You’re not quite as wild as your hairstyle suggests
My PhD supervisor observed 2 months into my PhD. I think he was a bit disappointed. I’d learnt that a key part of his interview process was to judge a person by their hairstyle.
I’d worn all green to my interview, with a large black belt and my back-brushed hair included streaks of green to match my outfit. I’d adapted gothic and rebranded it with a green theme. The green streaks in my hair were an accident, but a pleasant one.
I’d seen an advertisement in the Guardian for a PhD on “Information Technology and Human Memory”. It sounded intriguing. The PhD I was currently lined up to do was:
- sponsored by IBM
- more money than my friends in employment were making
- deadly boring – compare key-stroke mathematical equations that describe human interaction with the computer and find or develop a better model
- stupid – even in 1986 I knew that there are things that influence human behaviour with a computer which are much more significant than keystrokes
So I was looking for something better. I wrote to the Psychology department asking for more information and bleached some white streaks into my black and orange hair (pictured). Next day I received a phone call asking me to come for an interview. Perhaps I should tone-down my appearance for an interview. I bought a brown hair-dye and died it to what I thought would be normal. Brown hair die is made from green and red colours. The red colour is very sensitive to the pre-existing bleach on hair, it doesn’t ‘take’. The green dye has no problem taking. Instead of turning my bleached streaks to a suitably humble brown the dye turned them green. Ho Hum. Too late now, I’ll go to the interview as normal me rather than professional looking me.
What a fun interview. The interviewer opened by asking
Wendy, is the paperless office a realistic goal?
We chatted about this and agreed on reasons why it was not the right goal, but it could happen. Finally I asked,
So what exactly is this PhD on?
Oh, that’s up to you, anything as long as it involves psychological theories of human memory and IT
This was the PhD for me, freedom to follow what interested me and what I might come to believe in with an excellent thinker to work with and guide me.
An excellent thinker who liked whacky hairstyles.