You would think that considering how long the Academic community has been around the industry people or people in general would understand how it worked. But the veil of obscurity continues even now, even though Google scholar makes academic articles even more accessible than ever before.
I thought it was time to dispel some myths that exist about academic life and academia in general:
1. You’re doing a PhD? How much will you “Study”?
Yes I am a PhD Candidate. That means I do research and teach. My coursework is over hence I am not “studying” in the way implied by you.
Most of my friends thronging the bastions of consulting firms think I am still “studying” being in the 4th year of the PhD program. If writing papers and reviewing articles and teaching is studying, then I think I will be doing that all my life, even once appointed as a permanent faculty.
2. You don’t have classes? Wow, you must be so free to do what you want!
Just because I don’t have to sit in a classroom to attend lectures after my comprehensive exams, doesn’t mean I can sit at home and watch re-runs of Greys Anatomy or party till the wee hours of the morning. It only means I have more time for research, writing papers, teaching and grading.
3. Your presentations are so boring! I can make better Power points presentations! How about some custom animation?
Now that is an insult to my creative sensibilities. 80% of academic presentations (p=0.05) have the following structure:
Now trying fitting all of that in 15-40 minutes. More often 15 than 40. There is only so much room for mind-numbingly hilarious GIFs when you have to talk about 8 experiments in 10 minutes.
4. You need a Publication? How difficult can that be? I get published online all the time.
Prestigious academic journals have a rejection rate of 95%. I cannot emphasize that enough. This obviously means we will be more unsuccessful at getting accepted than successful (p=0.01) in these A level journals. So when you come to us and say that you got published on crickinfo.com/poetryhunter.com/<yourname>.blogspot.com, that is not really what we are talking about.
5. How can schools hire professors who don’t have industry experience to teach MBAs?
If you (MBA student) want to learn how things are done in one specific company rather than the general understanding of the subject which will enable you to customize and apply the knowledge to a new setting (or the principle behind the application) then you should just go work in that specific company and not waste 50,000 Euros doing an MBA.
Ergo, the need for an academic.
6. Please don’t exercise your “PhD” thinking, it isn’t relevant in this situation! Or Can you not talk like a PhD?
It is not my PhD thinking, it is just the way I think. The fact that I am doing a doctoral degree is not relevant to this conversation.
Friend: Traveling is awesome!
Me: Indeed it is. It also makes you more creative.
Friend: Can you not talk like a PhD?
Me: * Grimace *
7. You can’t come out today because you working on your thesis? I wrote one in high school. How difficult could it be?
Think climbing K2. Now multiply that by 10290.
8. Why don’t you write a paper on the economic crisis in Spain and its impact on government spending?
Why don’t I? Because I am a behavioral researcher. And I have research interests that are not even in the same continent as what you just said. Just like you work in Finance and won’t suddenly move to HR one fine day just because.
PS: Being able to do research doesn’t mean I commence research on any pressing issue that comes to your mind.
If you have had similar experiences in trying to get non-academics to understand your lifestyle or point of view do share them in the comment section below!
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