**Part 2 of the 2-for-1 day!
|by flickr user thinboyfatter|
I was struck by their naivety. Many expressed their desire to go the academic route, becoming a professor at a small college, and faithful readers will know how I feel about that. As soon as I heard this I wanted to start quoting stats as to the limited number of academic positions, the huge number of applicants, and therefore the low odds of getting that coveted spot. In general I wanted to warn them of the troubling job market for PhD chemists and the possibility that we just have too many PhDs. Did I tell them any of these things? Nope. I knew that my cautionary advice would fall on deaf ears, especially once they heard that I was leaving the program. I was in their shoes once, and I was so confident that I was different that I would have thought that those statistics didn't apply to me. No, instead I kept my mouth shut and hid behind the mask of a graduate student in good standing. I cringed and squirmed a little when they asked about the attrition rate and how many people quit with their Masters. Thankfully one of my close friends fielded the question and answered truthfully that people leave for all sorts of reasons. After all, six people have left from our class, and we all left for distinct reasons.
So readers, did I take the easy way out by staying silent? Do you think they would have heeded my advice? I believe that there really are some things people can only learn through experience, and by documenting my advice here the information will be available if they choose to go looking for it later.