Industry Experience: Are You Sure You Need it?

Experience Does Not Necessarily Mean Competency

Are you sure you need industry experience? You may be surprised at the different ways to use technology to solve problems, achieve your goals, and drive business results. This article will share some thoughts on how technical and experience augment or even replace relevant industry experience.

There Is Something Wrong With The Concept Of Industry Experience.

When Ruzwana Bashir, a writer, entrepreneur, and public speaker for the Evening Standard, was asked about her career, she said, “When I talk to people, and they say, ‘I want to be like you, I always tell them, ‘Find an industry with no prior experience.'”

That’s an interesting statement from someone who ran her own company and then became the chief executive of, an online marketplace for tours and activities. She’s certainly not the first person to make such a statement. The late entrepreneur Steve Jobs said once that “experience is overrated.”

This idea flies in the face of everything we’re told about hiring. But if it’s true, you can accomplish more by ignoring all of the rules. We need to take a minute and get our heads around what it means to have “industry experience.”

Industry Experience Can Be Very Limiting

It was an unspoken and accepted truth to be a good engineering team. It would be best if you had worked with clients in the same industry you were about to work with. When hiring an engineering firm, you wanted to work with a team that had experience working with clients in your industry.

When you hire someone with industry experience, you’re likely hiring into a set of limitations that may not be obvious. Non-Disclosure Agreements (NDA) or Non-Compete Agreements (NCA) have prevented companies from hiring their competitor’s employees for decades. Hence, hiring someone with the industry experience and talent you need is unlikely. 

So what if you could find someone who’s never worked in your industry before, doesn’t have an NDA or NCA, and can bring fresh eyes and a different perspective to your problems? What if that person could use their problem-solving ability to create solutions for you that no one has ever thought of before?

That’s where PPS engineering services come in. We don’t have all the answers, but we have the talent pool, transferable skills, engineering expertise to solve your problems. Our skill set is solving problems with creativity, innovation, and diligence. 

Academics Sometimes Lack Practical Experience.

When you hire an engineer, do you require industry experience? Or do they need only a degree? Industry experience helps, but it doesn’t always indicate competency—and it doesn’t guarantee that they will bring something new and exciting to the table.

Academic preparation provides a solid foundation for engineering work, allowing students to think outside the box and gain perspectives and learn how to apply scientific theories to solve real problems. 

I look at my education and experience as an example: I earned both a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master’s of Engineering Specializing in Mechanical Engineering. While this might seem impressive before I graduated, I was a Mechanical Designer (CAD), and I love to build stuff. 

While working and attending school at the same time was an incredible experience and opportunity for me to apply my critical thinking and outside-the-box thinking by applying scientific theories to solve real problems under the guidance of seasoned engineers. 

Engineers with no industry experience often have a lot to offer in terms of fresh ideas and a more practical approach to solving the problem. Using newer software programs and technologies to design and simulate allows for more digital experiments, which leads to finding better ways to solve design problems.

Practical People Sometimes Lack Theoretical Knowledge.

You’ve seen the “industry experience engineer” with decades of experience but can’t solve a simple equation to save his life. Or the engineer just out of school, with the highest GPA you’ve ever seen but can’t seem to work within a team. What gives?

The truth is that engineering is a very practical profession, and some engineers don’t take much stock in theory. Their focus is on how things work right now and how they can be fixed to work better tomorrow. This often leads to people who have been working as engineers for decades, without being able to perform calculations or without any awareness of the latest methods and technologies.

On the other side of the coin, many engineers have no practical experience. They are full of knowledge about theories and methods but have never applied them in real-life situations.

While these two extremes may seem far apart, they don’t have to be. The ideal engineer combines practical knowledge with theoretical understanding.

The biggest challenge is finding engineers with enough knowledge in both categories to meet your needs. To this end, organizations should consider mentorship programs like PPS Expert-on-demand services, where we provide experienced engineers to assist with training, mentoring, and support.

Passion Is Far More Important Than Experience Or Education.

You’re probably used to being told that experience is everything.

But is it?

For the past 30 years, hiring managers have emphasized the importance of experience in the workplace. You see this in job postings: “Must have at least 5 years experience doing [Fill in the blank].”

At least some industry experience is indeed helpful on some level. However, having industry experience does not necessarily mean you’ll succeed in your role. Passion and talent often prove far more important to success than education or experience.

Passion Is Far More Important Than Experience Or Education.

I remember interviewing a candidate who came back after her first day at work and said she had learned more in those 8 hours than in her entire college career. She was so excited to be able to apply what she’d learned, and that passion made her extremely successful in her new job. 

Don’t let your prior experience pigeonhole you! The most innovative ideas come from open-minded people and bring a different perspective to solve problems. Frequently, people with less industry experience are better able to challenge the status quo because they approach problems from a different angle.

Final Thought: Industry Experience Is Overrated.

Overall, the takeaway is that your industry experience doesn’t mean as much as you think. Frequently, those who have been in the industry for many years believe that they know everything there is to know about their field and have no room for growth.

Consulting on your side, not selling you a project management plan or system design. Our confidence comes from our ability to reduce the risk of failed projects through knowledge, infrastructure, process, and experience. We take “industry experience” out of the mix because we believe in creativity instead.

The best engineers can see outside the box. They are creative and original thinkers who are open to new ideas and concepts. They don’t just do what everyone else does. 

We’d love to have the opportunity to prove our value.

Are you ready to build new products on leading-edge technologies? Let’s get started!


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