In general, if I need to choose something over some other thing I enlist the positive and negative facts about options and have a basic summation to find out the correct one.
Here I itemize my subjective pros and cons list. Maybe you might find it skewed or ridiculous but these are based on my 3 years of hard core academic effort and 2 years in industry (sum of my partial efforts). I think they present at least some of the obstacles you would see in the both worlds.
First, I start with the academy;
- Academic life is the best in terms of freedom at work. You choose your study topic, at least to some extent, you team-up and follow the boundaries of human knowledge so as to extend it a bit. This is a very respectful and curious search. For sure, it is better than having a boss choosing your way to go. However , even this freedom is limited as in the below comic 🙂
- Dresscode. Yes, academy is not so certain to define a particular dresscode for you, in most cases. You are free to put on your comfortable shorts and flip-flops and go to your office to work. However, it should be pointed out that present industry also realized the idiocy of strict dresscodes and it provides better conditions for the employees as well. Yet, business is still not comparable with the academy.
- Travel around the world with conferences, summer-schools, meetings, internships at low-cost. Meet people around the globe and feel the international sense.
- Respectful job. It urges the sense of respect as you say you are an academic and people usually assume you are more intelligent than the most, thanks to great scientist ancestors.
- Set your schedule. Schedule of an academic is more flexible and you have a bit of freedom to define your work time.
- Teaching. It is really great to envision young people with your knowledge and experience. Even-more, it is a vital role in a society since you are able to shape the future with the young people you touch.
- Elegant social circle. Being an academic chains you with a social circle of people with a similar education level and supposedly similar level of cultivation. That of course does not mean that the industry consists of the ignorant but living in corporate life is more susceptible to facing unfortunate minds.
- The most clear one is the low grants and bursary along the cliffs of being a tenure in a university or a part of a good research center. Yes, money is not everything but living in a small room, eating cheap and going out less after some age is not psychically and mentally comfortable for everyone. Being an outstanding researcher requires great amount of effort in a very competitive environment. However, you see your friends living in better conditions with less effort but higher wages. In short, you work harder and earn less in the academy, at least up to a point.
- Losing your youth with so much intellectual effort versus many goods that the life serves for you.
- In academy, it is possible to be stuck in an environment that students see their professors as walking references for the better future placement and supervisors deem students as walking papers. It is really cynical to be in a such mediocrity embraced with the expectancy of self-good.
- Monotonic Cycle after a While. Unfortunately, the academy encircles you with a great monotonicity after some level of experience and title. I have many great professors even my supervisor complaining about this fact in their life. Teach, supervise, grade, travel, publish, find grant, teach, supervise, grade, travel, publish, find grant.... Goes like this.
- Everything is for the PAPER. What is magical about a paper, PEOPLE! This is just a piece of sheet in order to share your knowledge with the others. However, academy respects it as a meta of god with a biased level of quality analysis. Because of that, there are many low-quality, even lying papers around so as to fill in your CV and enlarge the publication list of the authors. People lying about their imaginary research or writing some cheap works in a expert tone with complicated formulations, and non-rectified claims of being state of art. This side of research is my biggest nuisance about academy. From evaluation to publication, all the pipeline seems very wrong to me.
- Why a group of biased people evaluate my paper.
- Why a some company like Elsevier (they are in the top 100 profitable companies by publishing no cost articles.) publishes it for free and sells it very expensive.
- Why there is no sanity check of papers and why there are many stories of computer created papers accepted by so called respectful journals and conferences.
- Why I pay a great amount of money for registering a scientific conference.
- Science should be free to write, free to publish and free to distribute because it is for all and it is for the humanity.
I try to summarize the points of academic life from my viewpoint. I should say that I could add some more bullets to cons but pros are that much and not more.
Now, turn the heads to industry;
- Concrete ideas with concrete products. The best thing to have something you can touch at the end of your effort. It is not very similar to research life where you jump from title to title with different grants and projects. You need to realize your idea and make it work without any theoretical bounds, proof or empirical guarantees. Those might have saved your work in the academy; but not in the industry. Therefore, I believe that the real innovation is sparked by the industry, not the academy. I guess Google is a great example of what I am saying. Who would care about Google unless they baked the search engine on the Internet?
