GRS Home  Forum Home
Bank Rates Center
   Savings Account Rates
   Money Market Rates
   Highest CD Rates
Insurance Rates Center
  Auto           Health
   Life              Home
Mortgage Rates Center
  Mortgage Rates
  Mortgage Quotes

Last visit was:
A place for Get Rich Slowly readers to ask questions
and exchange ideas
It is currently Wed Aug 20, 2014 3:27 pm




Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 34 posts ]  Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next
Author Message
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 12:04 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:49 pm
Posts: 27
Location: Orange County, Ca
Blaubaer wrote:
Happy New Year! I thought I should provide an update.

My boyfriend's really rather nice, even though he seems overly bossy sometimes. His whole family's a bit like this, so I think it's just their way of communicating.

Anyway, he did come around eventually. Partly he was upset because he was afraid that I was giving up on my career so I could live in the same country as him again and he didn't want me to give up my dreams. So I had to convince him that they're not my dreams anymore.

Now it's my turn to be unsure of his intentions, because he's saying he doesn't want to do a postdoc either when he finishes his PhD (also in math). After looking at job opportunities for him, it seems like we might end up moving to my hometown, where I might be able to get lecturing work instead of admin work while I make a career change because I know people. It's really hard to tell how things will work out, since it won't be time for me to come home for several months. I do have a new career dream, but it might take some time before I can make money from it and maybe I never will, so I'll need to find a job for the meantime.

To galactic, you're right that a mentor would help. I think it's perhaps too late for me now, but it would have been good a year ago. I've found that's the main difference between doing a postdoc and doing a PhD. Everyone around me is someone I don't want to embarrass myself in front of, and it's hard to find someone to ask if they think my research plans have obvious flaws.

On the other hand, I think perhaps the postdoc is intended as a test of your ability to work independently, and this just means I've failed at that. I thought that was one of my strengths but I was taking my PhD supervisor's guidance for granted.

Also thanks again to everyone for your advice. I really appreciate it, and some of the comments were really complimentary. I'm really not good at math and you can get a PhD with plain persistence and curiosity, but you probably won't believe me.

I'm curious...before you and your boyfriend spent all that time, and money on your Ph.D's did you first determine what opportunities, pay and demand would be for such a degree? It sounds like the prospects are not good, or am I wrong? And if this is the case, then the lesson for you (and others reading this) is to determine the ROI (return on investment) before pursuing a degree in a particular discipline. I hope your education loans are not massive...

_________________
Read Ayn Rand Books so you'll no longer be a lemming. ;-) I'm debt free, 49 years of age, male, Libertarian, 3 rental properties, two grown children, and a cat.


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 1:53 pm 
Moderator

Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5316
I am also a Phd but in engineering. I sort of know what you are talking about. And I pretty much agree with galactic.

One observation though I would add is that you sound more like you need a vacation rather than a career change. I strongly suspect that if you became an admin assistant you would like it at first but would quickly start to feel isolated again and underutilized. You will crave being around other intellectuals even if you don't see that now. I've been there - got my PhD, worked up to a high level (reported directly to CEO) position in a company very quickly, liked my job but did not like the travel and long hours so I left to be a mere engineer again. Well, a couple of years later I am happy being a "mere engineer" but I have inadvertently floated back up and am in somewhat of a leadership position again.

I am surrounded by brilliant people everyday and many of them are far smater than me. It would be easy to feel inferior. But a better way to look at it is that you are a member of a very bright community. You have your specialty and they have theirs. Like most researchersyou will have high times and low. Probably most of your greatest work will happen in short bursts when you have a breakthrough. These time might be separated by years. I know we have to trudge along in research all the time but no one probably expects a dramatic productive work every month.

I think if you want a career change then you should do it. But I strongly urge you to think carefully about it and try to figure out exactly what you want to change. It could be that you might want to teach rather than do research or maybe do research in another area because you are bored.


Top
Offline Profile E-mail   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 3:07 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:32 pm
Posts: 20
Location: Berlin
AynRandMindSet wrote:
I'm curious...before you and your boyfriend spent all that time, and money on your Ph.D's did you first determine what opportunities, pay and demand would be for such a degree? It sounds like the prospects are not good, or am I wrong? And if this is the case, then the lesson for you (and others reading this) is to determine the ROI (return on investment) before pursuing a degree in a particular discipline. I hope your education loans are not massive...


