Academic vs industry jobs for PhD students{0}

One of the challenges of PhD students is either go for academic jobs or a job in industry. Especially as we get closer to the graduation, this question obsess our minds unless one is very motivated to teaching and research so he/she will be pretty determined about academic jobs. The choice between academia and an industrial research lab involves many tradeoffs, and the best “fit” often depends on individual preferences and working style.

So, in this post I’m going to talk a little bit about the advantages and disadvantages of both academic and industry jobs and share with you what I’ve got so far. You are also very welcome to put comment and share your ideas and experiences with me and other readers.

So, let’s take a look of the some of the things that working in academia can offer:

  • Freedom: Freedom in job is very important. Working in academia gives you more freedom in terms of time. Scheduling the time of meetings, research, writing paper, visiting students and teaching is all on you. Summer and the free time you have during the summer is another advantage working for academia. Working in industry you need to give monthly reports to the boss (even weekly reports), some times work very hard for the project deadlines and less flexibility to arrange and schedule your times. Professors generally have to report to their funding agencies about progress on research projects on an annual basis and there is not usually strict deadlines except writing proposals for the fund.
  • Interaction with students: Working with students (usually younger than you) is a very joyful thing that you can not get it any where in industry. Advising and mentoring the students and sharing with them the experiences you have is a very wonderful opportunity. Moreover, as an instructor in class you have the opportunity to reach a large number of students. Working with students and helping them develop research taste, presentation skills, and life skills is simply one of the most rewarding aspects of the job.
  • Interaction with expertise: Needless to mention that academia creates an extraordinary opportunity for learning, cross-disciplinary thinking and research with professional and expertise both in your area as well as other areas in the department you are working. Moreover, you can always reach out other people as well in other departments in order to work interdeciplinary.
  • Stability:The level of stability that academia offers especially when one get tenured can not be compared with industry jobs. Research labs disappear, often with very little warning and there is tremendous variation in industry that sometimes is very risky.

Notably, various former professors have bemoaned the difficulty of obtaining funding, the difficulty of doing large-scale systems research, quixotic panels and program committees, the lower salaries, and so forth.

Now, let’s look at the some of the benefits that working in industry can offer:

  • Discipline and organized: By working in industry you will have to meet peers and manager regularly that often, this type of structure can be extremely helpful for people’s productivity.
  • Money: Especially for research labs the researchers do not have to worry about writing grants, visit funding agencies and etc.,
  • Problem focus: Professors often work on many different problems at once. A researcher in an industrial lab typically has much more time to think deeply about a problem, hack on code, and directly contribute to the solutions that find their way into published papers.  Some people appreciate the opportunity to spend countless focused hours on technical work. Professors are distracted with many different tasks—teaching, committees, fundraising, advising, and so forth.
  • Team Work: Academic work is pretty solitary. For people that enjoy being a part of a team or leading a team this aspect of industry can be a big pro.