As my PhD deadlines draw nearer, I need to do some soul searching. It is time to make some big decisions. For some one doing research in algorithms and game theory, you would think this would be easy. Well trust me it is not!
I’m confused about what to do after the PhD. Before I even start laying my options on the table and doing some survey of job opportunities, a question has been lingering in my mind. The question is whether I should go for an academic job or not? Perhaps a cost benefit analysis would do the trick?
The Plus factors:
- Eureka factor: the creativity and excitement of changing the world forever! Ok, perhaps I’m getting carried away here but an academic research position gives you the chance of making discoveries or devising some thing new. You feel you are playing a part in increasing knowledge.
- Freedom: The intellectual freedom to request your own grants and chalk your career is a huge incentive. You are literally your own boss.
- Passion for teaching: if you are passionate about teaching and enjoy it, academia might be the place for you.
- Easy going atmosphere: Ok, you would not expect most academics to come to work in Bermuda shorts, but still, the atmosphere in academia can be more informal than board room meetings and other business settings. There is a chance to meet genuine people with interesting ideas.
- Prestige: Admit it, doesn’t ‘Head of research group, Don of Bloggs College, Emeritus Professor Dr. Joe Bloggs’ sound impressive?
- Travel: Academic jobs can give you a chance to travel to interesting places and to build a network of international collaborators and friends. How many jobs will enable to you to attend a conference at some exotic island?
- Familiar work environment: One reason I’m contemplating an academic job is because I am now getting a better idea about what it entails. Moreover, I already have some contacts in my research area and I could utilize my strengths in a better way.
A cost-benefit analysis without the costs doesn’t help too much. I’ll try to come up with some disincentives in staying in academia next time.