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  #61  
Old 08.08.2012, 14:27
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

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I always find it strange to hear a PhD stipend referred to as a 'salary'. For me the distinction is that a PhD stipend is a very nice and welcome sustenance grant to ensure that you don't starve. A PhD is something you do primarily for your own benefit, so why should it be well paid? The rewards will come later once you have it, but 4 years on circa CHF 50k is no hardship at all IMHO.
I'd disagree with that. The current funding model is that it is the research that gets the funding because it has some scientific value (which hopefully has wider value to society down the line).

Hiring PhD students is just the cheapest way of getting the manpower to do the research, with a bonus incentive of a title at the end of it.

It's very rare nowadays that money is given to a person to do research of their own choice purely for their own benefit.

I agree that the Swiss PhD stipends are pretty generous, however
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  #62  
Old 08.08.2012, 14:32
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

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Thats a high risk approach, the research you're doing may be cutting edge today but could be obsolete tomorrow. As for earning CHF250k straight off the bat, where??? Unless your phd was turning lead into gold, I can't see anyone paying a newly minted PhD anywhere near that money.
i know someone who did a very specialised phd related to platinum mining - he had ridiculous job offers before he was anywhere near finished.

i suspect if you do a phd in an area applicable to high frequency trading or similar lucrative fields, you'd be minted.
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  #63  
Old 08.08.2012, 14:51
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

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i know someone who did a very specialised phd related to platinum mining - he had ridiculous job offers before he was anywhere near finished.

i suspect if you do a phd in an area applicable to high frequency trading or similar lucrative fields, you'd be minted.
seriously groan-worthy!
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  #64  
Old 08.08.2012, 14:52
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

Hello all,

Figured id share my experience. Got the PhD a few years back in the US focused in the basic medical sciences. After a brief post ddoc i entered the Pharmaceutical Industry in the US in a customer facing Marketing typerole

Coming to CH, I transitioned to an International-level HQ role in a Global Pharma and have since stayed in a similar function.

I am very fortunate to have had some amazing experiences and to have met some really brilliant people.

Some key learnings Ive taken away that can perhaps benefit some here:

1. Experience counts. The degree and experience obtained from the pursuit of the degree is not enough.
2. Youre only as good as your last job or project.
3. Networks are important.
4. In the area I am in and the area I would like to go, the degree is not enough. In my current area there is increasing tread to put Physcians. Where i want to go, an MBA may be important to have, at a minimum to show i have formal business training and to preserve competitiveness and job stability.
5. Remain competitive with knowledge, experience, and accomplishments.
6. Try to be an expert in an area that is differentiated from others who may play in your space.
7. Know the landscape and industry you are in, be attentive to trends, regulations, threats, opportunities etc.

As for CH, in my job area, it is a small world, so a good reputation and nework counts.

Good luck!

Last edited by parkadam; 08.08.2012 at 14:54. Reason: Some spelling mistakes, did not get all
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  #65  
Old 08.08.2012, 14:59
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

I finished my Chemistry degree in Spain (4 years). I always had the vocation of doing research and a PhD was something since the beginning of my degree I wanted to do.
In Spain the situation is different. You don’t get pay (or not that easily) and when you get pay you get very little money! I anyway I asked some professor back in my university, they all open the doors for me but they told me that probably not money in the first 2-3 years (other people was waiting longer) and it can take you 5-6 years to finish it.
I did not want to be 27 years old and still expecting my parents to pay for my life. So I looked abroad.

I sent a tone of CVs around the world and I got few interviews. A high reputation University in Scotland was willing to PAY me decent money to do my PhD.

Then I had the hard time to choose: Do I stay in Spain and work 6 years for free with this no-name Professor or I move to Scotland to a reputed University, best Professor in Europe in the area and getting pay for 3-4 years? I choose Scotland.

PhD was hard, a lot of work, long days and weekends. But there were the most amazing years of my life. You are an student, don’t live with parents anymore and have enough money for beer…It was perfect!

