3

I'm aware, that this question is going to appear too emotional and exaggerated, but I'll try my best to describe the whole situation as it is, unbiased.

The point is, I'm major degree student who changed his field of study from Informatics and Computer Science (I've got B.S. from it) to Computational Mathematics. I was not very happy with lecturers' behavior in B.S. degree (HERE is my question about Bachelor's thesis, where my supervisor effectively refused to cooperate), but now it's much worse than everything I've ever imagined.

Most of my colleagues in this new field look down at me, like I was some pauper who went there to steal something to eat. The most terrifying thing is, that even some professors obviously share this attitude, that Informatics and CS student are not worthy of being accepted by mathematicians. The first incident happened approximately 2 weeks ago and I asked about it HERE.

Today, the second incident happened, or better, climaxed. Since the first week of this term I was trying to contact one of professors, who was responsible for my acclimatization plan (one subject, where are the most important things from B.S., so you could catch up with your colleagues in your new field). He was supposed to send me some studying materials and tell me, which topics I should learn. Also he should tell me about terms of my exams and the topic of the project he wants me to do. He did none of these things, so I was contacting him again and again.

He usually responded to my e-mail with some vague info about "consulting it next week on Skype". Yesterday I insisted on consultation, but he told me, that he only wants to do it through Skype. Then he send me some messages late in the evening and in the morning today with the text similar to this: "Do you have the time to consult it right now?" I had no chance to even read it exactly in the time the message was delivered. Today I accepted the whole "Skype thing" and send him an e-mail in the afternoon again. He told me that he'll be online today at 8 p.m. But, even after three my messages, he wasn't. I got only short e-mail about him being ready in 5 minutes (so he was near his computer), but he wasn't. I gave up waiting in 9:30 p.m. After 10 p.m. I got e-mail from him with text "OK, tomorrow I'll be here from 10 to 11 a.m.".

I consider this last message to be a pure mockery, he probably wants me to wait for him again and again, even in weekends.

The problem is, I don't know, what should I do now. My greatest dream was becoming a successful scientist. After B.S. I was offered a part-time job in our research center and I got about 6 offers to the industry positions (even a programming job for company which produces airplanes). Even if those positions were much more lucrative, I accepted the position in research. Because of this research center is our university ranked top in my country.

I've sacrificed everything I could to this dream. My friends (who are away or in the CS field), hobbies (bodybuilding, martial arts and even fishing were too time-consuming activities) and my health too. I've started loosing hair, weight, my hands are trembling permanently and I had to undergo lesser back surgery because of long-term sitting, so now I have the typical "drug-addict look". It didn't matter too much to me, I was working and studying about 14 hours every day.

But now I'm incredibly frustrated, sad and shocked because of my new lecturers' and colleagues' attitude. I feel like I cannot continue my degree here, but I don't want to leave either, because I would've left my job in research.

Ok, so here are my questions:

  1. What do you think I can do about professors' attitude? I don't think an official complaint is the best idea because of their positions.
  2. Is it possible to suspend my career in the academy, take the job in the industry and try to get into another research center next year? Or will it damage my career as a researcher deeply?

I'm sorry for a very long description of my problem.

closed as off-topic by Brian Borchers, user6726, Enthusiastic Engineer, Johanna, scaaahu Oct 3 '15 at 2:43

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "The answer to this question strongly depends on individual factors such as a certain person’s preferences, a given institution’s regulations, the exact contents of your work or your personal values. Thus only someone familiar can answer this question and it cannot be generalised to apply to others. (See this discussion for more info.)" – Brian Borchers, user6726, Enthusiastic Engineer, Johanna, scaaahu
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 6
    See Take a deep breath before writing and "Here's my situation, any suggestions?" is not an answerable question. After reading this whole post, I can understand how you are feeling but it's still not clear to me what you want to know. How to make your colleagues respect you when they don't think much of your previous field? How to pin down a flaky professor for a meeting? – ff524 Oct 2 '15 at 21:57
  • 1
    (continued) Most of the questions expressed in the body of your post are not really things we can answer here; for example, we can't tell you whether leaving your PhD and taking a job in industry will make you feel better or worse. If you have a question that can be answered by others, please edit your post to focus on that question. – ff524 Oct 2 '15 at 21:58
  • @ff524 I've tried to reformulate my questions. – Eenoku Oct 2 '15 at 22:17
  • 1
    Sometimes you will encounter stupid people, disorganized people, rude people (=jerks or snobs) in this world. Very rarely will you encounter people who are really out to do you harm. If you are finding yourself suspecting certain people are really out to do you harm, then it's probably time to remove yourself from the situation and put yourself in a healthier environment. – aparente001 Oct 15 '15 at 1:56
11

My adviser told me in my first meeting with him: "I warn you that we'll agree on meetings, and I will just forget to come." This isn't ideal, but I took it as a cute forgetful scientist comment, not an insulting admission. And yes, it turned out to happen a lot.

Professors deal not just with research and supervising students, but they might be involved with industry, probably have a family, and certainly spend much time fighting administration; and the more accomplished they are, the more time is spent dealing with issues they'd rather not instead of focusing on what most like (such as doing research, and supervising). I fully understand that your experiences are frustrating, but they don't strike me necessarily as that unusual. If you find yourself with an adviser who is always extremely reliable, you are lucky. You are not lucky, but this is still to say that all I think you need is patience.

There is more to it though. If your adviser is the busy type, and offers a meeting right after sending you information, he obviously doesn't expect you to have it digested already. You should have taken him up on the offer, and refrain from fatalistic attitudes such as calling re-scheduling attempts a "mockery." Marcus Aurelius wrote (from memory) "We cannot change what happens to us, but we can change how we feel about it." While this isn't so easy, it's good advice as attaching negative feelings to events in the course of work or study doesn't help. From your questions here, you appear to do that commonly. I think your mind and body would benefit if you wouldn't. To learn this, maybe talking to a counsellor might help, if only to verbalize your frustration with them, and maybe so get it out of your system.

I can't help but feel that the world around you isn't quite as dark as it appears to you. Try to learn how to perceive it that way.

  • 2
    To be honest, I wasn't always like that, but last "year and half" is so terrible, I feel like a character in some really bad movie. Anyways, thank you for your response. – Eenoku Oct 2 '15 at 22:15
4

Is there a graduate student administrator? A professor who has special responsibility for graduate students in the department? If neither of those, go for the head of the department.

In any case, contact that person explaining that you have not been able to schedule a meeting with Professor X, and asking for help working with him or an alternative who is more accessible.

Try to keep your communication very factual and relevant. For this purpose, your feelings about "mockery" are irrelevant. All that matters is that you need to get "acclimatization plan" information. Professor X has not been able to either send you the materials or be available to consult about it.

Incidentally, my interpretation of the situation is that it is likely that Professor X is seriously over-committed at the moment. He tried to arrange a Skype call at 8 p.m., which probably means he was going to be doing it from home, where family matters would take precedence.

  • 2
    +1. I can guarantee the OP that the professor in question is not scheduling 8 PM or Saturday morning calls --or emailing at 10 PM -- because he is trying to mock you. There is 100% chance that he has much better things to do with this time than play some elaborate joke at your expense. The fact that the professor is cutting into his own evenings and weekends should be a clear message that this is someone who wants to do the right. – Corvus Oct 3 '15 at 4:43

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.