Wednesday, March 7, 2012

First to finish

The first person from my cohort is finishing up this spring. It's kind of ironic, since our second year we had a conversation that started something like this:

Me: So, how was your summer?
Him: Oh, it was good. I didn't really do any work, but I got high a lot.

Yep, he's finishing first. Self-declared pot-smoking slacker guy. I wouldn't be surprised at all if he was downplaying the amount he actually worked that summer (i.e. that he worked more than not at all), but he also hadn't really found his niche yet that summer. Part of the reason he was able to finish so quickly was because his work was all theory (=math) so he didn't have any of the headaches and setback associated with collecting data (especially field work). If you're very smart (which he undoubtedly is) and focused, you can finish quickly.

And just to put the icing on the cake, he's managed to find one of the most lucrative niches possible within our field. I'd guess he'll be moving on to a place with a nice paycheck.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK, as a theorist, I have to jump in here. Sure, we don't have the "headaches and setback associated with collecting data (especially field work)". On the other hand, I have to deal with huge datasets (I have two 2 TB drives just to hold my data), extremely complex analyses (analysis of the dataset from my last model took several months), and other headaches and setbacks that you field folks don't have to deal with (like the approximately 100,000 lines of code I have written during my PhD). The grass is always greener on the other side.

Karina said...

Perhaps I oversimplified things. I don't mean to say that theory is always faster, as of course that is not the case. I also have a friend who finished in 4.5 years who did 3 field seasons. I'm just saying that for my theorist friend, it worked out very well. Perhaps he would have finished in the same amount of time if he had taken an experimental approach. I wonder. It's possible.

I've learned that everyone has different challenges in their science. Thanks for sharing yours!

michellespidermonkey said...

A friend in my PhD cohort left for fieldwork at the same time as me. Before I was done with my fieldwork (hers was 3 months over the summer, mine was 15 months), she finished and defended her dissertation and got a tenure-track job...

It always kinda depresses me, especially now that I'm hearing about grad students that are younger and been in grad school a shorter time finishing and getting tenure-track positions... but unfortunately, if you do more fieldwork-intense research, everything just takes longer...

Tedd said...

I remember the headaches and setbacks very well. Don't give up. Never stop learning. Good luck!