Post # 1
I was recently laid off and now I’m trying to figure out what I want to do with my life… I’ve never really been in a position to think about it because I went from an internship to a full time job there, then to another job that recruited me (more $, better location), to the last job which was another one I was basically sucked into (more $$, best location) so I’ve never really had a minute to stop and think if these jobs are where I want to do in my career and this little break is giving me that chance…
Now that I am thinking about it, it seems that I actually have a lot of diverse options and I have no idea what to do… I could go back to school for a PhD (being an engineer I’m not sure if the cost/benefit is there but could be very interesting), I could go into family business in more of a marketing-ish role (more customer interaction which I like, and would give some future stability and still allow for some engineering), or I could get another job in a company doing another high-ish level engineering job in a cube (could find a new industry that is exciting, gives stability in terms of money/benefits and long term could have growth potential)…
I have a few interviews set up for normal jobs, and I’m talking to a professor next week, so the crunch is on to make a decision and I have no idea what to do… So basically, what I’m wondering is:
Would you go for something interesting but maybe not lucrative (PhD, probably the only time in my life I could do this)? (Most risky long term)
Would you go into a family business (could go VERY well or VERY bad since family is involved)? (Less risky career wise)
Would you go into another run of the mill job that could potentially grow and is the least change from the norm? (Pretty much no risk)
I know this really varies person to person but I’m hoping you guys can help since my family just likes to say “oh just do whatever makes you happy” which is not very helpful haha
Post # 3
I would choose something that did not require me to work with my family. Though my parents and I could run an awesome school!!
Post # 4
Well, personally, if I were an engineer, I’d go to law school and become a patent attorney and make bank.
But, if that’s not an option, I would go with what interests you and probably never end up in a family business – I hate to mix business with pleasure.
Post # 5
@peachacid: Maybe I should clarify, it’s a family owned business, but the only family member involved owns it and isn’t really involved in the day to day… Long term it could potentially be my company because he doesn’t really have anyone in his direct family that would want it… There still is the risk that I might suck at the job or not get along with someone (unlikely since I know them but who knows) and then it would be awkward… I also have no idea how you negotiate with your relative on pay, etc…
@futuremrsk18: Patent attorney huh? I hadn’t thought about that… Might be an intriguing option…
Post # 6
Absolutely don’t choose a PhD just because it’d be “interesting”. I can’t stress this enough: only do it if it’s the best path for your future career. And I say that as someone currently in a PhD program!! It was the right choice for me (in my field, it is the only way to have the kind of autonomy that I want), but you have to think of the opportunity cost – the PhD program means 4-6 years of lost wages (i.e., making only a tiny fraction of your worth), plus the “lost years of experience” that would have led to increased salary and ‘rank’ if you had stayed in the working world. Plus, at least in some fields or if you want to go into academia, the thing to do after a PhD is a “postdoc” – which is also poorly paid.
If I were you (i.e., without a HUGELY compelling reason to do a PhD), I’d keep working – and probably pursue a “normal” job rather than working with family.
But sometimes the heart wants what it wants without regards for financial advancement, and sometimes that’s a PhD. So follow your passion! 🙂
Edited to add: I just saw your update. Working in a company without direct supervision by family is intriguing, especially if you could possibly take over the company someday. Maybe try it out for a year, to see what kind of fit you have with the company?
Post # 7
@lazybee123: @futuremrsk18: I second the patent attorney suggestion futuremrsk18 suggested, especially if law is something that interests you.
Post # 8
@lazybee123: Does the business idea interest you? If it’s not something that’s interesting to you, I would move on–there are other ways to get into business than to work for a company whose work you don’t find interesting.
Post # 9
@lazybee123: I should clarify that I did go to law school, but I didn’t have the science/engineering background needed to become a patent attorney.
I say give yourself a full year of working whatever jobs you feel like working, just to feel it out and see what you like/don’t like and what you really want to do and have a passion for. Try working for the faimly business, or try finding another part time job, something that you just want to do bc it seems fun/interesting. You never know what you may end up liking and choosing! At the end of the year, decide whether you want to go back to school or not.
Post # 10
LittleByLittle is right: do the Ph.D. if and only if you are really on fire for it.
It’s an enormously rewarding experience, but it’s also a long, tough grind. It has to be something you really, really want for its own sake and not just “Meh, nothing better to do, this is the least-unappealing option out of what I’m considering …” (not saying that you are laying out your decision like that, just saying that it should absolutely not be something you default into for lack of a more compelling prospect – the Ph.D. itself needs to be a compelling prospect!