On my first year as a doctor (of philosophy)

As I mentioned earlier, I defended my dissertation a year and a week ago. It was a joyous defense, with my committee cosplaying and my friends and family able to attend via Zoom. My BFFs were there, plus lots of people I’ve met online. It was amazing and fun and at the end of it I was WIPED OUT.

Exactly one year ago today, I spent about 10 hours formatting my dissertation so I could graduate. That was not my favorite part.

Some people leave their PhD with a job in hand, whether in academia or industry. Other people, people like me, have no idea what comes next.

What came next for me involved a lot of sleep.

But there was other stuff, too!

A lot of the past year has been focused on parenting stuff, as my kid switched from remote preschool to F2F preschool. A lot of it has involved managing my health, trying different interventions and seeing what felt doable.

I’ve done some work for Quirkos, including writing two blog posts. I really enjoyed that work. I like figuring out what to say, how to say it, and how to make it meet a client’s needs. Content writing/marketing is on the table as a bigger potential stream of income for me in the future, and I like that.

I’ve done a bit of sewing: I made napkins, a blanket, and a pillow. I have fabric ready for making a maxi skirt. I love sewing, but it always feels like a bit of a production to set up. It’s not! It’s actually fast and easy! But it feels like it is, which means I don’t do it as often as I’d like.

I completed W’s application for Public Service Loan Forgiveness and consolidated my loans so I can start that process, too.

I applied for some jobs, not a ton, but maybe close to 10? I wasn’t scattershot: I picked out particular organizations I wanted to work for (like NoveList) or industries I wanted to work in (ed tech, libraries). I had meetings about three potential freelancing gigs but none of them panned out and that was fine.

I spent all of last summer as a Pool Mom, which was amazing: I would take M to the pool first thing in the morning for swim lessons and then he and I would just hang in the water for an hour or two. I loved it.

I presented at MIRA, ALISE, World View, Micro Camp, and FSN NA.

I got caught up on Star Trek: Lower Decks and Discovery. (That reminds me, new Picard today, yay!)

I participated in Micro.blog writer and reader groups sometimes, as well as continuing my participation with the Creative Adventurers community via Discord video chats (something else to look forward to today!).

I got vaccinated.

I got consultations about our broken driveway and eventually went with the choice suggested by our arborist: having Will use a sledgehammer to smash up the parts that were sticking up. This saved us thousands of dollars in driveway refinishing. I had consultations and scheduled work with the arborist and the electrician.

I had lunch with friends.

I let a lot of things go in all different areas of my life.

And I got my dream postdoc, which is huge and made me feel that the not-having-a-plan thing was worth it because I wouldn’t have been available to apply to this postdoc otherwise.

I know that’s just a chronicling of what I did, but I needed that before I could really reflect.

Life isn’t super different aside from the not-working-on-a-dissertation part. I don’t feel different. I do get confused whenever someone calls me Dr. Hirsh.

My postdoc is for one year with the possibility (dare I say expectation?) of a one-year renewal. I have no idea what I’ll be up to come January 2024. I’m privileged to be able to say that that’s okay.

So what’s life like, having been a doctor for a year? The biggest difference is that because I hadn’t been immersed in research from last April through December, I have to go back now and review my notes on earlier processes more when I need to do a technique I’ve done before.

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Kimberly Hirsh, PhD @KimberlyHirsh
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I acknowledge that I live and work on unceded Lumbee, Skaruhreh/Tuscarora, and Shakori land. I give respect and reverence to those who came before me. I thank Holisticism for the text of this land acknowledgement.


We must acknowledge that much of what we know of this country today, including its culture, economic growth, and development throughout history and across time, has been made possible by the labor of enslaved Africans and their ascendants who suffered the horror of the transatlantic trafficking of their people, chattel slavery, and Jim Crow. We are indebted to their labor and their sacrifice, and we must acknowledge the tremors of that violence throughout the generations and the resulting impact that can still be felt and witnessed today. I thank Dr. Terah ‘TJ’ Stewart for the text of this labor acknowledgement.