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Thread: Where do PhDs go?

  1. #1
    rcourtney
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    Default Where do PhDs go?

    I'm posting this hoping to get some useful feedbacks as to how PhDs holders get their jobs... Here's the situation, I have a PhD in information systems and have been working as a lecturer during my candidature (common enough). After graduation, I hope to work for the industry so I can make a direct contribution. I don't mind entry positions as I believe that that is the way to go for someone without concrete industry experience. Needless to say, most jobs I've applied turn me down flat-out.

    Example, point-in-case: A job I've recently applied online:
    Responsibilities:
    Our organisational development consulting practice is expanding and we are keen to recruit consultants from entry level to experienced consultants. To help our clients become high performing businesses, they apply market-relevant skills. Areas of consulting may include:

    • Strategic planning; performance management; competency development; process improvement; change management
    • Business Excellence initiatives e.g. Singapore Quality Class, People Developer, Singapore Innovation Class, Singapore Service Class

    This dynamic, hands-on role is responsible for all facets of each project including project management, defining client requirements, documenting specifications, developing project plans, resulting in satisfied clients and solutions implementation.

    Requirements:• Degree in Business Administration, Social Science or Science
    • Fresh graduates with excellent results will be considered for entry-level positions as Analyst
    • Passion and desire to succeed
    • Great listening skills
    • Analytical mind
    I applied for it when it was first posted, and in only two days, I got the "unsuccessful" notification!!! I don't even make the cut for entry-position considering I have 5 years of IS consultancy experience!

    I have spoken to many career consultants and most of them would only pay lip-services without a real solution. I can understand that "job hopping" is the biggest concern for employers, then again, who is to guarantee that undergrads would not jump to another job should the opportunity arises? Another concern is that PhDs are too academic and can't apply themselve to the industry... there are many who claimed to have years of industry experience and still can't apply themselves, not to mentioned freshgrads whom have none to apply...

    To be fair, this is not exclusive to Singapore. Do a search in google for "phd overqualified" and you can see that this is quite wide-spread. Just the other day, I've read on a japanese forum that one of their PhDs took her 3-years, going door-to-door, before she finally got a job. But the real question is, what is workforce development doing to improve the situation? And what is all the talk about brain-drain if there is no system in placed?

    Perhaps, one should only do a PhD in a demanded field (like biotech). But what IS a demanded field in our changing world? A lot can change during the candidature. Even so, what is the implication to academic freedom; and how real is the tenure system in say NUS or NTU then if everyone is to start with a restricted ground?

    So far, my view is that PhDs can forget about the industry. Either teach or research. If the field is not what Singapore, move to another country and contribute to the brain-drain count. What is your view?
    Last edited by rcourtney; 20th November 2007 at 10:54 AM.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    Focus on firms that offer consultancy services.

    Nobody is willing to take PhD holder for entey level jobs, they know you will not stay for long, entry level jobs are called entry level for a good reason.

  3. #3
    rcourtney
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    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    Quote Originally Posted by Parchiao View Post
    Focus on firms that offer consultancy services.

    Nobody is willing to take PhD holder for entey level jobs, they know you will not stay for long, entry level jobs are called entry level for a good reason.
    Thank you for the advice. Consulting firms don't deem academic consultancy as "concrete" enough; neither do I have the means to gain them since I'm shut from entry-positions... it is a catch-22 situation, which makes it all that fustrating

  4. #4

    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    If your potential is being undermine in singapore,why not take goods elsewhere where there be those who are in need of your expertises?

    Oversea doesn't sounds bad at all to me.
    I'm going to remain overseas after i finish my degree in the near future.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    They go here

  6. #6

    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    You have to get the right kind of PhD.

    If your PhD is History, English Literature, etc. then academic is likely the route for you.

    A PhD in Computer Science gets you a chance of a shot at working for Google, especially if you focused on search optimisation. A PhD in Finance gets you a chance of working for an investment bank doing risk modelling, etc.

    Information Systems? Demand depends on how technical your focus is.

    Don't talk about brain drain stuff. Who cares? The govt doesn't. All they care about is attracting foreign talent.

    Quote Originally Posted by rcourtney View Post
    I'm posting this hoping to get some useful feedbacks as to how PhDs holders get their jobs... Here's the situation, I have a PhD in information systems and have been working as a lecturer during my candidature (common enough). After graduation, I hope to work for the industry so I can make a direct contribution. I don't mind entry positions as I believe that that is the way to go for someone without concrete industry experience. Needless to say, most jobs I've applied turn me down flat-out.

    So far, my view is that PhDs can forget about the industry. Either teach or research. If the field is not what Singapore, move to another country and contribute to the brain-drain count. What is your view?

  7. #7
    rcourtney
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    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aqillies View Post
    If your potential is being undermine in singapore,why not take goods elsewhere where there be those who are in need of your expertises?

    Oversea doesn't sounds bad at all to me.
    I'm going to remain overseas after i finish my degree in the near future.
    I was teaching overseas prior to this episode. This may sound like a little old-fashion, but I came back here because this is home... which makes the rejection a little more painful

  8. #8
    rcourtney
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    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    You have to get the right kind of PhD.

    If your PhD is History, English Literature, etc. then academic is likely the route for you.

    A PhD in Computer Science gets you a chance of a shot at working for Google, especially if you focused on search optimisation. A PhD in Finance gets you a chance of working for an investment bank doing risk modelling, etc.

