Impact Of Having Career Break Before Pursuing PhD
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Career Break Before PhD – Advantages & Disadvantages

PhD is a process where you meant to master the ins and outs of a topic that is really of your interest. It is a process where you can learn and expand your knowledge and really get to know what something is about. PhD is all about research proposal that contains research questions, some methodology, some justifications about why this is important. You are supposed to write a thesis which is a long piece of work. You work under the guidance of the supervisor and then you define your work after an examiner panel. You are encouraged to polish in academic journals and some coursework involved. There are many people in and around for whom completing PhD is a long-lasting mission. Not everyone is lucky enough to finish their PhD in their 20’s. They have to wait for a while which could be months to years in order to make their dream come true.

Common Reasons For Career break Before PhD

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Career breaks before starting PhD is seen commonly. Of course there is no gender discrimination in it but still, it is observed that most of the women are facing it. There are a number of reasons behind it:

  • It could be due to some form of personal commitment (eg: marriage, childbirth, relocation, for taking care of parents, etc).
  • Some people after finishing their Master’s are very much unsure about their field of interest, so they will have an urge to know every aspect and future prospects of the research field and then go to work.
  • It’s also seen that people switch on to different fields out of passion and somewhere in the later part of life they develop an interest in research and then they aim for pursuing PhD.
  • Some people think that going for PhD is like a never-ending goal because one has to keep on climbing to new areas of research and diversify their work so in that case taking a break before joining anywhere is a good option for them.
  • Some people prefer to have training programs (hands-on training), learning new techniques, attending workshops etc to acquire proper practical knowledge on instrumentation before heading towards research field.
  • Some people will opt for company jobs soon after the completion of their Master’s because of financial crunch and family background issues and then after proper settlement, they will plan to go in the area of research.
  • Others prefer to do PhD by clearing national level exams like CSIR, GATE, ICMR, DBT etc so for that they opt for some 6-12 months coaching in a good institute like Biotecnika.

PhD is all about learning new things, solving a particular issue or problem with the help of tools and techniques. Doing a PhD is not everyone’s cup of tea because it needs a good amount of hard work, better analytical and technical skills, good intelligence in the area of interest, etc. So, in the end, it depends on you, your zeal, your enthusiasm, and your excitement.

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Two things are of utmost importance if you are opting for research i.e. one should go for a problem which must be resolved and second is a good mentor who will guide you to resolve your problem. The problem must be converted in the form of synopsis and then submitted to the supervisor while applying for PhD.

Talking more about Career break Before PhD – I won’t say age or career breaks hardly matters in pursuing PhD because this does have an impact but one can find alternatives to resolve it. There are many ways to fulfill your dream at any walk of life. It depends upon the individual himself. There are many people in and around the country who are opting for their PhDs in the latter part of their life. So there is nothing right and wrong about that. Always remember every aspect of life has its own pros and cons and so does the PhD. Whether we are doing earlier or later, it has its own advantages and disadvantages. Just go with the flow, you will definitely join with others sooner or later. Age limit is definitely not a barrier. Feed this thing inside you.

In general, minimum qualifications needed to acquire PhD includes a minimum of 55% in Master’s degree and if you have qualified any of the entrance exams you have more chances of getting one. Unlike CSIR which has an age limit, with the GATE score you can do your doctorate at any time, particularly in IIT’s. Again there are some universities or institutes which have their own eligibility criteria and exams.

Returning back to PhD is not an easy task. Although it’s challenging, but it is definitely not impossible. It further depends on several factors like at what stage you left your career, what you did after resigning from your job, what is the duration of your career break.
People who remain in their field (if not directly) by changing into different tracks relevant to the research area like working as a scientific editor etc. do not find it challenging to return.
Even though you are in career break you can do many things at home, for example opting for certain online courses based on new technologies, keeping yourself updated on your area of interest, maintaining contacts with people both online as well as in-person so that they may help you out in fetching your dream in the future.

