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PhD_RPs

Laying Down the truth, sorry, not sorry

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Does it bother anyone else that schools like to start out the career path options presentations without mentioning going for a career in academia?

Why the heck would you go to grad school for your PhD if that is not your goal. I'm sick and tired of that shit, you don't need a PhD for consulting, you don't need a PhD to become a science writer, you don't need a PhD for an industry job..

Schools are letting in too many people, at every interview I've been to, I've met tons of smart people, alternatively, I've also met people that make me think "Why are you here?". I hear stuff like: "I'll be picking a mentor and doing rotations with people whose personalities mesh with mine" are you kidding me? -- I'll be doing rotations with people who are going to challenge me and push me to the edge - I'll be going with my gut feelings on who I choose to work with and it will purely be based off of their science. 

There are TOO many PhD's awarded, have you seen the statistics on PhDs on welfare (not just Biology PhDs to be fair but all in the USA) something like 30 percent on welfare. 50 years ago there were about 600,000 Bio researchers, now there are 6-7 million, it's not sustainable.

Schools need to clean up their acts, Masters degrees need to be funded not paid for by students - that can solve two problems: replicability as MS degrees can be focused on reproducing data and not novel data generation; it can also give an avenue for all the people who want to do what I would call "soft" stuff with their degrees. PhDs should only be given and encouraged for those who have raw talent and can become peers with professors not every person who applies.

If science does not keep you awake a night and doesn't wake you up in the morning... good luck.

When I'm a PI one day, I will not even let a student who does not want to become a SCIENTIST anywhere near my lab, not even for a rotation. Some of the people on this website and IRL just make me cringe, somebody needs to scientifically slap them with the truth.

What are your thoughts? Are you getting your PhD without the intent of at least trying to become a PI or Lecturer? Why? 

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Well thanks for the honesty I suppose. I'm going to be blunt with you, so try to not take offense, but you seem awfully arrogant. Some of your points are valid and I agree with; there are currently too many PhDs being trained. At this rate it's not sustainable, it's simply not. But to say a PhD is not worthwhile unless you stay in academia is silly and myopic, and should someone choose industry over academia that does not make them any less of a scientist. Many PhDs are choosing industry and alternative careers simply because they find academia is not an attractive option. Being on an entirely soft money salary fighting tooth and nail for grants in order to feed your family isn't exactly everyone's idea of a stable career, and if you can't see that then perhaps you should reflect on the current climate of academia a bit more. You know what percentage of PhD graduates end up in tenure track positions? It's low. While academia was once the default path, it's quickly becoming just the opposite and schools are changing to reflect that. 

You are exactly the the type of person I am looking to avoid for rotations. I hope during the course of your training you take off your blinders, because your narrow mindedness is something that is not a great character trait. 

Edited by Neuro15

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49 minutes ago, Neuro15 said:

You know what percentage of PhD graduates end up in tenure track positions? It's low. While academia was once the default path, it's quickly becoming just the opposite and schools are changing to reflect that. 

EXACTLY. 

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Hey Academia is great too, as long as your doing research.

But why would you spend 5 years learning techniques to give it all up and become a consultant? or to give it up for journalism? Those five years could be allocated in a much more efficient way.

Going to grad school is a huge undertaking and a massive risk when you want to become a researcher, but then I think, well if half the kids around me are already not aiming for what I am aiming for then I have quite an advantage. IF they come into grad school from day one with the intent of not becoming a scientist, then my competition is much fewer than the entire class that is entering.

I'm not putting all of my eggs into the basket of becoming an academic, I would also go into industry if academia fails.

1 hour ago, Neuro15 said:

Being on an entirely soft money salary fighting tooth and nail for grants in order to feed your family isn't exactly everyone's idea of a stable career, and if you can't see that then perhaps you should reflect on the current climate of academia a bit more. You know what percentage of PhD graduates end up in tenure track positions? It's low. While academia was once the default path, it's quickly becoming just the opposite and schools are changing to reflect that. 