The writing part of the thesis is the most boring one and stressful. The Professors almost always try to convince you that you need more work to pass your Phd. And some people stay one year longer to finish (unpaid). When you think you are finish and then you have to go back to the lab…that is annoying but I was lucky and my Professor was an exception so I do not complaint. I loved doing it.

After that I did a couple of Postdocs around Europe, was not fun anymore, I guess I got tired of all this lectures licking each other asses and my vocation was gone. So I moved to Industry. Now I am very happy (not getting more money because my PhD!!! I even get less than others without…).

I will recommend my sons (if one day I have any) to do a PhD if they wish. It is a life learning experience.
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  #66  
Old 08.08.2012, 15:10
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

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I always find it strange to hear a PhD stipend referred to as a 'salary'. For me the distinction is that a PhD stipend is a very nice and welcome sustenance grant to ensure that you don't starve. A PhD is something you do primarily for your own benefit, so why should it be well paid? The rewards will come later once you have it, but 4 years on circa CHF 50k is no hardship at all IMHO.
Its normally only 3 years in most of the disciplines. Also, 50,000 CHF is for last year. I started with 33,000 CHF brutto!

In Switzerland PhD is not considered as stipend but as salary. One has to pay tax, pay unemployment insurance and also pension (which is not bad). Moreover, the PhD does not get special student discounts (health insurance, travel) as in other countries except in ETH mensa and movies .
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  #67  
Old 08.08.2012, 15:33
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

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. Moreover, the PhD does not get special student discounts (health insurance, travel) as in other countries except in ETH mensa and movies .
Sorry, but that's just not correct:

Reduced price student health insurance: http://www.swisscare-intl.com/swissc...esearcher.html

Reduced price GA: no Student GA card for Phd?
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  #68  
Old 08.08.2012, 16:48
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

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Sorry, but that's just not correct:

Reduced price student health insurance: http://www.swisscare-intl.com/swissc...esearcher.html

Reduced price GA: no Student GA card for Phd?
Swiss care gives discounts but if you check the their offers its no match to normal health insurance. I have to say its only useful in case of emergency.

Student GA is only for below 30...
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  #69  
Old 15.08.2012, 15:46
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

I was also searching for an answer about the value of a PhDs.

Then I stumbled upon this site:
100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate School

It might be useful to some people like me!
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  #70  
Old 15.08.2012, 16:44
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

Q. What is the value of a PhD?

A. It will at least get you to the telephone interview.

(I speak as someone who has churned through hundreds of CVs just to employ a couple of people).
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  #71  
Old 15.08.2012, 19:52
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

Ok.

To tell me afterwards that I am overqualified == polite way to tell you that you have not any experience and he is not willing to train a 30-year old for the job!
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  #72  
Old 15.08.2012, 19:54
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

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I was also searching for an answer about the value of a PhDs.

Then I stumbled upon this site:
100 Reasons NOT to Go to Graduate School

It might be useful to some people like me!
I'm not really impressed with any '100 Reasons' list which starts at 85. It indicates a certain lack of attention to detail which I would expect in a PhD candidate.
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  #73  
Old 15.08.2012, 20:01
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

I do admire those who do a PHd. However, I have often talked to top business men who would say that people who do PHd's are perpetual students who can't get a decent job. The son of a friend of mine did 3 PHds- and that made him practically un-employable.

Not that I agree, but it's good to be aware that some people do somehow 'despise' PHds, and would much rather employ somebody on a fast track management traineeship and get them stuck in asap.
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  #74  
Old 15.08.2012, 20:04
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

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A PhD is something you do primarily for your own benefit, so why should it be well paid? The rewards will come later once you have it...
Exactly! If you don't like getting paid (even a small amount) to do something that will only benefit you in the long run, you can mail the funds to my address! In my country (US) most individuals PAY for the privilege of getting a PhD, and receive NO compensation from the government while they are enrolled. Many go on to benefit from improved salaries, greater respect for their accomplishments among their peers, and an improved sense of themselves, and these are the real benefits of getting a PhD.
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  #75  
Old 15.08.2012, 20:06
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

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I'm not really impressed with any '100 Reasons' list which starts at 85. It indicates a certain lack of attention to detail which I would expect in a PhD candidate.
I am not so sure that the fact of not holding a PhD indicates a certain lack of attention in general, besides the reason in the site.