- Higher financial standards. May be the most bitter difference between academy and industry is the financial backhand. Living as a PhD has pretty low financial standards and it is very similar in different countries. When you get your PhD finally, you are like thirty years old and probably spent your life in small dorm rooms or flats without any lifetime investment that makes you feel comfortable. Hence, if you expect to have financial freedom beyond a certain degree, industry is the choice.
- You earn out of what you do. As I stated, the academy has a very amiss life cycle which is making only and solely publishers agonizingly rich. That makes me crazy (I believe some others, too). Being a part of such a patchy dynamic is not for me. In the industry, you work for "your" company that you founded or are employed. Anyway, everything is decent and well defined. You work for your benefit.
- Work on Wider Range of Problems. In the industry , you are expected to be open to many more domains and curate generic solutions applicable to these. If we compare , in the academy you are expected to be cannier in one particular domain of your research with little or no engineering expectation. Therefore, you can write a good paper reflecting theoretical facts without good engineering. It is enough for your code to merely compute your graphs and tables. However, the industry expects you to be more technology agnostic to any possible domain with strong engineering skills as well. This distinction is also penned at this great blog post.
- More Social. Living in a company requires to be more sociable and interactive with your peers or the customers around. Moreover, you need to be socially capable as much as capable of your job specific proficiencies. You can be successful with less social influence in the academy but it is not very likely in the industry. Assuming you are a great extrovert humankind, this is counted in the Pros list :).
- Stability. Getting a stable job is not very easy in the academy and it requires so much from you. Maybe you are lucky to get a faculty position after all hasssssssles (master, PhD, PostDoc, One more PostDoc, Tenure Tack) but it is very possible to have that opportunity only outside of your home country. It is not favorable for everybody. On the other end, there are always companies around your home or at least in your border, so you might get a job with less pain and better permanence. Note that, it is harder to fire a 5 year employee from a company as oppose to a faculty member ain't satisfying publication criterion for only this year. There is nothing important for a faculty other than his publications and research for his performance evaluation. However, 5-year experienced employee has great "know how" that the company doesn't want to lose.
- Go beyond H-Index. In the academy, the most reliable quantization of your success and impact in the field is the H-Index computed based on cites of your publications. This is a problematic measurement for the ones better in engineering skills. Then, if you are a more software guy, you are out of that scope because nobody cares about it. It is very drastically contrary in the industry. Write your code well and get your H-index "-inf". The ironic thing for the academy is, almost everyone relies on opensource software written by the engineer skilled people but does not give any credit for most of the time.
- Can Still Pursue Academic Study. Most companies encourage employees to enhance their spectrum with additional academic studies since it is a good investment for them as so. In parallel to professional life, I am also following my PhD as well. Individually, this is also a chance for self-testimony in the both worlds and choose the right one after some time.
- More Work for Common Good. Working in a company demands to work for the common good of the people sharing same company. Therefore, you sometimes need to do something unappealingly "for the job". Maybe it is out of your expertise or too easy regarding your long time education but doesn't matter. For instance, I read from Quora about "worse thing being in Google". An engineer was pointing the same argument by saying "There are many top talented developers in the company but some of them have to code a single button at the bottom ...".
- More TO-DO. I believe that working in a company enlists more bullet points to your to-do list with tighter due dates. It forces you to be nicer with your schedule and regulate your time more carefully. However, I am the one being happy with denser to-do list hanged on the my monitor. Sad but true 🙂
- Less time for holiday. Especially, if you are a start-up guy, holiday would be in your dreams only, for a long time. Even if you are on vacation, disturbing calls are very possible occasions.
- A More Materialized World. A company lives for profit and to compete with the others. Therefore, for any actions, first concern is incoming and outgoing money. It might be disturbing for somebody living for humanized goods. Nevertheless, I believe there is nobody without any financial concern in the course of the life, even so in the academy, unless you are a monk on the mountain.
First of all, I am sorry if I got in someone's hair and it was not my intention. These are flowing in my mind with my experience in the academy and the industry; so all of them are very subjective facts reflecting my ideas. Of course the choice is up to you, but I hope this article will give some hints from both worlds.
If you like to hear more, here are more goods;
You can curse on me or agree upon some of them. I would really like to hear your comments about anything. PEACE!