To Get or Not to Get a Job?

Considering that the career you wanted to have in the mathematical sector is not possible for many reasons (maybe you don’t have the degree you wanted, or you have the degree but not an employer to work for), what would you then do?

It seems it’s a question that may leave some students uncomfortable since many of them seem to start an academic program with the intent to complete it and to ultimately ‘get a job’.  When I think about such a question, I constantly find myself avoiding it with the excuse that I am far from completing my degree therefore should care less about what will happen afterwards. This attitude sometimes makes me think of whether one should worry about that at all when one commits years of one’s life to go through this program. If the job were the pressing need for the degree, wouldn’t it make more sense to commit less time? If I try to be more specific, I would consider doctoral mathematics students who are to spend many years to complete the Ph.D. program. Should that perseverance come mainly from the need for a job? I don’t have an answer to that question, but to answer it affirmatively would leave me a little befuddled.

Well, what about the scenario in which one commits this time just for the love of the subject, regardless of any hope of a job after graduation? Would that be a wise decision? I don’t think I would be able to give an immediate answer to that one, either. Unless one is rich enough, one definitely needs some money to at least survive however idealistic one wants to be. Thus, the case where one wants to get a degree to ultimately get a job, being promised such a degree  is the “Open Sesame” to a wealthy life, seems to be a reasonable choice; is it? Another alternative might be to have at least two degrees: one that doesn’t take long and provides a job and another one that takes a longer time (maybe most of one’s life) just for the love of the subject. Again, another problem arises: when one starts working and has many other non-academic responsibilities, would there be enough time to spend on what one really likes?

I’m curious to read your reactions.

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