Okay so yeah, let's talk about salary. Going to graduate school is a massive opportunity cost salary wise, if you are getting your PhD for salary purposes you are in for a nasty surprise, the chances of you making good money are actually higher if you don't go into school for your PhD. Let's say you get an average job at 50k a year starting, by the time five year passes if you are a smart person (smart enough to get into grad school) your salary should be much bigger than 50k. 

I'm not in science for the money at all. I'm in it for the love of asking and answering questions. For results, I am crossing my fingers that I will get LUCKY...

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THIS post made me cringe, so I'm here to scientifically slap you with the truth (whatever that means.) PhD's can be used for so much more than jobs in academia - in fact, it's actually absurd to think that everyone should try to pursue an academic career, since as you said many individuals who go to grad school are not well-suited for it and there is an over-saturation of PhDs compared to the academic jobs available. To imply that people who pursue careers outside of academic are not SCIENTISTS is quite frankly ridiculous, especially for scientists in industry. Is the person who directs R&D for a drug company not a scientist? What about biochemists and analytical chemists working in the food industry? Would you turn these jobs over to individuals without intensive training in a PhD program? These jobs are not "soft" by any estimation and I have no idea why you would think that in the first place.

Also, you seem to hold the outdated belief that the only way to get a worthwhile graduate education is to suffer for five years under the most challenging professor to work with. I hate to break it to you, although that statement may have had some validity fifty years ago, it's no longer true in any way. Yes, it's important to work with a PI who is well-respected in your specific subfield of interest and who publishes frequently in good journals, but your educational experience will be much better overall if you choose someone who works well with your learning style and can improve your ability to engage as a scientist. Like you said, the goal is to cultivate raw talent and bring the student up to become a peer to the professors they work with. Choosing a compatible PI personality-wise not just about being happy - it's about being productive and getting the training that helps you advance to that level. Please don't suffer in the name of trying to be the best. Rank means nothing in grad school; it's all about what you do for yourself.

This elitist attitude - you should really try and check it before entering a grad program. Otherwise, you're going to wash out very fast when you have an inability to "roll with the punches" and consider ideas that challenge your worldview. Also, if you're only interested in academic careers, treating your cohort like trash behind their backs is a great way to burn those bridges you might need to secure a tenure track. You may think you're better than them, but science is an enterprise of people - you've got to get along to get ahead.   

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First off, your opinion is not truth. 

First off, lets talk about your example of journalism. In this day and age, do you honestly think it's a bad thing to have well educated scientists writing about science for the general public? There's a reason that's part of NIH and NSF's outreach goals (communication to the general public). 

Consulting? Depending on what you want to consult about, having a PhD is a valuable credential and well spent. 

Looking back at your original post, your arrogance is astounding. You seem to be sure that you know better who to allocate to projects (masters students vs PhD students) than people who have experience managing researchers. You seem to think that as an applicant, you're in a position to say who should or should not be allowed into a program, moreso than the people who are actually writing grants to fund those researchers. 

Personally, I don't look for someone who's life is dedicated to science. I think that's an attitude that leads to burnout. I also don't just pick students who want to go into academia. I pick students who I can forge a good professional relationship with, and who have a positive attitude, a good work ethic, and who have interests outside of our research. 

And as for your comment on picking advisors:

3 hours ago, PhD_RPs said:

I hear stuff like: "I'll be picking a mentor and doing rotations with people whose personalities mesh with mine" are you kidding me?

That's the advice I give to every one of my undergraduates applying to grad school, and what I gave to every prospective graduate student I met. Attrition from people who didn't pick based on a god mesh of personalities is huge in grad school- and grad school is about training and learning, and you do that best when you have a good fit of personality with the person you're working for. I can guarantee the mentor is picking people they mesh with in return.

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This post is appalling for many reasons, but it bothers me that you think that you don't need a PhD to go into many of these fields.

Are you telling me you don't need a solid understanding of how to interpret data in a rigorous scientific context when you're a science journalist conveying to the public whether a study is legitimate or not, or whether its findings are correlative? Well that explains why we have so many popular science posts claiming that "scientists have proved that intelligence comes from the mother" or whatever crap is in the media nowadays.

