The GWAMIT Mentoring Committe is beginning a new initiative–our very own advice column! If you have a question that you would like to ask our panel of experts (GWAMIT mentors), please submit it here. You may submit as many questions as you would like, and all questions are completely anonymous. We will submit a subset of questions to a selection of mentors in industry and academia at a variety of ages and career levels, and post their responses on the blog.
We hope you enjoy this new feature, and please feel free to use this column to spark discussion among your own mentoring groups.
How do I tell my advisor that I don’t want a career in academia, that I just want a job in industry when I graduate? I’m afraid the truth with piss him off. – Not an Academic
Dear not an Academic,
Not everyone is suited to academia, and your professor should know this, but the news might be hard for him to hear. I would stress the reasons why you prefer industry over academia instead of just badmouthing academia.
If the truth doesn’t work, you can always say you want industry experience first to have a better understanding of the problems that need solving. I know several professors who worked in industry first, and then became professors with tenure.
Kate A. has her PhD in EE from MIT and has been working outside of academia for 6 years
I am a single parent and a grad student. The issue is – I simply do not have enough money to live on. I do not have a working spouse. My kid and I live on grad student salary and it’s not enough to live on. I tried grading, working for OCW, writing to financial aid dep-t, and nothing works. … I am considering quitting MIT because.. well, I just don’t have enough money to live on simply wholesale mlb jerseys stated. … Any advice? – MIT_girl
Kudos to you for making it this far! Being a single parent graduate student with no family nearby is a daunting feat, exacerbated by the fact that you are at MIT, surrounded by many who do not value and/or understand parenthood. A graduate student stipend is definitely not sufficient to comfortably support dependents, whether
or not you budget appropriately. You may have already looked into these, but if not:
1) Do you know whether you qualify for governmental financial assistance? When I was an MIT graduate student, I recall one classmate who singlehandedly supported a family of four on a graduate student stipend, and he qualified for WIC.
2) Have you made friends with other graduate students who are parents (single or not)? You may be able to make after-school childcare arrangements as a group to save money. Most importantly, you absolutely need to find others who are in your situation for moral support! All of you can share useful hints about making it as graduate student parents, lobby for programs/changes at MIT, and your children may enjoy each others’ company.
You’ve both made it through 2.5 years at MIT. How much longer do you think you have to go? Is there a clear, realistic end in sight? If so, are you likely to have a high paying job afterward? Are you and your child living a happy life now (beside you being stressed over finances)? Does the thought of dropping out of graduate school or leaving with a Masters seem unacceptable? If you answer yes to these questions, then by all means, hang in there and get to the end. Several years from now, you will be in a financially stable situation, and your degree will have helped you get there. On the other hand, there is nothing wrong with finding a job now and leaving graduate school if the financial stress is becoming too much to bare and is spilling into all other aspects of your life. It is understandably difficult to focus on research if you feel that you cannot provide adequately for yourself and your child. Whatever you choose, please do your best to change our academic and workplace culture into one that is supportive of parents. The changes may not come in time to help you, but hopefully, they will soon help future parents.
Kate B. is a graduate of the HST program and an instructor at a prominent teaching hospital & medical school in Boston/Cambridge
I feel your challenge and applaud you for your talents and ability to gain acceptance at a prestigious educational institution, while also raising a young child. It is not certainly not easy — I am a professional woman, parent of two, with the good fortune of a working spouse and the wholesale nfl jerseys additional benefit of support (time, not $) from our children’s grandparents — and that has been hard over the years. I do understand how expensive and challenging it is to raise a family in a desirable metro area such as Boston.
The only major “variable expense” in your life is likely to be rent — if there is someway to better manage that cost by combining households with grad students or others in your situation, that’s one possibility. There are publicly sponsored after school and summer programs for families in need, but the waiting list can be years.
I am honestly not familiar with how MIT finances graduate education, so I fear I am unable to offer any additional substantive advice knowing many more personal details. If you would like to have that conversation, please let GWAMIT know.
With respect — and please know I am rooting for you – I state that the most important contribution we can make to the next gen and the world is parental stability and support. You sound like a supportive, consistent mom — something you obviously learned that at home, in your own life. You have much to proud of, please don’t give up yet.
Kate C. received her MBA from Harvard and has 25 years of experience in software industry general management.
The namesake of this advice column is Katharine McCormick. She was the second woman to graduate from MIT, the benefactor of McCormick Hall, a suffragist and a philanthropist. We hope to continue her legacy and dedication to the advancement of women through this advice column.
On behalf of the GWAMIT mentoring committee, thank you to this month’s Dear Kate contributors and “Kates”.