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Best Gap Year (or 1.5 years) Job for PhD Admissions?


rainbowglitter

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I have graduated from undergrad and plan to apply for PhD programs (and fellowships etc.) next fall. 

 

Would a software engineering job at a top firm (think Google / Amazon / Microsoft / Facebook) carry any weight in PhD admissions?  The work would likely be related to my area, but it would not involve publications and the majority of the employees would not have PhDs. 

 

Another option I have is working at a group where all of the employees have PhDs in my area of computer science (and some have previous postdocs) but do not actively publish (they work on applications / products for the firm).  Would their recommendations carry substantial weight for graduate admissions, even if I don't publish with them? 

 

I think that I'm a reasonably strong applicant either way, but it would be nice to have a job that will improve my strength as an applicant. 

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As a software engineer at one of the companies you've mentioned, barely.

Getting more research experience, better LOR, better SOP, and publishing papers matter.

Industry experience is not as relevant as the above criteria, unless you work in a R&D dept.

Edited by souffle
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"Industry experience is not as relevant as the above criteria, unless you work in a R&D dept."

 

What if I work at a group where everyone (except for me) has a PhD, but they work on products and don't currently publish papers. 

 

Ideally, I would be able to spend the time doing research and publishing, but that doesn't appear to be an option at this point. 

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If I were you, and if money didn't matter and/or you could find a part time job, I would try to meet up with one of your recommenders or other profs and start helping out research projects unpaid or try to get hired as a "research scientist."

We had an undergrad working as a research scientist, while he was applying for masters. This will improve LOR and publications, which are the most important things imo.

Edited by bykai
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rainbowglitter, I actually am just finishing up that exact experience - an amazing, challenging software engineer job at one of the companies you mentioned, on a very heavy-research product, on a team where I was literally the only non-PhD and doing about the same work as the PhDs, but no publications.

It was an incredibly valuable experience, that I loved a lot, and am very happy I had, but I actually got into fewer schools this time around. However, I got into the program I really wanted with the professor I'm really excited about working with, so that doesn't matter.

 

I think what I really got out of the experience is deciding why I'm going to graduate school and what I want to do and what I want to get out of the experience, which is not something I really had before. I've also gotten the chance to network with experts in the field, go to conferences, and meet a lot of great people in industry which will undoubtedly help me in academia and in my career in general. I also got the chance to meet the professor I'll be working with through work, so that's also a bonus. As another bonus, I decided I probably don't want to do PhD and am now mostly going for a master's. ;)

 

So just to get into more grad schools, as people mentioned, doubt it by itself will help much. To figure out what you want to do with your life and what's important to you and meet great people and mentors, I would highly recommend getting an industry job for a year or two. The thing you should do is build a great relationship with a professor, and convince them how your work experience will benefit their lab.

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rainbowglitter, I actually am just finishing up that exact experience - an amazing, challenging software engineer job at one of the companies you mentioned, on a very heavy-research product, on a team where I was literally the only non-PhD and doing about the same work as the PhDs, but no publications.

It was an incredibly valuable experience, that I loved a lot, and am very happy I had, but I actually got into fewer schools this time around. However, I got into the program I really wanted with the professor I'm really excited about working with, so that doesn't matter.

 

I think what I really got out of the experience is deciding why I'm going to graduate school and what I want to do and what I want to get out of the experience, which is not something I really had before. I've also gotten the chance to network with experts in the field, go to conferences, and meet a lot of great people in industry which will undoubtedly help me in academia and in my career in general. I also got the chance to meet the professor I'll be working with through work, so that's also a bonus. As another bonus, I decided I probably don't want to do PhD and am now mostly going for a master's. ;)

 

So just to get into more grad schools, as people mentioned, doubt it by itself will help much. To figure out what you want to do with your life and what's important to you and meet great people and mentors, I would highly recommend getting an industry job for a year or two. The thing you should do is build a great relationship with a professor, and convince them how your work experience will benefit their lab.

 

hi, it's an insightful post you made. Right now, I have a job offer from one of the well known companies as well, where I will be working on machine learning. I also have applied to PhD programs this year but so far only rejections.  Any way, ohnorobot, you said you built a relationship with a professor but you will be doing only a master. Why? In computer science, most master students only take courses and maybe do some research based projects that are part of the courses.  And it sounds like in industry, a master degree isn't helpful any way, particularly if you already have a job. Or, are you doing a master not in the field of computer science?

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