I am currently an undergraduate student in computer science, rising senior.
I have had extensive research experiences throughout college at competitive universities and research companies (but no publications).
I do not feel prepared to pursue graduate school right after college (due to burnout, health concerns, and general need to prepare for PhD requirements such as recommendations, GRE, etc).
I also come from a low income family, and I would like to take a couple of years to save money, as well as improve my math skills and explore the subfield of CS I would really like to pursue in graduate school.
I know there is some debate surrounding the role of gap years in students’ will to pursue grad school, but I am certain this is the best choice for me.
I would like some advice on what sorts of roles to pursue post-college.
The answer to this question hasn’t been so straightforward for me because I have a couple of conditions that are especially relevant to my needs and aspirations:
- I want something that offers a competitive salary (80k-100k a year in the Boston area)
- I want to start working immediately after I graduate college
- Unfortunately, I do not have the option of pursuing an unrelated activity for the 2 year duration (like, say, backpacking in Europe or teaching in China) due to my financial circumstances
- I want to remain a competitive grad school applicant
I’ve considered a couple of options:
- Working as a software engineer at a company
Though I have limited experience in development (because every role I’ve ever had since the beginning of college has been research-oriented), I think I can use the coming year to update my engineering skills and land a role.
Pro: This sort of role would likely offer a more competitive salary
Con: I’m not sure it would make me more competitive candidate for graduate school
- Working in research at a university or national laboratory
Because I have extensive research experience from college, I think I have a good chance at landing a role like this.
Pro: I think this would make me more competitive for graduate school
Con: The salary would likely not be competitive
- Working in research at a research company
This would be the best option, but the hardest to land.
Pros: Likely offers a competitive salary, and will likely make me more competitive for graduate school
Con: I don't think I can land a role like this easily after college, as they usually require at least a masters degree and favorably a PhD, with extensive research experience
I would just like some advice on this situation. Are there some other options I could consider? Is a software engineering role my best bet? If you've been in this situation and in this particular field, what has been your experience? What did you decide to do?