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Hackernoon logoThe (Tech) Academic Career — Part 1 by@rafaelbelchior

The (Tech) Academic Career — Part 1

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@rafaelbelchiorRafael Belchior

PhD researcher (Blockchain); https://rafaelapb.github.io/

There might be a pre-concept that people have towards the academic career: that professors are exclusively focused on learning, teaching, and researching. I am here to demystify it.

Computer Science degrees are not only for going to Silicon Valley to receive ridiculous amounts of money. You can do something different.
This might be you right now. Photo by bruce mars on Unsplash

I’m lecturing as a Teacher Assistant at Técnico Lisboa for about six months. First, I was lecturing at the It Infrastructure Management and Administration, a masters level course, and now Software Engineering, a bachelors level course.

Since I started studying, I’ve changed my opinion with respect to the teaching profession. My passage in a student’s group that contacts companies and interacts with professors gives anyone there a wide view of how the system works. Since I enrolled in the MSc program in Information Systems and Computer Engineering, I began to be more sensitive to the professor’s points of view.

So, do you really think they earn badly, or that they cannot organize and apply their knowledge? Books like Rich Dad, Poor Dad, by Kiyosaki tend to exaggerate this fact: you do not need university studies to be successful. While this is true, to most areas of knowledge, it does not mean that you will waste time just because you are studying. In fact, I believe it is the opposite, you will gain considerable advantages if you have the right mindset. Studying at the university is not a waste of time, depending on the degree you are pursuing and with which goal.

Source: https://giphy.com/

Computer Science is definitely a good investment for virtually every goal you have for your life. Researching, entrepreneurship, social purposes, you name it. But keep in mind — although a university education brings higher income potential, it is not always true. You can check this (very) interesting article about the Portuguese academic career structure. If you are an analytic person and if you would like to calculate whether it is worth or not to study, check this Investopedia article on how to calculate your degree’s ROI. Take into account the opportunity cost, for a non-biased evaluation.

And why all this conversation? If you want to become an assistant professor, you need an academic degree, namely a Ph.D. I now believe that being a professor is one of the most appealing “types of entrepreneurship”:

  1. You depend on nobody and you work for yourself. Of course, you have some obligations to the university/government (if public), and to other professors. But, in the end, you choose your schedule, your area of interest, your collaborators, and what you will really focus yourself at: it could be classes, research or even consultancy.
  2. You have great, shiny opportunities. As a professor of a prestige university, you have great chances of getting funded for developing projects. Depending on your expertise and experience, and on your emotional and social skills, you can assemble a team and start working on international projects. Those projects are many times impactful, due to its practical nature (a proof of concept, an implementation of a theoretical aspect or even a study about a specific topic), and can change the life of millions.
  3. If you realize that the academic profession is not for you, you can go to the industry, and work on very different roles, depending on what you do now. As a professor, you probably have the skills required to teach and motivate people, which is extremely valuable in any company. Some of the most common positions a professor/student with a Ph.D. can aim for are research, project managing and, generally, positions evolving leadership. For instance, only at Google, you have around 500 jobs for people with a Ph.D.
  4. Personally, I consider teaching a very honorable mission: forming future engineers and future entrepreneurs. Giving your time for the well-being of society is truly a fulfilling job.
  5. You have the chance to give something back. Something back to the society that supports you, the school that formed you and a contribution to the future generations.

Bottom Line🔥

It is worth to consider studying at the university, especially if a technical course. Additionally, if it is in Europe, even better (e.g., in Portugal, university fees are around 1000€/year), as the ROI is higher.

The potential of self-realization and richness of someone is not calculated through the number of academic degrees he or she has. It is measured by the amount of general and specialized knowledge accumulated and by the ability of someone to organize that knowledge and put into practice.

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Cheers, Keep Rocking 💪

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