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What is industry experience?

sduduzog profile image Beautus S Gumede ・1 min read

This question was prompted by this tweet below

Ok this question comes at time where I honestly believe I have some 'experience'.

I've been programming since 2014 which gives me about 3 to 4 years with both android and web development. I've never had a programming job but have had freelance gigs on a couple of sites and I taught java at a local high school on contract.

I believe I have experience...but what type if not for industry?
3rd question, how do devs like me get experience that we can prefix with 'industry'?

Discussion (12)

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thomasjunkos profile image
Thomas Junkツ • Edited

This vote is utterly nonsense.

Experience is mostly overrated in that respect, that people having the belief, that spending time on something includes a somehow magical component of making you good at something. You could have worked 3 years in a groundhog-day-mode and everybody would look at you with different eyes than if you just did your first groundhog-day in your first job.

Second: Our work as developers is extremely complex. Even if you work with somebody who is 5 years on the job and hasn't had this "groundhog-day" type of work and is really interested in his field and a really good learner - even then there is a good chance that you have requirements the said developer has never worked with in his career.

And yes, you are totally right in questioning the prefix "industry". It adds absolutely nothing: leaving the question "but isn't it better having more experience outside the industry to provide outside of the box thinking and producing better solutions".

That does not help.

Degrees are simply a piece of paper which showed that you are able to solve certain types of problems which people in a institutionalized context confronted you with. The difference of having this degree is, that someone with authority is willing to confirm that. If degrees were that meaningful, we wouldn't need no further assessment during interview processes.

Confronted with this either-or-question, I would leave the room because these are the wrong metrics.


"Degrees" and "experience" are the wrong binary either-or-metrics to base a hiring upon. Regarding "industry experience": any situation which made you improving yourself is worth called experience and could positively influence your work.

sduduzog profile image
Beautus S Gumede Author

When I read this I was reminded of the time I tried to master AngularJS. I invested a lot of time learning it through projects and all. Right when I felt so comfortable so much that I disregarded the existence of other frameworks google announced that they're discontinuing its support. I knew about directives, controllers and services but nothing about components.

Later when I picked up on Vue, I had an idea of concepts used by Angular, Vue and React. And also that frameworks come and go

jfrankcarr profile image
Frank Carr

The way I've interpreted this is it means experience in a particular industry or market segment so that when a product owner says they need a program to do "X" you know what "X" is without a lengthy explanation.

For example, if you created a retail inventory tracking application, you would have retail inventory industry experience. If you created an app for hotels, you would have hospitality industry experience.

There can be crossover industry experience as well. I got my current job because I not only had manufacturing industry experience but also experience in working with devices like scales, barcodes and PLCs, although that wasn't at a manufacturing company.

sduduzog profile image
Beautus S Gumede Author

I have teaching experience. I actually got hired by a school governing body to teach 19 students IT. As much as I enjoyed the gig I don't think I enjoyed marking for the rest of my life. Although this was experience gained

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald • Edited

"Industry experience" primarily involves working on real-world projects with other people. It consists of the "soft skills": communication, project management, real-world problem solving, and the like, which can only be fully developed when working with others.

Industry experience contrasts with classroom experience, and is different from "hobbyist"-type experience when you work on things for yourself, by yourself.

Here's some good ways to gain industry experience:

  • Join an open source project, where you'll be working with other people. Dedicate serious time to it. If you have a lot of free time, you might even consider treating it like a part-time job for a while. This yields a LOT of excellent industry experience, as the skills translate directly to a real job. This is the easiest way to gain experience.

  • Look for internships, which will allow you to work on real projects in a work environment. It's important to watch out for scams - unpaid internships are only legal under very specific rules set by the U.S. Department of Labor (or the equivalent for your country). An employer offering good internships often benefits primarily from being able to train someone to take a non-entry position with their company, for less expense than if they hired an entry-level coder.

  • Take an entry-level coding position. This is perhaps the hardest to find, especially as you want a position that has you actually writing code, and not fetching coffee. In the end, there isn't much difference between a good internship and a good entry-level position. However, as far as I can tell, of the three options, entry-level positions are the hardest to progress out of.

sduduzog profile image
Beautus S Gumede Author

Makes sense. Probably picking an open source project to work on will also make a person focus on a specific tech stack instead of being a generalist.

Funny story, this one guy who had a startup listed posts years back and we applied. During his pitch/interview he gave us a project that we'll be working on where he said there's no incentive but we'll get shares of the profits he will make from the app. We agreed on it of course but we ended up stealing the idea for ourselves.

codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

I wouldn't say stealing his idea is something you should be bragging about. That's a rather blatant betrayal of trust, and highly unethical. :(

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sduduzog profile image
Beautus S Gumede Author

True. I barely looked at it that way. It's probably that bad luck that got us nothing out it the move.

moopet profile image
Ben Sinclair

Exactly. The candidate doesn't even need to obviously succeed at the test, if they can explain how they're thinking about it as they go along. I don't think those "you've got 48 hours to write us an app to do X" projects or the multiple-choice tests some companies let you do remotely are much cop.

sduduzog profile image
Beautus S Gumede Author

Yes! Honestly I'd be very happy being declined a job where I failed their test or interview that directly reflected their business and working environment.