Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Should accept fresh-graduate job offer after a PhD?

  1. Nov 8, 2011 #1
    Hi everyone!

    I would like to ask you for some advice on a decision I need to take soon...

    I am about to finish a PhD in theoretical physics, and I decided to leave academia. I recently landed a job offer, where I would be working as a financial consultant in risk management. The job sounds really interesting and I think it would be a great opportunity to learn a lot.

    However, there is a problem: I am starting from a very junior position, meaning that the position I landed only required a B.S. (4 year study) and not even a masters or PhD. This also means the pay is not great (I would make more money taking a postdoc, although in the long term I'm sure it wouldn't be the wise decision).

    Now the question is: should I care about that? I cannot avoid the feeling that I should make my 4 years of PhD worth somehow. The thing is that, in my country, a PhD has zero-value outside the academic world, and this is something even recruiters told me. For that reason I always though about leaving, although it doesn't seem so easy in the current economic situation.

    What about the possibility of working 1-2 years in this position and then try to find a PhD-required position? Would you say recruiters will give more importance to the fact I was a "junior" than having a PhD?

    Thanks a lot!
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2011 #2
    Unless it is an internship, you are being wildly underpaid, which makes me extremely suspicious of the job offer. Also, if the job pays less than a post-doc, and you can get a post-doc, I don't see the point of getting the job.

    Also, I have serious doubts whether you are really doing financial consulting and risk management since anyone that is doing any real risk management (i.e. people that write reports that go to the regulators) is going to be paid more than a post-doc.

    You need to find different recruiters.

    Something to remember is that the recruiters are like used car salesman. They get a commission if they fill a position, which means their interests may or may not coincide with your interests.

    Work experience is always useful. Even *bad* work experience is useful, but unless the economy is a lot worse than I think it is (and it may well be), you are getting seriously underpaid.

    Also, you can sell a post-doc as work experience, and if you are getting paid less than a post-doc, then I don't see the point of taking the job.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011
  4. Nov 8, 2011 #3

    Thanks a lot for your reply, twofish-quant!

    Actually this consulting company is known for paying higher salaries than its competitors. You start with the typical recent-graduate salary, but it gets increased from 15 to 25% annually. The problem is that the fact I have a PhD is irrelevant to them.

    As one interviewer told me, in Spain companies regard PhDs as recent graduates, only four years older.

    The main reason why the pay is lower than a postdoc is that the job is in Spain, whereas if I got a postdoc I would go abroad. Of course I don't mind emigrating, and actually I would very much prefer to. Only that I didn't find any interesting offer abroad yet. Headhunters told me it is quite difficult to find jobs without relevant experience this year.

    About the job, it would include validating models of rating and scoring, doing data mining and doing statistical analysis such as time series and multivariate analysis. They seem to use SAS mainly. Do you think learning those skills would be useful?

    About doing a postdoc, unless I am able to switch fields I couldn't stop the feeling that I am losing my time (at this point I think my research is totally pointless, so I really don't want to continue with it). In my work I think I haven't really learned anything that is directly relevant to industry (i.e. the only tools I use are pencil, paper and Mathematica). Of course there are the soft-skills, where I think I have improved a lot, but this is something more difficult to show in a resume. I might be wrong however...

    Thank you very much!!
  5. Nov 8, 2011 #4
    And there is your answer. Regardless of your degree, you still need training in this application of your knowledge. You have to start getting experience somewhere. If this is the field you want to stay in, take the job, get experience for a couple of years, and use that experience to move up or move on. Companies aren't in business to train people. They make money by people being productive. In your training period you will be as much "overhead" as asset to them. You will change jobs several times in your life. If this position offers you training you need in something that interests you, take the job. On the flip side, after working in this field, you may decide you hate it, and move on to another career area.

