Signup date: 14 Jan 2013 at 5:29pm
Last login: 28 Jan 2013 at 6:12pm
Post count: 18
What makes a good PhD? It's the PhD that gives you a plan B. Remember that the employment statistics of academics/PhDs is highly skewed. It's a positive skew with a few people getting a proper sustainable job in academia and most try to get by on post-docs and mundane jobs that they could have got without having to do a PhD. Remember that the post-doc is not the end, it's supposed to provide you with a room to sleep and some basic food until you find something more permanent.
Your PhD doesn't change the world. 4 - 5 years down the line, you are now smarter but the world is still the same. You go to a recruitment fair (of university), you only hear from people who are successful. You never hear from a homeless man with a DPhi from Oxford.
The scientific jobs in the private sector are competitive. Just be prepared. The key is to gain relevant work experience as you study for your PhD.
If you are over 26 years old, I will seek professional advices before committing to a PhD programme. Talk to as many people as you can before you decide to go ahead with the PhD. It's likely that you will be 30 - 31 when you look for your first job. It's not the end of the world, but most of your colleagues are living comfortably on 50 - 70k (those who took the grad job at 21) and you have to start on 20k (for a scientific job in the private sector).
If you are over 30 years old, I wouldn't do it unless you have a clear plan on how you can capitalise on your PhD.
I would just knock the PhD off your CV. Never mention in the interview unless they specifically ask you to elaborate on the gap.
Most graduates, they are younger than you, have no idea how to look for work when they graduate. They do just fine. It might take them a few/several years to figure out what they want to do with their lives, but they do fine. They don't go collecting JSA or go down the life of crimes. Only a small minority do. You have to try figure out yourself.
Remember that if you do a postdoc now, at the age of 33, for 2 years, this is it for you. You can't change your career later on. You are an academic.
If you want to go to the private sector, you are really pushing it now. You are 33 and assuming that almost zero relevant work experience? You have got 2 more years to go into the private sector. After that, you are looking at a career as one of the supporting guys, not one of the main guys that change the world/make a difference to a business/community/society.
It's of crucial of importance to understand that the decisions you make in your 30s have a long long lasting impact on your career and finance later in your life.
Academics marry academics (inc school teachers - though perhaps school teachers do not want to marry academics!). That's it. If you are an ambitious person, you should not date an academic.
PhD is a great accomplishment if you manage to finish it and can hit the job markets with or without your PhD before you turn 30. You should be willing to put considerable effort in your job search. You will probably have to do your job search full-time and have to learn the right attitude to convince an employer that you are the right person. Finally, you will have to start from the bottom - there is no associate-entry (i.e., positions that normally become available to you after 2 years of relevant work experience and the salary increase of about 10 - 20%).
PhD is also a great accomplishment if you do it as a hobby alongside your proper career.
If you are an investment banker who has made a fortune in the City and now want to do a PhD in your late 40s or the early 50s, that's great. That will be a great intellectual holiday for you and maybe you can teach for fun after you complete your PhD.
PhD students and academics tend to be arrogant, boring and close-minded. They think they are doing something special. The reality is that most of us in the public and private sectors study for professional exams as we gain professional work experience. We don't just become Excel-monkeys 9 - 5! These exams aren't easy. In finance, some people have CFA and ACA - both of which they have obtained while working full-time. In consulting, some have CIMA (light-weight accounting qualification) and another qualification in your specialism awarded by your professional body (e.g., CIM). PhDs call these qualifications BS!
If you are an ambitious lawyer, have done the training and everything and are ready to make your mark, you should get rid of this boyfriend. He is a loser, quite frankly, and not a good kind.
Continued from the previous post,
2) Can you try an administrative job in academia and the public sector? I don't see why you can't work in the careers service. It's got be better than working in the department of media and communications as a postdoc researcher with no benefits such as 25 - 30 holidays, dentals (only those of us with the dental know how precious this is!), subsidised gym membership, pensions etc. You might have to start an a trainee, but you still have 30 years ahead of you, so I don't see why not.
You can also join the university as an administrator and can work your way up to senior and director level with 50k pa. Your job is likely to be more stable than professors in the same university and you do not have to move.
Eimeo's reasoning is right, I think. I totally agree that the generic skills such as project management, report writing, etc are completely useless in the job markets both in the public and private sectors. PhD students that have never had a proper job for some reason keep telling themselves that they have some transferrable skills. It is a terrible job hunting strategy to emphasise such transferrable skills (because at the end of the day, no employer cares). My friend from Oxford is in a similar situation as you. His case is not that his PhD has no practical applications, but that his PhD is so specialised such that no employer wants to interview him.
I have 2 suggestions.
1) Can you try an entry level position in both public and private sectors? I have seen applicants in their early 30s with zero relevant work experience and want to do a graduate scheme (or maybe someone who wants to retrain). Once you turn 35, it becomes hard really hard for employers to overlook your age despite the age discrimination things. Good news is that many of these applicants have been successful. They will have to work on 25 - 35k and work their way up. Whether you can apply for a graduate scheme depends on how much work experience you had had before your PhD.
