Monday, January 23, 2012

Twitter me up

I finally did it. I joined Twitter. I decided that if I want to be a journalist, I should be familiar with common social media outlets. Join me in another potential time sink! :P

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Breakfast of Monkeys

I've been in a rut with breakfast lately. It's a really tasty rut involving oatmeal, chocolate, peanut butter, and bananas. I call it Monkey Oatmeal (or Chunky Monkey if you use chunky peanut butter) in honor of Not Licked Yet's sundae. If you're ever in Door County, Wisconsin, pay them a visit. It's well worth it on a hot summer evening!

Anyhow, here's how I make my Monkey Oatmeal:
1/2 cup quick oats
1 Tbsp cocoa powder
2 tsp sweetener of choice
dash of salt
pinch of vanilla bean or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix all those together and add perhaps a cup of hot water (or enough for whatever texture you like). I microwave mine for 30 seconds and add a little more water to make it extra creamy. Then...

1 Tbsp peanut butter
1 sliced banana

Mix these into the chocolate oatmeal and enjoy!
Mmm, chocolately Monkey Oatmeal goodness!

Let me know what you think. I have a few more of these up my sleeve.

Do you have a favorite breakfast item or recipe?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Is grad school worth it?

Recent bit of conversation:
Me: Aw, crap.
J-man: What?
Me: I've been in college for nine years. I'm in 21st grade.
Yep, that's the size of it. Ten years ago I my highest academic aspiration was to go to the best state university my state had to offer. Now I'm four and a half years through a PhD program in a neighboring state, contemplating a second master's degree while I finish the PhD.

Is it all worth it? The master's degree(s), yes. The PhD, I'm not sure.

Alyssa at Apple Pie and the Universe posted an Economist article about "why doing a PhD is often a waste of time." She nicely highlights some of the main points of the article, mostly focusing on what's wrong with academia. I'd like to draw attention to part of the solution:
There is an oversupply of PhDs. Although a doctorate is designed as training for a job in academia, the number of PhD positions is unrelated to the number of job openings. Meanwhile, business leaders complain about shortages of high-level skills, suggesting PhDs are not teaching the right things. [emphasis mine]
I've been confused by the seemingly conflicting views that academia produces too many and too few PhDs. That seems impossible, unless the sources of these criticisms are different. Academics say too many, businesses say too few. The solution? Train PhDs to work in business, not just academia!

I am not the only grad student in my department who does not aspire to follow in our advisors' footsteps. However, my training so far has perfectly groomed me to become a researcher and has made me fairly certain that I don't want to be a researcher (or professor at a research university). Almost daily I question the personal benefit of what I'm doing, but I figure I have a year or year and a half left so I may as well finish. It probably won't close any doors and may even open a few.

During the time I have left, I have to cobble together supplementary education to make myself marketable outside the academy. I have no solid mentors (so far), only a smattering of people whose personal interests I feel I have to account for when I receive advice from them.

Maybe my inexperience in post-secondary education is making this more difficult than it needs to be. My undergrad self was certainly not as well-informed as she could have been. Or perhaps this is a failing of the PhD training grounds. Perhaps there just isn't much support for those looking outside the traditional career tracks.