Trading sub fusc for a shirt and tie?


in Canada, Daily updates, Oxford

Trinity College gates, on Parks Road

Having thought about it a good bit in the last week or so, I now think it is more likely that I will work for at least one year after I finish this degree, rather than going straight into another one. The reasons this seems intelligent include the following:

  1. When this program ends, I will have been in school for twenty consecutive years, with a few (mostly bad) minimum wage jobs mixed in. Actually seeing the world from the position of a mythical ‘real job’ will help me to make a smarter decision, with regards to whether I should do a PhD.
  2. I am already positively daunted by the thesis. With that in April and four Oxford examinations in June, the stress of crafting custom PhD applications to excellent schools might be a bit much.
  3. Seeing student debt numbers go down instead of up is an idea with appeal.
  4. I will need three references from Oxford for PhD applications. My advisor is one. If I am forced to use both of the people teaching my optional paper this term, there is a lower chance of getting a really good collection of references. I didn’t really interact with the people who taught the core seminars last year for them to serve as thorough references. If, however, I make a point of cultivating the four optional paper instructors over the course of this whole year, there seems a good chance I can get two more better letters.
  5. Right now, I really need to get the idea for my M.Phil thesis together. Having to come up with a whole other research proposal for a PhD is, again, a bit much.
  6. Not having to worry about the GRE this year would be nice. It would allow me to do more academic work, as well as spend more time enjoying Oxford.

Of course, this decision forces me to do one of the things that I am by far the worst at – apply for jobs. I am not even sure of which country to begin looking for jobs in. Both Canada and the US are plausible, with the UK much less so. A job somewhere really far-flung could certainly be an interesting way to spend a year.

Where do people recommend looking? Options with some appeal include working for government, working for an NGO, writing in a journalistic capacity, or doing anything that provides hands on experience with either ecology or environmental policymaking.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous October 9, 2006 at 12:06 am

as well as spend more time enjoying Oxford.

Not a thing to discount. Whether ‘superb’ or utterly awful, your masters thesis will be completely forgotten in ten years.

Joanna Fletcher October 10, 2006 at 2:31 am

Hail from Calgary! If you’re looking for somewhere to earn a bunch of money and have an impact on the environment, it’s worth giving the oil companies here a try. By all accounts they are desperate for good people.

Milan October 10, 2006 at 10:36 am


Working for an oil company is certainly not an idea that had occurred to me. That said, I doubt that I am the sort of person they would consider to be a good hire.

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