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to ask how is life after a PhD?

(44 Posts)
AteRiri Fri 13-Jan-17 09:36:50

Work prospects?

What's the reality of life after completing a PhD?

yellowfrog Fri 13-Jan-17 09:44:48

Science or humanities? I found my science one really helps with my current job.

Kintan Fri 13-Jan-17 09:45:47

It depends on a lot of factors - What subject? How many publications do you have? Teaching experience? Are you looking to stay in academia?

DamnCommandments Fri 13-Jan-17 09:51:03

I finished one in statistics last year. Didn't prepare me for the non-academic job market at all. Could have prepared me for the academic job market, but that's a total shit-show. It also wrecked my confidence.

So, in short, don't do it for the job prospects!

OdinsLoveChild Fri 13-Jan-17 10:00:35

I think it varies greatly. My db has a phd. Initially before gaining his phd he was working for a very progressive company who supported him hugely and he had lots of options open to him.
Once he achieved his phd they encouraged him to apply for promotion because he was considered over qualified for his current role. He got promoted and put on 6 month trial. He didn't like the extra responsibility, it ruined his working relationships and he couldn't move roles. He felt his job wasn't what he thought it would be and decided to leave. He got turned down for dozens of jobs and eventually joined the fire service.

He always felt that big companies like people they can mold to fit their own style and that those with a phd were less flexible and had higher expectations than those with a good degree. Those with a phd were in some cases prohibitively expensive so less likely to be recruited by innovative new companies.

However if you do it for personal satisfaction then theres nothing to lose no matter what your career situation is.

AteRiri Fri 13-Jan-17 10:01:16

Information Systems.

Lucylanz Fri 13-Jan-17 10:02:38

From the social sciences it seems that if you want to be a lecturer it can be worth the slog. If not, then four years (if you do it full time) of being paid little (and often infrequently) alongside constant doubts and stress can leave you worse off than when you began. I'm still recovering two years later so maybe a little biased!

StillMaidOfStars Fri 13-Jan-17 10:03:41

I'm in STEM academia so completely necessary for my work prospects (which are dwindling along with everyone else's).

DamnCommandments Fri 13-Jan-17 10:07:11

Don't do it. Just don't. Do an MSc. It's strenuous but short, and will actually leave you better qualified for a job in IS. But don't do a PhD.

flowers for Lucylanz. I only graduated six months ago - it's shit!

Strongmummy Fri 13-Jan-17 10:17:12

I think it really depends on the type of work you want to do. Academia, yes important. The world of finance, potentially interesting for an employer if they are looking for an analyst/very maths based role. For more commercial stuff where you're negotiating, problem solving in real world situations, making deals ? The quicker you get out of academia the better!!!

Strongmummy Fri 13-Jan-17 10:18:26

What are information systems? I.T.? If so, what type of career are you after?

cazzyg Fri 13-Jan-17 10:28:15

In IT, unless you want to go into academic research then a PhD doesn't really enhance your prospects. Hands on experience is valued more. My experience is in IT consultancy and software development/business change.

If it's something you're really interested in, then do it for for the personal development but if your primary aim is enhancing career options, I'd generally recommend against a PhD.

Strongmummy Fri 13-Jan-17 10:30:33

What cazzyg said!!!

Belleende Fri 13-Jan-17 10:30:46

if you want to continue in academia, congratulations you have just met one very necessary and important milestone. Now you need to go to conferences, look for opportunities to present your work, build contacts, and land your post-doc position / fellowship. If you are very ambitious, then definitely go the fellowship route - it is more prestigious and generally better funded than post docs.

Look for a boss who has a reputation for developing staff - they should have a pattern of letting junior staff take first authorship on papers and grant applications. This is really necessary if you ever want to become fully independent.

If you want to step away from academia, you need to round out your experience. Try and get some non academic positions, e.g. student news paper if you are interested in comms. Your PhD can be an advantage, but only if it comes alongside some 'real life' experience.

You might also want to look at graduate schemes. Consultancy firms do take on PhDs with technical experience, but you will have to have top notch results and have gone to Oxbridge / Russell Group to even get a foot in the door. Your careers office should be able to help you with this.

