I'll soon have finished my PhD in mathematics in a not top ranked university, and as far as I see it, my thesis is not going to be especially impressive. My goal after the defense is to either leave academia, or make a rather drastic change of fields (let's assume it's the latter). The problem is I have no idea how to operate this change without restarting at the PhD level. My advisor has essentially no acquaintances in the fields I'm interested in, and I tried sending a few emails to people working on those fields, but the reception was mostly cold. A common advice (given around me and seen here) is to continue with a postdoc and try to change fields by transitioning step by step from my current fields to the ones I'm aiming for. I see two problems with this advice:
- If your track record is not exceptional to start with, simply getting a postdoc might be hard.
- Such a neighbor-to-neighbor approach to transitioning might prove to take a lot of time, spent working on problems I'm not really interested in, for the non-guaranteed goal of eventually working in my desired field.
In summary, I'd like to ask for any advice on how to operate such a change.
Edit. More details:
- My desired field is within maths; I'm interested by a relatively wide area rather than a specific problem.
- My current work is not in some super specialized field: I have worked on different questions that don't require much background so far.
- I have read this answer already, which is quite pessimistic but feels spot-on to me. Nevertheless, I'd like to get some actionable advice, if possible.
- One thing maybe deserving of clarification: I'm not especially interested in staying in academia long-term, so the "publish or perish" point of view only applies to me as far as getting to the very next step. My goal with this change of field is essentially about having the opportunity to learn maths that I'm very curious about and would like to understand, rather than career-building, I think.
- I have thought about starting with a new PhD (even applied to a program) but:
- People don't seem to be very receptive to such an idea (“Why would you do a second PhD?”)
- I'm not sure I have the energy to start such a process over again (it was quite taxing psychologically the first time, so a second might prove hard).