I have graduated a year ago from Oxford with a first honour master's degree in maths and computer science. Since then I've been trying to find a decent job and have been failing, to the point where I feel like going back into academia is my only option.

During university I focused so much on my studies that I missed out on any internships or graduate positions I could have applied for (in the UK, you apply to graduate jobs during the first term of your final year). When I graduated, I tried applying to any entry-level jobs available to me that looked even remotely interesting and paid >30k. Out of three hundred applications, I got two interviews: one to Jane Street during which I have gotten to the last on-site stage and failed due to not being the best quick thinker, and one to the company I work at right now and desperately want to quit.

My current job is the most dead-end software development job imaginable; I work fifty hour weeks, doing things that any high schooler with an eight-week course in web development can do and I am bored out of my mind. Due to this I've been looking to quit and been trying to find a new job for the last month. Again, out of more than hundred applications (all to entry-level/graduate jobs), not even a single interview invite.

On the other hand, I loved the quantum computing in university and submitted eight applications for PhD positions in that field, which resulted in three interviews and two offers, from Nottingham and Cambridge. This makes me think that skills I have are much more sought after in academia. But after thinking about it for a while, I realised that I dread getting into an academic career – having minimal pay, having to teach five classes just to survive. Moreover, I believe that the particular topic I'm interested in is not very transferable to other careers, and so after I graduate with a PhD in four years, my job prospects will probably look just as grim if not worse than they do now, instead I will also be approaching my thirties and probably balding. What should I do?

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    Folowing the most upvoted comment: if you need a better job, probably asking at the workplace.Stackexange would yield better answers.
    – Pere
    Commented Jun 15 at 9:48
  • Answers in comments, discussions, etc. have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please read this FAQ. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements may be removed without warning.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jun 16 at 9:54
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    "Out of three hundred applications, I got two interviews" You are doing something wrong. By sheer numbers you should have gotten more feedback than 2 of 300, let alone with an honours degree from Oxford in Math. I suggest you head over to workplace.stackexchange.com to get help on your application game, b/c something is clearly not working out...
    – fgysin
    Commented Jun 26 at 12:08

15 Answers 15


You stated that you had received two offers in quantum computing; and then you said: "I dread getting into an academic career - having minimal pay, having to teach 5 classes just to survive."

Please be mindful that these days a holder of a PhD degree in quantum computing is not really doomed to spend the rest of their life in academia. Not sure about the UK, but in the US such a person may as well apply to a startup, or a government lab, or a major corporation (IBM, Microsoft, Google) engaging in quantum-computing research.

My son had received his PhD in this field, spent three years as a postdoc at a government lab, and is now applying to one of the major companies mentioned above. This is a rapidly developing and well-funded area.

Predicting future is a risky business. Unable to give you any warranty, I would nevertheless suppose that some three or four years down the road experts on quantum computing will be in demand not only in academia but also in industry. Not in a position to advise you on what to do with those two offers, I simply wish to point out that in quantum computing things are not as dire as you described them.

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    That is quite reassuring, thank you. My biggest anxiety is that my skills are not valued and at some point I will have to face reality and do what basically amounts to mindless labor to survive Commented Jun 13 at 21:40
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    @DmitriyFilippov I cannot imagine a PhD in Quantum Computing from Cambridge doing "mindless labour to survive" :) Drop me a message if you wish, and we shall talk. You will find my e-mail address on my website. I shall introduce you to my son, and from him you will be able to learn what the options can be these days for a PhD in this area. Commented Jun 13 at 22:48
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    @Michael_1812 You are indeed kind. I think that if Dmitriy has a genuine interest in quantum computing - as a career as much as a PhD topic - then he would be well advised to accept your offer to discuss matters with someone "who has walked the path".
    – Trunk
    Commented Jun 14 at 15:14
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    There might be a quantum computing winter in 4-5 years. The current systems dont work good enough for decent application (personal opinion). So if there is not a game changer, funding will dry up.
    – lalala
    Commented Jun 16 at 16:23
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    @lalala The Holy Grail is so precious that the flow of funding is unlikely to dry up any time soon. Sexagenarian, I recall how in my high-school years I learned about scientists' promises that the research into Controlled Thermonuclear Fusion (CTF) would "soon" yield fruit. Dozens of years down the road, we are still far from building an industrial facility of the kind. Nonetheless, all large countries keep investing in CTF - because the prize would be colossal. I believe that quantum computing will sooner or later bring success, and that funding will continue for long if needed. Commented Jun 17 at 3:46

Look, nobody has dared to say the clear truth to you. So I will for your sake:

  You dread getting into an academic career.