Are you telling me you don't need a rigorous foundation in scientific analysis for science policy, when Trump has now stated that the future of the EPA is dependent on whether politicians (who likely have zero experience with rigorous analysis of scientific data, or any data at all) are able to find the EPA's data conclusive?

Sorry not sorry, but we need scientists (WITH PhDs) in these fields more than ever.

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38 minutes ago, PhD_RPs said:

Hey Academia is great too, as long as your doing research.

But why would you spend 5 years learning techniques to give it all up and become a consultant? or to give it up for journalism? Those five years could be allocated in a much more efficient way.

Going to grad school is a huge undertaking and a massive risk when you want to become a researcher, but then I think, well if half the kids around me are already not aiming for what I am aiming for then I have quite an advantage. IF they come into grad school from day one with the intent of not becoming a scientist, then my competition is much fewer than the entire class that is entering.

I'm not putting all of my eggs into the basket of becoming an academic, I would also go into industry if academia fails.

Okay so yeah, let's talk about salary. Going to graduate school is a massive opportunity cost salary wise, if you are getting your PhD for salary purposes you are in for a nasty surprise, the chances of you making good money are actually higher if you don't go into school for your PhD. Let's say you get an average job at 50k a year starting, by the time five year passes if you are a smart person (smart enough to get into grad school) your salary should be much bigger than 50k. 

I'm not in science for the money at all. I'm in it for the love of asking and answering questions. For results, I am crossing my fingers that I will get LUCKY...

This is a much more reasoned post than your initial one, but it does reflect a deep misunderstanding on your part. A PhD is much more than just learning techniques and gathering data. It's an entire way of thinking, critical analysis and skepticism, and personal dedication that can be applied to pretty much every aspect of your professional career. Being formally trained as a scientist is much more than knowing how to pipette well, and is often necessary for upwards movement in places like industry.

I never said getting a PhD is a good idea from a salary standpoint; that's not what I meant by soft money. What I meant is that often times academia positions only cover a portion of one's salary. At top institutions it's not uncommon to have zero salary support. That means you pay your entire salary through your grants. If your grants go, your salary is effectively zero. That is a constant threat that many people do not want to deal with.

Most people go into a doctoral program for the same reasons you said, they love science and love asking and answering questions that are currently unknown. But people have different end goals, and that's something you should learn to respect or you will end up as that guy who no one likes in the program.

 

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2 hours ago, Eigen said:

First off, your opinion is not truth. 

First off, lets talk about your example of journalism. In this day and age, do you honestly think it's a bad thing to have well educated scientists writing about science for the general public? There's a reason that's part of NIH and NSF's outreach goals (communication to the general public). 

Consulting? Depending on what you want to consult about, having a PhD is a valuable credential and well spent. 

Looking back at your original post, your arrogance is astounding. You seem to be sure that you know better who to allocate to projects (masters students vs PhD students) than people who have experience managing researchers. You seem to think that as an applicant, you're in a position to say who should or should not be allowed into a program, moreso than the people who are actually writing grants to fund those researchers. 

Personally, I don't look for someone who's life is dedicated to science. I think that's an attitude that leads to burnout. I also don't just pick students who want to go into academia. I pick students who I can forge a good professional relationship with, and who have a positive attitude, a good work ethic, and who have interests outside of our research. 

And as for your comment on picking advisors:

That's the advice I give to every one of my undergraduates applying to grad school, and what I gave to every prospective graduate student I met. Attrition from people who didn't pick based on a god mesh of personalities is huge in grad school- and grad school is about training and learning, and you do that best when you have a good fit of personality with the person you're working for. I can guarantee the mentor is picking people they mesh with in return.

 

Are you training graduate students? Just wondering

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2 hours ago, Neuro15 said:

This is a much more reasoned post than your initial one, but it does reflect a deep misunderstanding on your part. A PhD is much more than just learning techniques and gathering data. It's an entire way of thinking, critical analysis and skepticism, and personal dedication that can be applied to pretty much every aspect of your professional career. Being formally trained as a scientist is much more than knowing how to pipette well, and is often necessary for upwards movement in places like industry.

