advantages and disadvantages of working in industry prior to grad school?

<p>I'm an engineering student. Going into industry righter after graduation:</p>

There is more time to let my interests evolve and decide whether I'm better suited for engineering or R&D.
some employers pay for some of their employees' masters degrees. I'm going to have to find out more about this because I'm definitely not paying for a masters.
Lastly, going into industry would allow me to mature as both an engineer and a person, and grad schools want that.</p>

how do grad schools would feel about a person being away from academia?
Where would LOR's come from?
I really want to relocate, and I feel like there are less opportunities to do this than if I go to grad school.</p>

<p>Last semester, I was almost certain I was going to pursue a PhD. Now, it's all up in the air again. I do like doing research, it's much more interresting than reactor design and whatnot, but a PhD is a 5+ years commitment. Any input on the bullet points I've listed would be appreciated. Thanks!</p>

<p>Many top-flight grad programs want candidates to have some work experience between BS and MS/PhD. It brings a real-world perspective to your studies and you will have a greater maturity compared to students in the K-12-BS-PhD track. If having an MS is more important than where you earn it, the employer-reimbursed programs (usually part-time/evenings) are a great way to go. I earned MS Eng and MBA that way; I wanted to stay in my industry (more or less) and having the credential was the important factor to furthering my career. I was able to earn them at programs run by nationally-known schools, so I did not give up much in the name-recognition area. I have several colleagues who have earned or are working on PhDs, so you can keep that option available.</p>

<p>Unless there is a compelling offer from a graduate program (top in the industry, good funding support and industry connections), I’d pursue employment and include availability of respectable graduate opportunities nearby if you have more than one offer to consider. If your future employer is a large enough presence, there may be an extension campus from a respected school in your industry nearby set up to provide graduate programs to employees.</p>

<p>It really depends on what type of work you are doing while in industry. I know Chemical Engineers who do products research, which literally means, they study why people buy products. This includes home visits, and in store visits. No science or engineering, or let alone, math there. In R&D you will be more of a project manager, unless you work in product development. Even then, you many not really be doing engineering work. You will pretty much have to find projects that allow you to work on “engineering stuff”. The other con of R&D are the politics. Everyone wants to get promoted to a managerial position, and many will step on you to get there. R&D is a hostile environment for the weak of heart, the meek, and the soft spoken. If you are not the kind of person who stands up for yourself, in no short order, you will get walked on. I would opt for the manufacturing/product supply option. There is more than enough unit ops, chem reactions, tooling, etc. there for years. The only down fall of this is the hours are long, and odd. Plants don’t close down. So if you are leading a project, and you are called out of your sleep at 2:00am, you pretty much have to show up. The upside of this area is the travel. If you have any hope of focusing your interest in engineering, I suggest you go to the place where all you do is engineering, and that is the manufacturing/product supply option.</p>

<p>This is what I had learned after working in industry for a bit…</p>

<p>I was a summer intern at Genentech right after I graduated from undergrad, and I loved it so much, that I tried to get a job there. My manager told me if a Ph.D. was my end goal, it’s better to go to academia and get published, and that looks better to grad schools than just working in industry…cause in the end, your end goal is to get into an academic setting.</p>

<p>Eventually during my interview at Genentech, they asked me what my end goal was, and I told them grad school. They said they would have offered me the job, but knew it was in my best interested and their long term interest to find someone else that can be there for 5+ years rather than the 2 I was willing to give. </p>

<p>I eventually got a job at a top academic institution and came out of it with one second author and one first author paper, and now have several interviews…so I really take my Genentech manager’s advice to heart when she told me that academic research is a lot better to prepare you for graduate school.</p>

<p>thanks y’all</p>

<p>What about relocation? Employers that come to my school are often local companies, but I want to get out of the midwest. I feel like when someone settles on a job, it’s uncommon for him to move very far away. Am I correct to assume the farther away I go, the more inconvenient it is for the employer, meaning less opportunities? This might be a question for my school’s career services…</p>