Background: I am a Math Ph.D. student in the U.S. (originally from a developing nation) in partial differential equations (PDEs) but on the theoretical side of PDEs (no simulation, no numerical). I am starting my 7th year, and my advisor is expecting me to graduate this year. I am on the job market now for a postdoc. I have 5 publications so far, 2 arxiv preprints, and 3 peer-reviewed in okay-ish journals (not high impact). I am an international student as well.
Summarize the problem Academic jobs are hard to find and I want to stay in the U.S. After a while of looking into the industry without any results, I am now losing both motivation and hope for academia as well as an industry job.
6 months ago when talking about jobs (we all know how hard it is for jobs in academia), my advisor has been very pessimistic. I am advised to apply to all countries, around the world, for any postdoc listing I find. Through the conversation, I did not feel I can make it, therefore I started to lose my motivation and hope. I want to stay in the U.S., for the following reasons:
- I could go back to be a lecturer in my home country with very low pay and a high teaching load. However, if it is the case, I think getting a postdoc, having more experience and connections for later collaborations when I am back is much better. I mentioned this to my advisor but I did not feel being supported.
- I can make more money going to the industry here (if I am lucky to find a job), at least for a couple of years. My family is dirt poor and as a Ph.D., I was not able to support them at all for the last 10 years (undergrad + Ph.D. salary).
What I have tried: So I started to look into the industry, as it is a natural thing to do. I first did a Bootcamp in Data Science and I bombed it hard, the pace was too fast and I fairly lost. I believe I can learn them, but not quickly enough in 3 weeks (the span of the Bootcamp).
I then tried Software Developer, taught myself using online courses and open sources projects. I have been trying to apply to some internships but have not been successful. I found myself panic every time looking at the job posting and see how under-qualified I am.
Back to Academia: I recently sort of having a verbal offer for a postdoc. However, after a couple of months of losing motivation in research and academia, I cannot seem to pick myself up again imaging I can be good at a postdoc. At the moment I just want to be out, but I am not sure if it is a good idea or I am just hate everything due to burnt out. I am extremely scared of making a big mistake and regret it later in life. I do not feel confident that I can land a TT position with this mindset and this level of motivation (assuming I can do 2 postdocs).
Somewhere inside me, I am still having fun doing some of the projects I have left unfinished, but I am not sure if it is just a comfort zone, doing something I am comfortable doing to avoid looking at real life. I want to comment that, I do not feel the work I do, while they are fun to me, are of interest or that helpful to many fellow mathematicians. I do not have a sense of fulfillment. However, I had a naive "dream" that given I have a permanent job, I can learn anything and make significant achievements in some related areas of Math. I realize this is a fantasy.
Resentments I hate being poor and lonely. I am approaching 30 without any relationship (even friendships). Throughout my life, I kept thinking about publishing and publishing, people will treat me better. I always have the sense of being worse than people, it really messes me up when trying to socialize and make friends. So, just like many other mathematicians I know, I followed them and isolate myself in the office, trying to write more and more papers, and thinking this is what defines me. I am sad.
Questions Do you have any advice for me to figure out what do I really want? Or just to lessen the tremendous stress I am having, which causes "analysis paralysis" to me?