A PhD is a lot about learning. Although I am ‘really’ working for ‘real’ money; and I feel (and act) like a scientist, there is the ‘student’ part in PhD-student that should never be neglected.
Although I am not truly a baby animal that needs to learn to make its first few steps in the dangerous world, there is a lot of stuff out there to learn for a scientist. That learning process needs some time and, at least as important, it needs some more experienced people to learn it from.
I am convinced I would never have gotten as far as I am now without the combined input and support of so many people. And still, there is a lot more that the ‘student’-part of me needs to learn from my supervisors before I feel I can truly call myself a scientist.
But there also is another side to this: the PhD is the time to learn new methodologies and spend time trying (and failing). As your academic career continues, you will have less and less time to dive into a topic or a method. You will have gotten faster and better at performing most relevatn tasks, but to reach that level, big chuncks of time are needed to get truly familiar with it.
So I am glad I am not thrown out there just like that and that I can carry the name of student for a little while longer. In the meantime, I’ll just try to get as much out of it as possible!