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March 31, 2010

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Ha ha ha! Though...I remember [classmate's name] telling me she is now going to law school to study IP law (int. property). On an aside, that means I will be out to thwart her every move indirectly, since I'm a pirate at heart (yo ho ho, and a bottle of grape juice!)

That said, this article is spot on.

As for PhDs getting funding...nope. Not the case anymore. At least at Stony Brook. Hoping one recruiter or another gets something to work out for me, or I can get the Lehigh PhD acceptance (with funding) and have some fun since I've taken so many IE courses already.

A JD in intellectual property is a good way to leverage an engineering college degree. Hopefully the economy will have improved by the time she graduates. I've seen friends with engineering PhDs from MIT go into patent law and they've hit hard times now. I've even heard of people with advanced degrees working at IP law firms who've been out of a job for many months (close to a year, I think) - thankfully no one I know personally.

In addition, because of the economy, graduate school applications (MS, JD, you name it) are way up. We see that at Lehigh with our MS degree in Analytical Finance. That means students who could have been admitted at top schools in previous years are getting rejected from those same places. Especially for JDs and PhDs, where you got your degree matters a lot for your future employment prospects. This can have much more lasting consequences on salaries than starting your career in a recession. Thankfully, there are still people getting admitted to the top places too. You have to have faith you're going to beat the odds.

I'll add one quick comment, since this post has attracted a lot of traffic. There was an article in the Jan/Feb issue of Harvard Business Review on the five ways to bungle a job change:
1. not doing enough research [on the job-market realities for their industry and on potential employers]
2. leaving for money [changing jobs just because the new one pays better]
3. going "from" rather than "to"
4. overestimating yourself [underestimating the role environment has played in your success]
5. thinking short term [which is related to #2]

Obviously, when the decision to be made is about getting an advanced degree, #2 isn't a factor, but #3 is probably the biggest wrong reason people go back to school. Getting an advanced degree is always a bet (that it will improve your job prospects enough to make up for the tuition and the lost salary once you graduate).

If you do all this just to run from something (a current job or the fact that you don't know what you want to do), you won't have enough intrinsic motivation to withstand setbacks if you can't find a job in the end.

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