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 the anonymous form below, and she might answer you here. Read more about the Career Doctor here. Contact information is here.


Dear Career Doctor:

I recently finished my first semester in a Masters/PhD humanities program at the number one university for my field. I'd heard that the entire first year in grad school is insanely difficult, but now that I've seen the reality, I know that I do NOT want to get a PhD. I have no desire to do this research for the next 5-6 years of my life and onward. I DO care deeply about the issues we cover and the research others are doing in the field, but I just don't think this is for me.

I never thought I could get as sad as I did in my first semester. I lost weight- probably because the only thing that kept me sane was going to spinning class.

On a good note, I passed my grueling stats course and did very well in my other courses. I created a good rapport with my professors as well, BUT I have been waffling as to whether or not I should take a leave of absence. Is that absurd considering I've only been there for one semester?

I daydream about having a "real job" because in the years between undergrad and grad school I traveled, had one real job for 6 months, temped and waitressed until I got into grad school. I think financial stability is becoming more and more important to me, and I could even see myself doing sales for a few years to be able to take courses in photography and travel writing...two things I am fascinated with.

I am pretty much throwing it all out there to see if you could give me some sort of unbiased advice. Should I suck it up and finish, or get out now and pursue some sort of career and hobbies that I can't do while I'm in grad school?


Dear Maddy:

If you are still feeling extremely sad, go to the Counseling office and get a referral to a professional who can treat your depression.

It is difficult to make a decision while you are depressed, but the good news is that it doesn't sound like you are so depressed that nothing sounds good. In fact, you say you would like to be working in sales and making money.

There is a huge difference between a life of academic research and one in sales! You have begun to check out the reality of academia, and it is important for you to check out the reality of sales.

If by this time in the semester you are still unhappy, after a depression consultation, I can certainly see why you would want to arrange for a leave of absence. Then you can explore your other interests with the security that you can return if you want.

The Career Doctor

Ask The Career Doctor:
The Career Doctor cannot answer every question here, and she does not respond to personal emails.

First Name, Initial:



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.