I never said getting a PhD is a good idea from a salary standpoint; that's not what I meant by soft money. What I meant is that often times academia positions only cover a portion of one's salary. At top institutions it's not uncommon to have zero salary support. That means you pay your entire salary through your grants. If your grants go, your salary is effectively zero. That is a constant threat that many people do not want to deal with.

Most people go into a doctoral program for the same reasons you said, they love science and love asking and answering questions that are currently unknown. But people have different end goals, and that's something you should learn to respect or you will end up as that guy who no one likes in the program.

 

I meant to say "Hey Industry is great too" not academia. I certainly think R&D/ biochemist/chemist for a company etc are being a scientist. 

However, I do not think you need a PhD for science journalism. A Masters degree would certainly suffice for that in my opinion.

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2 hours ago, Kaede said:

This post is appalling for many reasons, but it bothers me that you think that you don't need a PhD to go into many of these fields.

Are you telling me you don't need a solid understanding of how to interpret data in a rigorous scientific context when you're a science journalist conveying to the public whether a study is legitimate or not, or whether its findings are correlative? Well that explains why we have so many popular science posts claiming that "scientists have proved that intelligence comes from the mother" or whatever crap is in the media nowadays.

Are you telling me you don't need a rigorous foundation in scientific analysis for science policy, when Trump has now stated that the future of the EPA is dependent on whether politicians (who likely have zero experience with rigorous analysis of scientific data, or any data at all) are able to find the EPA's data conclusive?

Sorry not sorry, but we need scientists (WITH PhDs) in these fields more than ever.

Go to the front page of Reddit, I did yesterday and there were a couple things that were top posts from sciencealert.com about DNA being used to store information blah blah, it sounded like it was written by a child. The comments were way off topic, I doubt a PhD writes stuff for that horrid website but that's what ends up on the front. A masters student who was trained in journalism could write better stuff than that, the public is only interested in science is if it's sensationalized or made interested, you need a journalism degree to do that.

Edited by PhD_RPs

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2 minutes ago, PhD_RPs said:

I meant to say "Hey Industry is great too" not academia. I certainly think R&D/ biochemist/chemist for a company etc are being a scientist. 

However, I do not think you need a PhD for science journalism. A Masters degree would certainly suffice for that in my opinion.

Just for the record, I don't think anyone goes into a PhD thinking they want to be a science journalist or a consultant. The reason these are emphasized so much in career type talks is because the majority of people still do go into it expecting to become professors, and many realize halfway through that that's not the best path for them or that it isn't even possible. I agree that its probably silly to get a PhD with an ultimate goal of not being a scientist, whether in industry or in acadamia, but I don't think that anyone actually does that. You can go into your PhD and want to learn to be a scientist without wanting to be a professor. 

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1 minute ago, virionoftomorrow said:

Just for the record, I don't think anyone goes into a PhD thinking they want to be a science journalist or a consultant. The reason these are emphasized so much in career type talks is because the majority of people still do go into it expecting to become professors, and many realize halfway through that that's not the best path for them or that it isn't even possible. I agree that its probably silly to get a PhD with an ultimate goal of not being a scientist, whether in industry or in acadamia, but I don't think that anyone actually does that. You can go into your PhD and want to learn to be a scientist without wanting to be a professor. 

Yeah I know, those careers are my backup plans as well. But why would they be advertising those, accepting large numbers of students, etc from the get-go? It baffles me. 

I did not mean to sound so arrogant, I know chances of becoming a researcher both in Academia and Industry are slim.... I was just annoyed about how it's sold.

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I read a question on Quora a while ago on whether there are too many PhDs given out, and I thought the answer was succinct and to the point: 

https://www.quora.com/Do-we-really-need-this-many-PhDs-as-a-society/answer/Joseph-Wang-9?srid=Lbmp

Advanced degrees are much more than gateways for certain careers. It is very very dangerous to think of an education as something that should be limited only to certain people going for certain careers. The application process for PhDs is fairly rigorous, most people that get in are qualified and have what it takes to make the most of it and make an impact in WHATEVER WAY THEY WISH. They are driven by curiosity and the desire to challenge themselves and push the bank of knowledge forward. The PhD lets them flesh out those traits, gain a solid set of problem solving and technical skills and figure out where they can best apply them. If that means consulting for investment companies, then fine. If it means editing scientific communication, then fine. Why in the world would you keep someone from pursuing a PhD just because they don't want to do lab research??? Please take a step back and think of what that means at a societal level. 

