1. Why did you leave?
Quite frankly, I failed my first committee meeting. I've never felt confident in my background knowledge in chemistry (had to take all 8 cumulative exams to pass - most others finished in 5-6). After failing the committee meeting, I felt deflated. I couldn't imagine going through the process again a couple more times (successfully or not).
2. Your thought process in leaving? Was it deliberate (over a period of time) or sudden?
After my first committee meeting (in Sept), I avoided talking to my PI about rescheduling another one until he cornered me in January. We sat down in his office and it was right there and then that I decided I didn't want to continue. This was my third year of grad school and I no longer was a TA but I realized that I wasn't satisfied without the teaching component of the job. I was frustrated with research and couldn't get results that I wanted or could make sense of. Teaching those first two years were the most enjoyable part of my time, so I wanted to continue with that. Perhaps I had been thinking about leaving in the back of my head after the failed CM but I didn't actually commit to the idea until my meeting in January with my boss.
3. Where are you now?
I left with a master's and worked full-time as a lab instructor at another institution for four years before moving. After my husband finished his PhD (we started at the same time but at different schools), he was offered a job out of state, so I followed him. He had moved for me when I began my prior job, so I felt that I could return the favor. I am now an adjunct at the same university he is employed at.
4. Are you happy after leaving? How does the decision look to you now?
I am very happy. After deciding to leave, I felt like I had something to look forward to. Even though I could have left with my master's after making the decision, I stayed in the lab to work the rest of the semester (since I was under contract) and of course, my research progress started to go forward. I don't regret my decision - I think it would have be difficult if my husband and I were on the market at the same time. Given that our academic fields are very different from each other, it would have been unlikely that we could have landed jobs in the same university or town. I have been extremely fortunate to be hired at the same school he is fully employed and I think that not having a PhD did not matter in my employment. I'm also lucky that we are able to teach a course together as part of a unique learning experience at our school.Thanks to "Y" for their story.