Actually when I started my PhD, I was a bit lost career-wise and the PhD stipend was more than I had been making working full-time just prior to that (in customer service). Because I had a scholarship I didn't have to pay for any of it. This was in Australia, where the stipends aren't so bad, I was awarded an extra scholarship by my university and teaching paid extra on top of that. Travel was partially supported so I traveled around the world while I was doing it, which was something I'd always wanted to do. And I felt a sense of accomplishment at discovering mathematical results and seeing my name printed in a journal for the first time (and then my work cited by other people).

So I don't regret doing my PhD because it was a very enjoyable time for me. I worked a few part-time jobs to support myself through my bachelor's degree. Then when I was doing my PhD it felt like I was on vacation all the time because I liked doing research and it didn't feel like work. I knew the prospects weren't great for me, but that's more about me than the degree. The ROI must be good because so far as I can see, there's really been no cost.


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2010 5:04 pm 
Moderator

Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5316
Just another thought - if you liked being an admin assistant you might try project management in research and development. A math PhD puts you in a good place to do that and you make a lot of money. You'd probably need to start on small projects in a small high tech company or something like that but within 3-5 years you can be make a lot of money. The work is a lot like being an admin assistant in many ways.


Top
Offline Profile E-mail   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:51 am 

Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:32 pm
Posts: 20
Location: Berlin
DoingHomework wrote:
I am also a Phd but in engineering. I sort of know what you are talking about. And I pretty much agree with galactic.

One observation though I would add is that you sound more like you need a vacation rather than a career change. I strongly suspect that if you became an admin assistant you would like it at first but would quickly start to feel isolated again and underutilized. You will crave being around other intellectuals even if you don't see that now. I've been there - got my PhD, worked up to a high level (reported directly to CEO) position in a company very quickly, liked my job but did not like the travel and long hours so I left to be a mere engineer again. Well, a couple of years later I am happy being a "mere engineer" but I have inadvertently floated back up and am in somewhat of a leadership position again.

I am surrounded by brilliant people everyday and many of them are far smater than me. It would be easy to feel inferior. But a better way to look at it is that you are a member of a very bright community. You have your specialty and they have theirs. Like most researchersyou will have high times and low. Probably most of your greatest work will happen in short bursts when you have a breakthrough. These time might be separated by years. I know we have to trudge along in research all the time but no one probably expects a dramatic productive work every month.

I think if you want a career change then you should do it. But I strongly urge you to think carefully about it and try to figure out exactly what you want to change. It could be that you might want to teach rather than do research or maybe do research in another area because you are bored.


Thank you. It's really hard to think carefully about this. One thing that I want to change is I want to live in the same country as my boyfriend (and to a lesser extent my family). At a certain point, pursuing this career stopped feeling like it was worth the daily sacrifice of a long-distant relationship, especially as I really feel like I'm on my own at work. It's hard to judge the work itself without seeing it against the backdrop of isolation, homesickness and insecurity.

I'm not bored - I still find the work I'm doing very interesting and I think I'll keep working on it as a hobby - but I seem to have reached a point where in order to continue I need to take on the role of expert or leader. I don't really have the confidence to be either. I do see working with smart, interesting people as a perk. My hope is to have spare time to concentrate on art, so I won't mind not being completely fulfilled at work.


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 12:20 pm 
Moderator

Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5316
Blaubaer wrote:
Thank you. It's really hard to think carefully about this. One thing that I want to change is I want to live in the same country as my boyfriend (and to a lesser extent my family). At a certain point, pursuing this career stopped feeling like it was worth the daily sacrifice of a long-distant relationship, especially as I really feel like I'm on my own at work. It's hard to judge the work itself without seeing it against the backdrop of isolation, homesickness and insecurity.

I'm not bored - I still find the work I'm doing very interesting and I think I'll keep working on it as a hobby - but I seem to have reached a point where in order to continue I need to take on the role of expert or leader. I don't really have the confidence to be either. I do see working with smart, interesting people as a perk. My hope is to have spare time to concentrate on art, so I won't mind not being completely fulfilled at work.