Just because the PhD used to be solely for the academic path does not mean it needs to stay that way. There was also a time when women couldn't vote, and plenty of people screamed about how it should stay that way, which is obviously ridiculous. For better or for worse, the PhD is changing. Instead of being one of the people complaining about it, think of ways of using your position to impact this change in a constructive way. 

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After looking at job ads for a while now, many employers outside of academia prefer or require a PhD. A masters is simply not enough to cut it for a career in research outside or inside academia especially if you want to head or run a lab.  Employers know they can get a PhD since there is a surplus of them. 

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46 minutes ago, PhD_RPs said:

 

Are you training graduate students? Just wondering

Not currently, but have previously. Currently at a SLAC where almost all of my students are going to graduate school. 

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6 minutes ago, biomednyc said:

I read a question on Quora a while ago on whether there are too many PhDs given out, and I thought the answer was succinct and to the point: 

https://www.quora.com/Do-we-really-need-this-many-PhDs-as-a-society/answer/Joseph-Wang-9?srid=Lbmp

Advanced degrees are much more than gateways for certain careers. It is very very dangerous to think of an education as something that should be limited only to certain people going for certain careers. The application process for PhDs is fairly rigorous, most people that get in are qualified and have what it takes to make the most of it and make an impact in WHATEVER WAY THEY WISH. They are driven by curiosity and the desire to challenge themselves and push the bank of knowledge forward. The PhD lets them flesh out those traits, gain a solid set of problem solving and technical skills and figure out where they can best apply them. If that means consulting for investment companies, then fine. If it means editing scientific communication, then fine. Why in the world would you keep someone from pursuing a PhD just because they don't want to do lab research??? Please take a step back and think of what that means at a societal level. 

Just because the PhD used to be solely for the academic path does not mean it needs to stay that way. There was also a time when women couldn't vote, and plenty of people screamed about how it should stay that way, which is obviously ridiculous. For better or for worse, the PhD is changing. Instead of being one of the people complaining about it, think of ways of using your position to impact this change in a constructive way. 

No I agree with you, but if you want to work as a consultant for investing companies: a PhD is not an easy gateway to that, if you are 30 years old with a PhD in Immunology you will be competing against a 26 year old with an MBA for the same job...

I certainly think the skills learned in graduate school would make you excellent at anything that you do and I agree that you have to have a certain level of aptitude for any of those things. But just because you have a PhD you aren't going to be a shoe-in for any of those jobs and if it is outside of science they will question your background.

What I am frustrated with is how schools show you a presentation and one of the slides is always "career tracks", more often than not you don't see Academia on those slides that's how tough it is, and they rub in all the other side paths. Then people are afraid to say they want to be academics as their end goal out of fear of sounding Arrogant?? Really, seriously, I know I've been blunt, and I know how difficult it is, but I shouldn't be humiliated or ashamed to say that that's waht I want to do. I promise you it is purely because I love people and that is the only way I feel like I can have a beneficial impact on humanity.

I don't want to be in industry profiteering off of people's sicknesses.

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3 minutes ago, Eigen said:

Not currently, but have previously. Currently at a SLAC where almost all of my students are going to graduate school. 

Cool, thank you for answering. I regret coming off as such a big jerk, but do you tell your students to not say in interviews that they want to be researchers?

Kind of like how its a no-no in a med school interview to say you want to be a surgeon? do you think it is arrogant and you should outright say I'll most likely (statistically) end up outside of research?

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2 minutes ago, PhD_RPs said:

No I agree with you, but if you want to work as a consultant for investing companies: a PhD is not an easy gateway to that, if you are 30 years old with a PhD in Immunology you will be competing against a 26 year old with an MBA for the same job...

 

This isn't true. No one is hiring science consultants where an MBA and PhD would compete for the same job. Many positions will have the PhD as the base requirement. 