HardofCleaning Fri 13-Jan-17 10:31:12

My DH and I both have PhD's in mathematical subjects and most jobs we would consider require a PhD even outside of academia. Twenty years ago these jobs would only require an good undergrad but not it's much more competitive.

Other jobs don't require a PhD but count the years you've spent working there as professional experience so you start on a much higher salary than a graduate.

Lweji Fri 13-Jan-17 10:32:49

What did you do it for?
Did not have a job before? Do you want to do research?
What are other people in the are doing?

Are you considering it or have just finished it?

AteRiri Fri 13-Jan-17 10:37:40

I'm doing my masters now in Information Systems and just been thinking about it - offshoot of me interning in possibly the largest industrial research organisation in the world.

My original plan when I started my masters was to eventually do an MBA.

Previous work experience is not related to IT.

Godstopper Fri 13-Jan-17 10:47:41

For me, as a humanities PhD, it's been an extremely uncertain time. I'm lecturing this year alongside a one year fellowship (latter essentially unpaid but looks good on c.v!). Beyond that, I'm worried.

I have two papers under review, one was rejected and sent out again. Because rejection rates are about 95%, it takes a long time to get anything out there - time I don't really have.

The lecturing is crowding out any research this term, though I hope to write something during the break. What I need is a postdoc to give me time to land pubs, but these are very hard to come by. Not one I could apply for in the U.K last year (Oxford JRF's are a racket best avoided in my area).

Jobs tend to get several hundred apps. I'm also deaf and this goes against me despite the 'Two ticks" scheme. I also took longer to complete my PhD than normal as I had a cochlear implant - part of the reason I did was to put me on a more even playing field, but I'm not sure it has.

My general impression is that my discipline is largely ran by wealthy, entitled, white men with little understanding of different groups: in fact, it is sometimes hostile to them. I don't know if the toxic aspects outweigh my interest in the subject anymore.

I'd hope prospects are brighter in STEM subjects.

HardofCleaning Fri 13-Jan-17 11:01:53

Just read that you're in I.T. If you did a PhD in something like machine learning your career prospects would be excellent because there's a lot of demand for someone who can train neural networks.

My DH now works in finance in a technical role and says when they're recruiting they're more interested in mathematical ability than programming (although they'd expect you to be have taught yourself programming) since it's more rare and if you're good at maths you should be able to become a competent programmer. When they're recruiting developers they'd expect a good degree but no more a PhD would be an advantage but not necessary and wouldn't necessarily give you the edge over someone with experience.

So it may well be it's not a massive advantage unless your PhD happens to apply very precisely to the role you're applying for.

AteRiri Fri 13-Jan-17 11:10:08

I'm in IT but my course is more of business IT. My internship is with a group that does deep learning but my role is related to my previous non-IT background.

DrDreReturns Fri 13-Jan-17 11:10:49

I'm a software engineer and I agree with HardofCleaning - programmers who are good at maths are very rare. When I was involved in mathematical software I had to do an Open University course to get my Maths up to speed!
In my career I've never met a programmer with a PhD - the people with doctorates tended to be the statisticians / scientists who designed the models the software was based on.

LoupGarou Fri 13-Jan-17 11:58:49

Mine is in science in a very niche science field, and it has opened doors which enabled me to get a better level of experience. In turn it was the experience which really made a difference. It doesn't make a difference now, I think, as I have made a name for myself in my fie!d, but it helped getting to this point and I doubt I would have been at this point without it.

It does mean that I have been able to negotiate a role for myself which is extremely flexible and fits in around being a SAHM, but we live somewhere not many other people would want to. I have always found doing a job that the employer would struggle to get the skill level of candidates they want because of the undesirable location of the job is a good way to negotiate very nice terms for yourself.

Trulyamnearanear Fri 13-Jan-17 12:04:44

Ignore if ridiculous, but could you get into cyber security. It seems to be where the buzz is.

For me, my PhD got me £5k extra starting salary for the same job grin plus the kudos.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 13-Jan-17 12:27:13

In my career I've never met a programmer with a PhD - the people with doctorates tended to be the statisticians / scientists who designed the models the software was based on.

Let me introduce myself then grin, I sometimes describe myself as a 'programmer' - I develop scientific software. My company is stuffed with PhD scientists like me who spend most of their coding.

ErrolTheDragon Fri 13-Jan-17 12:27:47

Most of their time coding, obv.

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