These are the things I wish I had known before deciding to go to grad school. Obviously take these with a grain of salt, as they just represent one man's opinion.
I love writing. I miss that aspect of working in research. You see the slightest thread of an insight, and then just keep pulling on it through reading related work, writing, and iterating, until you've formed a coherent thought to share with the world. Not everything I write is equally insightful (or coherent) to others, but I always enjoy the writing process nonetheless. In academia, writing took the form of technical papers that might only see the light of day on Arxiv. Nowadays, my preferred medium is blogging, but without dedicating time to writing, it just doesn't happen.
"Time is the most valuable thing a man can spend." Theophrastus
With only so much time on this world, it's in our best interest to use it wisely. Even with best intentions, I often find myself feeling like I could have spent my time better. These thoughts typically fall into one of three categories:
- Missed goals: You wanted to get something done this week/month/year, but it didn't happen. Now you find the task repeatedly slipping to the next week.
- Lost time: It's a long day, and hour 5 fades into hour 6. Next thing you know it's the end of the day and you wonder where the time went.
- Poor Use: People need you, emails need responses, events run over. By the end of the day, you've spent your time on a bunch of things you never intended to spend time on.
Have you ever had that awkward moment with a PhD student, where someone asks:
How much longer until you graduate? Do you know what you'll do after school?
The student hesitates to answer, or worse, bolts in the other direction. For the majority of people who will never get their PhD, I'll give my explanation for the reason why. Disclaimer: this opinion will be heavily biased towards PhD's in computer science and may not apply to other fields.
For years, my website was a single gigantic HTML file. Adding content and making edits felt a lot like stacking Jenga blocks a mile high. While that was fun in many ways, it is 2015 and it is time to move to some form of automated system like Jekyll.