The Career Doctor™
by Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez
Looking for a first job? Thinking of changing careers?
Facing a lay-off? The Career Doctor™ is a Larchmont psychologist
specializing in career counseling. If you'd like to ask a question of
your own, use our anonymous form, and she
might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here.
Contact information is here.
STUDY WHAT I WANT OR WHAT IS PRACTICAL?
Dear Career Doctor:
I am currently doing my PhD in biology and I am specifically studying whale communication.
I am growing more and more frustrated because I don't feel that my thesis topic is useful
in getting a real job. I would like to work in conservation or environmental policy, and
so spend most of my days wishing I was working on a thesis in those fields. My question is:
Will my thesis topic be important to potential employers? Or will simply have a PhD be an
Quite frankly, you have stumped the Career Doctor. There is a lot I need to learn about
whales. So I asked several scientists, who said that work is often completely unrelated
to doctoral thesis topic. They advise that if you have done a lot of work on your whale
project, then finish it as quickly as possible and look for a job. If you are just
starting, then switch to a topic you enjoy more and is more applicable to what you would
like to do.
This seems like good advice and I will supplement it with some thoughts of my own:
Identify some of the organizations that you would like to work for. Call or write
the Director of Human Resources, saying that you would like to work for them in the
future and wonder if the subject of your thesis would be an impediment. Explain
that you would consider changing the thesis subject if that is the case. (If you
write, always follow up with a phone call. Do not assume the Director will call you
Many people get so hung up on their thesis that they never graduate. Try to see your
thesis as merely a necessary task and requirement, not a life work. You can focus
on your life work later.
The Career Doctor
The Career Doctor™ is Larchmont
psychologist and career counselor, Dr. Jacqueline Hornor Plumez.
Her office is at 90 Beechtree Drive in Larchmont, 914-834-1982.