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I want to work towards a PhD eventually. Should I go for it right after college or get a few years of experience in?

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3 answers

Savannah’s Answer

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Hello Vedant,

This is a great question. Partly it depends on what you want to do when you graduate - do you want to work in industry, do you want to perform research, or do you want to teach?

I am currently working on my PhD. I've been working in industry for 9 years but want my PhD to give me specialized focus in one area to improve my work. For me, the time in industry has been invaluable. The mindset I had going into classes after being away from school was very different than when all I knew was school. I think that the education I received was ultimately more enriched from my experiences and that I was able to better help my classmates on team projects.

For example, when going from degree to degree (I earned my bachelors and masters back to back) my focus was the same as the professors - all theoretical and very little practical application. My experience in industry has been basically the opposite - all practical applications to meet the need of the customer, business, and stakeholder. By gaining experience in the practical, it made the theoretical clearer and easier to connect something tangible.

Going back to school after taking a break is not easy however. It may mean balancing your job, classes, and family. I have not finished my PhD yet but I am gaining ground and feel that I am going in the right direction.
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Deep’s Answer

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Hi Vedant,
It is great that you are thinking ahead. After I completed graduate school (Masters) I had a similar fork in the road, to pursue a PhD or get a some work experience. Here are a couple of things I looked at while making the decision:

1. Your financial needs and goals : where are currently and where you would like to be in the next 5 years. The trajectory of getting to the goal would be different if you got a job in corporate America or continued on to get a PhD.

2. Interest : Most of my friends when I was in grad school ( 80%) continued on to do a phD. More than half of them were not sure why they did it. The other half were very clear in their very clear about what they were interested in and then pursued it. So I asked myself if I felt passionately about pursing a pHD . PHD is getting very deep into one specific aspect about a topic. its ultra specialization and you need to be clear on your interest to pursue it.

3.What you want to do : I asked myself where I would like to see myself 5 or 7 years from now. What are jobs that I would like to hold ? This helped me evaluate if the taking on a phD would help me get there.

4.Opportunity : what is the outlook of the field you intend to pursue? have grants to he field been increasing or decreasing ( you can find this information in public domain)? what kind of jobs would you end up with after a phD? I would recommend researching this

Good luck and let me know if you have further questions.

Cheers
Deep
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Michael’s Answer

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Hi Vedant,


The answer to your question will completely depend upon what type of PhD you want to get. I recommend looking at some PhD programs you might be interested in to see what they require.  Schools will post this information on their websites. My line of work is business and for business PhDs they usually get an MBA first which does require about 3-5 years of work experience. Other majors you can go straight through to the PhD without experience.


-Mike

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