One major factor in your favor is that mathematics is practiced everywhere. If you look I am sure you will find opportunities in your home country. The problem might be that they are highly competitive positions to get. You might have to work very hard at selling yourself.

I know how competitive, political, and cutthroat research can be. It may not be an easy path but before you give up on your field I think you should look for changes that address the homesickness problem while still keeping you in the field you have trained in


Top
Offline Profile E-mail   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 6:14 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:49 pm
Posts: 27
Location: Orange County, Ca
Blaubaer wrote:
AynRandMindSet wrote:
I'm curious...before you and your boyfriend spent all that time, and money on your Ph.D's did you first determine what opportunities, pay and demand would be for such a degree? It sounds like the prospects are not good, or am I wrong? And if this is the case, then the lesson for you (and others reading this) is to determine the ROI (return on investment) before pursuing a degree in a particular discipline. I hope your education loans are not massive...


Actually when I started my PhD, I was a bit lost career-wise and the PhD stipend was more than I had been making working full-time just prior to that (in customer service). Because I had a scholarship I didn't have to pay for any of it. This was in Australia, where the stipends aren't so bad, I was awarded an extra scholarship by my university and teaching paid extra on top of that. Travel was partially supported so I traveled around the world while I was doing it, which was something I'd always wanted to do. And I felt a sense of accomplishment at discovering mathematical results and seeing my name printed in a journal for the first time (and then my work cited by other people).

So I don't regret doing my PhD because it was a very enjoyable time for me. I worked a few part-time jobs to support myself through my bachelor's degree. Then when I was doing my PhD it felt like I was on vacation all the time because I liked doing research and it didn't feel like work. I knew the prospects weren't great for me, but that's more about me than the degree. The ROI must be good because so far as I can see, there's really been no cost.


Actually, you are using the wrong metric. Just because it's been fun, nearly free and interesting getting your Ph.D still does not address ROI. ROI is about how well your FUTURE income can offset the cost of getting the Ph.D, AND what type of lifestyle your future income will provide you, so no, what you wrote really hasn't proven that getting such a degreee is a good financial move.

I'm not saying it was wrong to get your advanced math degree....rather, I ask if you have researched the income and opportunities available to you so that you can have a great life which can only be supported by a great income.

_________________
Read Ayn Rand Books so you'll no longer be a lemming. ;-) I'm debt free, 49 years of age, male, Libertarian, 3 rental properties, two grown children, and a cat.


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 8:47 pm 
Moderator

Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5316
AynRandMindSet wrote:
Actually, you are using the wrong metric. Just because it's been fun, nearly free and interesting getting your Ph.D still does not address ROI. ROI is about how well your FUTURE income can offset the cost of getting the Ph.D, AND what type of lifestyle your future income will provide you, so no, what you wrote really hasn't proven that getting such a degreee is a good financial move.

I'm not saying it was wrong to get your advanced math degree....rather, I ask if you have researched the income and opportunities available to you so that you can have a great life which can only be supported by a great income.


ARMS: While I agree with you in principle I think your reasoning fails in practice. A PhD will almost never produce the optimum ROI in any field. If a person solely considered ROI from a financial perspective then we would have very few PhDs. While that might be desirable, and I'm not disputing that, I think we all benefit from research and education in ways that are rather difficult to quantify. Take quality of life - having achieved a PhD and being an intellectual makes you a member of a community of others like you and gives you a degree of respect in some corners that is impossible to get without passing that mark. How valuable is that? Not very in some ways and priceless in others. It is not just future income that can enhance one's lifestyle. It is also the sheer joy of knowledge, association with other scholars, and the understanding of the world that you develop.

Is it necessary to have a PhD to enjy those things? Of course not. But having one gets you in the door. I know lots of idiots with PhDs. In my current job in academia you can't swing a bat without knocking out a few Phds. In my former job, because of the people I associated with, it was extremely helpful and gave me great respect. 'm not just talking about ego here, the respect turned into authority that I was able to convert into business for my company.

