I have taken some time off work recently to finish off a masters course and I don't know whether too much time has caused too much navel gazing but for whatever reason I find myself in a bit of a predicament of what to do next:I have about 9 years industry experience mostly on buy-side and along with the MSc in statistics that I have just about completed, I will have three degrees in mathematical sciences. My most recent role was for a small asset management house in a hybrid role of dealing (equities, futures and options) and quantitative analytics (mostly performance and risk). As I already mentioned I left this role a few months ago to complete my academic studies and after hunting around for a bit think that I am about to get an offer from another buy-side firm as a pure direct market trader. My dilemma is that I am concerned that I might be selling myself short. I would eventually like to make some use of my academic credentials and I am concerned that the trader role, being pure cash equities, is going to take me up a dead end career wise. In addition, initially the agent told me it was offering a generous basic plus attractive bonus scheme but each interview round I get through, the basic salary mentioned by the agent seems to fall by a bit more. Now the basic seems to be little more than I was earning in my last role before I gained the masters qualification. Note that the masters is a pre-requisite condition for the new role. In my mind I thought that if I took a generously paying dead end job I can do all the interesting stuff for my own portfolio in a few years, but that incentive is ebbing away.Ideally I would like to get into something more quantitatively focused on the trading side, but any applications I have made to stat arb, junior quant trader, signal processing have been ignored. Can anything be salvaged from this role, does it have any redeeming features in your opinions or should I just let it go?I should point out that I do have a short-term contract offer already on the table as a risk consultant and my other option is to apply for PhD programmes in statistical areas.I would appreciate any thoughts or advice on what you might do in my situation.