The Glory of Starting Over

After finishing a Master’s program in Discrete Mathematics last spring, I moved onto a PhD program in a (completely) different school. Whereas the Master’s was very focused on very esoteric fields of math, the PhD program I’m in has a very standard beginning and then you specialize later on. I’m grateful for this, because as I started this program I realized I have absolutely no idea what I want to do. When I was working on my M.S. I was #1 combinatorics girl. But watching friends and colleagues struggle in the job market in this area, as well as just general fatigue of the area makes me not so in love with the area anymore. Other areas seem much more lucrative, but I feel that is partially because its something I am NOT doing.

So as I start my grad school experience with a fresh plate, what is some advice you have? Should I specialize in something that is more likely to land a job and research what I want after I’m gainfully employed? More generally, what would you have redone during your grad school career if you could? What advice do you have for a “first-year” (more like third year) graduate student who has lost her focus?

P.S. The main goal for this year is passing the qualifiers 😉

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