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I graduated from a masters degree half a year ago and I am been working at a private research institute. Today I received an email from a professor who is asking me to join him in August this year for an graduate position in the experimental sciences. If I accept, I would have to quit this job before the contract terminates, which I think may spark off some negative consequences in the industry, such as a marred reputation. I tried to make the best out of this situation by asking the professor whether I may defer admission for 6 months so that I finish my contract before I start. He said it won't be possible to defer, and advised me that I will have to apply again next academic year if this was the case.

I've previously had 2 years of resaerch experience as a research assistant, and the sole reason I think I need to do a PhD eventually if not now is because I want the rigorous technical training that only a PhD program can offer.

Pros for doing a PhD now:

  • I want to do it now in my early 20s as I think it will be more difficult as I get older (physically, or even mentally.
  • It is a rare opportunity that I get an offer since I had an egregriously low GPA when I was an undergraduate. I may not get this opportunity again.

Cons for doing a PhD now:

  • I am doing well in the private research institute I am in now, and I am responsible for a project that is not yet finished.
  • Quitting my job after just 10 months will not look good, and may raise issues with the HR in the future.

What do you guys thinks?

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    I've seen phd "students" over 40 who earned their title faster than most top students simply due to experience and organization. Especially if your GPA is low, it maybe wise to gather more experience instead of trying to touch the boundaries of science which you are supposed to do as a PhD student Feb 20, 2019 at 13:58
  • I would have thought that folks at a research institute would be supportive of people going to get a PhD. I’d talk to research staff you know and get a feel for the general atmosphere on the topic.
    – Jon Custer
    Feb 20, 2019 at 14:00
  • I've talked to a fellow colleague about it. He said that our supervisor probably wouldn't mind, but wouldn't be happy about people leaving too soon. Most of the people working here are actually graudates from PhD programs who will be working here for a few years before they move to a more permanent position suhc as government chemist, etc.
    – Waif
    Feb 20, 2019 at 14:04
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    This is too personal to get good answers here. Think about what you want to do, rather than trying to game it out strategically. Decide what you want and then make that happen.
    – Buffy
    Feb 20, 2019 at 14:49

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You did not mention how do you feel in your current job. Do you feel that you are learning a lot, are you enjoying it? If the answer to this is yes, and seeing as it is a private research institute, then maybe consider staying there. There has been a lot of articles around about how you do not need to have a PhD to be successful and satisfied in your career.

Another point to consider is, why did you get this offer despite your GPA being so low? And maybe your GPA being low is an indication to you being able to grow more in a job at a research institute, as the environment, different from academics, may suit you better and you would end up learning more here. Or maybe your GPA is low for other reasons, and it does not always reflect how you strive in a PhD program anyway.

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  • Then I would say it depends on how confident you are in the mentoring you will get in this PhD.
    – Ara
    Feb 20, 2019 at 15:30
  • With my current job, while I'm using my technical skills all the time, I think the quality and the amount of rigor in terms of the research is not as high as it was with the work I did as an RA in universiities. That is because the work we do in this institute is more product-orientated, and so our job actually feels more like industrial eningeering than it is doing research. Another thing is that there isn't much tutelage in the place I'm working in as most people do not have a background specialized in the work they do.
    – Waif
    Feb 20, 2019 at 15:31
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It seems you have to choose between:

  1. Sacrificing your professional opportunities (quitting now will look bad unless you decide to "just erase the experience" from the CV, which is morally questionable).
  2. Sacrificing your academic opportunities by rejecting the PhD offer.

However, let me ask you a few questions: is your research experience in this private institution going to help you to get more PhD offers in the future? Do you like the professor's offer? Why did he offer you this?

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  • I was also thinking whether staying here longer may get me more PhD offers in the future. It seems like my supervisor right now is satisifed with my technical skills.If everything stays this way, I can see that he will be supportive of me leaving for a degree in 2-3 years time. As to whether I like the professor's offer, well, I was very worried about accepting it since it will involve a lot of organic synthetic skills, which I haven't used in a long long time.
    – Waif
    Feb 20, 2019 at 15:19
  • As to why he offered this to me despite my egregious undergraduate GPA, it may be because I have a masters degrees where I achieved a much better GPA, and because I've already had 2 years of research experience after graduating from my bachelor's degree.
    – Waif
    Feb 20, 2019 at 15:20
  • do you know whether you want to pursue a career in industry or in academia yet?
    – LogicAI
    Feb 20, 2019 at 19:33
  • I want to do R and D in the future, but in the industry and not in universities. With private research institutes including he one I’m working at, you do need a phd if you want to progress beyond the lowering ranking positions after a few years of working there.
    – Waif
    Feb 21, 2019 at 0:53
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I wouldn't bail from the job right now, since you say it's going OK. It's not the "contract" per se, but that you haven't been there long enough to get reasonable resume credit for it, etc. Stick for another year at least. Ph.D option will always be out there (lots of schools, years...don't be wedded to one guy). You can do it later if you need a break, redirection, etc. But don't bail on a job after a few months.

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