Closing the Gap: Education & Industry

I was approached by a professor on LinkedIn one night. She asked me if I would be interested in giving a presentation to her mobile development class at Georgia State University. I gave it a night to think about it, and decided sure I would. How great. I have never heard of a college offering a Mobile Development course. I wish that had been an option for me! Georgia State University is my undergrad Alma Mater and I thought it would be a superb opportunity to prepare future developers by sharing the knowledge I’ve obtained only by working in the industry.

Many students graduate college with a lot of theory under their belt, but not a heck of a lot practical knowledge. So, I threw together a series of slides featuring a lot of useful buzz words that discuss source control, mobile development frameworks, trends, and advice from some of the professionals that I work with. Advice such as:

“Get used to a Mac”

“Be ready to be frustrated – variations are great for android”

“Stay native…”

“Don’t say you know something if you don’t”

And as I composed my slides, I was quickly reminded of all of the material that I use in  day to day business that was not taught or touched on in college. As I have always felt, I have once more confirmed that there is a huge gap between the industry practice, and the curriculum that supplies workers to the profession. During my graduate studies, as I was preparing my resume for my first round of job hunting.  In my interviews and in reading job descriptions, I felt very ill prepared. I knew that I needed to rethink my approach. That’s when I started a new society in which students would be able to supplement their education and learn from one another.

However, Dr. Durham, who teaches the Mobile Development class at Georgia State University has been teaching this course for 3 years, providing students with an opportunity that I never had. I was and am envious of the students who are able to experience this class. Its something that will look great on a resume and it will expose students to tools beyond the basics of language, algorithms, and textbooks. It will introduce them to frameworks, design, and code management. I digress, but kudos to Dr. Durham for recognizing this and introducing fresh material.

During my presentation, there was the usual mix of students. Some of them were eager and attentive, others were there out of obligation, and some were eating peanuts. Overall, most eyes were up front and ears were perked. I touched on topics such as source control, auto scripting builds, build environments, deployment, mobile platforms and sdks, design patterns, data management, syncing and more. Some were taking notes. Many asked questions on why I would choose one tool over another. Others wanted to know what I look for on resumes and, finally, what advice would I personally give students. I will leave you with this as I did the students,

“Get involved, go to conventions, create a society, make connections. Contribute to an open source project.”

 

 

 

 

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