Please, think about it. You should try your best to not go into something you dread unless it’s a matter of life and death, especially if it’s going to be for four or more years with no clear benefits.

Note that the only apparent benefit is escaping your current situation, but I hope you have heard about the saying: “The grass is always greener on the other side.” Believe me, it’s true; so guide your decisions based on their intrinsic value and not based on trying to escape from problems. It is better for you to try to find another job than to stick yourself in an academic box for a long time, unless you genuinely enjoy research.

(If you can somehow get assurance of job prospects after a PhD, then it should naturally be factored into your decision, but it does not contradict anything I said, because you should have enough confidence in your future prospects that you no longer dread going for a PhD!)

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    "The Shaltanac race of Broopkidren 13 had a similar phrase [greener grass], but since their planet is somewhat eccentric, botanically speaking, the best they could manage was, ‘The other Shaltanac's joopleberry shrub is always a more mauvy shade of pinky-russet.’ And so the expression soon fell into disuse, and the Shaltanacs had little option but to become terribly happy and contented with their lot, much to the surprise of everyone else in the Galaxy who had not realized that the best way not to be unhappy is not to have a word for it." -- Douglas Adams, "HHGTTG" :-)
    – user186240
    Commented Jun 14 at 11:50
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    @Fe2O3: LOL. I think it's false, but how to prove it...
    – user21820
    Commented Jun 14 at 12:16

What you write about the number of interviews vs. the number of applications sent makes me think there might be something wrong with your applications. Where I live, mathematics is actually a quite useful degree for landing reasonably interesting or at least nice programming jobs.

When I was fresh from university, even with not so good grades I had one interview for about ten applications. After gaining a year of work experience, the quota should be even better.

Have you tried to show your applications to a friend, preferably one who also works in the field (and preferably in the UK) and reads other people's applications from time to time?

For career advice: If you want to stay in programming, it might be useful to focus a bit on areas that other programmers do not like so much, e.g. SQL or front-end stuff. Try to get familiar with one of the more popular languages, e.g. Python or C#. If you have the energy, it can also be useful to contribute to an open-source project – some employers like that.

  • For front end popular would be Angular and React, and (sadly IMHO at least) TypeScript.
    – bob
    Commented Jun 15 at 2:13
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    For broad employability it’s important to have sufficient knowledge of whatever languages, frameworks, and tools are most popular for the type of dev work you’re targeting (e.g. front end) that you can feature them prominently on your resume and talk about them in an interview.
    – bob
    Commented Jun 15 at 2:14
  • "Have you tried to show your applications to a friend" Preferably a good friend, who is willing to give you brutally honest, uncomfortable, not-flattering feedback. You won't get honest feedback from companies, because (a) they are afraid of getting sued and (b) most people don't react kindly to honest feedback, so there's nothing to gain and a lot to lose for them.
    – Heinzi
    Commented Jun 16 at 9:24
  • While showing applications to a friend may already reveal fundamental issues, this always comes with the caveat that the average friend does not have much more experience with writing applications than oneself. In particular, the situation in question seems to call for professional career advice, not only in terms of polishing applications, but also preparing interviews and finding satisfying jobs.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Jun 16 at 10:07

You've actually already hit on a critical thing to figure out before you start:

What makes you think that if you get a PhD you'll be able to find a better job?