As to the "what is an MS sufficient for", I think the important distinction is what it is intended to do. Generally, an MS isn't seen as a research degree, even with a thesis. It's seen as a degree that makes you a subject matter expert. 

For many, many careers, the importance isn't being a subject matter expert- it's having significant experience as a researcher at the cutting edge of your field. For anything where you're talking about the practice of research and publishing (copy editor of a journal, science journalist, policy analyst), the PhD is the requirement because of the time it ensures you spend actually doing research.

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7 minutes ago, PhD_RPs said:

Cool, thank you for answering. I regret coming off as such a big jerk, but do you tell your students to not say in interviews that they want to be researchers?

Kind of like how its a no-no in a med school interview to say you want to be a surgeon? do you think it is arrogant and you should outright say I'll most likely (statistically) end up outside of research?

That's not really statistically true, depending on how you define research. 

Most people with a PhD will end up in a research-associated job. Not as many will end up as PIs, or at R1s- but that's not the entire research community, and to think it is is relatively narrow. 

Very few people with a PhD will end up being journalists, and still relatively few as consultants. The former because there aren't that many jobs, the latter because most people prefer a consultant that is also currently research active (i.e., a professor or leading a team in industry). 

I think you're twisting these career presentations into something they aren't. People don't talk about academia because that's the base assumption- it's expected everyone has that as a significant goal. It's to open people up to other career options that they may or may not know about. And to be inclusive of people pursuing PhDs for careers outside of academia. There's been (long term) a huge stigma against people mentioning anything other than "I want to be an academic" in graduate school, and many programs are only recently working to change that messaging to be inclusive of other career options.

I tell my students they should be honest and themselves on interviews, look for a group and a PI they feel they will fit in with, and be flexible about career goals. I think almost no undergraduate, or even junior graduate students, have enough experience with either career options or the field they're in to make a fully informed and final decision about a career. Graduate school is about learning and being flexible enough that you are open to new options as you learn about them, and being willing to follow your research into new areas that you didn't know about when you started.

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9 minutes ago, PhD_RPs said:

No I agree with you, but if you want to work as a consultant for investing companies: a PhD is not an easy gateway to that, if you are 30 years old with a PhD in Immunology you will be competing against a 26 year old with an MBA for the same job...

I certainly think the skills learned in graduate school would make you excellent at anything that you do and I agree that you have to have a certain level of aptitude for any of those things. But just because you have a PhD you aren't going to be a shoe-in for any of those jobs and if it is outside of science they will question your background.

What I am frustrated with is how schools show you a presentation and one of the slides is always "career tracks", more often than not you don't see Academia on those slides that's how tough it is, and they rub in all the other side paths. Then people are afraid to say they want to be academics as their end goal out of fear of sounding Arrogant?? Really, seriously, I know I've been blunt, and I know how difficult it is, but I shouldn't be humiliated or ashamed to say that that's waht I want to do. I promise you it is purely because I love people and that is the only way I feel like I can have a beneficial impact on humanity.

I don't want to be in industry profiteering off of people's sicknesses.

No of course you're not going to be a shoo-in for any career post-PhD, and I would hope no recent PhD graduate thinks that lol. I think I understand what you're saying...that it's not worth the time and energy to pursue a PhD if you don't really know what you want to do and think it's a good way to make yourself more "employable". I certainly know people who wanted to apply to PhDs to put off going into the "real world." I would just caution against piling people who might not want to pursue an academic career into that boat. People have different reasons for pursuing it, and I would say that those that simply pursue it to put time off from looking for jobs will most likely not make it through.

Also I'm not sure where the shame for wanting to go into academia is coming from...I am someone who intends to pursue an academic path and had no problem having conversations about it during interviews. I'm also not sure how much to read into the introductory presentations...again even as someone who wants to pursue an academic career I usually ask questions about career development/alternative careers because I think it's important to be aware of the options. At interviews they need to cover a lot in a little bit of time so they could've been catering to what people are (probably) most curious about. 

Don't feel threatened about what you want to pursue post-PhD. Don't threaten other people about what they want to pursue post-PhD. Do your thing and learn as much as you can from everyone, even those who have different career goals than you. 

