Presentation on theme: "1 Academic vs. Industrial Research Jobs Jennifer Rexford."— Presentation transcript:
1 Academic vs. Industrial Research Jobs Jennifer Rexford
2 My Story Princeton EE undergrad, UMichgan EECS grad school –PhD in parallel computing with computer architecture emphasis Four summers working at AT&T in the research lab –Two during college, and two during grad school –Grad-school grant from AT&T Research Job search at end of grad school –Interviewed for both academic and industry jobs –Ultimately, chose industry over academia Nine years at AT&T Research –In department where I was a summer intern –Real data, tech transfer, working with peers, … Nearly five years at Princeton, and counting –Making (made?) the transition to academic life
3 Choosing Industry Over Academia Strategic aspects –Wanted to switch research areas –Experience would enhance research and teaching Personal taste and experience –Enjoyed real-world problems and tech transfer –Wanted to focus exclusively on research work –Already knew I really liked AT&T Balancing trade-offs –Wanted to still do research, stay professionally active, mentor students, teach,... –Could still do these, in different proportions and ways –… though, with extra effort (and negotiation) required
4 Choosing Academia Over Industry Personal growth –Ready for new set of professional challenges –Ready to try juggling a wider range of responsibilities Shift in research direction –More “clean slate” research, building on experience –Branch into other topics, and connect across disciplines Interaction with students –Happiest in the summers, when students were around –Wanted more opportunity (forcing function?) for teaching Balancing trade-offs –Striving to keep my research grounded in reality
5 What Does Industry Look For? Subject-matter expertise –Knowledge of an important technology or problem area (e.g., a particular protocol) Problem focus rather than technique focus –Emphasis on formulating and solving problems –Not on a particular technique (“the nail, not the hammer”) –… though having your own special hammer is good, too! Willingness to jump right in –Talk to practitioners, write code, collaborate with others, be a “hub node,” share your expertise, …
6 Advice for Deciding What You Want Getting to know your own personal taste –What kinds of problems you like to solve? –What part of solving a problem most excites you? –Working alone? Managing a group? Working with peers? –Focusing on one thing vs. juggling many things? Keeping your options open –Selecting an interesting and important research problem –Worrying about whether you are working on the right problem –Acquiring domain knowledge, skills, and practical perspective –Interacting with industry, through collaboration and internships Resist ranking either type of job over the other –Ultimately, the specifics of the place matter a lot –Some industry job may be better for you than some academic job –… and vice versa… no need to form a total ordering in advance
7 Internships at Industrial Labs Working with new people on new problems –Valuable complement to your PhD research Figuring out what you like –Gives you a sense of whether you like industrial work –… and whether you like that particular company Gives you an “in” for a full-time job later –Try before you buy, for you and the company Enhances your thesis research –Access to interesting problems, domain knowledge, and real data –Opportunity to see your ideas applied in practice Building your resume –Work experience and domain knowledge –Publications with other researchers
9 Job Questions: Research Area What government agencies would you target for funding your research? What companies would use your research? Any small companies? In what conferences/journals would you publish your work? How do these conferences/journals differ in the type of papers they publish? Who are your "competitors" at other schools? Is it possible for academic researchers to make significant contributions to your field, or are industrial technology and resources necessary?
10 Job Questions: The Department What would you consider as the weaknesses in our department? Who here would you consider as potential collaborators? Who would you consider as potential mentors in the department? Which of our courses are you qualified to teach? Which of our courses are you most interested in teaching?
11 Job Questions: Teaching Given that existing technologies and tools will be obsolete in a few years, what should we teach our students? How would you approach developing a curriculum from scratch? What is your teaching philosophy? What do you think about having undergraduates serve as TAs? If an undergraduate wanted to work with you, what type of project would you give them?
12 Job Questions: Research Plan What start-up funds/facilities would you need to establish your research? How would you organize/manage your research group? How many graduate students would you like to have in your group? Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years? What would be possible titles for the first three PhD thesis projects in your research group? What new courses would you create on your research area?
13 Job Questions: Philosophical How did you decide what school to attend for your PhD? How did you choose your thesis topic? What would you consider as your biggest weakness in starting a faculty position? If you start having difficulty juggling the combination of research, teaching, advising, and proposal-writing, what would you do to fix the problem? Do you have entrepreneurial aspirations? Who would you most like to emulate? What are your non-technical interests? What factors will determine which academic/research position is most attractive to you?