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After being in industry for a few years, does it make sense to attend grad school for a specialization, and if yes, how?

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Anonymous User at Taro Communitya year ago

I've developed an interest in robotics and perception, localization, etc. I'd love to build software that handles these problems. But as I do more research, I get the impression I need to go to grad school to qualify for such positions.

Also, a side follow-up, if I do have to attend grad school, does anyone have any experience going back to grad school after industry? Especially if you don't have a competitive GPA or any research experience beforehand (my situation).

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(4 comments)
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    Staff Software Engineer @ DoorDash, ex-FB, ex-Klaviyo
    a year ago

    Do you plan to get a PHD? If you are considering Masters, they do not provide you with too much specialization.

    In general, going back to school does not really propel you in your careers unless it's a very niche area. Without enough context, I would say you should consider start learning things in robotics, perception, localization or AI by taking on projects.

    I also encourage you to think about longer term vision. Do you want to become the best researcher in your field or you mostly want to leverage ideas from researches and build awesome products.

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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    I agree with Seed; if you want to specialize, you generally to do a PhD. I left some thoughts on the career value of a Master's in this Q&A here. A PhD will generally get you an up-level in the industry, especially if it's a high-demand specialization. The problem is that it takes a lot of time.

    Also, a side follow-up, if I do have to attend grad school, does anyone have any experience going back to grad school after industry? Especially if you don't have a competitive GPA or any research experience beforehand (my situation).

    I haven't done it myself but know a couple who did. However, they all did Master's. Their degrees weren't research-based and having a low GPA in undergrad wasn't a problem at all: The acceptance rate for Master's is generally much friendlier compared to undergrad. In terms of career value gained, it generally wasn't that much - They probably could have gotten more career progression had they stayed within the industry.

    Unless you really like academia/research, I would see if you can find these specialization opportunities within the industry first, ideally right at Rubrik. This is the kind of stuff you can (and should) talk to your manager about!

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    Mid-Level Software Engineer [L4] [OP]
    Rubrik
    a year ago

    Thanks for the answers. I am looking to leverage ideas from research to build interesting products. I was considering a PhD or a research-based masters. Is that feasible with my situation?

    Unfortunately, I won't be able to find these opportunities at my current company. My manager is aware of my interests, but he is unable to promise me anything because of the company product's constraints.

  • 1
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    Robinhood, Meta, Course Hero, PayPal
    a year ago

    You have a good experience (Rubrik is a great company) - I'm sure you would be fine getting into a solid Master's/PhD program. For Master's, that's something you could potentially do part-time as well; most companies I feel like have tuition reimbursement.

    As Seed mentioned, I think it's very important to think about your long-term goals with this decision. Doing post-grad work generally comes at a cost of level/TC/general growth in that you likely could have gotten more progression there had you stayed in industry.

    At the end of the day, I'm supportive of anybody following their passion. If you have high conviction these specializations are the right place for you, then go for it! It's hard to place a price on truly enjoying and loving your work.