Getting a good job

From: Eric J. Korpela <>
Date: Sun Jul 2 02:21:56 2000

> > The biggest difference I see between people in industry and people doing
> > their thesis projects is that people in industry work shorter hours.
> *ROFL* I'm trying to think of the last time that I worked on a project where
> 65+ hour weeks didn't have to be sustained for the lifetime of the project, and
> for the life of me I think it was 1982. Avant! wasn't all that atypical with
> it's unspoken requirement that people turn in 80+ hour weeks even when it
> wasn't crunch time.

At 80+ you still get to go home. It gets hard when 130+ is required for
more than a few weeks in a row. My personal record is 152 work hours
(yes, conscious and working, not sleeping or eating) in a single week.
I hope to never have to find out whether I'm too old to break it.
If you aren't sleeping in bubble wrap under a desk with a guy holding
a machine gun walking the halls, you haven't had a long day. :) But, of
course, academia is easy. I can only think of one project I've worked on
that had flexible deadlines. Of course that was very much to its detriment.

> The difference I see is that if you're late on your
> thesis you can add time, a luxury that isn't afforded in industry.

When you're late for a delivery required to support a launch, your project
and your thesis go away. You deliver an instrument, or you deliver an inert
model with equivalent mass and vibrational properties. Guess which one
you build first. Industry doesn't have a monopoly on sink or swim.

> If your assertion is that a newly stamped out Ph.D. is
> more clueful than a new four-year the odds are good that you're correct,
> but it hardly makes them an ubergeek and in most industrial settings the
> delta between the two converges quickly.

Could be a selection effect. Maybe we get the cream of the crop in PhDs here.
Maybe we require them to be more the ubergeek than is usual.

> I brought this up at a staff dinner last night; of 30 people present more
> than half of us had Ph.D.s. *All* of us agreed that if we were faced with
> the choice *today* of pursuing an advanced degree or going to industry we'd
> forgo the degree or pursue it as a background task for purely emotional
> reasons. *That* is the economic reality of the industry that I live in.

I see no contradiction in that, those bright enough to sucessfully complete
a PhD and be sucessful in industry would have likely succeeded without one.
I might answer the same way if I didn't think mine had gotten me anything.
Question: Half of the 30 people present had PhDs, what fraction of your new
hires do? Another one: Do those 15+ PhDs on the staff think their primary
skill is making a simple project last two years?

Received on Sun Jul 02 2000 - 02:21:56 BST

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