30 July 2009

Grad School: Apparently it IS a real job


Those readers who know me in real life -- and if I have any other readers after my nearly year-long absence from blogging, I'd be shocked -- are well aware of the fact that I am currently finishing the first year of a PhD program. They are equally aware of my belief that graduate school is a Real Job -- one with hours and salary and bosses, the whole kit and caboodle. In spite of my tirades on this subject, it's clear that some of my friends still didn't believe this, because my news this week shocked even the most stouthearted.

You see, my friend G was just fired. From grad school.

To those of us in academia, this is not an unheard of occurrence. For whatever reason, professors occasionally decide that they no longer want to do research with a given student. If the student is lucky, they will be able to find a new adviser and new funding. If they're very lucky, they were the one to make the decision and already have a backup plan ready for action.

G was not lucky. After 10 months of graduate school, five under the supervision of Professor D, he was let go. Not with a Master's degree, as is typical for a PhD candidate, nor even with sufficient warning -- a grand total of about three weeks. In fact, there was little consideration for G at all in the situation -- Professor D knowingly let G sign a lease, buy a car, and furnish a home, all the while knowing it wasn't going to work out. In short, G was promptly and summarily fired.

I've been planning all year to write a post about graduate school -- how it's going, who I've met, what I'm doing -- but the timing never seemed right. Somehow, it seems right now.

Thus, my first year of grad school in ten easy steps:

1. Made friends with A.
2. Made friends through A.
3. Dated A.
4. Broke up with A.
5. Lost friends through A.
6. Made friends with G.
7. Made friends through G.
8. Dad got diagnosed with cancer.
9. Dozens fired in my career field.
10. G fired.

Second year can't get here soon enough.
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