Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Selecting Your Program, Supervisor and Grad School (Industrial Route)

Congratulations, you have finally decided to come to grad school after considering most of the factors that I have mentioned previously. The next step would be to choose a program, followed by selecting a supervisor and a grad school.

The first thing that you want to do, before you even consider what program you want to get into, is to ask yourself the following questions - what do you want to do after you finish grad school? There are only 2 answers (or at most 3): (i) get a real life job, or (ii) become a faculty member. The third option being self-employed, which I don't know much about.

The first step in the whole grad school application procedure is to select a program. Regardless of whether you want to get a better job or to be a faculty member, you should try to select a program that you find it interesting. Chances are you will be working in that area for the next 10 years. So, it is best to choose to work on something you like. Make a list of programs that you are interested in and move on to the next step.

Now, this is when you use your goals to eliminate some of your choices of program and start selecting your supervisor and grad school. In this post, we are focusing on how to choose your program, supervisor and grad school to better align yourself with your industrial career goal:
  1. Select a program that you can find a job without much work. One good option is computer science. Avoid any field of research that gets too theoretical, meaning no one bothers to implement theory into practical applications. I want to point out that mathematical fields is not the same as theoretical ones. Control theory can be either practical or theoretical but they are always mathematical.
  2. Next, you want to find a grad school. Try to choose a few grad school that are large and famous. For example, MIT, Stanford, Harvard and so on. In Canada, you want to aim for University of Toronto, McGill University and the University of British Columbia. Why choose grad school first? Because the larger the university, the more smart people you will meet. Those smart people often will work for some big companies. Those connections are extremely useful so chances are it will be better for future connection. Furthermore, choose a grad school that is in large city. A large city often have more professional events going on, which is great to attend to improve your skills sets and network connections.

    While choosing your grad school, you want to make sure they can provide you with funding too. I wouldn't recommend studying in grad school if you don't get any funding because there are a lot of other options that provides you with funding. I have read a lot of news on how student debt in the US is rising enormously. Of course, if you have a lot of money to waste, then it is another story.
  3. Finally, select a few professors that works on practical application. It would be better if the professor has many industrial relationship. Also, you might want to choose a professor that is already a full professor and is somewhat old. The reason is full professor tends to care less about publication and they are also nicer to their students. So, you have more time to improve your skill sets.

    Make sure you try establish communication with these professors even before you apply to the grad school. If you can establish communication, you will have better chances being their students.
The next topic we shall touch on how to go through the same process but trying to aim for faculty position. Click here to read on the next topic.

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