Salary Perspective

General Discussion for SMART Scholarship Recipients

Re: Salary Perspective

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 29, 2017 11:03 am

There are many people unhappy with their jobs and many who are. The unhappy ones are the ones who post on here. I'm particularly happy because of three reasons.

1. I work for a facility that does actual research, almost completely in-house, and I've been given latitude, trust, and resources to build whatever research program I want as long as I can connect it to actual public need. I'm on track to get my GS15 in about a year and a half and already starting discussions on my path to ST. I have more influence on national R&D in my field by virtue of my position with the DoD than any single academic professor in the world. I chair international committees on advancing my field and sharing technology. When I speak at any level of my Agency, people listen and consider my input. Part of that is my personal skillset and passion, and part of it is the opportunities afforded me by my SF. I make less than my academic colleagues, but not much less and they work way harder than I do chasing after NSF scraps. I harness funds directed from congress to advance R&D and end up with so much money its sometimes difficult to figure out how to spend it all appropriately.
2. I don't owe a dime to anyone for my PhD, and I made upwards of $60K during the three years of my Phase 1.
3. I would never have considered working for the DoD if not forced to by this program. I'm extremely happy with my position and opportunities and am not considering leaving ever.

Having said all that, I don't think the program had anything to do with 1 or 3, not really. It was all luck and my choosing a good SF to put on my application. Honestly, even the one that selected me didn't research what they said on their website, so I got a job researching something completely outside my (then) interest areas. I just happened upon a great SF with a great branch chief and a lot of opportunity to contribute to an emerging research area. I recognize most people don't fall into a luck puddle like I did. But, DoD service is largely what you make of it and you can always move around within the DoD until you find what you're looking for.
Guest
 

Re: Salary Perspective

Postby number » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:27 pm

^^ I completely agree. I found this forum during my first internship and was scared to death by it. I think more people should take some time to write about their positive experiences, but that probably won't happen, so take posts here with two grains of salt. My two cents: I have found the program to be fantastic (besides slow response times). I was able to use funds for a study abroad program, my work at my SF allows me to travel internationally for 3-6 months out of the year, and will provide many other outside opportunities. You will finish the program with much less, if any, debt and most likely money in your savings account. Getting your foot into the federal door is no small feat; there are many opportunities domestically and internationally.
It's the same with finding any job. I think the key is to have an honest conversation with your supervisor and future co-workers. Ask the right questions to the right people.
number
 

Re: Salary Perspective

Postby CSMajor » Tue Aug 29, 2017 2:57 pm

I just entered Phase I, and I believe this program to be the best thing ever. I'd recommend it to anyone who is looking into something like this. After my facility visit I was assured that our lab does actual work and that my skillset was needed for their work. I talked to everyone at my facility and their experiences were extremely positive and they were all happy to meet me and knew a lot of my background already. I felt extremely welcomed, onboarded to what I'd be working on, and even had a chance to sit down with my supervisor and talk more about the position. Thankfully, the lab I'm working at is an actual lab and has everything a lab typically would have for our type of work. I was even able to see what the current interns were working on and it was real engineering work.

I think it's all about the facility/position you chose. Some positions will require you to be a paper pusher and only do administrative duties where others will have you doing work related to your field.
CSMajor
 

Re: Salary Perspective

Postby Guest » Tue Aug 29, 2017 9:15 pm

Guest wrote:There are many people unhappy with their jobs and many who are. The unhappy ones are the ones who post on here. I'm particularly happy because of three reasons.

1. I work for a facility that does actual research, almost completely in-house, and I've been given latitude, trust, and resources to build whatever research program I want as long as I can connect it to actual public need. I'm on track to get my GS15 in about a year and a half and already starting discussions on my path to ST. I have more influence on national R&D in my field by virtue of my position with the DoD than any single academic professor in the world. I chair international committees on advancing my field and sharing technology. When I speak at any level of my Agency, people listen and consider my input. Part of that is my personal skillset and passion, and part of it is the opportunities afforded me by my SF. I make less than my academic colleagues, but not much less and they work way harder than I do chasing after NSF scraps. I harness funds directed from congress to advance R&D and end up with so much money its sometimes difficult to figure out how to spend it all appropriately.
2. I don't owe a dime to anyone for my PhD, and I made upwards of $60K during the three years of my Phase 1.
3. I would never have considered working for the DoD if not forced to by this program. I'm extremely happy with my position and opportunities and am not considering leaving ever.

