2005/09/11

[Thought] Why NOT to do a PhD

I am reading more or less regularly (more less than more) the comics on PhD comic. Even after getting my doctor degree I find it refreshing (anyway the author got his PhD degree way before me...). I even thought about doing my own comic, it could get me an article in Nature!!! Anyway, I while browsing (I was working on a Sunday, so it does NOT count as procrastinating) I found a link to an interesting article from CNN news, here is an excerpt: A career with one of the most disproportionate ratios of training to pay is that of academic research scientist. A Ph.D. program and dissertation are requirements for the job, which can take between six and eight years to complete. Add to that several years in the postdoctoral phase of one's career to qualify for much coveted tenure-track positions. During the postdoc phase, you are likely to teach, run a lab with experiments that require you to check in at all hours, publish research and write grants - for a salary that may not exceed $43,000. The length of the postdoc career has doubled in the past 10 years, said Phil Gardner, director of the Collegiate Employment Research Institute at Michigan State University. "It's taking longer and longer to get there. You can't start a family. It's really tough." And it's made tougher still by the fact that in many disciplines, there aren't nearly as many tenure-track positions as there are candidates. (whole article) It summarizes quite well what I told to friends who wanted to do a PhD: do it only if you are totally fascinated with your topic, don't do it for a good job and a good way of life. A friend used to dream about the peacefull life of working in public research, free to choose ones topic and to set his own pace: after graduating he got a job in private research (Thales) and has never regretted his choice (he even started to recruit other PhD grads)... As for me, I am glad I did a PhD. A bit disapointed that it doesn't come with a guaranteed job at the end, but that's the way of life. And I learned how to juggle and to blow fire, so I didn't waste my time :)
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