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Differences between programming in school vs programming in industry?

This is a general discussion about programming in the industry environment. The background story is that my colleague sent me a very interesting article called "10 Things Entrepreneurs Don’t Learn in College." The first point in that post is about the author's experience of programming in the academic environment vs industry environment. After finishing a 4 year Computer Science degree course, I am currently working in the academic environment as a developer, mainly writing Java, J2EE, Javascript code. I know there are differences between academic programming and industry programming, but I was shocked after reading that post.

Trying to avoid this happening on me in the future, or the others. Can anyone from industry give some general advice about how to program in industry. For example,

  • What exactly happens when a task is received?
  • What is the flow from the beginning to the end?
  • What are the main differences between the programming in industry and academia?
  • Is it more structured?
  • Are more frameworks used?

It would be great if some code examples could be given.


  • 2
    In Industry, there are a lot more meetings. A lot more. Soooo many meetings... :'( Nov 18, 2011 at 16:15
  • We also have a lot meetings, and a lot reports.
    – user200340
    Nov 18, 2011 at 16:18
  • Many many many duplicates...
    – riwalk
    Nov 18, 2011 at 16:29
  • Loc. cit. 33 Unusual Tips to Being a Better Writer.
    – trashgod
    Nov 18, 2011 at 16:31
  • Thanks, i was posting on stackoverflow, and it was moved to here, then I have found the duplicate.
    – user200340
    Nov 18, 2011 at 16:35

1 Answer 1


From a day to day coding perspective the biggest difference I noticed was that in academia I never had to work with legacy code, and any code I wrote was probably never going to be maintained by anyone else for very long.

It took year or two of working in industry to realise the importance of writing maintainable code - agile methodologies such as refactoring, unit testing, keeping methods and classes short, using good names instead of short ones, automated building, continuous integration etc.

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