Long back Bikram Ballav suggested me to write about my Ph.D. experience which I'm yet to complete. But after seeing the information level of the GATE takers I'm forced to share everything I know about Ph.D. and clear many misconceptions. So, why should one do a Ph.D.?
- Because I'm mad - yes, those who do Ph.D. are mad people.
- No other option. I did not get a good job.
- I want to become a Professor.
Not sure of any more reasons but these are the common ones. Now, what one does during a Ph.D.?
- Do TA work
- Read 1000s of research papers and behave like Einstein
- Publish papers to journals and do no coding
- Struggle to get a gf/bf as no one wants a Ph.D.
- Struggle for money while your friends earn plenty
Now, after having seen Ph.D. life in IISc., India, INRIA France, and OSU United States, I can say something.
- Ph.D life is so different at good places like IITs compared to other Universities.
- As a Ph.D. one is expected to work on one or more problems in some specific area. So, after finishing Ph.D. you become an expert in that field and any company working in that field should be happy to hire you. Yes, Ph.Ds from good places are hired at very good salary by Tech. companies.
- Ph.Ds are not expected to code. But based on your project you will be required to implement something and that requires coding. During my Ph.D, I had done less coding than my Masters as for research more time is spend for analyzing stuffs.
- Me and many of my batch mates got married during Ph.D. But this might be hard in India or US as Ph.D. life is more hectic there.
- Ph.Ds are paid okay. In India it pays better than a starting IT job whereas in France and US, it pays way better. One advantage of Ph.D. abroad is for 2 years there is no need to pay income tax.
- Ph.Ds are not publishing bogus papers. That happens at low tier universities. At good places they struggle to get paper published at top notch conferences where the papers are reviewed by experts from the best Universities, industries like Google, Intel, Microsoft etc. And that is the value of top conferences, citations etc. No good Professor/researcher will like to have his/her name on a bogus paper.
Now, can I do Ph.D.?
I want to do what someone tells and lead a happy life earning salary they give
I want to do what I like and give my contribution to the world however small that might be
If you think like first- no, you should never consider Ph.D. If you think like second yes, you can do Ph.D. There is no super skills required for this. You get enough time, but you should spend it in useful ways. Anyone who has prepared by self and got to top 1000 rank is qualified to do a Ph.D. - because it requires self work and guidance as Professor can only guide you, since you are doing a new work he can only solve troubles you have. Most of the problem solving path, must be found by the candidate himself. Those who ask for questions like "what is an automata" are not fit for Ph.D. As a Ph.D. candidate you are not expected to know everything -- you can happily say "I do not know to anything you do not know", but you must be willing to learn anything that is required.
Who are preferred by IISc/IIT professors?
Most of them know about Indian education system. So, never try to fool them. They want to take those students who will do good work under them. Some prefer disciplined students who put lot of effort in their work - usually who tops university exams, some prefer those who have good basics - who can answer GATE level questions, some prefer those who have in depth knowledge in their areas of research etc. Also, those who have done some good work either in terms of publications, or coding projects are also preferred.