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Career Choices

FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
Hey forumers,

I'm struggling with a career choice regarding summer internships. In short, I'm faced with a choice between the university and a company in my field of study. The university I feel is a high risk, high reward case. They're offering me a job in designing a new lab for electrophysiological measurements with practically unlimited budget and free hands regarding design decisions. However, there is no guarantee anything's ever going to come of it. The pay is also way low. On the other hand, it might lead to groundbreaking inventions and discoveries. The company is offering me a normal engineering internship, with standard pay (20 % higher than uni), low risk and and low reward; the likelihood of innovating anything is low. It does offer a relatively obvious career path though, from intern to engineer.

What would you do?

booinyoureyes
«1

Comments

  • jacobtanjacobtan Member Posts: 655

    Some background info would help.

    What is your field of study? Have you graduated with your degree? What stage in life are you at? Do you have any existing commitments, such as family, debt, or something similar?

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @jacobtan‌ My field of study is biomedical engineering, in particular electronics as used in BME. I have B.Sc. with honors and I'm currently pursuing my M.Sc. degree, with about 50 % done. I'm 25, living in a rental flat with my GF, no children but 2 cats. No large debts, only a small student loan.

  • jacobtanjacobtan Member Posts: 655
    edited May 2014

    @jacobtan‌ My field of study is biomedical engineering, in particular electronics as used in BME. I have B.Sc. with honors and I'm currently pursuing my M.Sc. degree, with about 50 % done. I'm 25, living in a rental flat with my GF, no children but 2 cats. No large debts, only a small student loan.

    Thanks. I'd consider these things before I take a leap:

    1. Is this a career I want for the long term? Since you've gone up to M.Sc. you probably will be in this field for the long term, but have you found out more about the company, the culture, etc.?
    2. How long can I tolerate a low income? I'm sure you didn't study so hard to earn peanuts, so you may want to set a baseline on how much you can take before you jump ship.
    3. What is my contingency plan if things do not work out? Every day spent in the wrong job is a day that could have gone to your right job. How do you catch up with your peers if things are not as planned?
    4. How does this career choice fit in my life plan (e.g. marriage, kids, house)? IMO, my career should revolve around my life, and not the reverse. You need to spend some time considering, and consulting with your GF is a good idea if you're already planning for something bigger down the road.

    FinneousPJjackjackBelteshazzar89
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    Good points, I will have to consider them.

    Feel free to contribute, everyone.

  • meaglothmeagloth Member Posts: 3,806
    edited May 2014
    Life is adventure, or nothing!




    Then again thats what I say before I do something stupid. I'm hardly qualified to give life advice.

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @meagloth‌ You're not one of those annoying YOLO teens, are you? :D

    CrevsDaakjackjackbooinyoureyes
  • meaglothmeagloth Member Posts: 3,806
    @FinneousPJ‌ I HAAAAAAAATTTTTEEEEEEE YOLO. with a passion.

    FinneousPJElrandirjackjack
  • GreenWarlockGreenWarlock Member Posts: 1,354
    I hesitate to give advice, but I can relate experience. I have been very lucky with my career, although there is truth in the 'you make your own luck' adage - you take your opportunities where you see them, but there is no predicting the path.

    I simply pursued what I was passionate about, which is writing software, and took the opportunities to do that the way I felt was right, rather than pursuing the obvious 'best' opportunity - which in the early days I would not qualify for. 3 years later I had my dream job writing software for a top motor racing team, and indeed won several world championship (as constructor) with them - but that was never a path I set out a plan to solve, simply making the best of what I had means when the opportunity was available, I had a weird CV that happened to be the right one to open that door.

    Ten years since winning world titles, I am in a completely different industry on the other side of the planet, still working on what I love - writing great code, for a company that believes in doing it right, and happens to value the folks can do so. I got lucky, I was in the right place at the right time to take the opportunities, but the opportunities were there because I had followed something I was passionate about, so had something to show. I was also lucky that my passion has been an increasingly valuable skill over the last 30 years - if I were passionate about making burgers, I might have a different story (and passionate about sushi would be another story again!) But that is what worked for me.

