My Life Is a Simulation

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After tackling my qualifying exam, I had a question to ask myself: what was I going to do in the next stage of my PhD program. For most people, this is an easy question to answer: do research. For me, it means following the simulation.

Table of Contents

Looking for Warmth

As you can probably tell, tech is burning me out again. In fact, I just wrote an entire article about my obsession with escapism, so I was wondering what it was about tech that was causing me to feel this way.

Early in the semester, I was sitting in an Introduction to Artificial Intelligence lecture, and I noticed how empty the room felt. Of course, there were 114 seats but only 40 students, so I managed to find a seat with no one on any side of me.

As the lecture drew on, I grew quite bored and began writing this depiction of my setting. After all, who wants to listen to a guy yell out to an empty room for 90 minutes? In fact, it was so empty that his voice just casually bounced around the walls like the inside of a church.

At that point, I began to reflect a bit on my situation. After all, this sort of environment was hardly unusual to me. In fact, I’ve always felt tech was sort of cold and cutthroat. So, what can you do? You make a change.

Entering the Simulation

This semester, I decided to take a practicum course to help me in my teaching. At the time, I joked about switching to their department which apparently caught wind. By the time the first class was over, the professor reached out to me about possibly making the transition. That was Monday.

By Tuesday, I started hunting down people who could answer questions about the transition: peers, professors, coordinators, etc. In fact, I had a small email thread going with that professor to try to answer some of my questions about potentially transferring. In addition, I had contacted the graduate coordinator who was helping me map out a plan.

On Wednesday night, I was invited to an all-day workshop on computer science education. How convenient! In just three days, I managed to go from just barely toying with an idea to being fully immersed in the possibility. I absolutely had to attend.

By Thursday, I found myself in that workshop. That’s where I ran into one of the professors that I taught for previously. They were there with a first-year professor who just so happened to have a PhD in Engineering Education. How convenient!

After chatting with them, I learned that they had done their dissertation in emotions of people learning to code. How convenient! After all, I was feeling like the community could use a boost in emotional intelligence. I probably wouldn’t even be considering the jump to a new department if I felt more at home. After chatting with them, I had a new dilemma: should I stay in the department or not?

By Friday, I met with my current advisor to share everything I had learned that week. Without hesitation, they joked that they kind of figured I was moving in that direction. Then, they started planning out paths for me, and they even promised me their support.

By the end of the week, I was starting to wonder if my life was just a simulation. After all, nothing works at that perfectly for anyone, yet here I was watching things play nicely for me.

Moral of the Story

Before this week, I was feeling pretty down. In fact, I had just taken the qualifying exam, and I didn’t feel all that great about it. To cope, I started pouring all my extra time into my new blog, Trill Trombone, in hopes of building up some kind of income stream.

Then, for whatever reasons, the pieces started to fall into place. Suddenly, I was feeling dramatically less stressed. Sure, there’s a lot of work ahead, but at least I have a plan.

In the meantime, I’ll always keep asking for support. In particular, you can follow along on my journey by hopping on my mailing list or becoming a patronOpens in a new tab..

As always, thanks for stopping by, and thanks!

Journey to a PhD (49 Articles)—Series Navigation

As my current career trajectory shifts away from engineering, I find myself in a peculiar position as a PhD student. As I explore the latest concepts in Computer Science, you can find that journey documented here in my series titled Journey to a PhD.

Jeremy Grifski

Jeremy grew up in a small town where he enjoyed playing soccer and video games, practicing taekwondo, and trading Pokémon cards. Once out of the nest, he pursued a Bachelors in Computer Engineering with a minor in Game Design. After college, he spent about two years writing software for a major engineering company. Then, he earned a master's in Computer Science and Engineering. Today, he pursues a PhD in Engineering Education in order to ultimately land a teaching gig. In his spare time, Jeremy enjoys spending time with his wife, playing Overwatch and Phantasy Star Online 2, practicing trombone, watching Penguins hockey, and traveling the world.

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