Ok, so I'm in a pretty dire situation here. I'm coming towards the end of my PhD contract in France. For a litany of reasons, it hasn't gone too well.
I had extreme difficulty getting my experiments to work, and as I'm working with living organism (microalgae) this often meant months of delays. My experimental schedules were often incredibly strenuous and I had nobody to help me with them.
My supervisor is a kind person but far too busy for me, and I've never really been a real priority to her. She's often away for weeks, responds incredibly slowly or not at all to requests for review of my work or help, and has decided to go on a research cruise just before my deadline date (while continuously delaying review of my currently written chapters). I don't want to be too pessimistic but I feel like she gave up on me months ago and didn't suggest I quit because she wanted me to finish the work and publish the papers.
Ridiculous bureaucracy in France has no leeway on deadline for submission -- 2 months before the prospective defence date and no later, and no defence date outside of contract end (to avoid paying unemployment benefits to students while they continue to work). Apparently I am unable to waive this either, as I would be happy to do if it meant a few weeks more time.
The difficulties of living abroad and alone exacerbated incredibly my pre-existing depression and anxiety and this meant me having extreme difficulty self motivating and keeping good time. I've had probably 4-5 mental breakdowns over the last 3 years due to experimental scheduling.
I didn't have a good grasp of what I was supposed to do in my PhD apart from experimentation, and I was ostracised pretty badly by my mostly French department (I'm English). Other PhD students (French) all received great advice and tutelage under the senior members of staff, whereas most staff here don't know my name nor have ever tried to talk to me.
I feel like I've just failed life. I don't have any idea what kind of employers would accept me after this 3 year mess. Due to my extreme experimental schedule I feel very underdeveloped as I didn't manage to publish anything (yet), go to many classes, go to any conferences... etc. The only thing going for my is 5 years of lab experience. However most lab jobs I've seen (in the UK - my home) that pay well require experience in techniques I haven't used, and low paid ones that I could adapt easily to require only A levels; having a first class masters would probably mean they think I’m overqualified.
Science was always my dream and it's been my career path since my youth. Now that I have the experience of what not to do in a PhD I feel like I could enter another program and succeed easily. I made SO many mistakes this time around that could've easily been avoided if I'd known what to expect. Unfortunately, almost nothing at all was communicated clearly to me on what I had to do to succeed until it was too late, and the language barrier meant that I had a hard time finding this info myself. However, I don't know at all if another project would accept me. Also, I don't know if I could handle the stress.
Sorry for the rant. The advice I'm asking for is:
Do I have any career prospects?
How on earth do I present myself to prospective employers as anything but a failure?
Would a potential future PhD supervisor ever consider me given my failure? It's unclear, while I feel like i'm advantaged because I know what to do now and I'd have the confidence and drive not to repeat the same mistakes, I don't know if anyone would see me like that. I've truly learned from my mistakes.
Thank you for your time...