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I was recently hired by a startup that's working on computer vision. Unfortunately, my boss doesn't trust me very much because I don't have a PHD in computer vision (he's a business guy, who has very little understanding of computer science, and doesn't quite understand that degrees in this field are next to worthless). Is there a way to combat this without having to spend another 4 years in school? Am I ever going to gain enough of his trust to actually be allowed to do some of the cool stuff or will I be stuck doing the boring stuff forever? Anyone have any advice for me?

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    I wouldn't say degrees in any fields are useless. I think that outlook speaks volumes. Is it possible he just doesn't trust you (regardless of your level of education)? – SaggingRufus Oct 22 '18 at 18:10
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    I work in edtech specifically for computer science education. Computer Vision is one of those areas where a graduate degree is helpful, because it's a specialized field of Artificial Intelligence (i.e. you don't typically get a lot of exposure to the topic as an undergraduate). – jcmack Oct 22 '18 at 18:16
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    The title says 'lack of Masters degree', but in the body it seems that the issue is a 'lack of a PhD'. I think you should clarify which it is, as a Masters and a PhD are generally not the same thing. – Time4Tea Oct 22 '18 at 19:16
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    How do you know that it's because of the 'lack of a PhD' that he doesn't trust you? Has he said this directly? – Time4Tea Oct 22 '18 at 19:17
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    This was down-voted for a lack of clarity but in scientific commercial entities this can be a real issue, since degrees are weighted like so in certain sectors like biomedical. – CKM Oct 22 '18 at 23:58
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There's almost certainly a lot more to your story than what you're telling us, nor would I dismiss a CS PhD as "worthless". Like most degrees these days, it depends on whether it comes from MIT or "Bob's Online Ph.D. Mill".

By anyway: If you want to prove that you can do cool things in computer vision, then do something cool in computer vision. Build a working application that does more than just import a bunch of libraries, that actually requires some real math. Find a way to show it to the brains at your workplace, and get their feedback. If they like it, show it to your manager.

Job experience is often worth more than a degree, if you can make the most of it -- and remember, just because you aren't valued at one company doesn't mean you won't be valued at some other company. Finding the right work environment for your own skill set is part of the challenge.

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    Good advice and I agree with the 'more to the story' part. I think the OP needs to clarify the situation and why they think the lack of trust from the Manager is because of the lack of a degree. – Time4Tea Oct 22 '18 at 19:20
  • Who are the brains? I interpret that as the startups' founders, but obviously, you wouldn't show this to your boss' boss before showing it to your boss. – employee-X Oct 22 '18 at 19:56
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    @employee-X I assume there are other employees with PhD degrees who OP is comparing himself to, but perhaps that's just a figure of speech. If the boss knows nothing about CS, then it's pointless to show him, so why not show it to anyone who might be interested, no matter how "high up" in the company? Sometimes other technical people just like to see cool stuff in action. – Andrew Oct 22 '18 at 20:01
  • Okay, I just didn't understand. I associate "the brains" with decision-making power more than intellect. – employee-X Oct 22 '18 at 20:09
  • Do you have a link to "Bobs online PhD mill? I wouldnt mind sprucing up my resume. – solarflare Oct 23 '18 at 1:45
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I don't think your boss cares whether you have PhD.

The company hired you which should indicate some level of trust in your ability. Early stage startup hires have to be vetted by both the hiring manager and a founder and at later stage startups managers have more autonomy. Either way though your manager should have a say in whether you are hired or not. I used to say very bluntly to my direct reports "If I did not believe you could do the work, I would not have hired you."

I was recently hired by a startup that's working on computer vision.

Given that you are a new hire, your manager might be more involved in asking you about your work product. You should feel confident in discussing your work with your manager.

[My boss is] a business guy, who has very little understanding of computer science, and doesn't quite understand that degrees in this field are next to worthless

You seem to dismiss your manager's ability to comprehend your work. He is your manager after all and being able to explain technical topics to non-technical people is an important skill to advancing in your technical career. I would try to talk to your boss, test what level of detail he is comfortable with and slowly gain his trust by producing good work.

  • I think the OP needs to clarify the situation a bit before we can say for certain whether or not the Manager really cares about the degree. – Time4Tea Oct 22 '18 at 19:19
  • @Time4Tea Why hire someone if their credential level isn't high enough (assuming that matters to you)? – jcmack Oct 22 '18 at 19:51
  • Perhaps this Manager didn't have a say in the OP's hiring, for whatever reason (e.g. I've been in a situation before where my Manager was hired a month after I was). I don't think the OP makes this clear enough, nor do they say why they suspect the issue is the lack of the qualification. – Time4Tea Oct 22 '18 at 19:56
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I worked at a biotech where the basic ladder looked like:

Research associates: Bachelors-Masters

Associate scientists: Masters

Scientist+: Ph.D.

I'll agree that for the most part, your insights are taken with less weight than someone with a Ph.D. by management, and in some cases by the Ph.D. scientists when it comes to domain knowledge. There's a reason for this, and it's mainly that the Ph.D.s are hired with the intent that they are experts in their domain. I'll even go as far as to say when you work with the Ph.D.s you're astounded by their breadth of knowledge.

So when I started I was pinned to cell culture: stuff I did in undergrad. It wasn't until I showed my enthusiasm and ability to the people with the Ph.D.s that they began requesting my help. Slowly, they're the ones that begin to trust your skill and open up a world of career development, in my opinion. I think for senior coworkers who have a lot of domain experience this is typically true. But, don't expect the CEO to suddenly treat you at the same level.

In essence, work your way in with the people doing the cool stuff to get exposure to the cool stuff. But I don't think this approach will work for everyone. You also have to be getting your job done so you don't get fired, but see if your manager will let you shadow or work with someone on that level.

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