University life vs work life

Date: Monday, January 27, 2020

I started my placement with Village Software 5 months ago. I’ve been in education all my life with only the odd part-time job here and there, so I was a little nervous! I am very pleased to say  work- life  it is pretty much what I expected, I’ve settled quickly and enjoying it.  

Some aspects of university have prepared me for the work I am doing, but I have learned so much more at a faster rate during placement. At university you may average 7 hours a week of programming, depending on the assignments you have, however, while at work you will do 7 hours a day, meaning that in a week you covered more than 5 times that of an average student. 

Learning the theory at university has given me a good foundation of knowledge and being on placement has given me the hands-on experience I have been wanting since attending university. 

Doing small assignments to learn data structures and algorithms and being able to apply them has been a very rewarding experience. However, being able to see what a large-scale project is like, working in a hard-working experienced team and learning a wide variety of software and tools has been an even more insightful. What I love most about programming and working with more experienced developers is the speed with which you can learn so much from them.  All those combined years of experience is a fountain of knowledge and everyone is happy to share. 

One of the things I enjoy most is learning small programming tricks for example, students who may want to switch a Boolean value may do the following (I have seen this exact code in my first year) 

if (value === true) {
	value = false;
} else if (value === false) {
	value = true;

There are many ways to refactoring this code, from removing the curly brackets, to using a ternary statement:

value = value === true ? false : true;

This is a nice concise way of doing this, but could be confusing to those not aware of the ternary operator, but an even neater way would be:

value = !value;


With some simple thinking and logic, you can see why this operation is the same as the first operation, but we have reduced the code length from 6 lines to 1 line, more concise code leads to better readability, benefiting everyone. 

This is one of the differences I have found from university students compare to experienced developers. Being in industry has truly shown me how much there is to learn about software engineering, which academia would have never taught me.