Discussion Thread

  • 1.  Industry Positions for a Ph.D. Candidate

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 01-27-2020 04:31 PM
    This post was removed

  • 2.  RE: Industry Positions for a Ph.D. Candidate

    Posted 01-28-2020 12:08 PM
    Hi all,

    I also have this dilemma as I am doing my Ph.D. now in Structural Engineering and I have almost no work experience in the industry. I suppose to graduate after two years and I am not sure which path I should take; academia or industry. And, if I choose to take a job in the industry, ex structural engineering firm, which position should meet my qualifications? I keep thinking of it several times and do not know what to decide. After spending around 5-month doing research, I get sick of it and I feel that I need to get other experience in design and construction instead. So, I prefer to take a job in the industry, but what position or what kind of companies should I look for? I have no clue.

    Mohamed Mohamed S.M.ASCE
    Graduate research assistant
    Lawrence Technological University
    Southfield MI

  • 3.  RE: Industry Positions for a Ph.D. Candidate

    Posted 01-28-2020 11:15 PM

    I suggest you seek advice from peers, colleagues, and other professionals who work in the industry you wish to work on. Ask them about their professional path, important skills for the industry, their expectations for new hires, salary expectations, and any other questions you feel satisfy your curiosity.
    However, before you set your expectations on income, you need to understand how your education and current experience can provide value to a construction organization (I presume you want to join this industry). Similarly, you need to be able to communicate this message clearly to a potential employer. In essence, you need to respond to the following questions: Why should a company invest in you and not a similar candidate who may have more practical experience but less educational background? Can you make this case? Do not think for a second that having three new letters after your name will automatically make you money. It is your duty to demonstrate that you earn your degree, that you are providing value, and therefore, that compensation should be accordingly. 

    Regarding career advancement, YOU have about 80% of the power on how much you want to grow in an organization. The amount of value you provide to your organization will greatly determine your career path. The remainder 20% (which is my guestimate) depends on market conditions, available opportunities within the organization, luck, and many other factors that you cannot control.

    I hope this helps. Think hard about the questions above. Do not be afraid to reach to others. Keep working hard.

    Good luck in your search.

    Carlos Zuluaga Ph.D., EI, A.M.ASCE
    Ph.D. Student, Civil Engineering