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My ultimate goal is to secure a position in industry post graduation. I figured a solid approach would be align myself with current problems and try and partner to solve them. This gives me resume wins for when I am back on the market. Also industry may have deeper pockets than NIH for my field. How would one go about this assuming no contacts are known a priori. Also how would a PI react to such activities if say I were to land one with funding dollars attached? I figured it would be a win-win.

Any comments are greatly appreciated.

  • "How would one go about this assuming no contacts are known a priori" -> Start building your contact network. There's no way around that. – Mekki MacAulay Mar 16 '16 at 14:48
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    Any reason why you are not moving to an industry position now? – Cape Code Mar 16 '16 at 14:48
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    In my field phd is mandatory. – TheCodeNovice Mar 16 '16 at 14:52
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How would one go about this assuming no contacts are known a priori.

Likely you can't go for this without any contacts at all. You are thinking about this in the wrong order - you can't get money from industry first and use this to build up contacts to industry; rather, you would build up contacts to industry to achieve a level of trust so that you would be later on in a position to receive industry funding. This also means that getting direct industry sponsorship as a PhD student is at least uncommon - typically, companies are more interested in sponsoring a professor or chair that they have positively interacted with over a sustained period of time.

Slightly longish story short, your planned approach (acquiring industry funding) is not a suitable means to your stated goal (landing a job in industry).

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    One way of building a network may be to find a professor who is already doing a lot of industry funded research. The professor may have some subprojects suitable for a student, and will have good contacts. – Patricia Shanahan Mar 16 '16 at 15:31
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My answer probably only applies to certain fields of study and I've mostly seen it done in engineering. In many PhD programs you can focus on course work for the first year or so before getting into research. My suggestion would be to try to land an internship at a company that is active in your area of interest. You may be able to use the internship to get research funding for the remainder of your PhD and even a job offer afterward. In most cases where I've seen people successfully pull this off, they worked hard during the internship to exceed expectations or even defined a new project of interest to the company such that the company would find it worthwhile to have the intern continue working on it at school rather than have someone else continue their work after the internship is over.

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