TL;DR: Thinking about leaving my PhD program after 6 months. 1.) The program is not what I imagined it would be. 2.) I'm not positive I need a PhD to do what I want to do. 3.) I've been offered a pretty great opportunity that would put me back on a track that I was happy with prior to my program. 4.) However, I do not want to burn bridges with faculty/people that have invested time and resources in me.
I would love to hear any thought exercises or lines of self-inquiry that people have found useful in making a decision of this nature! tl;dr/close
I will keep details in the following fairly vague to avoid identifiers.
I am a 1st year PhD Student (6 months in). I've spent several years in "the real world" in between my Masters and my current position. I was achieving just about everything I wanted to during this time, but felt that a little more access to independence and/or creative discretion in designing projects would be nice. I decided to pursue a PhD, visualizing 4-5 years of independent research in a free-thinking environment, and then returning to an applied position outside of the academic arena.
Without getting stuck in the weeds, I'll just say that my program, and academia in general, is not what I had built up in my mind, and I am now incredibly disillusioned with the work of my cohort. I feel as though the end result of my research ideas will simply be research products that remain one or two steps removed from being applied in practice, whereas prior to this work I was taking ideas and just implementing. Creativity realized. I'm not sure a PhD is necessary for what I ultimately want to do. In the end I'd rather share my ideas with a broad audience of practitioners, researchers, as well as lay communities. No textbooks. "Regular books" with complex ideas distilled into elegant simplicity that even the public could ponder.
I have recently been offered a pretty great position that would place me back in an applied position and on the track I was on previously. My intuition tells me to find a graceful way to exit my program, but I also know that I am new. I would give the decision more time, but the external opportunity requires fairly immediate action, and I'd hate to become more ingrained in a current team project and have folks invest more resources in me.
I would love to hear any thought exercises or lines of self-inquiry that people have found useful in making a decision of this nature!
Thanks in advance!