I am currently searching for an entry-level job with minimal social skills/client interaction required, and out of those jobs, trying to research what kind of position would pay the best as far as financial stability is concerned. Further details as follows regarding the current situation I am in. If any further clarification or information is required to be divulged for more optimized advice, I am an open book.

A bit of background information about me:

Recently, I was a PhD candidate in math for about 7-8 years before I had to depart. I was not progressing in a timely manner with my research and my funding had run out, and my advisor was not willing to retain me nor was anyone else willing to advise me, not even at other schools I tried applying to. The fields of research I have performed in were mainly category theory and some algebraic topology. More specifically, categorical topology and stable homotopy theory. Even more specifically, I studied some interesting morphism properties in non-commutative topology, algebraic geometry, and some other areas, as well as some interplay between homotopy theory and quantum field theory as they related to higher order categories. The point is, none of my research is industry-applicable as there's really no way to apply them directly, or even indirectly, to real life. Hence, there's no reason a priori why any businesses would want to invest in me as an employee. This is why I am starting over as far as careers go, because I am at a dead end and there's nothing left for me in this field, and my work was so specialized that it can't be used anywhere else (except in academia/research which I can no longer pursue without a PhD).

Which brings me to my most recent position: After I departed my academic program, I started working at a small medical clinic as a customer service rep and have been working here for about a year now. I have been working 100-120 hours/week since then, because I wanted to display my work ethic and prove my worth to the company, and I have been given additional responsibilities such as contacting and introducing business proposals to prospective partners, legal research and counsel including drafting legal documents (mostly to save money on the costs of hiring an attorney), designing the company website (had to learn a bit of web coding and graphics design on GIMP in order to accomplish this), a bunch of accounting work (again, saving money on hiring an in-house accountant), resolving various tech issues (we had no on-site IT people except myself so I had to learn things like networking Cisco routers and stuff about Linux servers so that I could work on them when the IT guys in India weren't able to), product research (stuff like medical equipment and office supplies, and cutting down costs of those purchases), writing the company employee handbook/standard operating procedure manual (they didn't have one before), and some other miscellaneous duties, but that's the gist of it. However, I am still getting paid minimum wage after over a year and so I have decided to leave the company as my boss does not want to increase my pay and says he can hire anyone off the street who can do just as good as me so he doesn't really need me. I do not see the company improving either, as the boss has been in business for nearly 25 years now and still is a very small company without much future outlook for growth.

I understand that I have no employable job skills to enter most entry-level careers that require certain skillsets or certifications, but I am still willing to continue working hard as I've always been doing and putting in the research if guided in the correct direction, as research is something I have performed primarily for the vast majority of my adult life so far. The issue is that the job market in general is very broad, so I don't really know of a good way to narrow/filter the fields down to manageable options that I can choose from. If I have to live on food stamps and establish illegal residency at a local church for free rent while I study a new field, that is something I am willing to do in order to construct a comfortable lifestyle for the future.

I am a 30 year old male currently residing in NYC (boro of Queens). I do not have anything in savings (well, I technically do, but it's not much -- ~$400 or so in the bank if I spend all my current paychecks for rent/bills, etc.), and I don't have any family or friends I am able to receive from assistance in any form. But I am also willing to relocate anywhere within the continental U.S., granted I can save up enough to move (since I don't own many materials, mostly just a bag of my clothes and other small things).

Last week I was rejected from a job at a fast food chain because the hiring manager asked me what my plans were for the future during the interview and I didn't quite know how to respond to that in an interview for a fast food position and I basically replied that I wasn't sure since I was caught off-guard and didn't expect to plan for such an inquiry at a high turnover position at this type of establishment, and he basically replied that they were looking for goal-oriented prospects or some similar response of that nature. So I got rejected from McDonald's basically. I even had to edit my resume and remove all my academic credentials and just replaced them with "private tutoring" since I didn't want to appear to be overqualified with my education.

Anyway, I'm not sure how realistic this path would be for me, considering it might take years to learn all the material required to work my way up and I am already 30 years old starting over from scratch. So I am open to any life path suggestions that may be plausibly realistic. Thanks

  • 1
    Thanks for the long post. However the question is not apt for this site. If you have any other personal finance related question, please feel free to post.
    – Dheer
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 3:22
  • What aspects of the job you have do you like the most?
    – Hart CO
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 3:51
  • 1
    Math PhD washouts already based in NYC are catnip for Wall Street quant shops
    – user662852
    Commented Jul 13, 2017 at 15:57

2 Answers 2


You may think it sucks to have learned a crap ton of category theory, which is seemingly useless outside of academia, but have you considered picking up a "functional" programming language, e.g. Haskell? How about Java or, more recently, Scala?

I would bet that you would love Haskell. And then you can make a fortune working at Jane Street Capital, which uses OCaml, another functional programming language.

Time to get your hands dirty with some programming experience. Minimal social skills required, as you had wished for, plus maximal compensation, plus you get to keep using math that was sort of close to your research area.

Good luck.


It sounds like you're massively under-selling yourself. You presumably have a degree to get into the PhD program, and you now have work experience as well. But you're applying for jobs in fast food restaurants.

You may struggle to get a job because they will expect you to only be there a few weeks until you find a "proper" job.

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