I am currently pursuing my PhD in Mechanical Engineering (dynamics & controls) and like my research a lot, even so much that I would like to continue with the academic route and aim to become a research Professor. I should emphasize that I do have a symbiotic relationship with my advisor and I see that we get more than a handful of Journal papers out before the end of my PhD. I have done 4 different internships throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies and can say that I know that I don't see myself in industry.

Due to the lack of first-hand experience from my peers I am reaching out to this community. The questions are:

  1. Is it common/appreciated to do an internship in industry during my PhD when I would like to become a research Professor? If the answer is yes, how long should an internship be? Just over the summer or for a whole semester? Or is it more important to stay with your advisor and get as many papers out as possible?

  2. Is it common/appreciated that I do research at a different university with a different lab to widen my horizon in terms of research methods, exposure to different ideas etc.?

The questions are pointed at: What does really count in a faculty interview? I appreciate any comment regarding on what really counts when it comes down to become a research Professor. Thank you.

  • 2
    Since you have a good relationship with your advisor, then that is the person you should ask: (S)he knows you and your field, so (s)he can advise you much better than some random persons on the internet. Dec 15 '21 at 15:23

What does really count in a faculty interview?

In science, proficiency is evaluated via some proxy data, such as publication and conference proceedings. To discriminate between two candidate with very close publications and science proficency, the ability of getting funds for research. Unfortunately, sometimes the ability of enabling the output (i.e. getting funds to perform a certain research) is even more important than the quality of the actual output (publications of poor quality, not in the sense of negative results or low impact publication(s), but in the sense of crappy methodologies, crappy data collection, crappy analytical skills).

If your aim is to stay in research, spend your time trying to get funds to do your own research, applying to grants from national and international bodies, foundations, professional groups, try to spend extented time abroad in other research institutions, not spending time giving out (almost for free) your skills to some private company.

I personally would consider a candidate with more than one internship during his/her PhD as someone that struggled with fundings and directions (no offense in this, 99% of the time is not the candidate's fault).

  • "I personally", because until 5 years ago, in a previous life, I was a Dr. in the Academia ;)
    – EarlGrey
    Dec 15 '21 at 16:02

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