PhD vs Experience


I'm currently a first class engineering student who being offered to further my studies in one of the local M'sia university. There is also grant provided so I won't have to get any sponsor for the materials, plus a scholarship.

Also, there are few MNC company offering me a position in their company, of course I still haven't reply them.

I have no interest in being a lecturer or joining the education line whatsoever. The lecturers told me that getting a PhD in 3 years will secure you a job as an Senior Engineer when you join some MNC company with higher salary. Frankly speaking, the salary is what attract me the most, aside from my interest though.

So my question is whether to take the PhD or work first?

Please advise. :-(


======= Date Modified 19 Jun 2011 11:42:35 =======
Hi ShrugsLova,

IMO, I would take the industry job. You say that you have no interest in being in education, and the reason why the PhD is attractive to you is the salary after 3, 4, or 5 years in the program. If you have no interest, then maybe it may not be very enjoyble for you to do. Who knows, you might end up liking it. But if your interest is not there, chances are you wouldn't.

I think if you start at the junior level, you would be able to become a senior engineer after 3,4,5 years of experience. I don't know how long exactly. With 5-7 years of experience, you may be a middle-level manager. More than that you can move up higher. I guess it depends on you and the company. But the point is the entry/junior level job will just as well lead to your career objective. Having the company-specific and industry-specific experience would be an advantage.

Be careful who you get your information from. The lecturer who told you that you will get a senior post in an MNC after a PhD may have his own interest in mind. It may well be that he said that to you to attract you to the program. Research his past PhD students, especially those that graduated last year and this year. See where they are now. Talk to them about their career goals prior to the phd, and ask how the PhD helped them.

My guess would be, there is a difference between applied engineering and "theoretical" engineering. So even if you have the PhD, your research skills might lean towards the non-applied part. I don't know this exactly, but the best would be to ask other engineering PhDs.

Goodluck, and congratulations for gettin the offer. Would like to hear about your decision some time in the future.



I have no interest to be a lecturer or in academic line, but if it is all about research; I'm interested. I have interest in research. I heard lecturers are being paid handsomely but the only drawback of being a lecturer is your social life is limited, what you did/done/do/doing will be observed by the students. The last resort will be going for academia if I'm unemployed because 'overqualified' issue or no experience issue.

I've send email to some of MNC available in M'sia asking about the job prospect after getting PhD; be it the salary, promotion and etc. Hope I'll get some reply soon. You're right, I can't totally believe my supervisor's words. He might just trying to lure me in :)

But I have another question; what I did (if I were to do my PhD) is about thermoelectrics; it's related to semiconductor field but not directly nevertheless. So, will this be a plus to me when I enter semiconductor field later.


======= Date Modified 19 Jun 2011 18:11:09 =======
======= Date Modified 19 Jun 2011 18:08:23 =======
Hi ShrugsLova,

I think I misunderstood your post.

I thought you have two offers going at the moment, one is phd, and another is a job in an MNC. I thought you meant that you wanted a phd so you could earn a high salary in the industry once you graduate. Is this correct? If that is the case, I would go to the industry directly, bypassing the phd, because you said that you have no interest in education line (which I understood to be teaching and academic research). I said this because after a few years as a junior engineer, you'd be able to move up higher anyway, so the time you spend in a junior position would be the same as the time you spend in the phd. The difference is that IMO you have more chances of getting a senior MNC position if you are involved directly with the company or if you are already an insider.

Or maybe you meant you want a phd because the salary as a phd student is more attractive than working in the industry?

If you meant the second case, please disregard my post. On the semiconductor-thermoelectrics question, sorry I don't know about that. Goodluck



======= Date Modified 24 Jun 2011 01:45:51 =======
If you don't like academic work then a PhD is certainly not for you.
Having worked in a reasonably large engineering company before I started my PhD, I think your Prof is way off with his assessment of where he expects you to fit into a company after a PhD.

Where I worked we had PhD students join the company, a couple from Cambridge even, and they started in graduate positions. Your starting position will depend on your industry experience even more so than technical knowledge.

Think about this, even if you have a lot of technical information, you need to know how to function inside your employer;s company. That can only come from experience within the organisation, or organisations within the industry of choice.

I think the exception to this is if you join a company as a researcher (such as a Pharma company), or perhaps a highly science based company spin out or some such enterprise which is very scientifically driven. Generally, engineering companies are driven more by money than science.