I am a PhD student in mathematics. I felt quite lucky that I got into this program. My research is also going ok, and I got some confirmation from my advisor that I should be able to graduate in a year or two if I keep up with my work. So things were mostly good. But a recent conversation with my advisor completely changed my view about my situation.
We just finished one of our projects and naturally got to the question of when I should graduate. Then We start to discuss my plans after graduation. He asked me whether I want to find a job in industry or stay in academia. I said I want to remain in academia, find a postdoc, then a tenure-track position, etc. He then told me that there are very few places that have postdocs in my area, and indicated maybe I should look for schools that majorly focus on teaching.
I was very shocked. I always wanted to stay in academia and thought about going to good research schools. In fact we talked about this when I first asked to be his student. But for some reason, he kept asking me the same question every once in a while.
I went home and start search on mathjobs.org for positions in my area, which I probably should have done three years ago. There were almost nothing. There are two postdoc positions, both are from not very well-known schools, I don't quite have interests in applying to either one of them.
I am quite lost. On one hand, I wish I knew this much earlier on. I wish my advisor would have told me before he helped me pick this area. I also should've done some research on that myself. Now I just have so much regrets in my heart.
On the other hand, I think it's time to be realistic and rethink my plans. I wonder if it is still be possible for me to get a postdoc (possibly in one of the two places) and later go to a top-ranking school for tenure-track positions? If a school don't have anyone in your area, would they hire you as a tenure-track AP? I am not quite fond of teaching, I can bear it if it's part of my job being a researcher, but I would not want to do this as my sole job.
If that is not possible, what kind of job can a math PhD get? I had some experience in industry before as well, but I don't quite like that job. Are there research-type positions in companies that would appreciate a math major? If so, what kind of knowledge/skills should I pick up now?