Essays/the things i miss the most from my time as a phd
Many people struggle with the decision of whether to stay or leave from academia. There are many reasons to follow different careers paths, and is fair to ask if what we'll get compensates what we left behind.
In my case, there is one thing that made all the difference: access to people with interesting problems.
I didn't value it enough while doing my Ph.D.. I gave it for granted and, in hindsight, I didn't interact with as many people as I should have. Many researchers are facing next-generation problems, they are posing questions aiming at very far fetched applications if any at all.
Outside of the academic environment, it becomes harder to meet people doing this type of cutting edge work, people who pose themselves hard problems. I miss the seminars and random talks by invited speakers.
If someone is starting their Ph.D. or postdoc, I would strongly recommend them to pay attention to the random encounters. They won't happen in different contexts.
Go to seminars, and talks. Your experiments can afford waiting 1 extra hour.
It's impossible to over estimate how important it is to learn as much as possible outside of your immediate application field. Being able to make connections through fields and problems may be one of the most valuable skills to solve challenging problems.
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