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I've recently graduated with my Ph.D. from a top 50 US university in computer science. I'm considering applying for a postdoc at a German university. The US News ranks the German university anywhere between 300 and 600 in computer science and around 500 overall. However, I would be given quite versatile responsibilities and freedom as a postdoc there. The host has a relatively solid network in the industry. And I love Europe.

Given my career goal is to end up in industrial research, but not yet close the doors of academia, would you consider this a good career choice?

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    Depending on your discipline, the host having a good network into industry doesn't automatically mean a good network to industrial research. In some disciplines, industrial research labs tend to be scarcer in Germany compared to the US, I think.
    – DCTLib
    Commented Dec 13, 2023 at 19:30
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    Ranking results of German universities tend to carry little to no relevant information. Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 0:54
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    @yujaiyu: Differences between the universities in Germany (both regarding teaching and research) are much smaller than in, for instance, the US. Hence, "good relative to others" is not a very well-defined or useful concept in this setting. You typically won't hear academics in Germany discuss notions like "top universities". That's just not how the academic system over here works. Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 17:25
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    Especially at the postdoc level (and also on earlier levels), who you are working with is much more important than the university you are at in Germany. There are very good and very well connected people at tiny universities. So your host matters much more than where they are located, especially if you plan on moving into industry, where your alma mater matters even less. So: focus on your host and your project. Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 18:31
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    @JochenGlueck OK. That explains it. Thanks.
    – yujaiyu
    Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 21:16

1 Answer 1

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The more you go up the academic ladder, the less these rankings means anything.

And at the PostDoc they have already almost zero value: a Postdoc is just an interim time between your PhD end and your next academic or private position. With the goal of industry, the more contacts you have, the better. With the goal of academia, the more contacts, the better. Although you should pay attention you need to build some independence, so your host contacts may not necessarily your own best contacts.

Additionally, being exposed to a complete different cultural world may help you (yes, Germany is a western country and still it is so different with respect to the US).

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  • Is this really a common feeling? I thought that the quality of institution is important in the same way, maybe even more, after PhD.
    – Jan
    Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 11:11
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    @Jan the quality of institution is extremely important. Rankings , on the other hand, are utterly useless.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 11:13
  • I see, the discussion was about rankings! That makes sense now.
    – Jan
    Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 11:23
  • @EarlGrey How do you assess "the quality of institution" if not through rankings?
    – yujaiyu
    Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 16:44
  • @yujaiyu I am not a robot, I do not need rankings and other pretentious objective metrics that are based on ... crap or statistically invalid methodologies.
    – EarlGrey
    Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 18:38

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