Take up job or work independently before grad school?


I’m an undergraduate student of electronics engineering about to graduate this May. I’m planning to apply for grad schools in robotics next year (Fall 2020) and I’m confused on what I should do this coming year. I really enjoy what I do: making and programming machines. I also enjoy teaching and the idea of research, and in the future I see myself in academia.

So far, my profile has evolved mainly on the hardware aspects of robotics (sensors, controllers and their programming). And before I decide what I actually want to focus on, I want to work more on the software side (image processing, ML/AI and controls). From what I’ve experienced, I enjoy both.

I have 3 options:
1) Take up a job in a small company which is creating an industry robot. I have worked as an intern here before and although the work is good, the team not so much, which makes the development real slow as they lead the project.
2) Work on an open source project of my own towards some competition like the Hackaday Prize and learn what I want.
3) (Unlikely) Get to work on a research project in an Institute under some professor. The problem is that I’d probably find some hardware work but not on the software side because I’m not good at it. It’s difficult to get someone invest time on guiding me.

What would you suggest that I do?

submitted by /u/Srijal
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