after grad school
April 3, 2011 8:18 PM   Subscribe

I'm curious what unconventional things people here have done after getting a computer science PhD, and what it took to get there.

Background: I kind of have a hippie/tie-dye personality. My priorities are Doing Meaningful Work, Spending Time With My Family, and Not Stressing Out, rather than Publishing Prestigious Papers or Making Lots of Money. I went to grad school because, uh, I was 21 and it sounded neat to get paid to learn stuff. I've got 1-2 years left on my degree depending on how things go. I have nowhere near the brainpower it takes to get a tenure track position these days, nor do I want to move around the country just to stay in research.

I've gotten a few remarkably lucrative job offers from giant well-known software companies, and the most logical thing to do would be to take one right now (and finish my degree while working full time, or maybe forget about the degree entirely?). But I'm not at all certain I'd thrive in the big corporate environment. Or am I just chickening out?

So I'm curious to hear what kinds of career paths people here have taken after finishing a PhD in computer science, especially if they're a little more laid back than the usual routes of academia or software engineering. Startups? Consulting? Teaching? Private research? How did you get there? Did finishing the PhD really help, or would you have been just fine with an MS? Was a minimal PhD enough, or did you really need to get all your papers out before landing the job? Did a couple of years of traditional work experience help you get there?
posted by miyabo to Education (2 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
I know a guy who did a PhD in Computer Science (proof and logic, no less) and then went on to form a sustainable chocolate company that is doing _exceptionally_ well.

I know a guy who did a PhD in compsci (systems engineering) and then moved to Africa to try and help build their infrastructure. He runs the largest ISP in East Africa now.
posted by gadha at 3:50 AM on April 4, 2011

Not super-unconventional, but I built websites and interactive art to pay my way through mine. Then became a freelancer, and started a small, feel-good web agency. We keep small and try to stick to fun clients.
posted by cogat at 5:38 AM on April 4, 2011

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