Thursday, October 02, 2008

Academia vs. industry

Here's an observation from someone with a PhD:

Question: What was your first job after graduate school? What did you have to learn about the business world?

Webb: I think the biggest surprise to me was how quickly you can be considered an expert outside academe. As in many fields in academe, graduate students in engineering are constantly reminded by their professors and peers that everyone else knows more than they do and that they will never, ever know enough. Colleagues and faculty members will use their decades of experience to attack you mercilessly during presentations just to make sure you never feel remotely secure.

But in my first job after grad school, I only had to work on a task for a few months to find that I had suddenly become the company's expert in the area. This was intimidating at first but also empowering and liberating. I still prepared and braced for the probing attacks, but I found people were more interested in sharing ideas and improving the result than in demonstrating their intellectual superiority. [Emphasis in bold-italic added by me]

Thanks to Zuska for the pointer.


  1. milieu said...

    Thanks for the link. My small experience in acadenics so far supports the statements in bold.

    It seems as if people fight for status as substitute for money which is in short supply compared to industry.

    Ofcourse it can't be generalized but also hearing other's experiences makes me support this rather pessimistic opinion.