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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Is a Doctorate the Right Path?

"If you’ve ever considered pursing a PhD, you likely had many questions about the benefits (from a career perspective) and wondered whether the time and money it requires is worth it. You might ask yourself: Is a doctoral degree the “right” decision and how do I get started?" writes Barbara Seifert, Ph. D., CPC, career and executive success coach who helps individuals to take charge of their careers, find the work they love, and enhance their professional development. 

Photo: ATD (blog)

Well, here are what some PhDs have to say about this journey:  
  • “A PhD is about pursuing knowledge for the passion of acquiring knowledge. If one is fortunate, one’s discovery/invention may even change society. Although academia is considered to be the most obvious path for any PhD holder, the degree also paves the way to a career in industries centered on research and innovation.” (Dr. Paul Tam, Chancellor, University of Hong Kong)
  • “A PhD degree helps you develop valuable transferable skills, which are held dear by employers. The very nature of the degree teaches candidates to be team players, problem solvers, have great presentation and communication skills apart from having an analytical mind and perseverance.” (Dr. Nathalie Mather-L’Huillier, Recruitment Manager, University of Edinburgh)
  • “Employers value the transferable skills which PhD candidates bring to the table and they take on PhD holders from a variety of disciplines. The process of doing a PhD is often recognized as a training in creativity, critical inquiry, negotiation skills, professionalism and confidence.” (Dr. Harry Kelly, GlaxoSmithKline)
As one who travelled the PhD path, here’s some advice to help you navigate your course.

Why, Where, and What 
First, this degree is not for the faint of heart. It requires commitment, time, focus, and a desire to expand the field. I would recommend taking a serious look at why you want a PhD. Is it to get a higher position, to teach at a university, to become a researcher, to be called “Doctor,” to earn more money and so forth? Knowing your answer to this question will help you maintain focus as you move through the process. Indeed, just as with any goal, knowing your “why” will keep you resolute as you continue on this journey.

The next question is to decide which university system you want to attend, as well as if you prefer traditional classroom courses or if you plan to go the online education route. Both learning experiences have positive and negative attributes.
  • Traditional classroom allows you to learn first-hand and interact with the professor and other professionals (students). Be sure to consider the time constraints of this option, though.
  • Online programs allow you to learn at your pace, although some classes are still held synchronously via virtual classrooms. These classes are often structured similar to traditional programs, with some instructor-led webinars or videos, while others are more self-directed.

Additional resources
Join Alan De Back and Barbara Seifert for an exclusive students-only webcast on October 30, 2015, to learn how to make the most of your degree. Have your questions answered by career coaches who are intimately familiar with the field. 

Source: ATD (blog)

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