    If you've seen any of my posts, you'll know I'm not big on letters like PhD, MS, MD, JD, etc. I'm too old to be concerned about anything other than the practical realities of life in the working world. A PhD taking a job posted for a BS level person isn’t the end of the world. It’s a starting point for your working life, and where you go with it and what you make of it, is up to you. Smile. Be happy. Life is good, and it beats the heck out of the alternative.
  6. Nov 8, 2011 #5

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Let me understand your position - you want to know whether to reject a job offer, but you don't have any immediate prospects for better - or even other - offers.
  7. Nov 8, 2011 #6
    I have to admit that, said like that, my question sounds really stupid...

    But actually it's not exactly like this. First, I have plenty of time until my grant expires (little less than one year), although the possibility of being months doing nothing but preparing for jobs does not sound that appealing. Also, it's quite likely that I also have another interview coming up soon (although the job looks less interesting), and I'm sure I could land a postdoc if I tried.

    The reason I doubt so much is that I didn't work hard to get this job. I just got contacted by them after I had posted my CV online. Since I have been very busy until a few weeks ago, I didn't do a massive job hunting as I am doing now (and should have started before), so I cannot really compare to other offers.

    To a more personal level, I can't avoid feeling really bad about the fact that my 4 years of PhD won't be useful at all for my career. Rationally I shouldn't care about that, as 4 years ago that was what I REALLY wanted to do. But now I cannot avoid thinking that I lost 4 years of my life, professionally speaking. Probably the answer to that is that I should stop looking back.
  8. Nov 8, 2011 #7

    D H

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor

    The postdoc is what you trained for. In a lot of cases, pay for postdocs is pretty lousy. However, if the postdoc will pay more than this offered job in a field that is unrelated to yours, why not take the postdoc position and hope the economy will improve in the year left on your grant plus the year or two on the postdoc contract?

    That you have plenty of time until your grant expires is a good thing, not a bad thing. Don't think of a year of preparing for jobs as unappealing. Think of that time as giving you an incredible opportunity to find the best job out there. Do not take the first offer that comes along.

    Yet another way to look at it: This economy is the pits. If it gets even worse, that new job of yours may well vanish, even in Europe where it is a bit tough to lay people off. As the person at the bottom of the totem pole, you would be amongst the first considered for a layoff should things get even worse than they are now. If on the other hand things get better, you may well be better off waiting. Employers will be reluctant to give big raises to people already on staff. When things finally do improve pay is likely to be upside down for a while for recent hires compared to new hires.

    You have a year's cushion. There's no reason to panic yet.
  9. Nov 8, 2011 #8
    I should point out that things are very different from country to country. I was assuming that you were in the US, and what's true for the US may be very different in other places. If it was a job in the US, then it seems extremely fishy, but since it's in Spain, that makes a big difference.

    Since Spain is EU, I assume that there wouldn't be any visa issues that would keep you from looking for a job in London, and that's what you should focus on if you are interested in getting something that would make use of the Ph.D.

    On the other hand, you might be in the same position that I was before I jumped to Wall Street. It's very difficult to change states, and even more difficult to change countries, and so I had to spend a few years to convince myself that there wasn't anything there, before I jumped.

    Yes. It would be very useful. The problem is that after three to six months, you are likely to learn everything you can learn, and once that happens, boredom is going to set in.

    It's likely to be a lot more useful than you think it is.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2011
  10. Nov 8, 2011 #9
    Just an introduction to the world financial system....

    You can think of the world financial system as a network for moving information in the form of leptons, just as a road or railroad network is a network for moving products and information that are by mass mostly baryons.

    You have small country roads, and big freeways and bridges. The small roads feed into larger roads which all intersect in a few cities in the world. The location of those cities is determined by both geography and the rotation of the earth, so you have something in NYC, something in London, and something in East Asia (Tokyo, Hong Kong, and Singapore).

    Ph.D.-level financial jobs are overwhelmingly (95+%) in those cities.
  11. Nov 8, 2011 #10

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    Which is why I asked for clarification. :smile:

    My advice is to decide what to do with your future irrespective of how you spent the past. You might want to continue in the direction you were going; you might want to change directions. I wouldn't let 'but I have already spent xxx time' be a factor one way or the other. That time is spent; you can't unspend it.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook