One semester into a PhD and offered a job

posted
26-Jan-17, 19:31
edited about 2 minutes later
by CNMI
Avatar for CNMI
posted about 2 years ago
Hello,

I'm in my 2nd semester as a PhD student studying ecology/wildlife and have been offered a good job at a starting salary that is equivalent to what I would expect with a PhD, and excellent benefits. I have not been thrilled with my department, program, or town in which the University is located. I am also slightly older than most other graduate students in this field, early 30s.

The PhD is fully funded, although it is impossible to save any money with student fees and other bills. If I stay in the PhD, I'll break even and have nothing upon graduation 4 or 5 years down the road.

I'm trying to figure out which option will have the greatest benefit to my career; 4 years in a professional setting with (much) higher pay and benefits, or spending the next 4 years working towards a credential that will allow me to be promoted to a higher level much further down the road. I have a Masters, but I think that credential comes with a promotional/pay ceiling.

I will not be able to do any kind of part time PhD. If I leave, it will be permanent and the bridge to this University and adviser will be burned, as a field season is quickly approaching and I would be putting the adviser in a tight spot. Additionally, our funding has been cut due to presidential administration change, and I've already consumed 1 semester of graduate student salary.

Any insights appreciated.
posted
26-Jan-17, 23:28
edited about 3 minutes later
by tru
Avatar for tru
posted about 2 years ago
Hi, CNMI,

I think that you already now in your heart which option is better. The job sounds like a good option, since it offers good pay and benefits. A bird in hand is worth two in a bush. Why wait till after your PhD? The work experience would also add to better career prospects and increased salary over the years. In addition, you are not exactly thrilled about your PhD either.

Please read https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/02/the-phd-bust-americas-awful-market-for-young-scientists-in-7-charts/273339/ for some useful info about employment after obtaining PhD. Hopefully this will help you make up your mind.

Furthermore, you said "permanent and the bridge to this University and adviser will be burned". Yup, only for this adviser. You can do a PhD later on after gaining more work experiences. My friend finished a 4 year PhD at the age of 50. With her new degree and previous solid track record of working experiences, she could do so many things with her career. There is no time limit for a PhD.
posted
27-Jan-17, 01:07
Avatar for PracticalMouse
posted about 2 years ago
This is an incredibly difficult situation, but as far as I can tell it boils down to these questions: how rare are job offers of such caliber in your field, how many other people in your field will be getting PhDs while you are working, and how quickly does your field move in terms of research developments? My field is one where until very recently having a PhD was incredibly rare and very much the exception. Now, to get the type of job I want it is a requirement. While this does not apply so much to people who are already in the job, they are urged to do one in their spare time. Would you be upset to work for, say, five years, and then find that the promotion/better job elsewhere went to a recent PhD who did not have the job experience but had the research experience and maybe a publication record? I have seen this happen. And yet, a great salary and doing the job you want with a PhD further down the line a possibility sounds also great.

It totally depends on your field and what is most valued there. And what your ideal career trajectory is in terms of stability, monetary benefit and future funding. Will you be able to find another fully funded PhD down the line? Are jobs going to be scarce in the future? Would you be able to self-fund should it be necessary? What are your family plans? Is going back to a PhD with a family to support realistic?
posted
27-Jan-17, 11:45
edited about 29 seconds later
by Hugh
Avatar for Hugh
posted about 2 years ago
I'm on the other side (completed thesis) and I would definitely go for the job. A friend of mine left his PhD and is in a much better job position than I am after having completed PhD.
posted
27-Jan-17, 12:41
edited about 11 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 2 years ago
Congrats Hugh on completed PhD!
posted
27-Jan-17, 17:25
by pm133
Avatar for pm133
posted about 2 years ago
I agree with tru. I think you already know what feels like the best option for you.
In my opinion this is not an incredibly difficult situation at all but in fact a very easy one to make.
You just need to actually go ahead with the decision you probably have already made.
My advice here would be to care less about what people think of your decision. This is your life. Let those affected by your decision work out for themselves how to deal with it.
posted
30-Jan-17, 21:18
by CNMI
Avatar for CNMI
posted about 2 years ago
Hugh,

What kind of PhD program were you in?
posted
31-Jan-17, 01:19
Avatar for Mackem_Beefy
posted about 2 years ago
Quote From CNMI:
Hello,

I'm in my 2nd semester as a PhD student studying ecology/wildlife and have been offered a good job at a starting salary that is equivalent to what I would expect with a PhD, and excellent benefits. I have not been thrilled with my department, program, or town in which the University is located. I am also slightly older than most other graduate students in this field, early 30s.

The PhD is fully funded, although it is impossible to save any money with student fees and other bills. If I stay in the PhD, I'll break even and have nothing upon graduation 4 or 5 years down the road.

I'm trying to figure out which option will have the greatest benefit to my career; 4 years in a professional setting with (much) higher pay and benefits, or spending the next 4 years working towards a credential that will allow me to be promoted to a higher level much further down the road. I have a Masters, but I think that credential comes with a promotional/pay ceiling.

I will not be able to do any kind of part time PhD. If I leave, it will be permanent and the bridge to this University and adviser will be burned, as a field season is quickly approaching and I would be putting the adviser in a tight spot. Additionally, our funding has been cut due to presidential administration change, and I've already consumed 1 semester of graduate student salary.

Any insights appreciated.


It's a while since I've called by here. Straight up, you're in a field where "Dr." has some value and gves an air of expertise. Without it, you may well hit a glass ceiling.

I'd personally continue unless other financial, relationship or family issues mean otherwise.

Ian (Beefy)

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