I think I should explain myself.
I am a graduate student at a university in the United States. It doesn’t really matter where, and since I’m trying to keep this pretty impersonal and hard to identify, I’ll leave out some critical information. But here’s what I can tell you: I’ve been studying political science for the last three years in the hopes of obtaining a Ph.D. eventually. And I’m thinking of leaving the program and changing my career field altogether.
I’ll probably save what brought me to the point of dropping out of graduate school for another blog post – since I’m supposed to be doing 500 words per day on some subject, it seems like I should be very careful not to use up two subjects in one post. Instead, this post is for what comes next.
I’m taking a leave of absence for the next academic year. That gives me a little more than 12 months to go to work for some firm, outside of academia, and figure out whether I like the work enough to part ways with academia more permanently.
Therein lies the rub. One of the main reasons I’ve chosen to take the leave of absence is that I actually have no idea what I want to write my dissertation on. But the uncertainty doesn’t stop with the dissertation topic – as I’ve been crawling through the muck of Indeed.com, clicking drowsily on entry-level job titles and checking myself against their required qualifications, I’ve found myself equally moved by most causes.
Providing data education for college students in Virginia? Sign me up! Analyzing complaints about loan sharks? Why the hell not! Advertising an automated machine learning platform? Wow. Wow, wow, wow. There are some jobs that sound truly horrific – working for Uber or *shudder* Comcast, for instance – but for the most part the jobs I’ve found sit on this bubble of “yeah, I’d be willing to do that.”
In theory, this should be good news to me. I should be able to genuinely claim interest in a wide variety of causes, making me more flexible in what kind of work I take. But there’s this niggling little voice in the back of my head saying, “Don’t you think it’s time you figured out what you stand for?”
If passing interest were sufficient for choosing something to work on for the next 5 to 10 years, then I could just continue working on my Ph.D. It just seems to me like the threshold for the activity that is going to occupy most of my waking hours should be higher.
Since more than one of my colleagues has remarked to me that passion can grow from doing work, I’m going to use this blog to try and grow some passion by forcing myself to think about different things. My hope is that at the end of a year where I’ve written a single blog post each day, I’ll have a better sense of what I’d like to continue working on and what I’m content to leave behind.
I don’t expect that anyone is going to read this, but if you do – please, leave me prompts in the “Contact” form. 500 words is about one page, and so I expect to write around 365 pages by the end. It’s certain that at some point I’m going to run out of ideas.