# Moving from Academia into industry

Sunday, June 14, 2015

In mid-April, I participated in a roundtable about non-academic careers for political scientists at the Midwest Political Science Association annual conference in Chicago. I kept it simple and tried to just tell my experience when I decided to not follow the usual path towards a tenure track position. In a field with so little tradition (and awareness) about non-academic jobs, transitioning to industry sometimes feels like a leap in the dark.

Ever since then, I have tried to collect the main points I tried to touch during my presentation. Better late than never.

1. Talking about non-academic jobs makes as much sense as talking about non-elephant animals.’’ The very name of the panel captures an academic prejudice. There is no such thing as a non-academic job and it is counter-productive to try to summarize the world outside academic departments that way. There is a wild heterogeneity of positions in industry and they all require very different skills. Just because you do not want to teach or write papers for a living, it does not mean that you are stepping outside the path you are expected to follow. The way I see it, a PhD is a degree that prepares you to do research, and Academia is just one way to take advantage of that training. I do not understand why we are still trying to describe industry in the negative.

2. Academia is not the only place where you can feel intellectually motivated. It is true that research in industry and in academic departments —specially in the social sciences— focus on very different topics. However, my own job is very much research-oriented. What I get every morning is an analytical problem that needs be solved, exactly the same way it was when I was doing my PhD. The main difference with respect to academic research is that the solutions I propose have to be reached much faster and they have to be actionable —conclusions have to guide practical decisions with real consequences. That means that breadth of the areas that I tackle is considerably larger, and also that success is measured in very different units.