So you want to be an independent researcher or consultant?

In am must read post, Jay Ulfelder says do not quit your day job

….. I occasionally wonder how and why it’s worked for me so far. My answer always starts with the point Phil Schrodt made about the value of already being a known quantity with professional ties to people with money to spend. I started this spell of my career after a ten-year stint with a big consulting firm that connected me to lots of great scholars and sharp people in several U.S. government agencies. If I had tried to do something like this right out of grad school, I’m virtually certain I would have failed fast. I like to think that my careerist turn to social media and blogging have made a big difference, but that’s probably not true. Sure, I’ve landed some paid freelance jobs through those channels, but the vast majority of my income in the past two years has come from work that came to me through the connections I made and the reputation I developed in my old salaried job.

The post is an important caution to those in academia who are interested in bridging the gap between scholarly work and the policy realm through independent research and/or consulting. 


Why go into investment banking (as opposed to grad school)?

Davos envy and Romney’s income in the last two years (and tax rate) have got quite a few people thinking and talking about the morality and usefulness of the financial sector. The odd thing, however, is that ever more brilliant college leavers (including from my alma mater) continue to be attracted to the financial sector and not the real economy (there was a brief decline after the 2008 recession but it appears that the trend is picking up again?

So why do college graduates want to be on the street or racking up lifetime miles in consulting? The simple answer is that returns are great, as shown in this illustration from theiBanker.

HT FTAlphaville.