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What made you decide to get a PhD?

(30 Posts)
AteRiri Tue 04-Apr-17 21:13:38

Just that really.

I am graduating at the end of the year. I've been exposed to research in an industry lab the past year, and I like the environment.

However, I realise that these people are the cream of the crop, and most PhD's won't have the same cushy job.

I've been googling and it seems most PhD's either have job insecurity, or are underemployed. Some are even unemployed.

Is it worth it to go after what seems to be a pipe dream?

MaidOfStars Tue 04-Apr-17 21:23:20

I wanted to be an academic researcher - a PhD is a necessity.

donadumaurier Tue 04-Apr-17 21:48:03

About to embark on a PhD, currently an MA student. I'm doing it because I love my subject and I know I will regret it for the rest of my life if I don't do it. It's that simple for me. I would love a job in academia at the end of it, but I would be happy going into something else after if that didn't work out. But I wouldn't need a PhD to do anything else after, it's really just passion for it.

UppityHumpty Tue 04-Apr-17 21:53:16

I think the recommendation should be to wait until you have industry experience before you embark on your phd. I hire economic researchers and often find that those people who go through employer schemes, are of a far better standard than those who do their phds straight after their first degrees or MAs - even if they are unpublished.

HarHer Tue 04-Apr-17 21:57:19

I did my PhD because I loved my subject and I was invited to apply for a research studentship. It was hard work, very hard because I became pregnant before I completed. However, after completion my confidence soared.

A PhD is usually necessary to work in a university or to work for a university, but it also has many other 'softer' benefits.

Go for it.

SheepyFun Tue 04-Apr-17 22:05:29

I wasn't sure what to do after graduation, and in my field given my master's qualification, there were plenty of full scholarship (i.e. fees plus living costs) PhD places available - admittedly the interview process wasn't fun, but I survived! I don't do research now, and doing a PhD showed me that I didn't love my subject enough to go into academia, but I know I gave research a good go. Happy to answer more questions.

AuntJane Tue 04-Apr-17 22:11:36

My employer is now making it an unspoken rule that a PhD is required to gain promotion to a certain grade. My own thoughts are that the work of that grade requires an average first degree.

HeadDreamer Tue 04-Apr-17 22:12:35

I didn't know what to do when I graduated. I had very good score from my undergraduate degree and got a scholarship. The PhD was hard work but I was very proud that I have done it. I also did a postdoc but I didn't like the insecure nature of the work. It is not needed for my current career but I use my title. Much prefer it and people really notice a Dr. Very handy at solicitors and mortgage advisors type of places.

Trills Tue 04-Apr-17 22:15:24

I thought I might want to be a scientist (wrong)

I thought that it would help me figure out if I wanted to be a scientist (correct)

I thought that even if I turned out not to want to be a scientist, I would not consider it to be a waste of time (correct)

I thought I'd like to put "Dr" on any form that requires a title (correct)

Pollyhampton Tue 04-Apr-17 22:16:25

I sort of fell in to mine. Got a job as a researcher and after a year in the job a bursary became available to fund my PhD. Now work in research where it's kind of taken for granted that you have a PhD or years of experience in a field. And i got a 2.1 in my undergrad degree!

MiladyThesaurus Tue 04-Apr-17 22:24:21

I was strongly encouraged to do a PhD by my lecturers at university. I was going to do teacher training. I decided that I wanted to be an academic instead so I did the PhD.

I regularly question the wisdom of that decision and think I should have become an accountant instead! TBH, the teaching where I am now is not at all unlike being a school teacher. I regularly feel that I've got bottom set Y9 instead of adults who actually chose this course. sad

carefreeeee Tue 04-Apr-17 22:29:56

The job insecurity in academia is annoying. 1 or 2 year posts, you've no sooner got settled than you have to start looking for another job and it will probably mean having to move cities. OK if you are young perhaps - I feel a bit old for all that and just want to know I can stay in a job longer than a year or two if I want to. It's very awkward for buying a house, having a child, even having a partner who also works.

On the other hand, I'd get at least a couple of years proper work done before doing a PhD, even if you definitely know you want to do one. Once you have one you have to stay in academia permanently or leave permanently - very few people come back in. It's good to know how things work outside the academic bubble

umizoomi Tue 04-Apr-17 22:31:47

It would depend on your subject/specialism, where you live and where you want to work in my experience.

Academia - definitely
Industry - not so much

AteRiri Tue 04-Apr-17 22:35:44

In my case it's not about having a doctor after my name. I already have that (MD) although I am not qualified to practice where I am. I came from another country and all my past work and experience mean shirt (:P) where I migrated.

