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  1. Apr 18, 2017 #1
    Hello all,

    I am a little confused at this stage of my life about what to do. To give a background, I have a PhD in EE with specialization in wireless communication from a Canadian university. Soon after I finished my PhD I was hired as a postdoc for almost 18 months. Since I finished my first postdoc position, I have been trying to get a position in the industry in Canada. The reason for that is that my original plan was to get a position in the academia, which I later realized is not easy, and I don't want to keep doing 6 months to 1 year postdoc fellowships in different provinces and universities each time for several years.

    On the other hand, I have no practical experience in the industry, so, I have difficult time finding a job in the industry. Since my specialization isn't in demand, the closest field I find myself close to is in data science, but I need to acquire some skills like learning Python, R, .... etc, which take sometime. After some calculation, I think it is better to have another postdoc position while I am developing my skills for a data scientist position. I searched for a position in most Canadian universities and some universities in Europe, with no luck so far. I am trying some universities in the US to see my luck there.

    My question is: what other options are available for me to survive financially until I secure a job (in academia or the industry)? Any suggestion?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2017 #2


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    I don't know about Canada but I understand that the US military does some very fancy stuff with secure wireless communication and they use math/EE PhD's to figure things out. A contractor position for something like that might pay well for a couple of years if you can land it.
  4. Apr 18, 2017 #3
    Are you a naturalized or natural born US citizen?
  5. Apr 19, 2017 #4
    No, I am not. I am not even a Canadian citizen, so, I cannot join the military.
  6. Apr 19, 2017 #5


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    -- and the telecoms industry generally . Companies worldwide are seeking to recruit more technical staff .

    Quote from BT : ' We also value diversity and inclusion, so we invite applications from individuals regardless of background, university and degree course. '

    Many other technically based companies have the same philosophy on recruitment .
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2017
  7. Apr 19, 2017 #6


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    I was not suggesting that you "join the military", I was suggesting that you look for a job with an aerospace/defense contractor. What is your citizenship?
  8. Apr 19, 2017 #7
    As a gray-haired dinosaur from a previous age, all I see are people walking around like zombies, with their heads down, staring at their smartphone or jabbering away like monkeys. How can your specialty NOT be in demand? Everything, everywhere, is going wireless fercryinoutloud.
  9. Apr 20, 2017 #8


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    The US military is open to non-citizens and I expect Canada's is too, but the suggestion was to look into civilian contractor jobs.
  10. Apr 20, 2017 #9


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    Agreed; the OP's sentiment was surprising to me too.

    If you invent me a true smart universal remote (probably wifi) that doesn't have to guess what mode my devices are in, i'll give you my first born child.
  11. Apr 21, 2017 #10
    On LinkedIn, I searched for Wireless Engineer in Canada (all provinces), and I got only 8 results. If I move beyond Canada, I will get more results, but I am giving finding a permanent job in Canada a priority.
  12. Apr 21, 2017 #11


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    And I take it you are not going to answer my question in post #6.
  13. Apr 21, 2017 #12
    Sorry, but I rather not to answer that question. Thanks for your understanding.
  14. Apr 21, 2017 #13


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    In Canada, there are only a relatively small number of cable and phone companies that have established a virtual monopoly on the wireless market, so there really isn't that much of a market for engineers that specialize in wireless communications. So I understand the OP's sentiment very well.
  15. Apr 22, 2017 #14
    Yes, many companies have such statements. But remember: they are designed to project a corporate persona carefully crafted by the PR dept. The critical issue is whether they accurately model the corporate culture actually experienced by the employees day-to-day.
  16. Apr 25, 2017 #15
    Indeed, the market for wireless communication in the USA is much better than Canada. But how difficult is it to land a job in the US for someone who is not a US citizen or resident? I don't have a work permit, and from my experience, the procedures are very slow and complicated, at least for my country of origin, which may affect my possibility for landing a job. For example, once I applied for a visitor VISA to present a conference paper in Washington DC, and I applied all the required documents from within Canada, but the procedure took more than 3 moths, at which point the conference was over, and I had to attach an audio file to the presentation to present it!!
  17. Apr 25, 2017 #16


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    My understanding is that you could apply for a H1B or a similar work visa once you have actually been given a job offer for a particular position (at least that has been the situation in the recent past -- who knows what would happen under the current government administration).
  18. May 2, 2017 #17
    Regarding data science have you ever picked-up a true data science text and just hammered at it? See if it's a field you'd be interested in? Data science is more about finding correlations between huge data sets with many many dimensions. It's not so much an intuitive field, very mechanical and relies upon strong, defensive argument of why your job matters.

    Think about that too, companies say they "value data science" but they say they "value IT" too, both are really just costs on the chopping block and if the company doesn't feel it's performing very well the idiot CEO that downloads viruses in their emails causing entire days of work loss for the entire company because your server gets hosed by a ransom ware because the CEO demands to also be admin so he can update his flash player...that guy, isn't going to understand your "contribution".

    Get into IT, the strength of IT is that it's all problem solving and one of the best IT consultants I know was formally trained in EE. The kind of work he did ended-up requiring high level Security Clearance. I can elaborate if interested. But the point is that IT is a catch all for all the problem solvers and can be aggressive.

