In my new work, I'm basically doing the same things I did during my Masters: Planning studies, running them, analyzing results and jumping to premature conclusions. Yet life outside the academia looks very different.
Trying to figure out what changed, I asked some of my good friends what is the difference between university life and "the real world". These are some of the things they came up with:
1. You get paid.
2. You get up every day at the same time, go to the same place and stay there until the evening.
3. Working in your pajamas is frowned upon.
4. You don't get as many days off as you used to, but the ones you do get are really DAYS OFF: no work related chores or anything.
5. When you get home in the evening, you are free. No more guilt about not reading another article (unfortunately, this one is not true if you are also trying to publish your second research project… L).
6. You meet clients – people who don't really understand your work, but are paying for it, so they often feel like they have to be involved.
7. There is no graduation in the horizon, so you don’t have a clear point to count down to when you're having a bad day.
8. Usually, you don’t have the time or the resources to really get to the bottom of the things you do. If in my research project, I would read dozens of articles and talk with my supervisor for hours before making any decision, now things have to happen fast, and many projects have to progress in the same time. So I find myself developing a project only to the point of it being OK, moving on, and maybe returning if I have the time. A friend said it's a bit like the difference between BFS and DFS.
9. The outcomes of what you do might make a difference to someone in the near future. In my case, the results of studies I run help companies make big decisions.
10. On the other hand – you realize you are not going to change the world. My outcomes are very valuable right now, but are not going to make a difference in the long run. I am not going to make the world a better place.