Having said all that, I don't think the program had anything to do with 1 or 3, not really. It was all luck and my choosing a good SF to put on my application. Honestly, even the one that selected me didn't research what they said on their website, so I got a job researching something completely outside my (then) interest areas. I just happened upon a great SF with a great branch chief and a lot of opportunity to contribute to an emerging research area. I recognize most people don't fall into a luck puddle like I did. But, DoD service is largely what you make of it and you can always move around within the DoD until you find what you're looking for.


If it makes any difference, in addition to the above, I'm also in Phase 3 and have been for over a year.
Guest
 

Re: Salary Perspective

Postby OutofGovt » Tue Sep 12, 2017 3:41 pm

I have never had as good of health insurance for as cheap as I had while working for the government. So that's one of the benefits. Also, nowhere else have I been paid to go to gym time (thus only working 37 hrs per week) and getting free transportation to work via a shuttle (45-55 min commute).

I have been out of the DoD for two years but even though the work was boring and I get paid more now I really enjoyed my coworkers and the benefits and living in an area I wouldn't have normally considered had I not gotten the scholarship. Glad I didn't have more than 1.5-2 years, though. It was also really easy to make that job sound good on a resume and the security clearance is helpful too.
OutofGovt
 

Re: Salary Perspective

Postby kittycorner » Tue Sep 12, 2017 7:51 pm

Guest wrote:There are many people unhappy with their jobs and many who are. The unhappy ones are the ones who post on here. I'm particularly happy because of three reasons.

1. I work for a facility that does actual research, almost completely in-house, and I've been given latitude, trust, and resources to build whatever research program I want as long as I can connect it to actual public need. I'm on track to get my GS15 in about a year and a half and already starting discussions on my path to ST. I have more influence on national R&D in my field by virtue of my position with the DoD than any single academic professor in the world. I chair international committees on advancing my field and sharing technology. When I speak at any level of my Agency, people listen and consider my input. Part of that is my personal skillset and passion, and part of it is the opportunities afforded me by my SF. I make less than my academic colleagues, but not much less and they work way harder than I do chasing after NSF scraps. I harness funds directed from congress to advance R&D and end up with so much money its sometimes difficult to figure out how to spend it all appropriately.
2. I don't owe a dime to anyone for my PhD, and I made upwards of $60K during the three years of my Phase 1.
3. I would never have considered working for the DoD if not forced to by this program. I'm extremely happy with my position and opportunities and am not considering leaving ever.

Having said all that, I don't think the program had anything to do with 1 or 3, not really. It was all luck and my choosing a good SF to put on my application. Honestly, even the one that selected me didn't research what they said on their website, so I got a job researching something completely outside my (then) interest areas. I just happened upon a great SF with a great branch chief and a lot of opportunity to contribute to an emerging research area. I recognize most people don't fall into a luck puddle like I did. But, DoD service is largely what you make of it and you can always move around within the DoD until you find what you're looking for.


If you don't mind me asking, what facility did you work for? Thanks for sharing! I was starting to feel depressed about SMART...
kittycorner
 

Re: Salary Perspective

Postby superguest » Mon Nov 06, 2017 5:27 pm

i received this scholarship as a "retention employee", so i worked for my SF prior to leaving to earn my phd.

i am less concerned about salary differences between private industry etc & more concerned that i will be most marketable when i receive my phd, coincidentally when i am obligated to go to my SF. although my role may be different when i return, i really think that essentially, i will spend four years dulling the blades i spent the prior four sharpening. that definitely bothers me.

i've done the acq (DAU) classes mentioned in this thread, even though i was in an engineering role they were mandatory at my SF. imagine chewing saltines and washing it down with a glass of sand, that's DAU, cheers!
superguest
 

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