Epilogue: Life After the PhD

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Epilogue: Life After the PhD

In my first book, I posed the question, ‘Is there life after an MBA?’ The answer was, ‘Do a PhD.’ But what about life after the PhD? What is the answer to that question?

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Do a post-doctoral programme. This is often offered in overseas universities. It takes on average about two years. Recently graduated doctorate holders will join a team of researchers, usually led by a senior professor, and embark on a big research project that is funded usually by the government or local authority. It resembles a team-based PhD project but because it is funded and there are more people involved, it can be conducted on a much larger scale. Research team members are also paid a salary equivalent to that of a junior lecturer. Postdoctoral research is commonly done by those who have just entered the academic profession and wish to excel further in their academic career. The rewards are mainly intrinsic rather than extrinsic—so you have to decide whether money is important to you. You probably wouldn't be pursuing an academic career and a PhD, if money was critical to you. A career as an academic can allow you to meet your basic survival needs and even provide some luxuries, but you won't be rolling around in cash.
  2. Focus on publishing your thesis. As I mentioned earlier, you should be able to get your work published in both local and international conferences and journals. It would be a waste if you did not since 80 per cent of the work has already been done. Also, you must publish quickly before the information is out of date—that can happen sooner than you think.
  3. Begin/resume your life as an academic lecturer in your local university.
  4. Join a government research-based organisation like MARDI (a biological research firm in Malaysia). This is especially appropriate for those who did their PhDs in the natural sciences.
  5. Join the private sector if the company is willing to pay you more than at the university. Of course, you will be doing much more administrative work and hardly any teaching. You may love it or hate it—much depends on the individual. It's your future and your decision—so choose wisely. You may, like me, prefer to join the university because that is the best place to be if you love teaching. However, three years later, I was promoted to the post of Deputy Dean in charge of research and infrastructure, and also became Chairman of the PhD committee and the Quality Manager. I ended up doing 80 per cent administrative work and only 20 per cent teaching.

Is that all there is? For most people, that seems to be more than enough. My colleagues who have recently returned from overseas with their PhDs are all fired up and motivated to publish their research. I have managed to publish several papers. I make it a rule to present a paper in overseas conferences once a year—the university only pays for one annual trip. The rest has to be self-funded.

I have the following conference publications:

  1. The IT industry: The Quest for Emotional Stability in an Insane World. UM-FBA Asian Business Conference 2005 (2005) Park Royal Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
  2. Attracting Scientific and Technical Talent from Abroad: Lessons for Malaysia. The 4th International Malaysian Studies Conference (MSC4)(3–5 August 2004) Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangai.
  3. Work Value Congruence and Satisfaction at Work: Is Western Concept Applicable to a Developing Country such as Malaysia? Academy of World Business, Marketing and Management Development Conference (13–16 July 2004) Gold Coast International Hotel, Queensland, Australia.
  4. Person-Environment Fit: A Critical Review of the Previous Studies and a Proposal for Future Research. EPUK conference (June 2003) The Scott Sutherland School, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland.
  5. The Association between Intelligence, Group Size and Satisfaction (Workplace): A Logistic Regression Analysis. EPUK conference (June 2003) The Scott Sutherland School, The Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, Scotland.
  6. Superior-Subordinate Fit: An Extension of the Supplementary Fit Model. Presented at the Federal School of Management Conference (2000) Manchester UK (won prize for best abstract), and also at the 7th Asia Pacific Conference (2001) Citidel Kuala Lumpur.

I also have the following journal publications:

  1. Emotional Stability and Perception of Job Security in the Services Sector Malaysia (in press).
  2. The Association between Ethical Decision Making, Job Satisfaction, Organisational Commitment, and Selected Demographic Variables (2003). Malaysian Management Journal, 7(2): 1–11.
  3. The Association between Training and Organisational Commitment among White Collar Workers in Malaysia (2003). The International Journal of Training and Develop-ment, 7(3): 166–185.
  4. Person-Environment Fit Perceptions and Satisfaction at Work (2003). Malaysian Management Journal, 7(1): 35–46.
  5. The Association between Sensitivity, Group Size and Satisfaction (2002). Malaysian Management Journal, 6(1): 53–61.

I have mentioned five alternative routes that you may take after you have completed your PhD. They are not mutually exclusive and can be taken in combination. However, you are not limited to these—I leave it your imagination. You will have to take charge of your own destiny. As for me, successfully completing my PhD was exhilarating.

I take this opportunity to thank you once again for giving me the privilege to share my knowledge and experience with you, and I sincerely hope that you have found this book useful. I hope to meet you in person some day and until then,