    How passionate are you about the actual work these two options give you. Not how do you think others perceive that work (lots of software work was seen as boring, but it clicked for me and I loved it) but how would you feel doing that work yourself?

    Taking another tack, thinking of this from an employer perspective, which of these would look better to me on your resume? If you have a track record of nothing but success in academic settings, I will have concerns about how well you will adapt to the rigors of a 'real world' job. The industrial internship settles a lot of those nerves, so looks better when trying to make that first step after final graduation. OTOH, the university position has the potential to provide some very interesting experience an skills when looking at that next step, three years later - although by then your most recent work is what would count. In the long term, neither will matter themselves, it is the opportunities that they happen to open up in the near to medium future, and what you make of *those* opportunities, that will probably have the most profound effect on your next 20 years.

    I hope you find your way into something as rewarding and enjoyable for you, as my decade in motorsport was for me - there is nothing quite as good in life as genuinely enjoying our work, as that is where we will spend the majority of our waking time.

    FinneousPJCrevsDaak
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @GreenWarlock‌ Very true. I thank you for sharing. I knew this would be a great place to ask for insights.

  • dementeddemented Member Posts: 388
    For me it would depend on how likely a ground breaking discovery is? And also how much recognition I would get. It's a summer internship so most of the credit probably won't be going you're way.

    If the company's offer doesn't have an expiry date, then I would try the former for a while. After a few weeks it's likely I would know the chances of something big happening. If not then I'd take the company job.
    meagloth said:

    @FinneousPJ‌ I HAAAAAAAATTTTTEEEEEEE YOLO. with a passion.

    Is that a kind of hipster hating hipster thing? YOLOers hating YOLOers?

    booinyoureyesFinneousPJ
  • meaglothmeagloth Member Posts: 3,806
    demented said:

    For me it would depend on how likely a ground breaking discovery is? And also how much recognition I would get. It's a summer internship so most of the credit probably won't be going you're way.

    If the company's offer doesn't have an expiry date, then I would try the former for a while. After a few weeks it's likely I would know the chances of something big happening. If not then I'd take the company job.

    meagloth said:

    @FinneousPJ‌ I HAAAAAAAATTTTTEEEEEEE YOLO. with a passion.

    Is that a kind of hipster hating hipster thing? YOLOers hating YOLOers?
    @demented‌ ummm..... I don't *think* so, but it might be. If it is, I certainly don't know about it. What exactly do you mean?

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @demented Well, it's impossible to predict what would come of this, since it's never been done before. The professor is very ambitious and aims to be the #1 lab in the world, hence the high risk, high reward point. It may well turn out to be impossible.

    They're both expecting an answer next week, so I'm afraid stalling won't work. Of course I could ask for more time.

    Thanks for contributing. To be honest, I think it's more likely the professor would wait even a few weeks for my answer. The company would probably just hire another intern.

  • CrevsDaakCrevsDaak Member Posts: 7,153
    In my country, you can go to the university half of the full time (thus taking 12 instead of 6 for example), which is great if you need money, because you can work the other part of the day. Considering you can do this and the job they are offering you has some time flexibility, I'd recommend to do both (which is what I'd rather do in your place).
    Also, in my country, universities are cheap (there are pricey ones too) or even free (and they are quite good), this is to give an example of how different everything is here :P
    I couldn't give any more advice (I'm younger than meagloth!) besides asking if you can get more payment from that work (I'm pretty sure you'll guess where I live now hahahaha) and (if you haven't already) introducing your GF to Baldur's Gate (not as a career, but, hey! It's a great game if not the greatest).

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @CrevsDaak‌ That sounds great, because too many people graduate without any work experience. I'm lucky to have these two great opportunities, but of course it's also a difficult decision. You would recommend I juggle two jobs? I don't think that's possible, since both would essentially be 9-5 office jobs.

    I have already asked about more pay, but they tell me it's not possible, because they have rigid payment schemes with salary tables.

    Thanks for your thoughts :)

    CrevsDaak
  • dementeddemented Member Posts: 388
    edited May 2014
    meagloth said:


    @demented‌ ummm..... I don't *think* so, but it might be. If it is, I certainly don't know about it. What exactly do you mean?

