I am an M.S. in Computer Science student at an excellent school, and I am trying to decide between pursuing a career in research (getting a PhD), and going into the industry to work for a company like Google. Unfortunately, the program I am in is only 3 semesters long, so there is not really sufficient time to do research before graduating without sacrificing a course I really want (and need) to take (I also did not do Computer Science as an undergraduate so I have a very high return for any courses I do take / high opportunity cost for any courses I don't take).
With this in mind, my questions are:
- What type of factors should I be considering, knowing that doing research to see if I enjoy it is likely not on the table? How does one know that they want to do research? Is loving the theoretical aspects of your courses enough?
- I am quite confident I could do the PhD at my current school, which is my top choice given the faculty advisor(s) I would have. The research would be absolutely fascinating, well funded, and almost certainly set me up for a fantastic career in either academia or industry when I graduate.
- Getting the PhD would take 5 - 6 years (starting from now).
- I would be giving up roughly 600k in income (before tax) if I did the PhD, not including any promotions I may get during the the way or inflation, which would drive this number up. I would also expect to be doing fun and interesting work in industry.
My program is geared towards setting people up for a career in industry, but it has also been made clear that it can be molded to set students up for a PhD track as well. My apologies if this is too open ended. I can clarify further if you would like.