Or maybe you should.

A few weeks ago I had a job interview. Yes, ladies and gentleman, I seriously considered moving to the dark side of the force. Seriously. I went through the interviewing process and everything. Unfortunately, they turned me down… That hit me harder than I expected. Before getting the result I thought that, if they said “no”, things would just go back to what they were. That’s not really how it went… They said I had not enough software engineering experience. Well, of course I don’t. I am a PhD student, in *theoretical* computer science… What did they expect? I do take part in some small and medium size projects, but this was not enough. They need some more technical experience. All I have for me is the ability to understand really freaking hard problems, and try to come up with solutions. But it’s not like the subject of my thesis will help me with anything else than that. Also, my advisor recently admitted that the problem was harder than he had expected, and it’s ok that I have only partial results in the thesis. It’s disappointment all around.

In any case, this rejection unleashed a chain of reactions that I am still trying to make sense of. At first I was really considering getting a job in industry, and getting this damn experience that I am lacking. I checked companies I like and projects I think I’d be happy working for. Then I started thinking what is that I like to do. What would make me happy? And I made a list because I like to make lists. They help me organize myself. Here it is:

– solving puzzles
– programming
– mathematics
– music

It’s not very helpful though. What I need to know is what kind of job will give me that, and at the moment I don’t know. I am in academia for a while, and I know I can get the first three things at least. But it seems they have not been enough. Maybe it’s because I am reaching the end of my PhD, because I’ve been working for three years in some problem nobody understands and getting only partial results nobody will ever use, but I am sick and tired of this research already. If in the end I decide to stay in academia, it’ll really do me some good to change research topics to something more applied. What about industry? Is there some kind of job that will require me to work on things of this list all the time? The job announcements I saw in the companies I selected claim so. But it just seems too good to be true. I’ve had jobs before and I know how boring it can be. How so not challenging. But then again, I didn’t have a real job in one of these cool companies that claim to have cool jobs. You see my dilemma?

In the middle of despair I took two career tests to see which careers fit me the most. The result of both was basically that I have the profile for research, programming and engineering. Really? Well, *that* I knew already! I am not trying to decide whether I should study literature or computer science.

Anyway, in the end I decided to explore possibilities… Learning about new research topics and about bigger projects in industry (as an intern, employee or volunteer, there are few possibilities I checked). But I am really focusing on getting this mysterious software engineering experience, either in academia or in industry. I learned over the years that you cannot tell me I can’t do something. That’s probably one of my biggest motivation triggers. And they told me I could not get the job… you shouldn’t have done that.