For a couple of months now, I have been on a 9-5 job role. It’s been amazing working at the organisation I am in. It’s a laid-back but very hardworking environment. By laid-back I mean the office layout is cool and creative, and the dress code is keep-it-decent-you’re-fine. It’s been the perfect transition from PhD Life to work life. If I had been required to switch from sneakers to heels and and denim to tailored gator pants, let’s just say I would have nothing of my beautiful Afro hair left on my head – all yanked off.
I took some time to reflect on what’s changing about my lifestyle as a result of the fact that I am no longer a doctoral researcher.
A new kind of flexibility
I remember the days on the PhD when I would experience writers’ block and use a few cat videos on YouTube to relax and have a laugh. Also, on days when the pressure was too much for me, I would take off to my friends place in another city, where she would host me and treat me like Queen Cleopatra (note: all that privilege is now lost). After a few days at hers, I would return refreshed and ready to rumble in A4 paper, journal articles, and a laptop keyboard. On the PhD you are your own boss, on a 9-5 not quite. You can take off alright…but be sure to nurse a lean wallet.
A new kind of flexibility opens up to you on the 9-5, and it is this: you have a weekend!
The joy of leaving the office on Friday and “leaving all my troubles behind” is second to none. Now I know this varies among jobs, and sometimes, you might have to sell out a weekend or two, but it’s not as terrible as the PhD. Every waking moment as a doctoral researcher was taken up by my thesis. Where I tried not to think about it, some well meaning person would kindly remind me with “how is your thesis coming along?” on a Whatsapp chat.
Having colleagues is a beautiful thing
The PhD is an independent project, and you can very much be on your own for the 3 to 4 years if you do not deliberately get involved in other people-activities. I volunteered for a number of roles, and at some point even joined the volleyball society. Then I enrolled in the gym, just to see more people ha.
On a 9-5 you never lack people; you are surrounded, and everyone is working towards a common goal. It’s beautiful. At my organisation, it’s common practice once a month for everyone in the office to go out to lunch together. I think this should be encouraged among PhD researchers in universities; and where your university makes the effort to organise a get-together for the fun if it, attend! I find that many people get caught up in the thesis, they see everything else not research-related as a waste of time. Guess what – I got this job immediately after my PhD not because of my certificate. I was able to meet the advertised requirements through roles I had volunteered for during my studies.
I can go on with a few more points, but I want to ask you, have you experienced a difference between a 9-5 and PhD Life? Do share in comments.