Unlike my more organised compatriots (Pia, Scott) I didn’t go to the Google Open House party last night. But since they employ in my research field, I did head over to their Software Engineering ads in order to scope things out. After all, I like Sydney. I might want to live here after my PhD. (To be fair, it’s a bit of a long shot in that they don’t have computational linguists in Sydney.)
It’s interesting to see that they want a Masters or PhD for the position. Even modulo the usual about degrees not proving anything about anyone, I wonder what sort of Masters they’re looking for. A Masters degree is not usually a PhD feeder in Australia (four year Bachelors feed straight into 3 year PhDs with some provisos). While there are research Masters, which are just like doing a PhD except only about two thirds of the work is expected, most Masters programs are terminal coursework programs. In IT, they’re often career entry programs too, they don’t assume prior knowledge of the field. So hiring a Masters is just like hiring a Bachelors except your job candidate is older and is guaranteed to have a Bachelors in something else too. It says nothing in particular about some personal investment in or aptitude for research-like software development like it may in the US.
This is more a human resources problem for Google than anything else. It is, I assume, tough to get a decent picture of how tertiary and professional qualifications work globally. It’s a little concerning in a local sense: Australia at present does not usually demand Masters degrees for professional work except in the rare fields where there’s no undergraduate degree that qualifies you for the profession (and even medicine, dentistry and law are undergraduate, although in many cases they cheat and require that it be your second Bachelors). I’d be just as happy if it stayed that way. There’s nothing wrong with twenty-somethings being allowed to start actual work, surely.