For the past weeks I have been mulling over a very interesting PhD position, which came to a conclusion yesterday. Last Thursday I had an interview with professors because I was selected as one of the best five out of more than 50 applications. I had my reservations, and they had a bunch of good questions. My takeaway was that the position is about as good as a PhD position can get: a full ride, stipend and benefits, a nice faculty and plenty of collaborations and conferences to do. And I could probably pull it off, too, if I wanted to dive into it.


Over the weekend I came to the realization that I still felt an enormous barrier to say yes, even after most of my reservations had been resolved. If there's nothing wrong with the position and I still don't want to jump at the opportunity it's probably just not for me. I realized that I can do it but I didn't want it enough - I just couldn't get excited for the position. Maybe it's the narrowness of the topic that I like but don't love, maybe it's the prospect of four years of data juggling and insipid writing, or maybe it's because I still don't feel at home in this city. Probably a combination of the three.

So yesterday morning I wanted to contact the professor when I saw that he already tried to call me. Turns out that they already decided to give the position to someone else! I had the best application and they would've chosen me, were it not that one guy with a similar background had multiple years of experience in transportation modelling and data analysis over me. We came to the conclusion that a part-time PhD in a topic that I care more about would fit me much better. Maybe some day, who knows.

I'm also in talks with a bunch of companies. I have one offer in already, two more to come soon-ish. The common denominator in these conversations is bringing into focus what I think I want to do: innovating with geodata in urban problems, bridging the gap between technicians and urban planning experts. Over the last year I've already done that a few times in my consultancy gig and I'm starting to realize it's one of my best and most valuable skills. And I like doing it! Now I just gotta find the best spot to do that.

Right now I am working really hard (well, if I'm not on Hubski that is) on getting my thesis up to snuff. I need to hand it in before the next Pubski for my greenlight meeting that I have in two weeks. If it's good enough I will graduate just before Christmas. I've written 4 out of 6 chapters which was the bulk of the writing. I'm creating a ton of graphs and maps to visualize my results and sensitivity analysis. Praise the lawd for matplotlib and automated mapmaking...

posted by pubski: 16 days ago