    IT is more versatile so you won't get backed into a corner again, you can always reach out to related fields needing programming, data science, etc., and automating your job as Sys-admin often relies upon those skills which is why those branches are growing the way they are as IT sys admins usually push into those fields as they grow and learn.
  19. May 2, 2017 #18
    What kind of IT positions? I have little background in networking and programming. But as a PhD in EE, I haven't been able to secure any interview for such positions. I was told it doesn't look good to have a PhD and seek junior positions (because I have no experience).
  20. May 2, 2017 #19
    Because automation has taken almost all the jobs you can think of. There's a whole field out there dominated by sharks that is called Search Engine Optimization.

    You think that Nutri-bullet or the latest fad is because people like it?

    No, it's because 3 guys who moved on from day-trading for mega billions at Wall Street decided to sit in their basement with a Google tech to reverse engineer Google and Amazon and figure out how to get a BRAND on YOUR facebook instead of some other brand being there.

    Those 4 guys now make everyone do their bidding. That's just one example how 4 guys can do in weeks what used to be the career of millions of traveling sales persons making a decent living.

    Programming is another great example, web-design has turned into the baristas of our time. Anyone can do it, most of it is so highly automated that it can be done from a GUI with a set of templates.

    Very few people are actually doing the nuts-and-bolts of web pages, creating the tools that are used to collect data, secure sites from hacking, etc.

    Most people just use those tools for less than living wages, like espresso makers.
  21. May 2, 2017 #20

    This is the 2nd edition, it's only on its 3rd edition so you're not missing much.

    This will give you the entire nuts and bolts of the entire IT industry.

    You'd also probably be really good at networking so you might want to look up the CCNA and just glance at it.

    It all comes down to problem solving, which EE is trained to specialize in, you are trained to look at complex systems and work through the problem with a troubleshooting process.

    Taking that method can go anywhere really.

    There's a few good first texts on Data science too, and so with those 3 things (the pdf, the CCNA, or a data science book) you can really get a feel for which seems more appealing for your skill set.

    IT is more about figuring out tasks, then automating them so you don't have to do them again.

    CCNA is about systems and optimizing systems and building systems that are redundant, responsive, and informative so you can catch problems before they happen.

    Data science is massively statistical, programming is just required to write out the process for determining something statistically.

    If you want to discover if you'd be any good at data science:


    Use powershell on your own windows machine (it is standard feature of win 7 and above).

    Use powershell to script solutions to project euler problems, or get python, or C, whatever you want...and see if you're any good at the algorithms.
  22. May 2, 2017 #21
    Oh I wouldn't worry about the "entry level" positions thing. Try applying for government IT positions they are usually over-loaded, or apply to consulting firms. Where you can discuss with them why you'd be a good fit given the PhD.

    Government positions because the room to grow is massive. It's usually structured and tiered. So the Ph.D can be a selling point, you'll accelerate quickly to fill needed higher level positions.
  23. May 4, 2017 #22
    You would think so, but the telcom industry in general (including wireless telcom) never recovered from the 2000-2001 InterNet Bubble Burst. Telcom (including wireless telcom), covers a large territory, of course. But, if we consider the major service providers and the major network infrastructure equipment providers, there's still considerable consolidation going on. With respect to service providers, there would still be more consolidation, if it weren't for government anti-trust suits. With respect to major network infrastructure equipment providers, consider that there is no North American based company left: Nortel was the major Canadian company, and it disappeared into the aether; Lucent was the major US company, it merged with Alcatel and became a French-based company, Alcatel-Lucent, which then got bought up by Nokia, a Finnish company. The mobile handset business overall has also seen messy consolidation (e.g., Motorola used to be a major handset manufacturer; now snazzy ads are hyping "Moto" handsets produced by Lenovo, a Chinese company).

    And it's not just telcom. Semiconductor chips are ubiquitous, and you would think that jobs in wafer fab would be plentiful. But the number of companies that can afford to do wafer fab (along with associated R&D) has been shrinking over the past several decades.

    Of course, not all is gloom and doom. Apple and Intel, e.g., are doing well.
  24. May 4, 2017 #23
    Discard "telecom" as a mature industry. Haven't your heard all the buzz about "Internet of Things" ? I pay little attention to it, but a lot of people are going bonkers over it as "the next big thing." I mean, really, who would want their effing refrigerator to automatically sense that they are low on milk and email Amazon to DroneDrop-deliver a new gallon of milk? Not me. But there are apparently some folks out there who think this is necessary for their life. C'mon, be positive. If you don't see an open door, then grab a sledgehammer and make one.
  25. May 4, 2017 #24
    Yes, there are opportunities and money to be made in developing "an app for that". But, with respect to the OP's situation, developing an app for that typically does not call for a PhD with specialization in wireless communication theory.

    As a side remark: The "InterNet of Things" will require networks with increasing bandwidth and user devices with increasing processing power. It's a lot more profitable to develop apps, but if the US loses its edge in devices and hardware, there will be payment deferred.
  26. May 5, 2017 #25


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    I think he was implying device development, not app development. For device development, a PhD would be a useful thing.
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