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MSc update - John C. Kirk — LiveJournal

Oct. 19th, 2003

12:27 am - MSc update

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Since my last post, I've spoken to one of the partners at work. We've arranged that I'll stay there full-time until the end of January, then part-time until the end of May (4 days a week at work initially, gradually reducing it). Then from June-September I'll be full-time on my project. Hopefully I should be able to avoid overtime, as they've deliberately put me on in-house development, so there won't be any external deadlines from clients. I've also warned them that if I get to February, and it looks like I'm behind schedule, I may give in my month's notice rather than sticking around until May.

Meanwhile, I've been chatting to various people about this. Thanks to all who've commented on previous entries - I'm not adding one line "thank you" comments to each one unless I have something specific to say, but they are all appreciated. I think the main issue here is whether I'm still hoping to do a PhD afterwards, and whether that's still feasible. The related issue is that if I only need 50% to pass, and I can't get a distinction, then is it worth putting in loads of effort to get 90%, or should I have more modest aims? Basically, there are two options when it comes to choosing a project:



So, if I'm just concerned about my future (commercial) career, then it makes sense to take the first option. That would then clear up the black hole on my CV, and with a bit of creativity I wouldn't have to mention the retake at all. ("I have an MSc, and I spent 2002-2003 studying for it. I was then working again from September 2003 onwards, with a few months off over the summer.")

If I want to do a PhD, then it makes sense to take the second option. But it is a gamble, and given that I've screwed up the last two projects I did (final year BSc and MSc), that doesn't bode well. And even if I do well, it may be too late, if I've burned my bridges getting this far.

I'm leaning towards the second option. One thing I've learned in life is that I generally regret the things I haven't done more than the things I have. So, if I give it my best shot, and I can't get a PhD place, that's something I can live with; at least I'll know. By the same token, if I screw it up again, that's probably a fairly clear indication that I'm not cut out for a career in research.

I'm not sure how much useful preparation I can do between now and Christmas, although the suggestions to read up on AI in general are useful. I think I'll try to clear as many of the non-project-related items off my "to do" list as possible, to reduce the distractions that I'll have to deal with from January onwards. So, trying to clear the eternal backlog of unread books/magazines would be a good start there.

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Comments:

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From:shuripentu
Date:October 19th, 2003 03:23 am (UTC)
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Whatever you choose, wherever you end up, good luck :) *hugs encouragingly*
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From:rileen
Date:October 19th, 2003 07:25 am (UTC)

Don't wait till December ........

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I think you should consider talking to the professors who work in the areas that interest you. As you know, the list put up in January isn't the only way to decide upon which project to do; it's also possible to discuss with a professor & come up with your own project.

If you're leaning towards the second option, i think it makes a lot of sense to contact the relevant professors right away.

The plan of working full-time till Jan, part-time till summer & then full time on the project sounds sensible.
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[User Picture]
From:overconvergent
Date:October 19th, 2003 01:00 pm (UTC)
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I think that the advice to talk to professors now is good. Also keep talking to them to make sure that there aren't any hidden or non-obvious requirements ("You need to use XYZ bibliography style; if it doesn't have an abstract/chapter headings in italic/dedication to Cthulhu then it isn't any good") that you need to fulfil.

I also think that percentage counting may not be the best strategy. It's better to spend more time and get 60% than to miscalculate and get 45%. Spending more productive time on projects is always a good idea ;)
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