Here're some possible answers:

  • You've looked for jobs where "PhD in quantum computing" is one of the requirements, and there are lots of jobs that you find interesting.
  • You know, based on your current position, that there is stuff that knowledge about quantum computing will directly help with. (This implies that HR should have advertised for quantum computing for your current job.)
  • You know, because you've looked at the syllabus of quantum computing courses in detail, that although there are not many jobs that require a PhD in quantum computing, they ask for skills that you will learn through a PhD in quantum computing.
  • Some people at your current company are doing interesting things, and they have PhDs in quantum computing.

Once you figure out the answer to this question, then you have concrete evidence to believe "my job prospects will probably look just as grim if not worse than they do now" (or not). If your job prospects really will look just as grim, or worse, then that's a good reason not to do a PhD.

But if you don't do a PhD, what about your current job? The standard thing to do would be to keep applying until you find something better. I'd suggest asking Oxford's career center if possible, and getting their help with polishing your CVs and cover letters.

What if you never find anything better? Welcome to the club. 66% of people report being detached from their jobs. Life would be so much better if everyone got what they wanted, but that's not how the real world works. C'est la vie.

PS: I just remembered there's one more thing you can do - ask your prospective graduate programs at Nottingham & Cambridge what their QC PhD graduates wound up doing. See if you are interested in those jobs. If not, don't do a PhD. You can even ask if they'll put you in contact with their QC PhD graduates.

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    Your proposed answers to the question are all fairly optimistic, in suggesting that things in the job market are basically well-justified. A more cynical possible answer: in the jobs OP has been applying for, people with PhD’s (in QC or otherwise) have better success rates, without the PhD either being a listed requirement or providing any clearly-relevant skills. I’m not so cynical as to suggest this is the whole answer, but I definitely think it can be part of the situation.
    – PLL
    Commented Jun 14 at 9:14
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    I definitely don't propose them as answers. They're just examples of possible answers. Lacking similar answers, OP should probably not do a PhD. It'd be great if OP can tell whether people with QC PhDs have better success rate, but that'd require statistics that are hard to find.
    – Allure
    Commented Jun 14 at 11:06

Doing a PhD is not your only option, whether it is past, present or future.

The first thing you should do is stop in order to think about what you really want in your life. After reading your question, I feel like you don't know yourself clearly enough. Once you have clear goals about your life (including everything like work, study, relationship and so on), you will feel less confused and more motivated.

How to know more about yourself?

  • Find out what you really like, or what kind of things will really interest you. Think about your experience so far: What things you did would make you feel passionate? In other words: What are you willing to do even it’s unpaid because you won’t feel bored?

  • Find out your talent. It is not a need, but if you do the things you are good at, it may be easier and you will be better than others. For example, if you spend less time and energy to achieve the same thing than your competitors, then it’s more fulfilling to you.

  • Summarize what you have. That’s the basic element to decide how far you can go.

  • If you don’t know what you want exactly, just close your eyes, and imagine the lifestyle you want to have in the next ten years. Where are you? What kind of house or apartment you will live in? How will you spend your day? In order to have this life, what do you need to do now?

  • Find out your ideal job, including the location, salary, career, company and anything you can think of.

Life is long. What you want to do is much more important than what you can do now. If you can answer the questions above, I believe you will know what should be done in the future. Good luck!

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    Find out what you really like, or what kind of things will really interest you. But that requires (1) a situation that allows the opportunity to try out different things; and (2) have people there - both the same age and older - who honestly and fairly evaluate you and tell you what you are good at. Most situations don't have one of these conditions, let alone both.
    – Trunk
    Commented Jun 14 at 15:26
  1. I am under the impression that you concentrated on your degree. You did this well. But you missed to learn skills and to gain experiences needed to get a job.
  2. Maybe you applied to the wrong jobs. People with impressive degrees are not the best fit for an open position. If they are bored, they quickly leave the company (such as you). And they might feel undervalued and underpaid, which leads to frictions.
  3. Academia values good degrees. Universities might accept red flags (missing skills, issues with CV or personality) industry would not accept. After your PhD you might facing the same problems with you three to five years older.