Of course not as a whole but yes career breaks before PhD do have some benefits:

  • Of course, I admit the fact that older people (people who start their PhD lately) are less energetic compared to freshers. But few things can’t be judged based on energy levels because enthusiasm is also one of the factors which have to be considered.
  • Older students are pretty sure of their pathway, they can make better choices and they also have good problem-solving skills. As they have experienced work pressure and stress before so they will be better in dealing with that compared to the younger lab mates.
  • Research is something which involves trying out a few protocols and thereby analyzing the results. In that case, we need to undergo a series of attempts to reach a conclusion.
  • The people who are doing late PhD can understand the situation and are aware of failures so it won’t cause that much distraction as it does if you are new to the field. It needs a lot of patience.
  • At times it may happen that we have determination and enthusiasm to work out but it won’t be reflected in our results.
  • In other words, one can say we won’t be able to get our desired results. The alternative is that you can switch back to your old work at that time.
  • Socializing and networking hardly attract them so they will have much focus on their work compared to young professionals.
  • Concepts based on theory will be easier for them to understand and they know how to apply logically. This is one of the good characters of showing maturity and good experience.
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The other side of the coin has the following effects:

  • Undoubtedly there could be many pathways that could be closed, meaning you are not free to enroll everywhere and don’t have too much of choices like a fresher.
  • We can’t say completely there won’t be any sort of age discrimination because it may happen sometimes our guide can be someone younger than us. Not only guide we may also come across younger lab mates may. And the scenario of lab and lab mates will be different. So there must not be any sort of ego clash within the lab mates and should be humble enough to learn new things from supervisors as well as the young professionals.
  • One of the advantages of starting PhD soon after Masters is that your mind will be fresh, you will have a lot of energy, anxiety to move with the flow.
  • Switching to a PhD, years after completion of Master’s, will definitely take some time to match the speed.
  • Pursuing a PhD in the latter part of life may develop some life issues as well. To take care of kids, parents, in case parents are having health issues then it will be even more complicated.

Read Also: How To Get PhD From IIT – Eligibility, Exams, Admission & Interview Procedure

So one must go for it keeping in mind both the things. And to be honest it’s very challenging.

So once you decided for a comeback in the research field, make sure of a few things:

  • First, do analyze your chances and scopes and then leave everything to the panel of interviewers, let them decide whether you are suitable to fit here or not.
  • Second, you must work out on a few things. Choose a topic keeping in mind that you need to work on it for a minimum of 4-5 years, so it should keep you motivated amidst all kinds of stress. You must work a bit on your area of interest and the topic in which you wish to carry out your research i.e. prepare a proposal for your topic. Try to combine your experience along with the developments and analyze where you can fit best. If possible attend a few training programs or workshops so that you will have a good exposure technically. After completing the course work you might have enough knowledge in research methodology and technical writing. Using these skills you will be able to design and solve your own research hypothesis.
  • Third, although there is a lot of age difference between you and other young research scholars, in that scenario you must not feel inferior to them, in fact, you must be more confident and proud that your vast experiences will bring novel innovations during your research journey. These approaches will maintain a good environment in the workplace.
  • Fourth, select a worthy guide or supervisor or advisor, who is elder to you in order to avoid ego clash.
  • Fifth, always remain updated about research work going on in the area of your interest.
    Sixth, be realistic and always choose the university program that suits you the best. It could be tough but in case if you are able to afford financial support to your work then you will have some better chances. Apart from that choose the university where professors are working on topics relevant to your field. It may happen sometimes that you need to make a few changes in the topic chosen but make sure that you must choose a relevant topic and must not go away from it.
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As I said before, everything in life has a positive and negative side. It depends on us what we choose, what are our aims and ambitions. It’s never too late to start anything in which you have an interest in. So just move ahead, you will definitely find a way out. Be aware of the challenges you are going to face in this journey. And then things will turn out to be pretty good. Be positive and be confident enough for the decisions in your life. You will definitely come out with flying colors.

About the Author
Divya is a CSIR NET Topper with an educational background in Biotechnology. She is one of the finest teachers at Biotecnika and wins students heart with her immense knowledge and experience. Ms. Divya believes in self-motivation and also try to boost up her students.
Perfection is her hobby, Reliability is a synonym, Editing is her passion, Excellence is her Goal, Tactfulness is in her genes, Yellow is her Fav color. Preety is the name of the Professional on whom entire BioTecNika relies when it comes to its website. A Gold Medalist in Biotech from SRM University, Chennai with a 9.9 CGPA ( was awarded the Gold Medal by Honorable Prime Minister of India Shri Narendra Modi , as seen in the pic ), She decided to join forces with BioTecNika to ensure India's largest BioSciences Portal expands its reach to every city in India. She has redesigned the new avatar of BioTecNika from scratch and heads the most dynamic, vibrant and well informed Online Team at Biotecnika Info Labs Pvt Ltd