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PhD Discussion Forum

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This Category:   PostgraduateForum.com > PhD Advice / Support


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Leave job for PhD


User: glaza - 07 January 2016 08:23

Dear all,
I would like your opinion and advice on the following situation: I have graduated from my Master's Degree at June and since then I have been working at a very good company as a SW engineer. However, a professor from the same University told me if I want to do a PhD with him. My Master was in Biomedical engineering and currently (although I am working in a Medical company) I am doing mostly software development stuff. The PhD topic is in Bioinformatics and Genetics and the professor is a top one(60.000 citations, h-index=100). The funding is very good and is almost equal to my salary(200 euro difference). Do you think it's a stupid idea to leave my work to pursue the PhD or should i stay in the safety that my job provides? I work 9-5, good salary, no pressure at work or workload at home. My main fear is that after the PhD it will be very difficult to find a job and also I am really afraid of putting my self into great trouble on engaging with the PhD.
What do you think?

User: pd1598 - 07 January 2016 14:02

It's a tough one - do you actually want to do a PhD? Don't do a PhD just because the Prof has offered you one. Sounds like you like your current job?

User: HazyJane - 07 January 2016 14:26

Quote From pd1598:
It's a tough one - do you actually want to do a PhD? Don't do a PhD just because the Prof has offered you one. Sounds like you like your current job?

Agreed - I would not recommend starting a PhD without a reason for doing one. There are different reasons for different people, but they need to be personal (e.g. interest, career goal) rather than external (random suggestion, family pressures).

User: Hugh - 07 January 2016 19:47

Could you take a sabbatical from your work place?

What is your purpose of doing a PhD? do you want to work in academia?

User: JStanley - 08 January 2016 09:53

My two cents would be that even if you want to do it for the right personal reasons (passion for a particular topic or craving to find out the answer to a particular research question), I would still recommend you do it part-time while staying in your job. The grim reality is that it is next to impossible to land a permanent well paid academic job in many fields and it is also often very difficult to transition to a non-academic job afterwards. Out of 7 who graduated in my department last year (social sciences) 5 are still unemployed and publications don't seem to be making a difference. Last I heard, one of them had taken to applying for shop and cleaning jobs. I am doing jobs I could have done after my degree but I am happy. Having said that, I did love my project and got to publish, present and lecture and they were all great experiences but it was a costly thing to do and I'm not sure I could say I'd do it again if I could wind back the clock. To me it's a no brainer for you given that you're in a good job that you are happy in - stick with your job and don't allow yourself to be used as cheap labour for the university.

User: monkey84 - 08 January 2016 13:33

I left my well paid job in the games industry to do a full time PhD, I've already got a mortgage so it was risky and means that money is reasonably tight I'm also going to have to line up a job in time for when my funding stops. I'm incredibly happy that I made this decision, even the worse days in my PhD are better than my best at work, however I didn't enjoy my job despite the salary.

If you enjoy your job and it has potential I'd certainly think long and hard, once you leave to do a PhD you're back to the bottom with regards to job progression and even though you'll have a PhD it will be hard to find a job - but no harder than it was the first time around.

I'd say if you want to get into academia then definitely do the PhD, otherwise it might be worth sticking with your job. There's always the possibility of doing a PhD in the future when you have a good level of work experience behind you, this will make getting back into a career much easier. It might be less stressful working full time too!

User: glaza - 10 January 2016 19:02

There is nothing wrong with my job, despite the fact that it has no career growth. I mean that I will be a software engineer for ever in this job- no future development. Also, my main task is implementing features on innovative software but I am not on the innovation part. Despite all of that, I could easily settle up with the job as the salary is good, the working hours are perfect and there is no pressure. I don't hate my job but I also don't like it and I am definitely not passionate for it. But, who is? Anyway, my main concern is that the PhD grant is really great and the salary will be similar to the one i am getting now. So, I think to myself, why not doing a PhD in a very promising field (Big Data in Computational Biology and Genetics) while at the same time getting good money and result with the Dr. title? This is something that eats me: the money, the prestige and the post-PhD career which seems more interesting at least in my mind. What do you think ?

User: Pjlu - 10 January 2016 20:22

Quote From glaza:There is nothing wrong with my job, despite the fact that it has no career growth. I mean that I will be a software engineer for ever in this job- no future development. Also, my main task is implementing features on innovative software but I am not on the innovation part. Despite all of that, I could easily settle up with the job as the salary is good, the working hours are perfect and there is no pressure. I don't hate my job but I also don't like it and I am definitely not passionate for it. But, who is? Anyway, my main concern is that the PhD grant is really great and the salary will be similar to the one i am getting now. So, I think to myself, why not doing a PhD in a very promising field (Big Data in Computational Biology and Genetics) while at the same time getting good money and result with the Dr. title? This is something that eats me:
the money, the prestige and the post-PhD career which seems more interesting at least in my mind. What do you think ?

Hi Glaza, I'm in a completely different industry and place so my comments are more of an outsider's perspective. However, just to make two points-if the money is pretty similar and you would gain from doing the PhD, plus are really interested in your topic then it doesn't seem like a big risk. Okay, so you give up a job and the security this provides for the moment. However, none of us really have a window into the future and can predict that whatever job we have now is a job for life. Those times have pretty much gone by the wayside. Plus you say your job is a dead end job-in terms of growth or upward movement and this PhD would provide you with this. These two points are very strong selling points in my opinion (which is an opinion only mind).

The thing to consider with the PhD is that it can be really tough and many of us feel like giving it up at points, so you might need to be prepared for how you might persevere if this happens to you, and also what sorts of job opportunities you would have at the end and a pathway, perhaps, towards achieving these post PhD.

User: TreeofLife - 11 January 2016 11:18

Quote From glaza:This is something that eats me:
the money, the prestige and the post-PhD career which seems more interesting at least in my mind.

Look into career options first. There are some of that did a PhD regardless of career options, but there are many people that can't find a career in their field and regret doing the PhD as they now appear overqualified.

User: pd1598 - 12 January 2016 09:17

The arguments in favour of doing a PhD seem good if you're getting the same money. But I'd ask again - do you WANT to do a PhD? The Dr title should not be the primary motivation, if you want to do it then do it.

User: cherub - 13 January 2016 14:41

Hi glaza, Big Data in Science is a promising field and I think if you can live with all the stress that accompanies doing a PhD you should go for it. For one, it will be a change in what you a are currently doing - if you love challenges then I'd look at it as a new and exciting challenge. I think careerwise you'd be alright, your experience alone in Big Data will be very useful in other areas especially in consultancy. I say this because my partner is an expert in Big Data and his skills sets are in high demand. He's really fascinated with the stuff I did in my PhD (mainly computational) even though he's not a scientist. He's been encouraging me to learn some courses in Big Data/computing/programming and I am really thinking of taking some online courses to add to the skills I already have.
You said the supervisor is one of the experts in the fields so that will be an advantage when it comes to references and perhaps getting a foot in in academia if that is your ultimate goal. But, be aware that it could also be a disadvantage in terms of supervision because he may not have time to be there all the time. You should be prepared for working independently with minimal supervision - not saying that this will be the case but it is something to be aware of.
Another thing, the PhD will definitely be more stressful than your current work and from my experience it definitively isn't a 9-5 job!
Best of luck with whatever choice you decide to go with!

User: glaza - 07 February 2016 18:59

Feels like mazohism for leaning towards the PhD. More stressful, 200euros less and unregulated working hours.



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