21 Oktober 2016

why i am taking a phd - and pursue an academic career

fyi, this post will be personal. i am not trying to encourage (nor decourage, lol) anyone to pursue an academic career - this is totally personal. oh, and i am writing in between reading papers, my head's pretty heavy right now so i need some refreshments.

refreshments, lol - googled the image

ok, now! question: why am i taking a phd - at this very stage of life?

quick answer, because i want to pursue an academic career. i'll elaborate within the next stages on this post so bear with me.

ok, why academic?

good question, long story.

i'm a type of person who hates it when time is being wasted. easiest way of time wasted: commuting. i grew up in jakarta and i witness the increasing amount of time wasted by commuting from time to time - it sucks. i am lucky enough to experience other cities during my studies such as, of course, bandung, also jogja, surabaya, and semarang so i kinda know how i do have MORE time outside of jakarta - even in surabaya, this very busy city.

this. is. jakarrtttaaaaaaa!!! - googled the image

this might sound whiny to jakartans - especially to my mom, lol - because jakartans might not realize just how much time they have wasted en route. quick example, i did work in jakarta in early 2013 and i needed like, 3-4 hours a day only to commute. i worked for about 5-6 months, so just calculate yourself, how much time have i been wasted, again, only to commute. that's just crazy.

at some point, i do adore my friends who can truly bear with this condition: sleeping 3-4 hours a day (sometimes 2), still manage to go to the gym (since they are also able to afford it), hanging out and having quality time with friends and family, etc. and still doing that 3-4 hours commute everyday. by themselves, driving mostly. but working for companies...... does not attract me that much. in term of money, of course they're very interesting (verrryyyyy), but again, i won't have that much quality time, at least with myself, and i hate it.

so it came to my mind that, i need to have a job that will require me to grow, but still have quality time to do other things. ever heard the 8-8-8 balance? 8 hours work, 8 hours sleep, 8 hours for anything else. this is utopia, i know, but it is possible to engineer our life approximately to that very balance. i have this whole stuff in my mind throughout my undergrad while still happily munching all the knowledge and camaraderie between my colleagues until at some point, i realize that, i love teaching!

such a nice image, eh? this is totally how i feel about teaching - it requires learning - and you will learn even more by teaching - googled the image

i love teaching because it made me a better student. you know, when you read something, you'll get like 50% of what you read, but when you finally can tell the thing that you read to someone else (i.e. teach), you'll get to the beautiful 90%! again, utopia, i know. but i witness that by being an academia, you'll allow yourself to grow because science is actually always moving forward. like, always. that's why there's always a bunch of conferences, published papers, even debates because what people knew 100 years ago as 'true' can always be 'defeated' by a new finding(s) and it could be the other way around!

finally, i get to the point when i said to myself: this is the track. if i wanna be good at something, this is it. i didn't know what area i'd like to have a focus in just yet (honestly, even till now), but teaching, and to this point, researching, is the main thing i wanna do in the future. i want this to be my job.

and of course, teaching allows me to live outside jakarta, as the only institute i'd like to apply (so far) is not located in jakarta ;) so the 3-4 hours commute, hopefully, could be shrinked into some 1-2 hours/day. already save some big time.

now let's go back to the first question: why phd? why now?

well, long story, again, but i'll try to keep it short.

academic life is so different with professional one. professionals based their knowledge on experiences, while academicians based their knowledge on other people's experiences. why? because their time span is so different.

professionals work in a company, where everything roles rapidly. you get from projects to projects within short months, quick deadlines, similar problems, but mostly in professional life, you need to manage your time (and your team's time) in order to finish a project. a project, in what i have experienced so far, would only last like 3-6 months. never really reached 1 year, so it is possible for you to work on different projects at the same time because, well, they're normally similar. differences only found in like, study area, data acquisition problems, etc. etc.

while academicians have reallly long time span. producing 2 papers/year (as a first author) is already a crazy thing, because you're examining something that no one ever examined before - or at least you're examining the same stuff with different approach. this could take months, even years, to actually come into conclusions. that's why, scientists mostly based their findings with published journals - are their findings make sense? is there any anomalies observed? what would be the impact of these findings? because finally, it is the impact of your finding that matters - the finding should make everything makes more sense, which will lead us to new ways problem solving. new ways, yes, i must say.

meaning, academic life is so much more tiring and long than professional. that is why, i need to start as early as possible. the earlier i can get my head to this, the more productive i will be in the future - i am also a slow learner so starting early will give me such advantage ;p so, if i only start a phd life after like, 3-5 years in industry, you can imagine how much time i have 'wasted' solving repetitive problems rather than solving 'new' problems. also, this is why the industry sometimes still needs academia - for solving non-repetitive problems ;)

this comic is purrrrfect! lol - found it here

so yeah, i am now enjoying the sufficient amount of time i have, not only to build my academic career, but also to invest myself in other things such as cooking, doing exercises (my late-20s body feels totally different than during my early-20s so exercise is a must), etc. seems busy? it is, but actually the time for cooking and exercising came from the 'unwasted' 2-3 hours/day commuting since i only need about 1 hour/day to commute. see what i mean? ;)

but overall, whatever you do, do it with your heart. sounds cheesy but, anything (academia, professional, entrepreneur, politicians, etc. etc.) will be worth it if you do that sincerely. i love what i do and will continue the way i do, whatever it takes. just, pray for me so that i still have the guts to stand up when i got down, lol. have a great day!

ps: i think at some stage i did write something like this hmmmmm... whatever i'll check it out later.
pps: time enjoyed is never a time wasted...... so lying in your bed doing nothing is NOT wasted, since you enjoy it ;p so if you do love commuting, i don't think your very time is wasted. yes, you're welcome.

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