So are you only interested in employing only PhD's holders? That's for me a reason to indicate a certain lack of attention to people who deserves more attention!
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  #76  
Old 15.08.2012, 20:30
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

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I am not so sure that the fact of not holding a PhD indicates a certain lack of attention in general, besides the reason in the site.

So are you only interested in employing only PhD's holders? That's for me a reason to indicate a certain lack of attention to people who deserves more attention!
I'm not interested in just employing PhDs. The only thing about a PhD is that it gets me to look at the CV again and it's more likely that I would give a first (normally telephone) interview.

In fact, if I look back at the ratio of PhD/Non-PhD CVs to the people I actually employed (which is just a few since I'm in a very small company), you're better off not having a PhD (since the PhDs did worse in my rather brutal coding test).

It's just that if you are a PhD, I might expect you to be a bit better (e.g. have more attention to detail).
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  #77  
Old 15.08.2012, 20:38
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

Ok I know from coding.

Of course you cannot expect from PhDs to be better in technical detail such as coding etc. You see that is the problem.

Research involves a theoretical assumption and some coding to test and proof your assumption. You can do some demos etc. but you don't learn to code better!

I will earn in a month my M.Sc in a research center and I can tell you that I did programmed a lot during the undergraduate studies than in graduate school.
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Old 15.08.2012, 20:53
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

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Ok I know from coding.

Of course you cannot expect from PhDs to be better in technical detail such as coding etc. You see that is the problem.

Research involves a theoretical assumption and some coding to test and proof your assumption. You can do some demos etc. but you don't learn to code better!

I will earn in a month my M.Sc in a research center and I can tell you that I did programmed a lot during the undergraduate studies than in graduate school.
I hope you have good luck in what you do. The coding aspects of the test I give is more to gain insight into the problem solving abilities of the candidate rather any crude coding skills. In fact, nobody has actually passed my tests (i.e. given the solution in the time period), but I'm more interested in how they failed and whether they can make progress given some guidelines. (It's a very interactive thing).

Be aware, though, that any interview with a technical company is going to have such tests. (Google is the 800 pound gorilla in this field). So be prepared for your interview.

Last edited by speakeron; 15.08.2012 at 21:03.
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  #79  
Old 15.08.2012, 21:05
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Re: Had a PhD? Share your story.

Ok thanks you gave me the impression that you were like Google.

That is the reason I might not give my CV to Google. I do not assume myself to be able to answer such tests. Although I might have a couple of papers in my name I still lack technical details. I have been taught to identify the problem, study the difficulties of it and then searching for the best solution.

My professors at least follow this mindset: they give more attention to the theoretical dimensions of the problem.

They assume that the implementation is trivial and straightforward. That is why in universities you are not learned all the programming languages. But only the object-oriented approach with some practice with java.

But I think this is opposite to the real world and industrial companies. Implementation matters. I see ads that expect to know two or three languages in detail and of course have working experience.
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Old 15.08.2012, 21:33
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Ok thanks you gave me the impression that you were like Google.

That is the reason I might not give my CV to Google. I do not assume myself to be able to answer such tests. Although I might have a couple of papers in my name I still lack technical details. I have been taught to identify the problem, study the difficulties of it and then searching for the best solution.

My professors at least follow this mindset: they give more attention to the theoretical dimensions of the problem.

They assume that the implementation is trivial and straightforward. That is why in universities you are not learned all the programming languages. But only the object-oriented approach with some practice with java.

But I think this is opposite to the real world and industrial companies. Implementation matters. I see ads that expect to know two or three languages in detail and of course have working experience.
Just apply to Google; you've got nothing to lose and they love PhD or masters candidates. They will want to see some coding abilities (Java will be fine) even if you're applying for a non-coding (e.g. project management) role. Typical coding questions you might have to answer (might be in general terms or you might have to code it) would be: complexity lookup times (big O) for various data structures (hash table, tree, etc); how such structures would be implemented; graph theory; range intersection (somebody I know had to code a range intersection algorithm at the interview).
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