Career Advice for PhD Students: How to Get the Most out of Your Time in the PhD Program

Cristian Borcea
Computer Science Department, NJIT


Why should I waste my time doing a PhD when I can make good money with a B.S./M.S.? Do I have what it takes to earn a PhD? Will I be able to have a personal life while enrolled in the PhD program? How should I choose a research topic and an advisor? What are the expectations of the department and the advisor from a PhD student? How much time should I dedicate to studying for classes, doing research, and potentially teaching? How do I split my research time between reading papers, doing the actual research work, writing papers, and presenting my results in scientific venues? How can I write good papers and give good talks? How do I deal with an advisor who asks me to work too much? Should I work in the lab or from home? Should I go for a summer internship or stay in school to work toward graduation? Will I ever manage to finish my thesis? What kind of jobs will I get with a PhD degree? What are the must-haves on my resume? What factors should influence my job offer selection? In this talk, I will try to answer all these questions and many others based on my experience and a variety of advices from people who have been successful both during and after their PhD studies. The talk targets all categories of PhD students from freshmen to those searching for a job. Additionally, undergraduate and M.S. students thinking about pursuing a PhD degree are invited to attend.