My advise:

  • Whatever you do (take PhD position, stick to your current company, apply for other jobs), level up the relevant skills to land jobs you want, e.g., programming, machine learning, quantum computing applications, inter-personal skills, project management.
  • Apply to jobs that are a match for your degree. Not above, not below.
  • Seek help by career coaches (they are not cheap, but if taken seriously worth the money). They help to evaluate your potentials, both strengths and weaknesses. They can help finding suitable job offers. And let you help improving you applications and job interview foo.
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    Also beware of predatory boot camps that charge you a lot of money and coach you to pad your resume in unethical ways. Good hiring managers can spot that kind of behavior a mile away, so you’re not doing yourself any favors using such a “service”, and even being affiliated with the these orgs could be a red flag that costs you an interview.
    – bob
    Commented Jun 15 at 2:17

The one thing coming across to me in your post is your low morale. Of course, this is natural for any graduate who makes reams of applications but only gets a small number of interviews. But it must be even more demoralising for a graduate with a bloody good degree from a top world university: a sense that it can't be because of my degree, or my university - it must be me . . .

Well, I don't think it's you - I mean you personally or your character, that is - that is at fault here. To my mind, it's more a case of not knowing how to best do things.

A lot of chances went by - sort of systematically - when you (reasonably) focussed on your final year's studies rather than waste time humoring the vanities of corporate recruiters at those silly milk-round interviews.

More chances still perhaps went past due to lack of experience with making good job applications. It's easy after a long day to give essentially the same covering letter (minus the organization and job title) to a number of companies, to claim an "interest" in things yet neglect to highlight any supporting evidence for this in our CV or portfolio. Apply for everything is often the advice we get. But there are only so many genuine, interested applications that we can draft in a week.

I suppose that your Russian name hasn't helped your progress over the last year either. Nothing you can do about the name. But if you grew up in UK, make as much clear on your CV. If you did not or are in UK originally to study, make clear that you are committed to a career and a life in the western hemisphere.

What you most need right now is to get out of that soul-destroying non-job that you are in. The best way would be more challenging work within the same company. But if that's not happening (after you discuss prospects with your boss) then you have to start a job hunt immediately.

On PhD opportunities, by all means go to as many places as invite you to feel the ambiance - although the feel of a campus in summertime is misleading. From past experience I would be worried for you to go to Nottingham as the city itself is the worst place I've ever been in and the university the most corrupt. Someone low in morale going to Nottingham for a PhD in math or computing is a danger that I cannot be silent on. Anywhere else.

A previous respondent, Michael_1812, has kindly offered to bring you into contact with his son who has gone down your intended road. Please take him up on that, even if you eventually choose not to re-enter academia - you may learn about non-doctoral routes into the QC sector.

If you are still in Oxford city, get out and about a bit more. Go to concerts and plays and dress decently, be polite and don't be too cranky with the "And what do you do?" questions. Many are put-downs, for sure. But sometimes a decent and experienced bloke can see talent - and they might be able to help.


In the question chat, the OP mentioned that he had therapy until the 3rd year at university. While I am not a medical doctor—just someone with personal experience—it seems from his question that the issues might have resurfaced. Already, the language in the question title is quite telling: “not excited,” “my only option” (everyone has options, especially a young Oxbridge graduate!), “fix my life” (which sounds pretty serious).

Addressing this should be a priority, whatever path the OP chooses. For example, psychological issues could make successfully applying to jobs very challenging. HR and managers are astute at picking up verbal and non-verbal cues and, for various reasons, might hesitate to hire someone they perceive as moody and unenthusiastic. Staying in the current job, which the OP dislikes, can create a vicious cycle of boredom, burnout, dropping performance, and deteriorating health. Even if the OP lands a dream job somewhere like Google, he might end up bitterly disappointed: psychological issues can make a person blind to the positives and over-focused on the negatives.

Despite the OP’s worries about the PhD, this could be a good path. OP, you say that you “loved quantum computing” at university. At a PhD level, this can be 10 times more exciting: you’ll learn the cutting-edge discoveries from the field leaders, and you yourself would be contributing to these discoveries. (What if you discover something amazing?) Don’t worry too much about future income: e.g., the PhD founders of DeepMind are hardly starving. Even if you pursue a different career, the PhD will give you valuable transferable skills. And unlike, say, a military career, it is not impossible to leave a PhD program early if you cannot continue.

