Samuel Wilson

Samuel Wilson, GoPro

In the 4th year of my PhD, I received a fellowship to study at another university. This mini-PostDoc experience helped me realize a career in Academia was not the correct path for me.

I then considered, one by one, the standard careers available to Academics;

(1) I volunteered on Conference Committees, mirroring Science Leadership,
(2) I developed a Political Lobbying Course for High Schoolers, mirroring Science Policy, and
(3) I engaged in Consulting projects and prepared for Management Consulting interviews.

For various reasons, none of these jumped out at me for a lifelong career. I continued to consider opportunities, and found an internship at GoPro for which I was qualified. I was given an offer, which accelerated the completion of my degree. I really enjoyed the work, culture, and lack of writing (I much prefer data crunching to scientific writing). Following that, I earned a spot in Insight Data Science, a placement program for PhDs in Data Science roles, which further solidified my passion in this new career path. GoPro offered me full time position, where I continue to develop algorithms which determine the exciting moments in Users’ videos.

The best advice I can give students who are in their PhD is that your advisor and your goals will not always align. Not all advisors are the same, but often their goal is focused on continuing the work of the lab; new grants, papers, etc. Your goal is to make yourself as employable as possible, be it by publishing papers to impress future PIs, being a GSI to practice teaching, learning new tools/programming languages to impress future employers.

Make sure that during your PhD, you are preparing for what comes after, and having a good time. I had a blast during my degree.