Continued from the previous post,
I would even suggest if your university is not in this list, do not offer PhD or any research programmes because such degrees from other universities are completely worthless. LSE, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Warwick, Lancaster, Edinburgh, Imperial, St Andrews, UCL and Southampton. This will make the academia as a proper and comfortable job market where academics focus not on office politics and grant applications, but on the pursuit of what they believe their discipline needs.
What academics often do not understand is they think the increase in the number of PhD programmes and students in the world increases their chance of landing a full-time job. It actually does the opposite. It's your fault that you don't have a job. Interesting, isn't it? People talk about the greed in the City. What about academics who are driven by short-term goals and greed?
As Ian said above, I strongly discourage you from pursuing another PhD. I will be a bit harsh here because you need to wake up.
Understand this. Many grads at the age of 21, having no idea what they want to do with their lives, still have to go out to the real world and learn how to write a CV and cover letter, how to convince your employers that you are the right person in interview, buy a house in such a volatile market (25 years commitment!). Believe it or not, most of those grads do absolutely fine. All right, some need time to figure out, some decide not to pursue the traditional career paths, but by the time they turn 40, most are living and enjoying life just fine!
Academia offers comfort to many who can't decide what to do with their lives. The truth is that most do a Master's because they are not ready to face the labour market and do a PhD hoping to delay the entry to the labour market for another 4 years. It's time you stand on your own feet. This has gone long enough. The admissions committee should buff up - make the admissions much tougher and accept maybe 2 - 3 each year and offer exit options at the end of year 1 and 2.
Worse, what would your prospective employer think of you (that is if you get invited for an interview)? 2 identical PhDs - clearly running away from the real world, spent 4 years and came out with 2 papers, foreign candidate who is unlikely to be popular among his students because of his accent, and finally he is older than other candidates and not in a good way. Good old candidates come with maturity and sophistication. You on the other hand seem quite childish still.
Can you be more specific in terms of your subject and how competitive you are? Do you want to get a job in a company where 10000 applications are received for 2 places (in the private sector)? Do you want to teach at Cambridge or you don't mind teaching in a less prestigious institution (in academia)? In most cases in the private sector, a Master's degree is the optimal qualification for an entry level position. So you will be competing with fresh grads for the same job.
The way to think about it constructively - as you rightly point out, 30k (7k and min living costs) is expensive if it doesn't add any value to your CV - is to think of a Master's as creating or adding value to your CV. And think about what those values are.
Please also remember that the academia is one of the most dysfunctional industries that exist today. Just try searching unemployed PhDs on Google - there are so many and some hold their qualifications from such prestigious universities. One UC grad (American) said in an article "yes my PhD has prestige, but I can't eat prestige." He is on food stamp with a PhD from UC! Sadly I don't think he is the exception. He is a typical PhD with no professional work experience other than "assistant to" experience in academia.
First of all, I am not an academic. Take what I say with a grain of salt.
If your university is Imperial, LSE, Oxford, Cambridge, I wouldn't worry about it and probably you wouldn't worry about it either. I am assuming that your university is not one of those. If you have all 3 degrees from any of these universities, you would be seen as a straight A student (as most entry-level academics should be). Your employers should know how competitive it is to get in these universities. Awards and scholarships make it even better. I think UCL, Warwick, Edinburgh, Bristol are not best but ok.
For all other universities, the answer depends on the competitiveness of your subject. Ideally, you would want to go from a low-rated institution to a high-rated institution as you study. But there are other things to think about such as the availability of funding, location, etc.
When you complete your PhD, unless you get lucky, you have to get a lectureship job at an institution that is considered to be less prestigious than the university where you did your PhD. You have to get some experience teaching and research before an appropriate position opens in your desired university and you have enough papers under your belt. So the higher the institution where you do your PhD, the more options you have.
Different story for the private sector. We care more about your professional work experience outside the university context. In a competitive industry, we do care about where you studied as well (unfortunately, more than what you studied) together with your professional experience to date.
I think if you go down an ent'er route, it would be more important to have a MBA from a prestigious business school. It just makes your credentials more convincing, doesn't it? If you have no clients/customers, you have no business. The company's brand name really helps your sales pitch. Once you leave a major firm and starts your own business in your niche, your credentials get scrutinised.
You can't use findmba.com to find a MBA - you know a few good business schools and you have to stick to the list. If you don't get in, then it's probably better off not doing a MBA at all.
I thought doing a PhD was a failure. If you are unhappy, you should make a list of reasons to stay and leave, then decide whether to stick out. Only those who want to write about your subject/field with minimum wage and do not care what others make of them should do a PhD. Once you finish your PhD, your life will get even tougher. I don't know your field, but the last time I checked, there aren't many academic jobs and some academics do 3 postdoc fellowship and move a country to get a lectureship. Is it really worth it?
What do you want to do with your Master's? You know you got a 3rd and can't apply for any grad schemes. Might as well go into the labour market with a PgDip and see what happens. Just try as hard as you can to get a job. Start from the bottom (PT jobs, temping, occasional work, unpaid/paid internships, but not volunteering - this is classified as volunteering in your CV, not as work experience - more of something you do for pleasure) and try to climb up. If you think you hit the rock bottom because you can't find any job, you are not there yet. There will be a time when you question your existence at all - because you can't find employment, and you think "anything that saves me from this hell," then do a Master's.
I really do not see the point in doing a Master's degree unless you know exactly what you want out of it.
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