I suggest finding, or returning to, a good professional therapist. From my personal experience, medications, so readily prescribed by GPs, can have side effects and are not sufficient on their own, whereas talking therapies, like CBT, are essential. If necessary, a letter from the therapist might help you arrange a deferral of your PhD, if the university permits that. Удачи (Good luck)!


Of course there is no this or that answer to your question. So, here are some key pieces of advice and you can cherrypick whichever is more relevant in your case:

I would encourage you to take some time to reflect on your career goals and what you are truly passionate about. Understanding your interests and long-term career aspirations will help you make more targeted and fulfilling career decisions.

If you are having trouble finding a right job, then you might need to revisit the way you are applying. Maybe you are sending same resume and cover letter without giving much thought to what the recruiters are looking for. Many universities offer career services to alumni, including resume reviews, interview preparation, and job search assistance. Oxford likely has resources that can help you improve their job search strategy. Networking is a crucial aspect of the job search process. Attending industry events, joining relevant LinkedIn groups, and participating in online forums related to you field can help you connect with potential employers and learn about job opportunities.

Since you lack internship experience, you might consider gaining relevant experience through freelance work, contributing to open-source projects, or working on personal projects that showcase their skills. This can help build a more impressive portfolio and demonstrate their capabilities to potential employers.

Taking short-term courses or obtaining certifications in in-demand skills can make you more attractive to employers. For example, certifications in cloud computing, data science, or other relevant areas could enhance their resume.

If you find the UK job market is particularly challenging, you might consider broadening your search and start looking for opportunities in other countries or regions where their skills might be in higher demand.

If you are seriously considering a PhD, they should carefully weigh the pros and cons. While academia offers certain opportunities, it also comes with its own set of challenges. They should consider whether they can leverage the PhD to transition into industry roles later on, perhaps in research and development positions within tech companies.

The job search process can be long and frustrating, but persistence is key. Stay positive, continue learning, and remain open to new opportunities.


I think there's a few separate questions here, and it's better to take them separately.

"My job is boring, if I do a PhD will it be more interesting?"

A PhD might be more exciting, it might also be boring. But more importantly a PhD comes with a lot of other things besides just how exciting the work is. You should choose a PhD because you want all, or at least most, of those things, and not just for a single reason like "it's more interesting".

I doubt there's not a single industry job out there that wouldn't be "boring" to you - the more sensible option is to look for that. Not every job is the same. Now that you've seen one type of job you don't like, you can try to avoid applying to jobs like that in the future. But generally, this is a question for https://workplace.stackexchange.com/

"I have great credentials, but I can't get any good jobs. Can I escape to academia?"

What people don't say is that applying to jobs is an art that requires considerable learning, and until you do that learning you will be hopeless no matter how great your degree is. In college, people kind of pick up by osmosis how to apply to academic jobs (PhDs and the like) but nobody in college (unless you are very lucky) teaches you how to apply effectively to industry jobs. But, you can learn this, and it's a lot easier and faster than pivoting your whole life into academic research when you started out planning to work in the software industry. Before thinking about a PhD, you should first look into learning this so you can get some job offers befitting your very high credentials, qualifications and abilities. Right now you are not - 30k is too low for an Oxford Math grad who can code.

This is also something better asked about on a career advice site like https://workplace.stackexchange.com/

"PhD also sounds hard, will I be happier in it?"

Nobody can tell you this. It depends entirely on your personality. Moreover, it will also depend on who exactly you do the PhD with. But some invariants I can tell you are that:

  • The pay will be considerably lower, and will also grow worse, unless at some point you can leverage your academic background to get into a very high paying job (this is doable but you will still have to get good at applying to jobs, it won't happen automatically)
  • The work will be more complex and intellectually difficult (whether this makes it harder or easier or better or worse depends on you)
  • Job security is much better
  • Coworkers are more "academic-minded"
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    +1 30k is too low for an Oxford Math grad who can code. Absolutely. Even dumb-ass 2.2 math grads are walking into financial markets jobs with prospects to earn with bonus close to £100k. Something is wrong here - something more than poor job application writing. I hate to say it but I fear Dmitriy is an innocent casualty of that bloody war. HR people will make categorical decisions like that from fear of being later seen to have hired someone whose "risk association" is immediate on seeing the name on top of the CV. Very conservative when risk to their careers are concerned, are HR staff.
    – Trunk
    Commented Jun 14 at 23:33