But that was fine for me as when I migrated I was craving change. Now I must have stumbled into my true passion (I went into medical school because where I came from, you're a doctor or an engineer or a disappointment) but I think I'm gonna need a PhD to get into that. The thing is, though, I'm almost 39. And I don't know how to start. I'm starting from scratch so maybe I need another MS first.

Hefzi Tue 04-Apr-17 22:38:42

I wasn't in a lab, but did mine because I couldn't imagine not doing it. I didn't become an academic then, but it was needed in the field I went into.

Many years later, I returned to academia, in a different discipline, and now teach that. 2nd PhD seemed like a good idea at the time - turned out not so much. Still, two nervous breakdowns, a period of rough sleeping, and a huge amount of psychotropic drugs every day: let's just say, had I known then what I know now, there's no way in hell I'd have done the second one. And academia isn't what it was, either. On the plus side, I have a job where people look on it as a bonus if your clothes go together grin

I'd recommend doing it if you can't imagine not doing it, and if you'd do it even if you had to pay for it yourself. Otherwise, I'd recommend reconsidering.

Hefzi Tue 04-Apr-17 22:46:28

OP, I have a sib in the sciences: started at 18, and took a year out before doing a MSc but otherwise straight through. This sib has just (last month) got first lecturing post at 38, after post-docing since PhD (so maybe 9 ish years). It's on a 5 year contract (ie not permanent). Are you in a position to move every 2-3 years, including continents? This seems the reality for a lot of scientists - even if your like my sib and get lots of prestigious funding things. If you're on your own, go for it! If you've got children and/or a partner, think very carefully first.

AteRiri Tue 04-Apr-17 22:54:18

I'm married, no children. My husband is a software engineer. He doesn't seem to find it difficult to find a job, but I don't think moving very often would be good for his career.

HeadDreamer Tue 04-Apr-17 22:58:23

What Hefzi says is what I see in academia. I'm in a physical science discipline. You will be in many years of postdoc before getting a lecturer position and even that isn't permanent until later. You have to be ready to move ever 3 years for new contracts, including continents. And as far flung as Japan! But maybe it's because I was in robotics/AI? One PhD with the same supervisor as me went to Japan. Another I knew from Oxford also went there. But you have to be willing to move and at least to all of Europe. We have strong ties because of the EU funding in sciences.

HeadDreamer Tue 04-Apr-17 23:01:01

If he's a software developer then it'd be easy to be a trailing spouse if he can get a work permit. I know people who went to in the US, Canada, Germany, Belgium, Norway and Sweden. It's very transferable as long as the company use English. I'm a software developer btw.

BritSpears Tue 04-Apr-17 23:01:43

Hi HeadDreamer,

The field I want is actually near yours - machine learning applied in healthcare.

But I am a medical doctor. And to get into that, I'd probably have to do MS in Data Science then a PhD.

bumbleymummy Tue 04-Apr-17 23:04:49

I just enjoyed the research I was doing during my masters and wanted to keep going. It's definitely hard work (and can end up taking much longer than you intended!) but I'm glad I did it. smile

Punksparkle Tue 04-Apr-17 23:07:48

Why did I do a PhD? Stupidity I think! (I have a Bsc podiatry, Msc psychology MSc education). But it is (was) fun, I think!

umizoomi Wed 05-Apr-17 23:22:31

Love how people think 5 years isn't permanent?! Really

Move every 2-3 years? Like most jobs then

But the massive advantage is post docs pay way more than industry.

Although transferring from academia to industry is difficult

HeadDreamer Thu 06-Apr-17 05:47:32

But the massive advantage is post docs pay way more than industry.

That's a massive generalisation and does not apply to all disciplines.

Postdoc pay in computer science £32-38k
www.jobs.ac.uk/search/?csrf=51460c5630d5b76a56c53b7de6934e418826de8c&category=0700&keywords=&jobtype=01&salary_from=&salary_to=§or=222§or=223&x=78&y=34

A search for developer jobs in London. The lowest that got mentioned is £38k. Don't forget a postdoc is 4 years in industry for graduates
www.cwjobs.co.uk/jobs/permanent/developer/in-london?radius=10

CasperGutman Thu 06-Apr-17 06:27:54

I did a PhD because I thought I wanted a career as an academic researcher (I changed my mind as I did the PhD, due to post-docs' job insecurity and my lack of suitability for the role!). I also did it because the supervisor of my undergraduate masters research project asked me to, because I applied for and received good funding, and because I didn't know what else I wanted to do at the time.

And to be honest I also did it because my girlfriend's (now wife's) had three more years to go and I wanted to stay around at university with her!

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