Working on a Ph.D.?
There may not be an academic job for you at the end of the tunnel.
This blog post is part of a series called Is Academia Broken? This is the second in the series and it discusses the overabundance of PhDs compared to the number of available academic openings. The first blog post, on the perils of doing interdisciplinary research early in your career, can be found here.
When I first started my PhD, I had one dream: to become a professor. I asked around and a lot of my fellow graduate students had the same motivation. They were pursuing a PhD to be professors. My personal reason was simple: I was attracted by the idea of being a scholar - pushing a discipline beyond the boundaries of what is known. I was also attracted by teaching. Ok, I was also attracted by the long summer breaks (which are actually largely a myth).
Throughout my PhD, I did not even remotely consider a non-academic path. But I was lucky to have some computational skills, so there was always the possibility of a Plan B: a career in a large corporation, industry, or a startup (my research was in network analysis, natural language processing, text analytics, and bibliometrics). As some of you know, I ended up leaving academia after a very successful postdoc and creating the startup behind this blog post. But the question I would like to address today is: What were my chances of getting an academic job at the end of my postdoc?