Personal Update: PhD, Three Months Later – DrZhana

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Personal Update: PhD, Three Months Later

133There is life after the PhD?

I defended my thesis and received my PhD in November 2013. Being done with this monumental task that I had started more years ago than I care to admit and had worked so hard to get, felt good. There were no fireworks or ecstatic bliss (not that I expected any), but it felt good. Good to be done with it, over with, off my back. Good to be finally able to start the rest of my life.

Ah, but what was going to be the rest of my life? Figuring out life after those much coveted three letter are added to your name is not always easy. In fact, for many newly minted PhDs it’s not easy at all. Like most students, I entered grad school thinking I would continue on to a tenure-track position and stay in academia for the rest of my life. As I started nearing my PhD graduation, that path was not so set in stone anymore.

Tenure-track jobs are scarce these days. I wasn’t sure I wanted to spend months applying to hundreds of jobs and end up with nothing.

Tenure-track jobs are a big commitment (six years) of nothing but academic work, department service, and grant writing. I was not very excited about either department service or constant grant writing. And as much as I love academic work, I would like to do something other than academic work as well. I was just not quite ready for that kind of commitment.

Tenure-track jobs are often in places like Iowa or Idaho. I am sure those are fine places for many people. I am not one of those people.

I might still end up going the tenure-track route at some point, but not just yet.

Instead, I decided that I wanted to stay in NYC for at least the next few years, and find a professional engagement/arrangement that would allow me to split my time between research, teaching, and bringing sex research to a broader audience.

And January 2014 was an amazing month in which all of those desires became a reality.

– I started to adjunct teach at NYU (Research Methods in Social and Personality Psychology).

It’s the first time I have the opportunity to teach an entire course, and I am loving it (so far). NYU seems like a very easy transition from Cornell. Students are smart, the organizational structure is similar, the department is welcoming, the compensation is excellent.

– I started blogging for Psychology Today.

Research on casual sex and promiscuity is what I’ve been most passionate about throughout my graduate career, and for a while I’ve been wanting to start bringing that research to a broader audience. Starting the Strictly Casual blog for Psychology Today is the first step in that direction. I hope I’ll be able to do it well, and that it will lead to more and better ways of translating sex science jargon into lay people’s English.

I got filmed for Slut: A Documentary Film.

I talked about my own and other people’s research on the double sexual standard and slut-shaming. It was my first time to be interviewed for a documentary and I really enjoyed it.

– I got the post-doc job I had applied for at the National Development and Research Institutes.

It is THE PERFECT position for me. (It was so perfect that I didn’t apply to any other post-doc but that, despite there being several other promising possibilities.) It allows me to stay in New York City, to continue my work on casual sex and expand it to the area of substance use and sexual risk taking (and do some really cool projects I’ve been wanting to do for a while), and to continue to work on my own schedule from home/library/coffee shop (for the most part). It also doesn’t start until July, allowing me to focus this semester on teaching, wrapping up a few papers in various stages of revisions, and blogging.

– I moved to Brooklyn.

I love Brooklyn. It is so much cooler than East Harlem in every possible way, I can’t even begin to describe.

And so 2014 is off to a great start. It means I will have an enormous amount of work ahead of me. But I’m so looking forward to it.

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