Sunday, August 06, 2006

Secret to Planning a Successful "Retirement"

Well I don't believe in retirement as usually construed, but thought this was a good article as he seems to be saying the same thing. Of course there isn't a point in pursuing something as a career that you like but you aren't really talented at. That better stay as a hobby or sideline. And maybe you need to do some job to make money while you develop your alternative career. But the ideal is to do what you like and are good at and look for ways to make money from it.

This has been my path up till now and will continue to be so. Successful academics get into it either because they love teaching or research (latter in my case), or both. The path to a tenured professorship in today's world is one of high risk and uncertainty particularly in the United States and particularly on the research track (and the latter particularly in fields that don't have high research funding). Getting to be a tenured professor shouldn't stop one from switching career and doing something else if one wants to and has the opportunity. Quite a lot of academics in fields that are more prone to application find money making ideas which they then develop in a second career. In economics for example there are also opportunities to move into government etc. Often I read about successful figures in various fields that they started their career getting a PhD or being a professor. But a lot of my fellow academics seem to lose their appetite for risk and in fact become very risk averse (a lot I think are actually risk averse and are traumatised by the path needed to get to tenure). But if you are not going to be a world class star in your field and have a good idea of something else to do, why not do it?

This is the "industry" I am in but similar things will apply in other professions too.


mapgirl said...

Tenure is tough and for women professors at least, it is a treacherous path if you want to have it all (work & family). I totally understand being risk averse. What is interesting to me, having worked in executive education programs is how much the side teaching fees from business seminar programs is a segue into private consulting gigs for professors. They loved the income and we couldn't book some of them as much as they wanted because of various guidelines, so they did private lectures.

I guess this doesn't have anything to do with your post, except the risk aversion. By having a whole organization set up to generate more income for professors, they didn't really risk anything.

mOOm said...

The biggest downside in academia, is limited ability to choose a location to live in, especially in the more competitive academic job markets like the US and at the higher ranks of institutions. A lot of US universities are also in rural locations where it is either hard to find a spouse if you don't have one or for a spouse to find a job. Quite a few people quit academia for these reasons. And there is little turnover in tenured positions so little job mobility beyond the assistant professor level. This has certainly affected me and the major reason that I may quit academia when I figure out how to make enough money by other means (and once I get my green card).