With the academic job situation so tight and uncertain, I am thinking of jobs outside academia (after a PhD in Computer Science). There are plenty of programming jobs that require an undergrad or even no degree. I tried some of them and they are so routine and so narrow that one gets frustrated easily. They also involve 8-5, M-F drudgery. Can anyone suggest better alternatives. How do companies advertise for research positions? I haven't seen many ads for those. BTW, I live in Southeast of US and due to family reasons can not relocate far.
There is a large and active demand for computer science Ph.D. holds outside of academia. Some of the main classes of positions:
- Contract R&D organizations like IHMC (near you in Florida) or my own employer, work a lot like soft-money academia.
- Government laboratories are much the same, though the money works differently.
- Government agencies need Ph.D.-level people to help manage their R&D portfolios, either directly as program managers or via private-sector contractors like Booz-Allen.
- Giant companies like Lockheed-Martin, Pfizer, or Ford have high-tech or internal R&D sections that do Ph.D.-level computer science work.
- Near any major tech university, you will find lots of startup companies and consulting firms and other odd niches.
- Finance companies and hedge funds will offer you lots of money in exchange for your immortal soul.
These are just a few of the more typical routes: the research ecosystem in the US is actually very complex and has a lot of strange niches; I don't have solid numbers, but I suspect the outside-of-academia R&D world is actually much larger than traditional academia, and that's even before we start counting non-R&D positions like hedge funds.
Some of these sorts of jobs, you can find via ordinary online job listings. You'll likely do a lot better, though, if you reach out through your professional network and research community. Your advisor and other faculty are one good place to start: they'll likely have former students and other colleagues to put you in touch with outside of academia. Another good step is to go to the big conferences in your area, especially those with a more applied flavor, and look for the industry people there. You'll likely find quite a number of good opportunities, especially if you are a US citizen.
If you're finding boring (to you) jobs, you're not looking in the right places. Off the top of my head I thought of SAS, which is located in North Carolina. One possibility is to look for companies that were spun off from university research.
Ask your professors--where did other master's and PhD graduates end up, if they didn't go into academia? Talk to the career center. Even though they may be focused on undergraduates, they may have some ideas.
I have found LinkedIn to be pretty good at recommending jobs for me, both with its own algorithms and with the occasional 'inmail' from a recruiter. Sometimes it's enough to make me wrestle with leaving academia, for the reasons you cite in the question.
Make sure you use it to its full potential by (signing up!), updating your profile and making it look amazing, following companies, joining groups, connecting with people you know, and connecting with tech recruiters.