Why a Career in Industry? Scope of Talk This segment will focus on technology-driven SV type company Many other types, obviously, which are not covered here, e.g.: Business computing Services Mgmt consulting Will talk about high-level technical-track position
Academia vs. industry is a false dichotomy: A career in industry is towards one end of a continuum What is 1 + 1? ACME Industries wanted to hire someone to solve a Really Hard Problem for them The Profit Motive Purpose of Industry is to make money Dr. Eldon Tyrell, from Blade Runner: Commerce is our goal
Work must be targeted whether directly or indirectly towards producing a commercially viable product Primary path to goal: 1. Assess best features of what technology is currently out there 2. Improve upon candidate technologies, or create new ones, until you produce solution that Successfully addresses needs Maximizes cost/benefit Satisfies time and resource constraints Examples
Sequoia: extent-based file system ADS: real-time obstacle avoidance system Toshiba MRI: Overall system architecture and UI Arris: pharmacophore modeling and drug design Pros:
Get to build real systems Work is applied and relevant Satisfaction from seeing actual use Higher sustained intensity (pro AND con) Higher quality of product -> greater self-satisfaction Teamwork Cons: Dont have luxury of extended exploration for intellectual curiosity Some restraints on publication
Trade secrets Allocation of time Dilbertian pointy-haired politics Actually, simpler than in academia (i.e., motivation usually power) Much easier to quit Industry vs. Academia vis--vis Academic Freedom Even in academia, intellectual freedom has constraints: Grad students: must align area of interest to advisors specialty
and grants Professors: must align (or recast) research definition to fit available grants Constrained (subtly) by communitys self-definition Straying too far from community mean, or trying to break into neighboring discipline, can trigger turf wars. Industry often reserves resources for pie in the sky ideas, esp. at larger companies Some Random Additional Observations on
Corporate Structure Expect to change research areas Technical Track vs. Management Track Some companies implement this more successfully than others No tenure But tenure can be a double-edged sword Some politics
Personal observation is that it is qualitatively different from politics in academia more simple-minded, based more on power, less on standing, prestige, turf Industrys Technological Advantages Industry often has superior technology, but is more secretive E.g.: SoftAPR vs. FEATURE Access to real data, often generated for your application
Availability of better resources As long as need is appropriately focused Conclusions A job in industry should be a strong consideration if: You like to build concrete solutions to real-world problems You want/need the satisfaction of seeing people use what you build You should consider a more research-oriented career path if: You want the freedom to explore wherever your ideas take you
You get distracted easily :-) There is a wide spectrum of career paths find your spot!
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