getting longer and longer (now I have to do a post doc too?).
Now what? I don't like research, being a professor seems less exciting. What are my options? Come back later for the next part of the saga.