At the moment I am a PhD student in Germany at a university and find that I spend most of my time developing software for data processing and analysis. In academia the software does not seem to be approciated, it usually gets thrown away after the data is processed. However, this is actually the part which interests me most and I seriously consider move to industry instead of further pursuing the thesis. There I hope to find a team which appreciates software development.

I believe that this motivation is fine in its honest form. I've published already, so it would only be a matter of time for the thesis. And I would not necessarily learn new industry relevant skills.

This left me wondering how to present this in my CV. Currently it has the PhD programme with the expected graduation date at the top of my education (listing research relevant keywords), and a redundant item as a research assistant in the back (listing teaching and administration keywords). I see a few ways of presenting it:

  1. Leading the CV with the PhD programme as it currently is but mention in the cover letter that I would not be pursuing it further once I am in industry.

  2. Already switch out the “pursuing” for like “abandoned” and make the date say “until now” instead of a end in the future.

  3. Somewhat hide the started PhD thesis this under the “research assistant” item, lead my education with the Master of Science degree and not have an explicit CV item for the started thesis. This would leave a gap as the Master's degree is two years old and nobody works as a research assistant at the university without pursuing a PhD.

I want to honestly communicate that I would abandon the thesis but still point out that I gathered relevant programming experience while doing so. So there is no time lost and I do not want to hide that I started and changed my mind as I gathered experience and judgement.

To me the first option seems to be the most accurate description of what I am doing right now, even though I do plan to change that. Therefore I like it the most, but I would appreciate an industry viewpoint on that.


1 Answer 1


Just being accepted into a PhD programe and doing most of it is already something to be proud of, especially if you have a few interesting publications under your belt.

So just treat it like any other job: you went to your place of employment, did things you are proud of and even got them published in your version of a 'trade publication'.

I think the option 1 as described is the best one. You don't even need to put anything in your CV.

There is no shame in realizing your goals and the goals of your employer do not line up, the only thing you should avoid is coming across as someone who did not do their homework before taking the job. So ask questions abut the role, and make sure that the interviewer gets the idea you are making sure you don't repeat the mistake.

  • This answer is awesome and must be upvoted more! Commented Oct 6, 2019 at 13:02

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