Industry academia gap – How it affects in technical interviews?

Industry academia gap – Bigger than what we think!

The issue of industry academia gap is much more deeper and serious than what we can imagine. While attending interview it is not only the candidate but also the interviewer faces lot of tension because they want to hire an engineer with right set of skills. Here is a real time experience sharing from one of our mentors.

“Can you please write a macro in C to find out greater of two numbers?”

“Yes! Here it is: if (a > b) return (a); else return (b)”

“I asked for a macro but you have written a function?”

“ ……….”

“ ok..Can you write a program to find the second greatest number among given a list of numbers?”

“ ………”

“Oops! Let me move on to data structures programming. Can you please write a simple linked list and write an algorithm for deleting a node?”

“ ……..”

If you are wondering what it is all about, let me take you to the real world. These are the typical set of questions I ask when I get a chance to interview any fresh or junior level engineer. The dots mentioned above means no answer. This is the reality existing in India today and the industry-academia gap is growing leaps and bounds. When the team from Emertxe asked me to write an article about interviewing I was more than happy to share my real time experiences.

Industry academia gap
Industry academia gap – How it affects in interviews?

How it affects during interviews?

Some years back I was a fresh engineer and used to have ‘butterflies’ in the stomach when I was going to an interview. Half a decade later I am still having the same feeling when I am taking interviews as well. Simply because if we can’t hire people within a specific time we may need to compromise on the projects or some other engineer need to share the load. Apart from that the fresh engineers, who get hired have no practical experience on things like C programming, using ‘Vi’ editor, and debugging basic data structure programs. This indirectly means senior folks need to spend time in coaching them which is a productivity loss for any organization. The above mentioned scene in almost all the organizations in India and its becoming more and more difficult to hire ‘quality’ fresh engineers.

The root cause of this problem is mainly because of the lack of practical exposure to engineering graduates, which is the primary reason for this industry academia gap. In the engineering curriculum they get more ‘theoretical’ knowledge, which is less relevant in the industry. I am not against understanding theoretical concepts of computer science but learning programming in a hands-on way is a must. The programming knowledge indirectly increases the analytical thinking of the graduate which is a very crucial in solving complex embedded systems problems. Without the problem solving ability it is very difficult to get grasp of embedded systems. So the need of the hour is to get more practical perspective.

Getting practical – Way for future

The first generation Indian IT companies have successfully proved that the software can be indeed developed from India. Following that, loads of new organizations are setting up the product development organizations. In order to ride this second wave, highly skilled competent engineers are required in a large scale. As embedded systems domain is the core of product development it is bound to give great career opportunities. In order to encourage this wave, these product organizations are promoting careers based only on the technical area. This means an individual can be in the engineering side at the same time have a clearly defined career path.

I hope fresh engineers who are reading this article would think in a different direction and work towards getting practical perspective whatever technology they are interested in. After all I don’t want to walk-in to next interviewing session without any butterflies and won’t get any nightmares.

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