« on: August 10, 2005, 05:03:14 PM »
i was in this position (albeit in oceanography, not economics), halfway through my phd when i decided to make the switch to law. the phd students at my institution (one of the top two in the country in my field) routinely took 6 or 7 years to graduate, only to face the prospect of at least one, and more likely 2 postdoc positions before they would be offered an assistant faculty position at some minor college in the boonies. and while profs may get paid pretty well, postdoc salaries are averaging right around $42K right now, for a position that requires you work long hours, 7 days a week, with crappy benefits. i figured if i had three more years of school to look forward to, i might as well have the prospect of a sweatshop biglaw position to look forward to. if i'm going to be a slave, i at least want to get paid well.
i imagine the market's a little more forgiving to econ majors, but the academic world is oversaturated with phd's and if you're lucky enough to find a position, you usually have to take what you can get. there's always consulting, but i think that's the mythical unicorn that all phd students hope will rescue them from their dismal job prospects.
on the other hand, i got paid $30K/year for four years with all tuition, fees, and benefits paid for to basically sit on my butt and do nothing. so from that perspective, grad school was cool. at some point though, they start nagging you about your thesis and then you have to fish or cut bait.
seriously, though, the real reason i switched to law was that i found that the majority of professors and students on the phd track are incredibly insulated from the real world, and that the work they're doing has absolutely no relevance to most of the rest of the country. i could take ten minutes to explain my thesis project using small words, and a 'reasonable person' would still have no idea what i was talking about, and probably not care. at least if you're working on something for a client, theoretically that person cares about what you are doing and how well you do it.