In math, physics, etc, a PhD is like the entry ticket. It is effectively required to play in the game. It is the terminal degree. In my field, engineering, a BS is the terminal degree (though I think it is becoming the MS) and having a PhD does not usually earn you much more money. When you consider the opportunity cost of giving p a few years of advancement and experience it is even worse. So does that mean anyone who gets a PhD in engineering is stupid and made a poor decision?


Top
Offline Profile E-mail   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:13 pm 

Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:30 am
Posts: 577
i disagree that a great life requires a "great income" - an individual's defined great life may or may not require a particular income level in order to be great.


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 10:07 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:49 pm
Posts: 27
Location: Orange County, Ca
galactic wrote:
i disagree that a great life requires a "great income" - an individual's defined great life may or may not require a particular income level in order to be great.


You forget, it takes money to have options and it takes options to have a most fulfilled life, filled with joy, travel, music, great food, drink, experiences with friends and family. All over the world, everywhere.....options support a joyful life and options often cost real money.

And why would anyone want to spend huge $$ studying for a career that pays kakaa HomeWorkGuy?!? For respect? Bragging rights? How shallow, sir. By the 100th monthly payment on the BaZillion $$ tuition bill, that respect and bragging rights gets very old. I can think of a lot more important things to get then that...like options in one's life....options cost money....I don't love money per se, but I love and demand options in my life.

Options to fly here or there, or just stay here. Options to eat here, there, anywhere...options to ge skiing next week, lay on the beach the week after, then try that awesome Tapas bar in Pamplona, Spain a few days later. Options to sit rent a house in the south of France to finish the Great American novel, or paint a nice landscape....a life without options is a life that settles for crumbs....

_________________
Read Ayn Rand Books so you'll no longer be a lemming. ;-) I'm debt free, 49 years of age, male, Libertarian, 3 rental properties, two grown children, and a cat.


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue Jan 05, 2010 11:17 pm 

Joined: Sat Feb 07, 2009 4:32 pm
Posts: 20
Location: Berlin
AynRandMindSet wrote:
galactic wrote:
i disagree that a great life requires a "great income" - an individual's defined great life may or may not require a particular income level in order to be great.


You forget, it takes money to have options and it takes options to have a most fulfilled life, filled with joy, travel, music, great food, drink, experiences with friends and family. All over the world, everywhere.....options support a joyful life and options often cost real money.

And why would anyone want to spend huge $$ studying for a career that pays kakaa HomeWorkGuy?!? For respect? Bragging rights? How shallow, sir. By the 100th monthly payment on the BaZillion $$ tuition bill, that respect and bragging rights gets very old. I can think of a lot more important things to get then that...like options in one's life....options cost money....I don't love money per se, but I love and demand options in my life.

Options to fly here or there, or just stay here. Options to eat here, there, anywhere...options to ge skiing next week, lay on the beach the week after, then try that awesome Tapas bar in Pamplona, Spain a few days later. Options to sit rent a house in the south of France to finish the Great American novel, or paint a nice landscape....a life without options is a life that settles for crumbs....


But how do you know when it is time to stop building up your wealth and actually start cashing in your options? Doing a PhD in mathematics for me was a little bit like writing a novel in the south of France might be for you. (Except it didn't cost me any money because my tuition and living costs were covered by my scholarship.)

I might be representing the options available to mathematicians a bit too negatively here. If it weren't for the fact that I am battling the two-body problem, it might seem quite idyllic. There are career opportunities all over the world, but very few in my hometown. If all I cared about was making money I could try joining the ranks of mathematicians who went to work for a bank. A lot of my former classmates did just that, but based on my experience it's not work that suits me.


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 11:33 am 

Joined: Thu Dec 31, 2009 1:49 pm
Posts: 27
Location: Orange County, Ca
I'm not anti Mathematics, nor am I anti-Ph.D.

All I'm saying is that if your income ROI is not there, then I would do something else.

I know a lot of Ph.D's that have six figure student loans 10+ years after the fact. Long after the respect and bragging rights wear off can one still be stuck with the $100,000+ bills.

We all need a vocation of course, but lets not lose sight of why we work: To earn options in our lives, to do whatever we want to do and often.

