Will working in an Industry before Applying for Academic Jobs increase your chance of Success?
When it comes to building experience in academic streams like engineering and science, you must rank higher than your contenders. A lot of potential candidates with history of research in respective industries are being favored by academic institutions nowadays. If you are a fresh graduate, you will find yourself at a crossroad, deciding where you exactly want to work. You could choose to join an academic institution straight up and start teaching while carrying out your research projects. But there is a high possibility that once you land an interview, you will be told by the Hiring Committee that they are looking for someone with years of experience in a company with results to show.
Experience is the key:
This revelation can become quite discouraging, as it would make it very difficult for you to reach your goals. Experience is extremely valued in the academia, because their faculties do not have time to babysit you and teach you the ropes of the business thoroughly as you launch yourself. You need to associate yourself with solid research, and deciding what you want to work on is absolutely important. Any university will give priority to candidates who are involved in research work that has an enormous amount of potential to do something big and have a huge impact on society. Your main focus should be on positive change. However, leading an individual-based research could prove to be disastrous for you, as it might not be in sync with the expectations and views of different universities. This is why you could decide to play safe and join a company right after your graduation where you can be a part of their ongoing research assignments which already are result-oriented.
There are many academicians today who could start working at university-level simply because they had solid experience to show while presenting their skills and achievements. Kentaro Toyoma, is a Computer Scientist with a Ph.D who joined the Microsoft Research and worked there for 12 years. His main responsibilities included teaching and publishing papers. This is the exact job he would have done if he had decided to join an academic organization straight away after finishing his doctoral thesis. He carried on with his research, and his achievements gave him enough space in the limelight so that he could later earn a spot at the University of Michigan School of Information as a W.K.Kellogg Associate Professor of Community Information in the year 2015.
Even Gordon Smith spent more than a decade in the food industry, honing his skills and building credits before joining the academic stream as a professor. While he first majored in synthetic organic chemistry while doing his Master's, he was informed that chemists were highly valued in the food industry because of their contribution that makes a noticeable difference. He immediately switched to food science while doing his Ph.D, and eventually joined with Sara Lee, working in this area for about 14 years. Right after that, he was accepted at ConAgra Foods Ltd. as the Vice President of Research and Development. As the Vice President, he had to handle all sorts of university-industry liaisons, and he even made effort to recruit fresh graduates from universities, while tying up new research partnerships and managing programs that were focused on training and educating employees. He eventually found an academic job at K-State when his department was shutdown, and this became possible because of an effective network of contacts he had built while working in the industry.
There are plenty of successful stories of applicants who got an easy access to the job position they had applied for simply because of having made it big in the company they worked at before. So it is a good strategy to start networking early on when you are still completing your Master's. You will come across several companies who are interested in new graduates and post grads who are capable of contributing successfully to their research programs. Once you build your experience in the industry, you can get a clear pass when you finally apply for an academic job.