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My name is Andrzej and I am going to graduate in July with MSc in physics from one of major Polish universities. Last holidays I thought a lot about my future and what transferrable skills I have that could get me a job after graduation. I identified that two main are:

  • ability to code (a few courses related to numerics / C++ programming)
  • analitical and critical thinking, good numeracy.

Therefore last academic year I was applying to a lot of jobs in two fields: IT and finance to try to squeeze something from my coding and analytical skills respectively. However, sadly, I got turned down from any of the positions I applied for. I managed to get invited to a couple of interviews but that was it.

In the meantime, I applied for PhD position at my university under the supervision of the same PI I am now finishing masters with. The topic is pretty interesting, however I do cannot imagine myself following an entirely academic career path. For example, I don't think I'll ever be able to lead my own research group.

I got this position without any major problems. The PhD position is fully funded. The stipend is 1800 PLN net (around 400 EUR) monthly. However as this is a stipend, they do not pay any kind of pension/insurance contributions. IT/finance jobs usually compensate better: around 3000 PLN (670 EUR) net and many times do provide pension and insurance.

Now the question comes: what to do? I think there are three possibilities:

  1. Go for the PhD and fully concentrate on it, and not write any IT/finance applications during the PhD.
  2. Go for the PhD and apply to IT/finance during the PhD; quit PhD once being hired for a decent position in commercial sector.
  3. Reject the PhD offer, graduate unemployed, apply for government benefits and fully concentrate on the job hunt for IT/finance positions.

Which option would you recommend? If option 2 or 3, do you know any really good pieces of advice how to increase chances of getting industry job with a theoretical physics MSc?

Zero is a good first-order approximation of my job experience: I did two unpaid internships, one during BSc, second during MSc, both in local research institutes.

1 Answer 1

Make an in depth analysis of your needs and wants and also look at your attitude, motivation and passion. If you are motivated and you like doing research then go for it without taking care of any job opportunity. When you will be doing PhD with a passion there is likely possibility you can come up with some interesting findings which will open many new horizons for you and new opportunities. In case you want to do PhD just to kill time then it is better to be unemployed and job seeking