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PhD vs entering a job market

Discussion in 'Business, Careers & Education' started by Teger, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    Do postdocs even exist in the humanities? wtf would they do, some interminable level of slavery beneath adjunct faculty but slightly above grad students?


    Come to think of it, that's not so different from science academics...
     
  2. the shah

    the shah Senior member

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    those tons of applicants will for the most part have no clue what they are doing. a wide net won't make you stand out. i know you don't believe an admissions committee goes over every single detail so you know why this is important.
     
  3. the shah

    the shah Senior member

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    yeah pretty much, given some cave of an office as adjunct faculty shared with 10 others and the janitor's supplies, forced to teach 101 courses, help in the writing center, be the cool older dude on campus, and pray for an awesome publication. i don't know if they are actually called post-docs but effectively the same thing.
     
  4. EMY

    EMY Senior member

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    I just went through this process last year (not history though). I applied for 9 schools and felt that was a good number. From talking to the humanities students at my school, there are only about 4-6 students per program (my program had 9). FWIW, I was accepted into the PhD program, went 1 semester and decided to stop at MS.
     
  5. Cambel

    Cambel Active Member

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    Eh, but multiply this by 100. There are a lot "pretty big name" history/humanities/whatever professors with a lot of contacts at other institutions. My point being that I'm not sure this situation is particularly unique (i.e. a professor with a lot of contacts) and thus much of a guarantee of employment. Of course, you want someone who will lobby hard for you when you're on the market and track records can be a good indication of that, but from what I've heard, there are few situations where a job is just a phone call away.

    Good GPA, great GRE scores, and having a sense of what you want to do are all a big plus, especially a good GPA. Good recommendations, which it sounds like you have, are also very important. The number of conferences you have been to when it comes to applying, in my experience, is fairly inconsequential. The quality of the ideas and research counts a lot more than whether or not you have presented it somewhere. This means that your writing sample and, above all, your personal statement are far more important than any of the aforementioned items. The trendiness of a topic isn't going to matter if you can't sell it convincingly to a program.

    It sounds to me like you have to decide whether you want do academic work or not; essentially, how important it is to you to do research, write, teach, etc.. Both options put you in a university setting, but the second which you mention is more in line with student services is just a very different set of tasks. It also sounds like a totally different engagement with the university.

    I can't say that living on a graduate stipend or having to teach freshman writing classes for minimal pay is grandiose, but I have found the camaraderie with my fellow graduate students to more than make up for it. And I like what I'm doing so the fact that I barely make any money hasn't kept me too down. It's a tougher experience for some people, though.
     
  6. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    yea, I could probably survive on a stipend, but I'm getting to a point in my life (25) when I'd like to be less broke. I'm also worried about health and dental insurance.
     
  7. jdvs

    jdvs Member

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    Financially, getting a Ph.D. is never worth it. I have a Ph.D. in computer science from the #1 program in my field and, still, my pay would be higher if I had five more years of work experience. That said, if you want to work as a professor (keeping in mind that there aren't actually enough jobs for all of the quality Ph.D.s that want to work in academia), you really don't have a choice. In that sense, the choice is simple: if you want an professorial job you must do it and if not you shouldn't. The fact that you're asking the question makes me inclined to say that you shouldn't — if you couldn't imagine yourself doing anything but research, you probably wouldn't be considering other options.

    If you go the route of grad school, you should definitely think about what you'd do with a degree if you didn't want or couldn't get a faculty job — for me in CS there are lots of great opportunities, for my brother with a Ph.D. in the humanities there really are none, and it's been very hard on him.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2012
  8. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    That's not entirely true. There are some fields, mostly hard sciences, where the lifetime earnings potential is reasonably higher for PhDs. It is very field specific though. Doesn't surprise me too much comp sci isn't one of them, since people without even a bachelors can do well.
     
  9. Flambeur

    Flambeur Senior member

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    Business PhDs do pretty well.
     
  10. the shah

    the shah Senior member

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    forget the earnings, now it's become a trend for many biotechs and pharma to not even bother with techs (aside from a handful preparing stocks etc) but have PhDs doing much of the experiments themselves.

    it really seems like what teger is outlining in terms of a career path without the doctorate is going to be capped quite soon, whereas he could have many more opportunities afforded to him if/when possessing a phd. don't necessarily have to go into academia even with something like a history specialization. especially if at the same time you can get some coursework done in the business school and get yourself some sort of certificate. be creative ;)

    and any legitimate program will give you a healthy stipend along with insurance, and you can avoid paying taxes for that duration or probably get it all back.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  11. Cambel

    Cambel Active Member

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    True. In my experience the dental coverage has been better than the health. They deal with you in emergencies but may be reluctant to treat you for regular check up type stuff. I did have to pay taxes on my stipend. You can avoid taxes by just not reporting your stipend, I guess, but from what I understand you're supposed to count it as income. The most important thing, as you mention, is that any solid program (for humanities) should be offering some kind of financial support via stipend of guaranteed teaching/TAing positions. Some programs, I hear, are trying to axe the latter and want to offer all their incoming students stipends.

    On the issue of making money, I know a lot of graduate students who hustle to do extra work, and that can make life a lot more comfortable if busier: private tutoring, teaching classes at community colleges, editorial work on journals. The demands and pay of these tasks can vary greatly but I've had good experiences doing some side work on top of teaching that made me feel a lot richer even if I wasn't really.
     
  12. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    yea because of personal health stuff I'm pretty wary of trusting in a shitty university health plan -- ive checked a fair number out, and none of them are that great, especially when it comes to filling prescriptions.

    my university is a state school, so working for them = working for the state = phat benefit$
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  13. Concordia

    Concordia Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  14. StephenHero

    StephenHero Senior member

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    This idiot doesn't have a clue.
     
  15. StephenHero

    StephenHero Senior member

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    Which to some extent is negated by the front-heavy compensation (and investment potential) of a sufficient degree that doesn't come at the expense of multiple years of work as opposed to student debt. Overall, the joke is on the students still living vicariously through the C.V.s of more esteemed peers.
     
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2012
  16. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    can you get the fuck out of my thread, retard? keep your special blend of projected angst and faux-haughtiness to shitty political threads and for whining about mcmansions.
     
  17. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    I honestly have no idea what point you're trying to make here.

    PhD study rarely results in debt, especially for people in those economically viable fields. You get paid to do research. Usually you get paid a reasonable fraction of a starting BS salary in those field.
     
  18. Teger

    Teger Senior member

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    the general point he's trying to make (because he's a douchebag) is the point that you and I and everyone else on this forum have discussed over and over and over: it's hard to find a job as a professor in a humanities field, and that even PhDs in non-humanities fields are often time sinks that lower your lifetime earning potential. i know.. shocking!

    but of course, what he's actually doing is what he always does on SF - trying to come off as the sole repository of worldly knowledge that you, as a foolish mortal, would never, ever be able to appreciate. it's fine and even kind of entertaining in C&E, but it's bullshit, and I don't really want to hear about it in this thread.
     
  19. AldenPyle

    AldenPyle Senior member

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    University staff work can often make for a great job, but a lousy career. Great working conditions, low pressure, decent starting pay, good benefits, way above average stability. But advancement is often poor to non-existent and private sector employers won't necessarily have a lot of respect for your work experience. My two cents.
     
  20. mkarim

    mkarim Senior member

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    +100. A PhD is sometimes looked down upon in industry because PhDs are sterotyped as ones who like to do research but not practical work.
     

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