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5 minutes ago, PhD_RPs said:

Cool, thank you for answering. I regret coming off as such a big jerk, but do you tell your students to not say in interviews that they want to be researchers?

Kind of like how its a no-no in a med school interview to say you want to be a surgeon? do you think it is arrogant and you should outright say I'll most likely (statistically) end up outside of research?

I don't know about your experience during interviews but when I was asked that question I've always answered that I wanted to become a PI. The thing is, my interviewers seemed genuinely happy and some of them even every excited about it. Three of them gave me really good advice on the pros and cons of being a PI at different types of institutions (traditional academia, research institute, pharma, or hard money). One of them told me he was relieved to see there are still talented young scientists who wanted to fight to stay in academia despite how hard it is to do so now. I have never heard of cases where people were looked down upon because they said they wanted to stay in academia. It's usually the exact opposite and there is still a lot of stigma associated with going anywhere outside academia after getting a PhD. Unless a student is clearly not suited for the job as a PI for whatever reason, I can't imagine how an interviewer would think the student is arrogant for wanting to pursue a career in research.

I can see where you're coming from in regards to schools maybe over-advertising non-traditional career tracks. I was a bit disappointed when some schools don't even bother mentioning their alums who did end up in academia because that is an aspect crucial to me when deciding where I want to go. However, schools do have a very good reason for emphasizing the non-academia careers since even in top institutions, only ~50% of their recent graduates end up becoming a PI. To me, it is completely reasonable to not give all the attention to only one group of people and make the rest feel as if they're failures for not wanting something the other group wants. 

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5 minutes ago, pitchfork said:

I don't know about your experience during interviews but when I was asked that question I've always answered that I wanted to become a PI. The thing is, my interviewers seemed genuinely happy and some of them even every excited about it. Three of them gave me really good advice on the pros and cons of being a PI at different types of institutions (traditional academia, research institute, pharma, or hard money). One of them told me he was relieved to see there are still talented young scientists who wanted to fight to stay in academia despite how hard it is to do so now. I have never heard of cases where people were looked down upon because they said they wanted to stay in academia. It's usually the exact opposite and there is still a lot of stigma associated with going anywhere outside academia after getting a PhD. Unless a student is clearly not suited for the job as a PI for whatever reason, I can't imagine how an interviewer would think the student is arrogant for wanting to pursue a career in research.

I can see where you're coming from in regards to schools maybe over-advertising non-traditional career tracks. I was a bit disappointed when some schools don't even bother mentioning their alums who did end up in academia because that is an aspect crucial to me when deciding where I want to go. However, schools do have a very good reason for emphasizing the non-academia careers since even in top institutions, only ~50% of their recent graduates end up becoming a PI. To me, it is completely reasonable to not give all the attention to only one group of people and make the rest feel as if they're failures for not wanting something the other group wants. 

i mentioned wanting to try my best to become one, but knowing the reality of it, and knowing that it will really depend on everything falling into place properly and luck.

they did not have a problem with it at all for me either, at least they are showing us other career tracks i guess.

also I think even at the best institutions it is far less than 50% becoming PIs. All I'm focused on now is building up the best network I can for a good Post-doc, becoming a PI will be the next step out and is at least 10 years away for me realistically. 

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4 minutes ago, PhD_RPs said:

i mentioned wanting to try my best to become one, but knowing the reality of it, and knowing that it will really depend on everything falling into place properly and luck.

they did not have a problem with it at all for me either, at least they are showing us other career tracks i guess.

also I think even at the best institutions it is far less than 50% becoming PIs. All I'm focused on now is building up the best network I can for a good Post-doc, becoming a PI will be the next step out and is at least 10 years away for me realistically. 

At the end of the day, I'm glad to see even if I can't stay in academia I'll have an alum network to make the transition into other career paths smoother. 

That 50% might only apply to some small elitist (probably not in a good way, if you know what I mean) programs in certain fields. Also, I've seen some schools putting their alums who are currently postdocs in the same group as those who are PIs, so you're right that the actual percentage that the two of use are interested in may very likely be less than 50%. 

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