The Waiting Room

This could take a while...

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Proverbial Question

Posted by Seeking Solace |

Yesterday, I had a meeting with my professor at PhD U. I asked to meet with her to discuss my topic for the final paper. I wanted to use the manuscript that I am writing for submission to a journal, which is also the basis for a conference presentation I am doing later this fall. Instead, she wanted to talk about where I was with the program application process. I told her I was scheduled to take the GRE next week. I have verbal commitment from two people for letters of recommendation. I told her that I was on track for having my application submitted by the December deadline.

Then she asked me something I was prepared to answer.

She wanted to know what my plans were after I earn my PhD.

In my defense, and I need one, I was not prepared to discuss that topic. My mind was filled with other things. I was giving a presentation in her class in an hour. I was thinking about the paper that I was going to write for her class, which was the purpose of the meeting, or so I thought. The last thing I wanted to talk about was where I am going to be once I finish my PhD.

But, it was a fair question.

I ended up falling back on my lawyer skills and gave an answer that was bedazzled with brilliance but full of total bullshit. Thinking back, I don't even recall what I told her. We talked about the practitioner vs. researcher tracks, particularly with respect to dissertation topics. She also invited me to volunteer to assist her with a major research project next semester. She offered to be a sounding board, mentor, whatever I would want to call it. We did get to talking about my paper, and I got a better sense of what she was looking for in that particular assignment. All in all, it was a good talk.

But, I could not get that question and my bullshit answer out of my head. I had all of these thoughts swimming around in my head. So much so that I had a hard time focusing on my presentation. Although, I got many compliments on my talk, I don't think I brought my "A" game because I just could not shake that question from my head.

What do I want to do with the PhD?

When I decided that I was going to pursue the PhD, my thought was that having the PhD, would lead to more job opportunities in academia. Long time readers know of my struggle with "just a JD".  But, I never thought about anything past that. I didn't have the stock answer to the proverbial question "Where do you see yourself in five years?"

 It's a fair question. I just need to figure out an answer that isn't bullshit.


Anonymous said...

Don't let that question be more than it is; especially since you also mention that you talked about practitioner vs. researcher roles and she invited you to volunteer on a research project. She needs to know what kind of path you are envisioning to best guide you (I ask my doc students these kinds of questions for the same reason; to help me figure out what kinds of experiences they need to build their vitas.) You clearly gave her an answer that was more researcher directed and led her to offer that research invitation. She is just wanting to make sure that you are getting the right kinds of experiences along the way to your degree.