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#1 idamurph  Icon User is offline

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First two weeks = accomplished!/ Research vs. Industry question.

Posted 03 September 2017 - 02:47 PM

As the title states, I have made it through my first two weeks of my first two Computer Science classes. So far I have made five simple apps using MIT's App Inventor 2. It's been a lot of fun, and I would like to ask a for a few opinions on some things my professors have said. The first is regarding a career in industry vs. a career in research. Both of my professors have a PhD, and on day one they stated that you can make a lot more money going to work in industry with a bachelor's degree, but they preferred the satisfaction of a research/teaching career so they went on to get a PhD. What are your thoughts on this, and which path are you heading down?

Another thing that one of them said was that it's not about being an expert in any particular coding language, but rather being adaptable to many as they tend to change quite often. Have you found this to be true in your experience?

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Replies To: First two weeks = accomplished!/ Research vs. Industry question.

#2 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: First two weeks = accomplished!/ Research vs. Industry question.

Posted 03 September 2017 - 04:18 PM

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Both of my professors have a PhD, and on day one they stated that you can make a lot more money going to work in industry with a bachelor's degree, but they preferred the satisfaction of a research/teaching career so they went on to get a PhD.


This is very true. If your goal is money, a BS or MS degree is really what you want. A PhD is usually a 5-year commitment, and you are poor during this time. Folks in industry can make 4-6 times the amount of a graduate assistanceship (~$20k/year, adjusted for the cost of living, is a reasonable estimate). One goes into academia because they either love to teach or do research.

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Another thing that one of them said was that it's not about being an expert in any particular coding language, but rather being adaptable to many as they tend to change quite often. Have you found this to be true in your experience?


Yes. This is universal. Languages and trends change, and it's also about using the right tool for the right job.
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#3 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: First two weeks = accomplished!/ Research vs. Industry question.

Posted 03 September 2017 - 07:06 PM

The real question is, what's the thing you most want to do? If the idea of an academic career sounds good to you, go for it. Worst case scenario, you go off and start making programmer money after a while. On the other hand, there's a lot of fun to be had working on a good team delivering value to an organization that you like.
Choose the thing you think will make you happy - it's not like you're getting a degree in English Lit and looking forward to working at Starbucks for the rest of your life.
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#4 ndc85430  Icon User is offline

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Re: First two weeks = accomplished!/ Research vs. Industry question.

Posted 04 September 2017 - 10:58 AM

I agree with what's said above. A few other things as I would say:

You are likely to not know what you want to do right now and will work it out during the course of your degree. Even if you choose one thing over another, you may later find out that it wasn't for you. For the sake of argument, let's say you end up doing a PhD but realise that you don't want to stay in research afterwards. This doesn't mean that you've failed or wasted any time because you'll have learnt more about what's important to you, as well as gaining more skills that can be used elsewhere. Of course, you can then change your situation.

Full disclosure: I did a PhD and then went to work in software, as I found out that research wasn't for me :).

This post has been edited by ndc85430: 04 September 2017 - 10:59 AM

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