First, your situation is probably not that unusual. UK universities, especially elite ones like Oxford and Cambridge, have a culture of over-emphasizing coursework and exams, and under-emphasizing research and work experience. So you spend your three or four years studying hard for exams, and spending your summers and holidays recovering. Then you find yourself applying for jobs and find that simply ranking x in your year in exams is not enough to get a good job (or, indeed, even a good PhD position outside of the UK, but that's a different story...)

My advice would be to just take the PhD position.

First, it sounds like you're unhappy in your current position, so since you have the PhD option, you might as well take it. If they (the department or your future supervisor) gave you the offer, it means that they have confidence that you will be able to handle it. Provided you are actually interested in doing research, doing a PhD can be a good experience. And it will ultimately only be 3-4 years of your life (note: this is strongly dependent on the country. In the UK, PhDs typically have a fairly fixed end-date. In some places like the USA, they can drag on forever, but that doesn't apply to you).

Getting a PhD does not mean you will stay in academia forever. In fact, finding a faculty position is significantly harder than doing a PhD, so much that the vast majority of people who actually want to stay in academia will not be able to, so it is actually a much healthier attitude as a PhD student to not plan on having a career in academia.

Moreover, I believe that the particular topic I'm interested in is not very transferable to other careers, and so after I graduate with a PhD in 4 years, my job prospects will probably look just as grim if not worse than they do now

This concern is valid, but now that you've learned your lesson, you have the next few years (while doing your PhD) to think about jobs and pick up marketable skills on the side. While the actual day-to-day research might not be widely applicable, you will gain general technical skills that are transferable, and simply having "PhD" attached to your name will open lots of doors in the job market.


Only you know your situation, but it’s worth considering that entry level jobs outside of academia are often just really boring. They don’t usually give the most interesting tasks to someone who’s just starting out in the field for a variety of reasons, some valid, some not. One of the valid reasons is that you’re (the general you, not you specifically) still learning the ropes and are a much higher risk to the project and so are given lower risk easier tasks which tend to be the menial tasks. So unless you’re in a toxic or woefully incompetent company or department (which is possible; again only you know your situation), it sounds like you’re probably describing the typical experience for an entry level developer.

If so then know that it will get better. The best advice I have if you’re at all interested in software development is to do what you can to find joy in the menial work (e.g. are there parts you can automate by writing your own code without jeopardizing getting your work done in the process?), learn all you can (especially the soft skills of working with people and working under deadlines), network with others, and take comfort in the knowledge that as you demonstrate the ability to do menial low risk tasks well, and more importantly reliably, you’ll gain more responsibility in the form of more interesting tasks. This will most likely take a year or two, possibly longer or possibly even shorter depending on the company (companies vary quite a bit in their view of how long it takes to gain experience), but it will happen.

Regarding your difficulty getting interviews, the easiest way to increase your chances assuming you’re writing your resume properly (check with an expert to be sure your not making mistakes there) is to have experience on your resume. A really easy way to get that is to stick with your current employer for at least 2-5 years if you haven’t already. And as you stay longer you should get more interesting tasks that will make your resume more impressive assuming you write it correctly. If you jump ship too soon (assuming you’re still entry level), your resume will still be a blank slate on experience and you’ll be stuck dealing with the challenge facing most entry level job seekers: emoloyers want experience.

