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Job Skills How to become a scientific advisor?

  1. Aug 7, 2017 #21
    Disclaimer: I am not a consultant, and I have never been a consultant. But I do know a handful of consultants, and, at one time, I considered becoming a consultant.

    A key point missing in the previous posts is this: there are several segments to the consulting business. The article you cited refers to Big Consulting Firms. There are also intermediate and small consulting firms and independent (solo) consultants. The intermediate and small consulting firms and independent consultants are typically narrowly focussed and typically require substantial (often 10 yrs+) work experience; the previous posts are primarily relevant to these segments.

    The Big Consulting Firms, however, are structured differently. From a simplified perspective, they have two major career tracks. One is specifically designed for consultants straight out of school. The firms run them through a training program to teach the new hires how to operate in the company mode. Remember, you will not be able to operate the way you did in the lab: there are tight time and money constraints. The other is designed for people with a lot of experience and a lot of connections. These are hired into senior positions, with the expectation that they will bring in new clients. If you have many years of industrial experience, but don't have a lot of connections that you can convert into clients, there's really no track for you. As always, there are exceptions, depending on supply and demand.

    I know two PhD physicists who got hired by Big Consulting Firms straight out of grad school, so it's possible. These firms operate world-wide; fluency in languages other than English is a big plus; as is experience with cultures outside the US. A brand name school on your resume also helps sell you to clients. So if you're really gung-ho about consulting, apply to the Big Consulting Firms; but talk to people in the business to determine whether that life is right for you.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2017
  2. Aug 7, 2017 #22

    symbolipoint

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    Either or both. A person with industrial experience who has maybe at least 10 PROGRESSIVE years experience from one or two companies regardless of undergraduate or graduate level degree may be a potential consultant.
     
  3. Aug 7, 2017 #23
    My experience is that post doc experience is more required by schools with a strong research focus. At schools with a primary teaching focus, you need a PhD and teaching experience - holding a few TA positions in grad school is more important than a post doc. The jobs include everything from faculty positions at community colleges to faculty positions at most smaller state universities and schools like military academies.
     
  4. Aug 7, 2017 #24

    f95toli

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    I think this depends on what type of consultant you are and where you work.
    The big technical consultancy firms (e.g. Anderson Consulting), is probably one of the biggest employers of recent PhD graduates here in the UK . Many companies in the field also have trainee programs aimed at recent graduates.
    I know a few people who got a PhD in my field (which isn't exactly industry focused) and then ended up as consultants.
     
  5. Aug 7, 2017 #25

    jtbell

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    Some smaller schools replace professors who are on sabbatical with temporary "visiting assistant professor" positions. These usually last one year, sometimes two. These are full-time salaried positions with a full teaching load which can expose you to a variety of courses, and include benefits like health insurance and possibly retirement-plan contributions. I was lucky to get a two-year position of this type, right after grad school. Then I got a tenure-track position at another school. Be prepared to move cross-country. I went (in the US) from the Midwest to the Northeast to the South.

    Larger universities may have some non-tenure-track full-time instructor-level positions for the introductory courses. A friend of mine in grad school did that for a few years after he finished his PhD.

    Then there are adjunct positions that pay per course, and usually don't involve a full teaching load. At the college where I recently retired, the rate is $2500 per course, with no benefits, and usually just one or two courses per semester. These positions fill needs for which it's not feasible to hire another full-time person, e.g. not enough courses to fill a full-time teaching schedule.
     
  6. Aug 7, 2017 #26
    Certainly in my case, post-doc would have been worthless. It was years of industrial experience that counted most, and no post-doc is going to approximate that sort of experience. I suggest to you that in most cases, you will need considerable breadth of experience, more than the typical PhD experience provides, to work effectively as a consultant. Few situations are as narrowly focused as doctoral studies, and industries will be seeing a person that can address a wide range of topics.
     
  7. Aug 7, 2017 #27

    symbolipoint

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    My comment also intended to reflect what Dr. D said here:
    When I said, "10 years of progressive experience...", the actual minimum number of years is uncertain. Also, no mention of exact type of industry or field was used. Depending on industry, someone might have earlier earned bachelor of sci, Masters, or PhD; but some things are just not learned in school but instead are learned on-the-job over at least a few years.
     
  8. Aug 7, 2017 #28

    symbolipoint

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    The topic is about "scientific" advising. My discussions posted are intended to INCLUDE engineering-related advising or consulting or to emphasize it. (Not that I am nor was ever an engineer - just that some of my experience was more related to engineering than to science.)
     
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