I had been trying to figure out a particular idea, that I think many of us face at 22 yrs of age as graduate students in USA - Should I go for a PhD?

Let me elaborate on what I went through for deciding or at lest understanding what this decision entails. There are many guides and places to go and look into once you search this exact question in Google. But here, I have listed my sources:

To take this decision, we need a better understanding of our own situation as compared to the situation of all those writers/bloggers/ex-PhDs . This is difficult since we are dealing with intangible emotions and circumstances , forget about comparing them. But still, I tried. After all the note-taking and brainstorming, I realized that the basis of anyone going for a PhD is hunger to learn in that specific subject.

And my decision to choose PhD currently are based on:

  • Will get a chance to enjoy free sports classes from Rec centre. (seriously?)
  • I am in a comfortable position to get into PhD since I have been working in the research lab for a semester and I am good in it. Moreover, It deals with computer vision and I like it. But I am not sure about what this lab deals with other than computer vision and how good are we.
  • I have heard that software development jobs suck. That is what I have heard from people from the other side. I haven’t seen that by myself. I think I need to talk to my seniors a bit more to understand their perspective. Need to shoot mails.
  • Oh boy, I dread software interviews. The reason I don’t like them is even unclear to me. I don’t want to pursue PhD so as to escape this. I need to understand this.

These are some of the points that I dwell over these days. None of them are even related to the fact of being hungry to learn. So my answer stays No as of right now.

As professor says, it is a decision that will come from inside. PhD is after-all a made up thing. I need to remember this and not go for PhD since I am young. Life is all about choices we make and I must choose what makes me happy.

So the definitive conclusion is: Start preparing for algorithms. Suck it up private. Accept that you have not been particularly good in following the previous routines (Well, they were not there in the first place or were almost hazy!) and start again. This is certainly an ordeal which never seems to end.

Suck it up. Make a routine on short term and long term goals and start.

There are things to take in consideration as of now.

  1. Gym & Squash. (Wtf is wrong with me? I am certainly enjoying sports a lot these days)
  2. Research. (Need RA to pay my tuition and cover up the expenses)
  3. Algorithmic Interview preparation. So before setting up my goals, I would like to give credits to Chris Chambers for his page: Tough love: An insensitive guide to thriving in your PhD . Though my original intention of reading it was based on understanding the PhD decision, it inadvertently gave me some insights on how to manage my time as a Masters research student and start fighting. He writes:

6. Don’t expect every experiment to work, and don’t persecute yourself or others if your experiment fails. In short, figure out why, suck it up, and move forward. Nature does not reveal her secrets easily. Why should she?

18. Be mindful of your weaknesses. Own them and target them. It is human nature for people to take the path of least resistance, avoiding doing the things we find most difficult. But successful people recognise their frailties and do the opposite: they force themselves to do difficult things precisely because they find them difficult or scary. If you don’t seek to overcome your weaknesses then you will never reach your potential. So if you are afraid of public speaking then volunteer to give more talks. If you hate writing then start a blog. Be mindful, self-critical, and proactive.

26. Get into the habit of asking questions in talks. This insight by a commenter on Dorothy Bishop’s blog says it all. Being shy is only protecting your own fragile ego.

36. Set realistic goals of what you want to achieve and stick to them. Have short and long-term goals. I recommend setting weekly, monthly, six-monthly, and yearly milestones.

38. Don’t be jealous of students who may appear to be getting more attention than you are. Don’t assume you know why, and don’t fool yourself into thinking it is any of your business. Focus on your own situation and what you need. If you need more of your supervisor’s time, be a squeaky wheel but, above all, be a positive force. Never ever (ever) say “You give more time to X than to me”.

After reading this, I got lucky and got a chance to read Stevey’s rant on Get that job at Google . He has summarized it in the best way possible with no nonsensical things around it.

Some excerpts:

That’s almost always what happens when you get an offer from a tech company. You just happened to squeak by. Because of the inherently flawed nature of the interviewing process, it’s highly likely that someone on the loop will be unimpressed with you, even if you are Alan Turing. Especially if you’re Alan Turing, in fact, since it means you obviously don’t know C++.

The bottom line is, if you go to an interview at any software company, you should plan for the contingency that you might get genuinely unlucky, and wind up with one or more people from your Interview Anti-Loop on your interview loop. If this happens, you will struggle, then be told that you were not a fit at this time, and then you will feel bad. Just as long as you don’t feel meta-bad, everything is OK. You should feel good that you feel bad after this happens, because hey, it means you’re human.

Okay, Time to set some goals.

What I have understood of previous encounters with sudden motivation is that, the way they emerge is the same way they die. All the previous encounters had made me start on solving new problems without any routine. I am not making that mistake again. Weeks left till 8th September: 10.

  • Gym + Squash must not exceed 2 hours at any cost.
  • Research is a variable thing. It works out some day and some day it doesn’t. Well, then I can use a daily goal for research. It cannot be constrained here. I need to make goals as to what I want in the form of RA for that particular day. For example, right now I intend to try few more stuff in template matching on the grayscale images of apples.
  • Learn Algorithms. Elements of Programming Interview. The Goal is : To get that Software Engineering job in Google. Doesn’t matter what takes it, gotta do that. Need to earn money. Learn Music and Squash. Keep body fit. Learn driving … and have faith in myself