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Thread: Alternative careers with a Business PhD

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    Question Alternative careers with a Business PhD

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    I am planning to take an Accounting PhD soon and am curious about alternative careers just in case the academic job market dries up by the time I finish my PhD in 6 to 7 years time. I am not expecting to land at a top-ranked uni and will probably study in the lower-ranked schools (maybe top 50 to 100). For Business PhD graduates not just in accounting but also in finance, marketing, OB, and others, do industry firms generally stay away from them? What types of industry roles are suitable for PhD graduates given the skills they get in gradschool? For example and to be more specific, can business PhD graduates ride the current big data and machine learning trend and work as a data scientist?

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    Re: Alternative careers with a Business PhD

    If you look at placements from almost any school, you often find that quite a few business phds (anywhere from 10-30+%) leave academia and choose an industry career. These are often well-paying jobs in some of the fields that you mentioned (data science, ML, tech), and the lucrative exit opportunities for business PhD's, I believe, is one of the main reasons why salaries are often higher in business schools. So yes, anything tech/business related should be quite receptive to hiring people with accounting, finance, marketing, etc. PhD's.

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    Re: Alternative careers with a Business PhD

    Yeah, PhD graduates can work as data scientists. And some PhD students work in partnership with companies before that. But remember that not all PhD students develop skills related to data science.

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    Re: Alternative careers with a Business PhD

    For accounting, there are some outside options, but you don't see it too often. I've known people that have placed in banks and other types of jobs that don't really require a PhD. You can look at industry options for Econ PhDs and those should be open to you if you develop the right skills during your program.

    The only industry that I have seen actively recruit accounting PhDs is litigation consulting. Firms like Cornerstone and Brattle hire accounting PhDs somewhat regularly.

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    Re: Alternative careers with a Business PhD

    Consulting firms will hire business PhDs for the reputational boost. Research firms will hire PhDs that have specific methods skills they're looking for, or for client-facing leadership roles. Lots of data science roles as mentioned above. Think-tanks and government research roles will also hire a fair number of PhDs.

    In my experience, you need to find specific opportunities that are specifically looking for that PhD. If an employer doesn't have experience hiring PhDs in the past, they're likely going to be wary or not understand the value that a PhD brings to the table.

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    Re: Alternative careers with a Business PhD

    If you decide that you want to go into industry after you get your PhD, when is a good time to start this conversation with your advisor? I'm thinking that around the start of the 4th year is when you should have a good idea of whether you will cut it for academia, any thoughts on this?

    Also, are schools open to letting you graduate early in 4 years if they know that you don't want to stay in academia?

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    Re: Alternative careers with a Business PhD

    Quote Originally Posted by Cliffs View Post
    If you decide that you want to go into industry after you get your PhD, when is a good time to start this conversation with your advisor?
    I don't think there is a general answer for this, it depends on the advisor. Some advisors seem to be totally ok with this, and you probably should tell them as soon as you decide. And some advisors probably would be quite pissed off, so no time will be really a good time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cliffs View Post
    I'm thinking that around the start of the 4th year is when you should have a good idea of whether you will cut it for academia, any thoughts on this?
    I think you "should have a good idea of whether you will cut it for academia" before your PhD applications.

    I'm in my 4th year, I had that discussion a long time ago with my advisor, we have taken a few actions in that regard already, faculty are making decisions about this, etc. We are already running toward the finishing line, and beyond that (e.g., the projects I intend to do after I get a job). So, in my opinion, 4th year would be really late for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cliffs View Post
    Also, are schools open to letting you graduate early in 4 years if they know that you don't want to stay in academia?
    I have seen no difference. I think it does make a difference when the student wants to extend a year because then it does not make much sense keeping the support to someone who doesn't want to stay in academia.

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