How long have you been working in this field? 12 years
What kind of story would you like to share? Life struggle story
Please share your story here (no required or limited length):
My Ph.D. advisor was very difficult to work with. The relationship created a lot of self-doubt in my abilities as a researcher because I was constantly criticized. Criticism included everything from how I wrote a sentence, the time of day and number of hours I worked, the fact that I made time to exercise, and any negative emotion (anxiety or sadness) I showed about my work. Expectations were also unreasonable, e.g., I was asked why I wasn't working every evening and all day on the weekend and I was criticized when I couldn't "successfully" revise an entire manuscript in one week. My project ideas were criticized until they were published and positively reviewed by other scientists. Spending time teaching was looked down upon even though I was required to teach to provide my stipend, tuition coverage, and health care.
What helped was creating a network of mentors that could provide feedback on my work and how I spent my time. It helped me realize that expectations of me were unreasonable and that my abilities and performance were, in fact, excellent. I also trusted myself that investing time in teaching and outreach, in addition to significant time on research, met my personal goals for the training I wanted to receive during my Ph.D. Now in my current postdoc, my advisor is extremely supportive and has helped me regain self-confidence and independence.
What do you wish you had known earlier during your career in science?
I wish I had known to ask specific questions about what it was like to work with an advisor instead of relying on others to be forthcoming with that information.
Any final comments or advice for young scientists:
Don't take the choice of Ph.D. advisor lightly. You will need to work closely with this person for 4-7 (or more) years. They will have nearly complete control over your ability to get funding, publish your work, and graduate.