The beginnings of a list:
- You can work on intellectually interesting problems.
- Almost everyone you work with is smart: other academics and the students.
- It’s great to see a student suddenly understand something new.
- It’s great to understand something new myself. Learning is fun, and that is what I mainly do.
- Freedom. I set my hours (mainly) and my schedule. The flexibility is great. I can run mid-afternoon if I want.
- The pay is good.
- My academic work has the potential for a practical payoff–I could have a real impact on the world (not yet, but maybe one day.)
- The topics I work on are fascinating to me.
- Besides being smart, most other academics I deal with are reasonable people (although most does not equal all.)
- In general, it is fun: you can be playful with it.
- Most of the other people I deal with are pretty much geeks in the same way that I am. I am not weird, and I couldn’t really say that until I entered grad school.
I am sure that I will think of more reasons, too.