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I have just graduated with an engineering degree from a Tier 2 college in India. I plan to apply for a Masters program in a top tier university in Europe after a year, and then eventually move onto a PhD program in the US. I would also consider applying for a direct PhD program, depending on my eligibility.
However, at the moment, I am torn between doing a full time software engineering role at a reputed tech company and a project based research assistantship at a Tier 1 Indian university. Which of these 2 would be held in higher regard if I were to apply for a research degree (MS or PhD) later on?

Side Note: Both the software engineering role and research assistantship have little to do with my research interest.
Research Background: 3 Research Internships in various Tier 1 universities in India + 2 IEEE conference publications (not highly rated)

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    I don't feel like I am qualified to provide a full answer, so I will just leave a comment. You need to decide what you are more passionate about: your research interest, or a profitable career. Your software engineering role will bring you money, but will probably not help you pursue your research interest at major institutions. My advice: do your research interest for a few months on your own, to decide whether you REALLY want to go this path (believe me, it will be tough!). If you find yourself losing interest, take the engineering job.
    – djohn
    Jun 16 at 10:04
  • " I plan to apply for a Masters program in a top tier university in Europe after a year, and then eventually move onto a PhD program in the US" Why? are PhD in the US much stronger than in Europe? If research is your goal, do an Indian-born person have easier access to grants & research funds in the Post-PhD phase? don't limit yourself. Canada, Australia, Japan are just a few places with a strong research infrastructure.
    – EarlGrey
    Jun 16 at 13:05
  • You probably want to avoid involvement with reputed tech companies, unless the salary offsets it somehow. Jun 16 at 15:39
  • @Aruralreader why would you say so?
    – user946451
    Jun 17 at 3:23
  • @EarlGrey I completely agree. I was merely mentioning one of the main options I have in mind to provide better clarity on my situation. Also, I've heard most places outside the US do not allow a direct PhD after a bachelor's degree. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
    – user946451
    Jun 17 at 3:26
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Since I have worked in India after completing my Bachelor degree for 2 years and further joined a university in Germany for pursuing Masters and subsequently doing PhD at the moment, I feel that I have been in somewhat similar shoes as you are.

I would recommend following things from my experience. please take it with a pinch of salt as it may vary on case to case basis.

  • Just get clarity about the idea of Masters degree at the moment, you cant plan for PhD from today as it depends on multiple things that might or might not be in your control.

  • If the domain of Job - Masters degree are aligned than gladly go for a job, as it would give you better exposer to situations.

  • In case that the Research - Master domain are well alinged, go for the Research. (During Master application, you enlist your time in research and that would allow you to get better internship as Masters in Europe is more research oriented than say in US)

  • In case where Job - Research - Masters all are in same domain, than I would say it doesnt really matter, you can choose money over the Research and it is totally fine.

I am giving this answers as to be honest, my work experience which was for 2 years doesnt really matter and so does the research experience of many of my colleagues who worked at labs in IIT / IISc. The important thing is to gain transferable skills.

The Research project gives you certain skills that you might not get in job and vice versa. So just look at the idea of developing transferable skills from whichever path possible and I guess you will do just fine.

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