Well, that’s what everyone said whenever I suggested that I’m interested in it. This really got me thinking if the trouble was worth it. I am a bit clear on this now. I got some unexpected words of advice from an unexpected source.
Mr Arijit S, Associate Professor at Wright State University recently made a comment on LinkedIn about the benefits of an academic life. I reproduce the comment here verbatim.
Let me briefly comment on some of the perks of an academic life. Salary is not the only thing that you can measure an academic job by – in that case none of us would want to be in this profession. Yes if you look at raw numbers, we make much less than our batchmates in industry. But, when you look at the perks, I think academic jobs become equal if not more attractive.
1. Freedom – you choose what you work on
2. Flexibility – you have a few hours of set times for teaching – the rest of the times you decide where and how you are working.
3. Financial freedom – you are encouraged to take up consulting gigs during summers and other breaks – or even during regular terms as long as they don’t interfere with your teaching
4. Publicity – you publish and you interact with people in your group – giving you a publicity way beyond your university. You can easily do a google on an average faculty member – and compare that with an average industry person
5. Breaks – in industry you have 3-4 weeks vacation – period – you have to earn those vacation times to take them. In academia you have summer and winter off – do what you want with that time.
6. students – this really is the biggest perk of our jobs – you get to work with bright and fresh brains on new projects – nothing else compares.
7. Grants – the government will support your research and travel – all you have to do is have a good idea and write it up properly.
In IIT there are added perks:
1. Free housing
2. Virtually no commute
3. Large startup package to boost your research
4. Huge selection of PhD students – did you know IIT Kgp has 1200+ PhD students out of 7000?
Given all this, I believe working in academia (esp in the IITs) can be fairly attractive.
Well, even if I don’t become a professor in IIT Kgp, or for that matter a professor at all, this is certainly a boost to me. Thanks Mr Arijit. There is atleast one guy now going to do his PhD, thanks to you. 🙂