Immediately after finishing a Ph.D. in computer science at Stanford University in 2012, Philip Guo took a software engineering job with Google in Mountain View, California. By that time, Guo, who had obtained B.Sc. and master's degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), had already done a string of corporate internships, including stints at Google and Microsoft. While he was in grad school, industry seemed like his best option. "I didn’t think that my grad school publication record gave me a good chance at obtaining a faculty job," he says today.
At Google, Guo started working to design better interfaces for online education. He began his new job just as the topic was receiving massive public attention and academic researchers were entering the field.
Guo saw an opportunity. After 7 months in industry, Guo quit his job at Google to interview for tenure-track faculty positions across the United States. Eventually he accepted a faculty offer at the University of Rochester. Guo attributes his success largely to lucky timing, and there is luck involved in almost every job search. Still, the time he spent at Google as an employee made him a much stronger candidate for a faculty job. "What I lacked in grad school [was] a future vision for what I wanted to do," he says. After his latest Google stint, "when I applied for jobs I had that vision and I conveyed that very strongly."