Confused PhD in Maths

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  • #1
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Hi,

I'm a double-msc in engineering, now a 3rd year phd student in maths. My main specialty is scientific computing in C++. I got an offer for a 4-6 months internship in a very interesting company, and I don't know whether to accept. Between the decrease in my income (I have to take a leave since I have a salary at the university), relocation, and lost holidays, the internship will cost me ~5k. I tried to find a job to quit the phd recently, but job seekers turned me down due to the lack of industrial experience or the fact that I speak only english (I am in EU). What should I do? Finish the phd or go for the internship? On the good side, I could learn another language by doing the internship.

Thanks for any advice.
 

Answers and Replies

  • #3
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I'd try to do both.

Thanks for the reply!

Despite the monetary cost of the internship, I also tend towards the "do both" option, since the cost could probably be balanced by the skills I will acquire (this company develops a worldwide known engineering software).

Actually, when I talked with my advisor, his main argument against the internship, apart from the cost, is that they may offer me a job at the end, and if I accept and give up the phd I will regret it for the rest of my life, since many doors will remain forever shut.

According to him, a phd in maths stands well above my engineering degrees, internship, language and other skills, and as soon as I'm done I will be able to find any job I want, so I should only concentrate to finish asap. Is that really the case?
 
  • #4
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Actually, when I talked with my advisor, his main argument against the internship, apart from the cost, is that they may offer me a job at the end, and if I accept and give up the phd I will regret it for the rest of my life, since many doors will remain forever shut.

So if they offer you a job, politely say no. Unless the company works on mind control devices, I don't see the problem here.

According to him, a phd in maths stands well above my engineering degrees, internship, language and other skills, and as soon as I'm done I will be able to find any job I want, so I should only concentrate to finish asap. Is that really the case?

No, it's not. There are some skills that are useful in the job world that aren't part of the Ph.D. curriculum. None of it is unlearnable, but you do have to learn the stuff.

The bizarre thing about this sort of advice is having an internship is going to make your Ph.D. much more valuable.
 
  • #5
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Your advisor is biased. If you give up on the PhD he will get a lot of flack from the head of department, dean, etc. for not keeping you motivated. I gave up on a PhD, never regretted it, never looked back... The job I got on dropping out was much better in every way than the PhD I was doing.

Anyway, what doors will remain shut if you drop out? The only ones I can think of are academic doors, and they will probably remain shut anyway.

As you already tried to find a job to quit the PhD aren't you 'wanting out' already?

The internship looks like a very good chance to 'try for something better', but if 'the grass isn't greener' you can always return to doing the PhD, and you'll have gained some useful experience. The 5K cost is nothing in the long term. Unless you can't afford to buy food, then I wouldn't even bother thinking about that...

I'm surprised you had a problem with knowing only English, it never held me back in the UK - and I've being involved in EU wide projects. It's pretty much accepted that everyone should speak English. Knowing C++ is very useful though :)
 
  • #6
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So if they offer you a job, politely say no. Unless the company works on mind control devices, I don't see the problem here.

As you already tried to find a job to quit the PhD aren't you 'wanting out' already?

Yep, I'm kinda sick of my research topic and the only thing that in the last months (if not year) kept me at the university, besides the desire to put my name on a publication to say "I can do it", is that my phd is paid almost as much as a postdoc, plus benefits. If the company offers more, it will be difficult to say no. If that happens, then I will have to be 100% sure that it's not worth to spend ore more year at the university to get piece of paper saying I got a phd.

Thank you, that's the advice I needed to read!
 
  • #7
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If the company offers more, it will be difficult to say no.

Post-docs typically make $40K. Industrial jobs typically make $70-80K. If it's just a matter of money (and there is no shame in making it about money), then it's a no-brainer.

But who knows what is going to happen. It may be that you go into industry and figure out that you hate industry more than academia. Or it could be that your dissertation topic looks better after you leave it for a few months. Or it could be that you end up thinking that the Ph.D. was a waste of time since life is so much better on the outside.

In any case, whatever happens happens.
 
  • #8
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Anyway, what doors will remain shut if you drop out? The only ones I can think of are academic doors, and they will probably remain shut anyway.

The other thing is that a Ph.D. that has an internship opens up a lot of doors. One difficult with freshly minted Ph.D.'s is that they have no experience with industry and they also often run into the overqualification issue.

Having an internship fixes both problems. If you think that you are going to be in a situation where you might be thought of as too academic or overqualified, then you deemphasize the Ph.D. and emphasize the internship.
 
  • #9
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I've just mailed the company to accept the internship.

Thank you for the advice!
 

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