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> I'm just interested in your experience of doing just that. I've found very little reference material on it, except some comments by professors and people currently working in industry that people are courted by companies once they finish their qualifying exams.

There are tons and tons of companies that come to a school every year. If you have a linkedin profile or some sort of web presence, you will be courted. It doesn't necessarily happen once you finish quals or whatever, but it will keep happening.

> This may be off topic, but what's your experience with this? Were you courted before you decided to leave? How far did you get? What affected your decision? What was the salary difference? What do you do now? Was it worth it to even go for a little?

I do data science (machine learning, scalability engineering) stuff. Lots of people have PhDs, I presume they make a good 20% or so more than I do. However, keep in mind that they have spent 3+ years finishing a PhD so I can probably make up. Honestly, if you are going into industry, I don't think you'd need a PhD. Companies these days think it is fancy to hire someone with a big name degree but a master's degree hasn't hampered me. I miss school terribly mainly because I felt stupid there (I know how silly this sounds) and the problems were terribly hard.

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