Note: This question is about pure math PhDs and not applied, and I mean pure as in an area of math which has no current applications outside of mathematics. It could also be broadened to theoretical PhDs, but I will focus it.
I'm a recently graduated mathematics major with CS skills and working in software engineering and set to enroll in a good math PhD program this Fall. Since I can either continue working or go to a PhD program, I am naturally asking the question:
What value does a pure math PhD hold in a job application to an applied industry, and why? Admittedly, I cannot see why anyone involved in hiring employees would choose a job applicant with a pure math PhD and zero relevant skills/experience over a job applicant with years of relevant skills/experience or with a degree in a more relevant field.
If this question needs to be more specific I would like to focus on software engineering in the U.S. (still broad, let me know if I must focus it more). But I would welcome answers from any other industries too. This answers a larger question of mine that I have on whether a math PhD is a practical ideal these days, which I started here on Math Overflow.
(Why this is an important question:
- Most (somewhere near 90%, see here, here) math PhD students will end up industry. Many aim unrealistically for academia, struggle financially with postdocs for a few years, and then eventually switch to industry, usually in finance or software engineering.
- A pure math PhD (or any theoretical PhD) requires years of intense focus on books and papers, and there is not much time for developing industry skills in case they must go to industry. In one case, I saw that a pure math PhD graduate had to get a masters in computer science after their math PhD. Overall, it seems like such students will be in a suboptimal position after graduation in the 90% chance they must go to industry, and that this is all glossed over in academia. Hence, this question could help.)