5

I am a M.S student in data science/machine learning. I will have to start an end-of-studies internship in a few months. I have several offers in my area and am at a loss about which ont to choose.

My long-term goals (in a few years at most) are to move countries (within the EU), and I would like to work at a large tech company in R&D. My current short-term goal is to find a challenging and rewarding position and gain experience.

During my internship search, I felt that my application wouldn't be strong enough for the most famous and competitive positions (at Google, Amazon, etc.), and so I aimed for the ones focused on my domains of interest that were at my school's career fair. I have two offers (both in my home country):

  1. One is at a local very small implantation of a very large foreign company, which you have heard of. I would be working with a small team of engineers on a subject that is related to my domain, but maybe not ideal. It is mainly about computer vision, which is interesting to me, but not my core topic.
  2. The other is at a comparatively small company (a few dozen employees) that seems cutting-edge in their domain. They heavily use deep learning and are focused on R&D, which is a large part of their staff. When I interviewed there, they also told me that they were first on their main market (quite specific, but important). They have large clients in the telecom industry, but are completely unknown to the average person.

Overall, I feel better about the second offer, and had a good impression when I interviewed there, but several things bother me:

  • The first internship would enable me to have a famous name on my CV. I don't know how much this is worth, but I have read that having worked at a big-name company will be an advantage when passing the CV screen in future applications.
  • I don't know exactly how well-known the second company is in their domain, and I find very little online about them. I am sure that they are active and do research, and have been told that they publish papers and go to conferences, but I am not sure how to evaluate the impact that interning there would have on my career prospects.
  • I am having regrets about not looking abroad more. I couldn't find many internship openings that seemed both interesting and not too competitive for my current profile. I worry that, by choosing the second offer, I will be at a big disadvantage in the future compared to people who moved countries to work at bigger companies.

The final problem is deadlines: I could lose one or both offers if I wait long enough to sign. I don't think I have much competition right now, but the recruiters in the first company have asked me to answer quickly.

Considering my goals, what would be the pros and cons of each offer? Should I keep looking for offers abroad, taking the risk of losing these two? Is there one in the two I mentioned that would put me at an obvious advantage when applying abroad in the future?

11

Take the opportunities you have in front of you when they are there to be taken. You never know when another will come along.

As for the decision between small and interesting, and big and pedestrian, I would choose the interesting.

While there is some currency in saying "I interned for big multi-national", you're almost certainly going to be asked "and what did you do there", because that is really what hiring managers are interested in.

That's not to say you can't do interesting things at a big company, but when they're taking on hundreds, if not thousands, of interns each year, it's a lot harder to rise above the herd and be involved on more interesting things.

So, to summarise, interning at the smaller organisation won't hurt, and it may well be better for you.

3

The question to ask yourself is what do you want to get hired for?

There will be company's that will be, for want of a better word, starstruck seeing an impressive name on the CV and will let that unduly influence the hiring process. Even without that there is some kudos to having an impressive name on the resume.

However a more savvy hiring manager will look at what you've done rather than who you've done it for. If your goal is to work in an area that more closely matches the work you'd be doing at the smaller outfit and you feel that the work there would better develop your skills in this area then that is likely to be more valuable.

An internship is part of your education - in particular it's about making you the best possible candidate you can be for your future career.

There's also a lot to be said for the relative fame/reputation of a company within the industry - you mention that the smaller outfit has some major telecoms customers. For a pertinent anecdote, some years back I worked for an outfit that had done significant work with pretty much every major telco in the western world, but I can virtually guarantee that no-one outside the industry would have ever heard of them.

Unfortunately as you're discovering evaluating this from an outsider's perspective is very difficult. What helps you here is the research aspect - if they are publishing papers and going to conferences then scour Google scholar etc - see what they have done, where they have presented it and who's citing the papers. If they're presenting research papers at conferences and these conferences are being attended by "famous name" companies than they chances are they've got a decent level of awareness in the domain.

1

Far from a complete answer, but generally speaking if your goal is to work at a large multinational company in R&D, then the hardest part(s) will be:

  • Getting a work visa for the country you want to move to.

  • Getting a job in that country.

  • Getting a job in your field/discipline.

Once you have those 3, getting a job at a different employer is not so different from a normal job switch (depending on the country's visa rules), and working for the Multinational in option 1 can potentially get you all of them, making it the much safer option.

However, the biggest thing you need to research first is whether the particular multinational you'll be working for:

  • Has an engineering presence in the country you want to move to.
  • Is known for being particularly supportive (or not) of international relocation within the company, and if so for what level of employee

If the answer is yes to both, then based on your long term goals I recommend going with the Multinational.

  • 1
    Depending on the specific field and the country, there might be companies happy to organize a visa for the OP if they join the company. – Helena Dec 3 '19 at 15:32

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