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First principles of doing a PhD and taking up an industrial jobs are quite different, which this article sidesteps. I am talking from the perspective of someone who did a PhD, postdoc and migrated to be a founder/CEO.

A PhD system trains you to think about unsolved problems in an given domain deeply with a larger time runway. The end goal is not a tangible product that reaches millions of people, but rather a set of ideas that can take a crack at the unsolved problems in your field in a novel way. A good work should inspire others in the field, and eventually a larger audience to pick them up and expand and build on top of it. To give a small example, a majority of the fundamentals of machine learning was charted out by many, many PhD works over the last 40 years. Implementing a linear classifier is 2 lines of code in 2018, but many Bothans died to bring us this information :-) .

The goals of industry are more immediate. Expect for a privileged few research labs in industry, your work is expected to be monetized, and rightly so. The goal is for you, if you run the business, else your management team to first figure out a problem of high relevance and monetary value. Build products/solutions for that problem, that can be used by someone who is less versed/ambivalent of your technical solutions. Efficacy of solving that particular problem often defines the merit of your contribution.

The fundamental of choosing the PhD or industry should be taking stock of what kind of contribution you want to make as an individual. If it is a few set of ideas to science, which on a later date might become something fundamental in our understanding of the world, then PhD is a good path. If it is a set of contributions towards a product/solution that eases the pain of many users then go into the industry first.




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