    I know there's a trend in America where hipsters hate hipsters. I was just curious if this extended to other groups.

    @‌FinneousPJ In that case I would probably go with the company job. Unless I found the work the professor is doing to be fascinating and I would regret missing out on a chance to participate in it.

    FinneousPJCrevsDaak
  • Gate70Gate70 Member, Developer Posts: 3,751
    What would you prefer to look back on in 2-3 years. Or 20-30 years :)
    Is a few months at 20% difference relevant long-term.
    Have you talked to the professor about options such as ongoing involvement or consultancy.
    Can the company offer you any research extras, or can you do this in your own time elsewhere.
    If you opt for the university how easy is it to establish a career path elsewhere when you finish.
    How realistic is the aspiration of being the #1 lab & of the proposal succeeding.

    FinneousPJ
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
  • ZaknafeinBaenreZaknafeinBaenre Member Posts: 348
    Aww Finn, I think you should have taken both. The University Job actually doesn't sound like a lot of man-hours, and I think an unlimited budget to design your own lab would be highly beneficial to you long-term. Everything that comes out of that lab, ever success, is attributable to you. It would be HUGE to put on your resume: "I designed the XYZ Univeristy Electrophysiological measurements lab."

    FinneousPJ
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456

    Aww Finn, I think you should have taken both. The University Job actually doesn't sound like a lot of man-hours, and I think an unlimited budget to design your own lab would be highly beneficial to you long-term. Everything that comes out of that lab, ever success, is attributable to you. It would be HUGE to put on your resume: "I designed the XYZ Univeristy Electrophysiological measurements lab."

    @ZaknafeinBaenre‌ Both jobs were 9-5.

    jackjack
  • ZaknafeinBaenreZaknafeinBaenre Member Posts: 348
    Still think the awesomeness of the University job is the better bet man. Either one is better than not working though so cheers :)

  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    edited May 2014
    In my own notes the university job had more pluses but also more minuses. It was definitely a close, tough call.

  • booinyoureyesbooinyoureyes Member Posts: 6,162
    Man, BME people are all hardcore. My best pals at school were all BME. I never understood just how tough you guys had it until med school

    You obviously worked very hard to get where you are. Congratulations on the job, you deserve it!

    FinneousPJjackjackCrevsDaakGreenWarlock
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @booinyoureyes‌ Thanks. I considered med school but didn't want to deal with patients, lol. I wish you success in your studies!

    booinyoureyesjackjack
  • booinyoureyesbooinyoureyes Member Posts: 6,162
    Well, I'll tell you a secret: the most successful med students I know were all BME majors. They always seem more prepared than anyone else.

    FinneousPJjackjack
  • ZaknafeinBaenreZaknafeinBaenre Member Posts: 348
    In law school there was only one engineer major, and he was in chemical engineering. How that transferred to law, i'll never know, but he was top 5 in our class

    jackjackFinneousPJ
  • GreenWarlockGreenWarlock Member Posts: 1,354
    @FinneousPJ‌: the good news is that if it was such a close call, it is guaranteed that you made the right decision, as they would both have been right! Congratulations on landing the internship, and hopefully an interesting career beyond.

    jackjackFinneousPJ
  • jackjackjackjack Member Posts: 3,251

    @FinneousPJ‌: the good news is that if it was such a close call, it is guaranteed that you made the right decision, as they would both have been right! Congratulations on landing the internship, and hopefully an interesting career beyond.

    This is a terrific outlook, and accurate to boot. I have only had three major career decisions in my 32 years of life, but twice I overwhelmingly knew which way to go. The first time was analogous to your situation - a 50/50 shot, if you will. That choice led me to the two latter, obvious decisions. In the end, if it's a close call, it's gotta come down to what you want, because there isn't a bad path.

    FinneousPJ
  • FinneousPJFinneousPJ Member Posts: 6,456
    @ZaknafeinBaenre‌ I also know a chemical/biotech guy who went to law school, because IPR is such a massive factor in that industry.

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