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Assuming someone just received their PhD (in say, Computer Science) and chooses to step into Industry RnD rather than taking up a post doc, a year or two later, he/she realizes that Academia is where he/she truly wishes to be.

Is it tougher to transition from an Industry RnD job to a professorship as compared to a parallel universe in which he would have chosen a PostDoc instead?

Can an Industry RnD job double up as PostDoc?

(Assuming that one keeps publishing and works on important problems)

1 Answer 1

The "assuming one keeps publishing and works on important problems" bit is the hard part. If you are working at a serious industrial research lab doing academic-style research, then moving to academia is doable. If you are in a more typical R&D job but doing cutting-edge work and actively publishing, then it's still possible (but you may face more resistance, depending on your subfield). On the other hand, the vast majority of industrial R&D positions in CS do not put one in a good position to apply for faculty jobs.

It's easy to be overly optimistic about this. I've seen a number of students take industrial jobs and declare "I'm going to keep my options open by continuing to publish, even though it's not a job requirement." This rarely works out. It's far from impossible, but maintaining an active research program when it's not your primary job is difficult.