One month ago I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation. It's been a crazy month, but I completed the minor revisions that the examination committee required, and today I submitted the final version of the dissertation.
More than once in the last five years I was told that the dissertation isn't the really important thing. Yes, it marks the end of the PhD. But more importantly it marks the beginning of your career as a researcher. The real goal is to get it done so you can get started on whatever comes next.
When I first heard that, I understood it in an abstract way. But for the last few years the dissertation has consumed so much of my attention that it was often hard to remember that one day it would be done. Now I think I understand more concretely the dissertation's proper place. I wanted it to be perfect, and it is not, but it will give me an excellent start for what comes next.
So what comes next? I combine my research with my technical skills and build better software tools for scientists.