Nathan Was ‘Ere!
That’s what I thought it might mean, doing a PhD. I did this! I made something, and the whole world will know!
…well. My thesis has helped others explore problems, but it didn’t make a huge impact.
If I went back to my old building there would be people who would remember me I think. But if I went to Room 524 there would be no trace of me at all. I would stand in the doorway and smile and say hello, I used to work here, that was my desk and I remember when–
And someone would say, “That’s nice, but we’re trying to work. Can we help you with something?”
I don’t regret doing a PhD. I don’t regret not staying in my field. Doing a PhD is the only way I could have got to where I am now. There are times where I feel I want my thesis to mean more than it does. Sometimes I want having been a part of that university community to mean more than it feels like now.
But for the most part it is enough.
Regardless of a candidate’s plans, or their involvement with their community, or the impact of their research, I think that graffiti of “I Was ‘Ere!” has to be written across your self first. You have to make it matter to you. It could be that you go on to do more research, or not; you might change the world for a lot of people, or just for a few; but you have to make it matter.
You have to look and see what mark you’ve made on yourself over your PhD, I think, before you can decide what to do with it afterwards.
So if your viva is soon, what does your PhD mean to you? Why does it matter? And where are you going next?