Last fall, I had been at Aalborg University for nine years: One year in electronic engineering, five years studying software engineering, and three years doing a PhD in computer science. The first six years as a bachelor and master’s student were relatively straightforward and satisfying. The last three years formed my introduction to the academic world.
Being a PhD student in computer science does not mean you are a student of computer science at a high level. Well, you are that, but first and foremost, you are an apprentice of academia. The distinction is important because, while I love computer science, academia is, it turned out for me, not great.
I left the university before having finished my PhD, to work at a private company as an IT consultant. I managed to finish my thesis concurrently with my new job, and I have now defended it successfully. But the last half year has also helped me see more clearly my motivation for switching jobs. It can be summed up like this: Now, I go home from work most days feeling a sense of accomplishment. Before, I came home from work many days with the feeling of having failed.