I am a masters student in Germany. On the contrary to how most people's thesis work turns out, mine looks like it is quite far from what I planned to gain expertise in, in that it seems like it is an oversimplified topic. I was looking to work with machine learning as a center point of focus ( did a bunch of courses in data mining, information retrieval) , but after working as an intern for nearly 5 months in the institute, the topic I was offered was to do with optimising pairwise intersections of lists for which I do not need to make use of any machine learning tools.

I am afraid, this will make it very difficult for me to get a job in the industry and also, I feel like, the topic is not really giving me much to write as part of the literature survey in my thesis report. The whole thing has gotten me really worried sick.

I would greatly appreciate any guidance on where I stand and what I should look out for.

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    This might be just a question of how far you've advanced since you started. You've learned a lot so what once seemed hard, now seems easy. This is a natural progression - much to be hoped for. – Buffy Mar 18 '20 at 16:44
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    "The whole thing has gotten me really worried sick." You might be experiencing anxiety. Please go and visit the mental health professionals at your university's counseling center. It's normal to experience difficulties while working on your master's thesis. – Anonymous Physicist Mar 18 '20 at 22:19

An emplyer won’t necessarily be concerned with the topic of the thesis but how you functioned and completed it.

Most employers look for capability and capacity...


My advice in the short term is to separate your current research topic from your broader research interests. You can maintain a large set of research interests, and even take the initiative in reading papers on these topics, or exploring the area, even when your current research topic (optimization in lists) is not satisfying to you. Then, you can look out for opportunities to broaden your experience in your real research interests (machine learning) in the future.

For industry jobs, it may surprise you that employers would be happy if you are knowledgeable about your interests in machine learning, even if you haven't directly worked on them. In general, industries are not so pedantic about the specific topic you are working on, they just want to know what industry skills you have, and what kind of projects you are interested in working for at their company.

In the long term, if you don't feel that you can attain any expertise in the situation through working independently, however, then it may be worth looking into ways you can change your career and work with a different advisor or on a different topic. Have a serious talk with your advisor that you are unhappy with your current research topic, and discuss possible solutions.

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