    Information Systems? Demand depends on how technical your focus is.

    Don't talk about brain drain stuff. Who cares? The govt doesn't. All they care about is attracting foreign talent.
    Thank you for confirming my view on having the "right" kind of education. After all these years, I have been hoping that Singapore is willing to break away from status quo in its "prescribed" education ... apparently it will take a lot more than hope

    As for my own technical competency, I did my undergrads in CS and I am also comfortable with enterprise platform like SAP and Oracle Fusion (I run my own SAP EP).

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    a Bio phd is different, you will serve your post-doctorate, and the post-doctorate position is very important, coupled with your publications from there.

    if you work in a good lab, a leading lab as a post doc, and publish good material, its not difficult to move into the industry, or the academia, as the industry is research and testing driven, they need researchers who are good investigators to drive the industry. most of these companies dont look much at where the phd is obtained, but the quality of the publications, the relevance to the field, the number of citations in the field etc.

    not too sure abt the rest of the phds though.
    chezburgr i can haz?

  10. #10

    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    My suggestion to you is find out which companies you want to join and just cold call them. 80 percent of jobs esp high level ones are never advertised in the papers. They find their candidates through networking. A friend of mine took up a position as VP in one of the top fashion brands through drinks with some new friends she met at a club. Yup, they had drinks, they spoke and they offered her an interview. Next thing you know she got the job.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    There's nothing "prescribed". The idea of being a "doctor", "lawyer", etc. as a career goal is now gone. People are not shy about to pursuing careers in the arts, in charitable organisations, etc. any more, where frankly the degree you have is far less important than your passion.

    There's nothing to stop you from doing sales, working in a restaurant, etc.

    However, to join a company you have to make yourself relevant. The more technical the job, the more relevant you must make yourself.


    Quote Originally Posted by rcourtney View Post
    Thank you for confirming my view on having the "right" kind of education. After all these years, I have been hoping that Singapore is willing to break away from status quo in its "prescribed" education ... apparently it will take a lot more than hope

    As for my own technical competency, I did my undergrads in CS and I am also comfortable with enterprise platform like SAP and Oracle Fusion (I run my own SAP EP).

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    If anyone thinking of postdoc positions here, think twice ....
    我吔呢班打工仔, 一生一世為錢幣做奴隸 flickr

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    Quote Originally Posted by leews2001 View Post
    If anyone thinking of postdoc positions here, think twice ....
    Why?

    (This filler has been added to ease the production process of this message. Please ignore.)

  14. #14

    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    i would think that unless you are looking to be a lecturer, opportunities for a phd holder are relatively limited in singapore
    perhaps research? but your field of expertise does not seem very suitable for research

  15. #15

    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?




  16. #16
    rcourtney
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    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    Quote Originally Posted by psychobiologist View Post
    a Bio phd is different, you will serve your post-doctorate, and the post-doctorate position is very important, coupled with your publications from there.

    if you work in a good lab, a leading lab as a post doc, and publish good material, its not difficult to move into the industry, or the academia, as the industry is research and testing driven, they need researchers who are good investigators to drive the industry. most of these companies dont look much at where the phd is obtained, but the quality of the publications, the relevance to the field, the number of citations in the field etc.

    not too sure abt the rest of the phds though.
    I do actually see a future in Bio-related field in Singapore; at least this is what I can tell from classified ads. Unfortunately for me, apart from a "A" for biology in O'Levels, I have no talent whatsoever in this field

  17. #17
    rcourtney
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    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    Quote Originally Posted by aeskywan View Post
    My suggestion to you is find out which companies you want to join and just cold call them. 80 percent of jobs esp high level ones are never advertised in the papers. They find their candidates through networking. A friend of mine took up a position as VP in one of the top fashion brands through drinks with some new friends she met at a club. Yup, they had drinks, they spoke and they offered her an interview. Next thing you know she got the job.
    This is perhaps the most logical way to go. I'll probably give this route a go once the critical theshold is crossed.

  18. #18
    rcourtney
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    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    Quote Originally Posted by waileong View Post
    There's nothing "prescribed". The idea of being a "doctor", "lawyer", etc. as a career goal is now gone. People are not shy about to pursuing careers in the arts, in charitable organisations, etc. any more, where frankly the degree you have is far less important than your passion.

    There's nothing to stop you from doing sales, working in a restaurant, etc.

    However, to join a company you have to make yourself relevant. The more technical the job, the more relevant you must make yourself.
    I have to my best ability, market myself for the right industry. Interestingly, I have worked on some of my students' CV, and some of them got jobs in PWCH and Accenture... Sure I can work in another field, but why? Due to the way Singapore's hiring process?

  19. #19
    rcourtney
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    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    Quote Originally Posted by night86mare View Post
    i would think that unless you are looking to be a lecturer, opportunities for a phd holder are relatively limited in singapore
    perhaps research? but your field of expertise does not seem very suitable for research
    There's actually quite a large research field for the IS discipline; but in Singapore, only a few of them seems to exists (judging from NUS and NTU websites). All said, I would really want to give the industry a try first, hence the post.

  20. #20
    rcourtney
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    Default Re: Where do PhDs go?

    Quote Originally Posted by blowblue View Post


    Thank you for the laugh But not sure which is more sad, PhDs not able to get a job, or it happen so often that there is a comic strip for it

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