To PhD or Not to PhD


A few months ago, I put myself in a very interesting position: I got to decide if I wanted to begin a professional investing career through venture capital and startups or begin an education research career through a PhD program. In the statement above, I employ two specific phrases intentionally. First, although this was a difficult decision, I am the one who put myself into the thick of it. The decision exists because I consciously built up my professional capacity enough to be able to pursue both. I set up myself to be ready as well as able to seize an opportunity in either direction when the opportunities arose. Second, I did not have to decide – I got to decide. The former implies a necessity, whereas the latter implies an opportunity. Having to arises from a feeling of obligation, while getting to arises from a feeling of appreciation. Another word for the source of that appreciation is gratitude. These two phrases demonstrate my application of two mindsets I have been cultivating for years. Ultimately, decisions such as this one is exactly what we prepare ourselves for and why we are here. It took me about six weeks to fully decide, and, although I found it arduous at times, I enjoyed every minute of it.

PhD vs VC Decision

Coming into the decision, I realized that a lot of my decision-making tools and frameworks did not apply in a seamless and effective manner. So I created a whole new set of tools and techniques to help me analyze, make, and live through the decision. The tools include a new way to organize interview questions, visualize decision possibilities, and so on. In the next few posts, I present some of the key highlights from my experience. I continue to refine them because they have become an essential part of my general toolkit. I look forward to sharing the tools here and use any feedback to iterate on the current design.

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