It has been a while – I know 🙁
Today’s post was originally posted on my personal blog (afollypeprempe.wordpress.com) last year. I figured someone might find it interesting. Enjoy!
This post is inspired by three particular things. First, it was a tweet I read by Dr Humphrey, (follow him here @chrishumphrey)
A PhD is a Qualification, Not an Identity. Think of yourself as a Professional. #WithaPhD
The tweet hit home for me and brought out the creative juices LOL. Secondly, I needed to print out my CV recently and required a fresh pair of eyes to peruse them for me. Upon initial perusal myself, it struck me that it is very very easy it is to confuse your identity and, the PhD qualification as being the same thing. Boys and Girls, it isn’t!
Thirdly, I have had a couple of emails of recent. Interesting, but some slightly worrying. Some are channelled towards the distinction of the PhD qualification and who one actually is. Some are more focused on embarking on alternative careers to academia. Coupled together, it just seemed so perfect to roll everything into a few posts. So, I have decided to divide the topics into two parts: Part One will discuss the PhD Qualification and Identity. Part Two will conclude with the Academic and Non- Academic Routes. So… lets go!
Erm, of course the PhD is a Qualification:
Having devoted the best part of three or four years of your life to the PhD, it is only natural that you start to confuse the qualification that you have attained ( or hope to..) with the possibility of it being who you are or, have become. I think it is really essential that you are able to make the distinction between the PhD as a process…and it forming part or, fully, who you are. Put simply, you should understand that that the PhD and who you are ARE TWO SEPARATE things.
The PhD is a project essentially. It is an ongoing assignment which you can, depending on your ability to stretch your mind beyond the box, use as a blueprint and tool to get to where you essentially want to go, long term. Ok back up Fola – that seems to be a lot of words and commas. What I basically mean in a nutshell is this:
The PhD is a project which obviously has different stages. In between these various stages, it gives you the opportunity to further develop and learn about yourself. Like with any project, you push your boundaries. You test your limits. You get in touch with your abilities that you may not have even realised that you had. You learn about yourself during this period and this is probably why people confuse the outcome of the PhD with who they then become in terms of what they learn about themselves.
If you look at it like this, then you realise that the PhD really is just the qualification which becomes the outcome of this project/task/on- going assignment. I won’t overlook the following obvious selling points of the PhD:
- Yes, it is a significant mark of academic excellence,
- Yes, it is the pinnacle of ones academic status actually.
- You now have A LOT more opportunities than someone who doesn’t have a PhD (* I should place a caveat on that actually because as you know, Academic Achievement Vs. Experience…we know what trumps what LOL!)
- Yes, OMG you have a PhD… And then what?!
At the end of the day, and as I am starting to realise having had many conversations with those who actually HAVE the title, it is really, just another title to add at the end of your name.
Furthermore, therefore and then some, folks, the PhD is a QUALIFICATION!
Identity Crisis Post PhD Palaver:
So, in light of the above qualification, we can therefore proceed to distinguishing who you ARE, after the PhD.
Congratulations. You have passed the PhD and, you can now (subject to X amount of corrections LOLLL) use the title of “Dr.” But, who are you really once the Viva is done and you are external/internal examiners are on their way back to their houses? As I mentioned, the Doctorate process affords you the opportunity to learn about yourself. For me, I learned and I am still learning so much being on this course. I am generally a shy (Honestly, I am…) person when it comes to presentations and, making public speeches. That is strange because with my line of work, you kind of have to be able to speak well LOL. Maybe I am in the wrong line perhaps?!
No seriously, so I used to a bit reluctant and in some ways, an introvert when it comes to things like presentations. However, the nature of my research, the nature of my current work place, and, my chosen career path has made it a necessity for me to learn that I CAN actually do this. Let me put a caveat here.
I am not saying that as a result of me being more comfortable with speaking publicly and discussing my work or research I have “changed”. No, what I am saying is that as a result of the process that I have undergone, I have learned that I have the ability to do this. I am saying I have changed in my abilities, not as Fola. I hope this is hitting home!
The salient points to grab from this are these:
- You are the same person who started and finished the PhD. You are Sarah Jones. I am Fola Adeyemo…just with “Dr” in front of the first name. It is just an improved version as a result of the challenges and developments you have undergone during the process of getting the PhD.
- The process or project ( to borrow that analogy) simply enhances some of the abilities you may not have realised that you had previously. Hence, the “improved” version. Think of it as your coming out party!
- Yes, the PhD changes.but only in terms of what your capabilities are in terms of and as a result of your research. Primarily, what happens is that during the process and also at the end, you have demonstrated that you have become a specialist in your area of research. Comparing with yourself at the beginning of the course, and yourself now, you now have the ability to present your work/findings in a sophisticated, cultivated and logical manner. So, ladies and gentlemen, the PhD changes you because it changes the way you present your work and how you are able to communicate your work to an audience. It does not change YOU as a person.
I hope this makes sense. Please tell me if it doesn’t. Ill then delete the post and rethink my life and ability to give advice. Gracias.
Part Two is going to look at a similar topic which is somehow related to this:
The Academic Vs Non Academic Battle.