I was a math major in college, but one day in my 3rd year I woke up and asked the question "what in the hell will I do with a math degree?". After some research I found it didn't pay much. Now that was back in the late 1970's so today it may well be different.

I switch majors to IT and pierced the six figure ceiling in the mid 1980s and have been in that range since then. I spent a few years in management but it often paid less then the "lowly" developer, so I dropped back down to developer and my income in marketability shot up. So much for prestige, respect, power and other dellusions...at the end of the day, what matters is what you deposit in your bank account (after expenses), because what exist in your account are your options in life to do whatever the heck you want; the kinds of things you were meant to do while existing on this earth....I personally was not meant to spend so much of my life at work, even if I love what I do....life starts after work when it's my time.

_________________
Read Ayn Rand Books so you'll no longer be a lemming. ;-) I'm debt free, 49 years of age, male, Libertarian, 3 rental properties, two grown children, and a cat.


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2010 12:53 pm 
Moderator

Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5316
ARMS - now you are changing the argument. I don't think anyone should incur $100,000 in debt for a PhD. That would be pure self-indulgence because it would be unlikely to produce a good return. But Blaubaer was clear that the cost of the PhD to her was free. That means there probably is a good ROI. Were there opportunity costs? Could she have chosen a different major and had better earning potential? Probably. But having the PhD undoubtedly gives her career options that may not be exactly in math. I know a lot of physics and math PhDs that work in software development for complex applications, especially in science.

I think you are making good points but I think you are being a little short sighted as well. You may have made six figures right out of college and been able to maintain that. But I do not think that is typical for developers. I know many myself and I know that they make about what engineers make, starting about $60k now and topping out at about $90k after a couple of decades of experience. Of course there are exceptions such as yourself apparently. I think a math PhD can apply her skills in these same areas and fill the same positions. Clearly it depends on specific area of expertise.


Top
Offline Profile E-mail   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:16 am 

Joined: Sat Dec 29, 2007 9:30 am
Posts: 577
note that blaubaer has made it clear that she did not incur out of pocket costs to earn her degree. many of us get paid to earn a PhD. i had student loans from my undergraduate education, but received a free ride and stipend to earn my terminal degree at one of the nation's top universities. (1) that's priceless experience, to train with one of the most well-established masters of your discipline. it changed my life. and (2) there is no out of pocket cost investment, only time. i might have missed out on $10k or so of income that i might have made with a bachelor's degree, but with that degree i would have been far more expendable as an employee and not working to my full potential/making the kinds of contributions to the world that i am able to make after receiving such good training.

i am also making a few bucks less now than i could be, that is, if there were any industry jobs available in the current economy. i have the fringe benefit of far greater job security. but the terminal degree has opened up potential, and someone like me with a few more years experience is looking at a sky's-the-limit situation when it comes to future career development. and yes, income. with a bachelor's degree, i would have hit my career development (and income) ceiling after roughly 5 years. perhaps 7 years if i did a master's degree.

but frankly, i don't need a ton of money to be happy. maybe ARMS does, but i've found happiness in the non-material things life has to offer. and i work to do more than earn money. what matters at the end of the day, to me, is the satisfaction of knowing i'll leave behind things that matter. not everyone has the ability to do what i do, and we need people who do have that ability to use it. unless, of course, you're cool with medical science being stuck in the early 1900s. i can't take my money with me when i go.


Top
Offline Profile   
 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2010 7:37 am 
Moderator

Joined: Wed Sep 23, 2009 9:01 am
Posts: 5316
galactic wrote:
unless, of course, you're cool with medical science being stuck in the early 1900s.


I hear leeches are making a comeback though.


Top
Offline Profile E-mail   
Display posts from previous:  Sort by  
Post new topic Reply to topic  [ 34 posts ]  Moderators: kombat, bpgui, JerichoHill Go to page Previous  1, 2, 3  Next


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest


You cannot post new topics in this forum
You cannot reply to topics in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum
You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot post attachments in this forum

Search for:
Jump to:  
Powered by phpBB © 2000, 2002, 2005, 2007 phpBB Group
Theme created StylerBB.net & kodeki