Exit strategy, please
June 12, 2012 8:01 PM Subscribe
I'm a math PhD student with two years left. I'm not sure I want a job in academia (but maybe I do). What should I be doing to maximise chances of success (whatever that means)?
posted by hoyland to Work & Money (13 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
last week should have been a hint to me that I was in a weird mood. That weird mood culminated in a panic about not wanting an academic job and having no skills or qualifications to do anything else. The panic subsided, but I did conclude that this was a good time to start thinking about such things. In principle, I have some idea of how one looks for an academic job and how one positions oneself to actually get one. Whether I can do that (or want to) is another question. I have no idea about other jobs, though. But! I have a bunch of questions:
- I assume someone out there hires people with math PhDs, but who?
When this question has been asked in the past, six people jump in to say 'the NSA'. I'm a dual US/UK citizen and, while that may not be an absolute barrier, it's a not insubstantial one. But, hey, EU passport. Useful lots of other places.
- Do I need to learn to code? If so, what? How do I prove I did?
I've got some rusty C++ knowledge left over from AP computer science in high school. I use Sage and know enough Python to bend Sage to my will when needed. I had to use Perl for some computations once. Basically, if you give me the documentation, I can work it out, at least enough to get done what I need. It might be possible for me to take a CS class or two, but I looked at the course offerings and I pretty clearly don't need the first course, but I have no idea how in over my head I would be otherwise.
- I hear there's this thing called networking. Am I supposed to do it? How?
I'm basically hoping that I can form some sort of plan of attack for this long term finding a job problem so that when I need to actually make decisions I'll not have shot myself in the foot by not doing something now. I have intentions of taking myself to the career center on campus, but that seems very intimidating and I'm not entirely sure what to ask them (despite having written all this).
(And, seemingly like every other person who has asked a variation on this question, I do combinatorics. My research does not have an immediate industrial application.)