For those of you that do not know me, I come from a relatively big town in the suburbs of Naples, in Italy. One of those overpopulated but very sad places where there is not too much to do, or many jobs to find.
That was definitely true when I was choosing my path in high school. Things got so much worse with the 2008 crisis.
Once at uni (finally in the city), I picked chemistry as a get-out-of prison card (the prison being my town) and an almost secure way to find a job later (“chemists are needed in many many companies, I will definitely find a job once I’m out”).
Little did I know, I barely had time to study, how could I find the time to look around and understand what happened in the job market or how to enter once I got my degree?
As someone said to me recently, “University in Italy is like a tunnel, where you only see the end, but you cannot take any turns”.
Looking back, it’s almost as if my university only formed future researchers. Which is nice. I mean, research is great and this pandemic showed us how fundamental it is. However, forming them in a country where very few companies have R&D departments and where the jobs in uni can be counted on one hand, it’s almost like giving them a one-way ticket to a new country/city/life.
I was totally unprepared for the job market. I didn’t know how to write a CV or a cover letter (I didn’t even know what a cover letter was).
What were my skills? What did I have besides the degree (that other 60 people got with me)? What could make me stand out? Getting my master degree was so tough I had nothing else to write on that CV.
I could only be a researcher. The only path that was in front of me was a PhD.
Somehow, I felt like that was my only option.
But thinking that a PhD is your only option is really not a good reason for doing it.
A PhD is hard work and tears and sweat. And if you don’t have the right motivation it will not be easy to stick to it.