Last year, after
completing a research degree in computing education research, I started a new
job at Aico as a software developer. In this blog, I will briefly discuss the similarities
and differences between my new job and my earlier studying and working life in
academia. My personal experience was that the transition to an industrial job
does not necessarily have to be a huge culture shock.
My Transition to Industry
While still drafting
my doctoral dissertation at the end of 2021, I started to look for industrial
jobs. After a while, I happened to notice a job advertisement of Aico and
applied straight away. For my pleasure, I became selected and agreed to start
in my new role after my employment contract with the university would end.
When I started
at Aico in June 2022, the first few weeks were full of internal trainings and
introductions. Also, the preliminary examination of the manuscript of my
dissertation had arrived at completion and I had nearly finished the version that
I would submit as the final one.
Little by little,
I was able to better concentrate on my first development tasks while simultaneously
learning about development tools and the product. Of enormous help was another
developer, who had agreed to help me to learn the ropes. I also submitted my
doctoral dissertation for publication and soon had a pile of printed copies in
Before my public defence at the end of August
2022, I had to take care of this and that regarding the defence, the defence
party, and the graduation. After the day of the defence, I was free to fully concentrate
on my new job and start to learn the new world, in which I am navigating as a
new Aiconaut. The only thing left was to retrieve my degree certificate from
the university in October
Similarities and Differences
For a general treatise,
search engines can reveal articles related to the transition from academia to
industry. Below, I will briefly discuss seven aspects that are most obvious to
me when comparing my current job to that of a doctoral candidate.
Responsibilities. During my doctoral studies, my
responsibilities were researching, publishing papers, studying, and being a
teaching assistant on two courses. Although the R&D department of Aico is
not conducting scientific research, my work has similarities with it. For
instance, I am studying technologies, conducting small-scale research on
various approaches for solving a problem, documenting my work, and communicating
with other employees.
Flexibility. Work in academia can be flexible. Outside the regular teaching and
meetings, one might be free to work when and where one wishes. At Aico, we can
work from home, but I often like to be at the office. I could also work from any
of the foreign branch offices of Aico or, for short periods, from other applicable
countries. However, deadlines are omnipresent, whether they are based on a schedule
of a university course, publishing a journal article, applying for funding, or releasing
a new software version.
Collaboration. My earlier work as a doctoral candidate did not include extensive
collaboration with other candidates; often my supervisor and advisor were the
only ones taking part in my research projects. At Aico, I currently work independently
but as a part of a project team that works for a common goal.
Internationality. I experienced an increasing amount of internationality during my
studies, depending on the study group and the educational institution. While
studying for my bachelor’s degree, I befriended the only foreign student of my class,
and during my master’s studies, I sometimes worked with foreign students.
Finally, during my doctoral studies, I was communicating in English regularly both
in the weekly meetings of my research group and when instructing foreign
students and supervising their work as a teaching assistant.
Currently, I am
working in an international company, whose personnel represent multiple nationalities,
languages, and geographical areas. To me, it is most visible in everyday
communication. First, people have meetings via video calls instead of being in
the same office. Second, when people with varying first languages are present,
the fallback language is English. For this reason, the R&D team usually
holds its weekly status meetings in English as well.
Culture. The people at Aico and in academia are
professional and mostly easy-going and helpful, so no big differences there. At
the university, parties at the office were quite rare. At Aico, however, usually
every month has included something, such as a breakfast, a dinner, or a game
and Impact. In academia, theory and the necessity
of continuous publishing can be driving factors even without immediate
practical applications for the results. In comparison, my current tasks are
practical and have direct impact in the lives of the users of Aico as they get
new or improved features in the product. Although it is rewarding to discover
new facts through scientific research and see one’s research paper published, my
current job offers similar satisfaction from seeing the results of one’s own
development in use.
Learning. Being a doctoral candidate is all about
researching and learning. However, the completion of formal education is only a
waypoint on the journey of continuous lifelong learning. Especially, the
natural continuous development of technology dictates that the developer’s job
is to continuously learn and research into emerging technologies and approaches
with the intent of applying them in their daily work.
transition from academia into my role at Aico was easy, and although my daily
tasks are obviously different, the higher-level mindset is like in my earlier
job and makes the job to feel natural to me. Thus, I am looking forward to continuing
as an Aico developer and seeing Aico to grow.
Have a sunny summer!