Advice on transition from STEM PhD to industry
I'm a recent doctoral graduate with a previous MS (also STEM). After completing my degree, I took a senior level (non postdoc) job at the same institution with the idea that the role would allow me to tie up some threads from my dissertation research, publish a few more papers, and start on a new, high visibility national project in the space of AI/ML and fairness. All good, except...
I'm bored. I feel like I haven't progressed. I feel like I need something new. I'm fascinated by my research (in the space of quantum computing), but I don't feel my institution and PI provide sufficient support to enable me to perform at the level I need to to be academically competitive. The new project is a good line on my resumé but the pace is slow and the structure feels like its hindering rather than growing my fundamental desire to build and create.
Prior to graduate school, I worked as a software engineer building data visualizations and web media. Practically, a lot of my work in graduate school involved ML methods.
It seems to me a lot of software engineering jobs are product oriented and, while I have no issue (and in fact might prefer) switching from research to product development, I get the sense that a lot of companies have a strong preference towards candidates with greater product-based experience and my research experience makes me "over qualified" in the wrong area and "under qualified' in the key area.
- Does anyone who has made a leap from academia to the tech industry have advice on the types of organizations to target and thoughts on what worked for them?
- In particular, how can a research engineer present themselves to a product-focused organization to maximize their offers?
- Similarly, for research-focused organizations (e.g. OpenAI, Anthropic, Altos Labs, etc.), how is the research piece (e.g. publications, h-index, past research projects) weighted relative to the engineering piece (e.g. SWD chops, DevOps, etc.)
- In general, given the current environment (layoffs, etc.), what are some things that can be done to stand out?