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    It doesn't always work out that more senior employees tend to get given more interesting tasks. Several years ago, I was a Senior Engineer in Mechanical Engineering for a large multinational, and found myself stuck for several years doing the most mind-numbing, tedious tasks that any entry-level Engineer could have been doing. I had tried to change jobs, but had no luck whatsoever in the local job market. The experience was a major factor is my deciding to do my PhD - I have never looked back and am now planning to stay in academia.
    – Time4Tea
    Commented Jun 15 at 16:32
  • That sounds awful. There are exceptions to every rule and the more interesting tasks may still be boring to you (the general you), and of course even as a more senior dev you’ll have to do menial tasks as well from time to time, but in general if you’re not in a terrible job seniority should yield some more interesting, less menial tasks than those given to an entry level dev. That said there are always going to be employers who don’t know how to properly task their senior talent or don’t respect them, and those employers should be avoided.
    – bob
    Commented Jun 15 at 17:16
  • My former employer would definitely fall into the latter category. They were spiralling downhill as well, laying off a lot of good staff.
    – Time4Tea
    Commented Jun 15 at 21:57
  • To explain my current position, I think if anything I am being given too much responsibility, mostly stemming from mismanagement. I work for a small start-up and have complete ownership over almost the entire backend, including a terraform infrastructure, kubernetes stack, api server, database and several video transcoding microservices. My boredom stems from my work being almost entirely reading documentations and implementing api endpoints executing simple API queries and from not being given enough stuff to do on a weekly basis. Commented Jun 17 at 0:19
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    @bob I think that, whatever way you look at it, Dmitriy is a racehorse harnessed to a plough. His employers clearly hired him for his IQ and hope to get the output of 3-4 people from him - all on an insultingly low salary because of other employers' reluctance to hire a Russian at present. He's gotta go elsewhere. "Reason for leaving your last job, Mr F?" "Er, my work was boring and very badly paid for a man of my quals, sir." Not a word of a lie in that, either.
    – Trunk
    Commented Jun 26 at 14:34

Two things to untangle here.

First, getting a PhD does not chain you to an academic career. Far from it - the people who can continue/stay in academia for a lifetime are few and far between (with an increasing number of people also not even wanting to stay in academia because they see other opportunities out there that make them happier than academia can - be it job security, monetary compensation, working hours, etc.).

Second, if you are not excited about the idea of DOING (not getting in the end but actually putting in the work for a couple of years) then by all means, do not consider starting a PhD. The one thing that will pull you through is an intrinsic drive and motivation for (your topic of) research. You will not be in it alone, you will have a supervisor and a larger academic community, but in the end, a PhD is about showing that you can do research independently, which means you will take ownership of the project, you will be the main person responsible for troubleshooting and problem solving and you need to enjoy that and see that as one of the perks of the job. If you lack excitement before even starting, then don't.


Apply to big firms with well paying positions.

From your comments I can’t tell if you tried already. In general we don’t have that much to go on.

But atleast try to apply to some well paying positions. People will think you are joking if you apply for 30k jobs with your qualifications. Have confidence in yourself.

  • Is this written from a UK perspective?
    – Anyon
    Commented Jun 15 at 20:06
  • This is written from an everywhere perspective, taking into account that OP graduated from Oxford with a masters and so on. Commented Jun 16 at 22:17

If it is the most dead end job then you would likely be one of many looking for an alternative.

I find that eveyone brings along a truly random and vast amounts of abilities and connections.

So if possible you could try talk with your current co-workers as openly as you can. Try and figure out a local solution...

Some might excell at thinking lighting fast and under pressure, while not having what you have, as someone who studied at Oxford.

But more useful could be all the seemingly incidental connections and the half forgotten tricks, and lived experiences. Which I've found are somehow the most life changing stuff around.

But ultimately please do what makes you not miserable. While remembering that education costs money and job gives money. Both add stress. Both take time, and have various risks along the way.

(And who knows talk to enough people and you might just have to make your own company)

Anyway you explained yourself plain and simple with confidence in your question.

I hope its not too much of a stretch to ask: could you start writing as a career. Not like a full published guide right away, start small. A few brief articles on your personal favourite areas at current.

Could be nothing but I get the feeling that you have massive enthusiasm that could light up online spaces. Giving you the option to kinda teach and hopefully learn, but in your own way.

While keeping a boring job having a fun relevent hobby can be a life saver. Especially if vastly overqualified and needing to prove yourself in a more tangible and dedicated way.

(Sorry if this answer was all over the place)

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