Grad schools fail to prepare software engineers for startups: IEEE Study

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Photo Credit: Kent University UK
Successfully running a Startup in itself is a challenge even for those of us who go to business school, so, you can imagine the kinds of challenges software engineers wanting to venture into enterprising are facing. 
A study done by IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers), found that grad schools are to be blamed for the challenges young software engineers are facing in terms of enterprising and working for start-ups.
According to the study, software engineering graduates learn how to transition successfully into a big, structured organization but their schools fail at preparing them for the fluid, time-sensitive and at times the challenging work environment of a startup.  
The author of the report and a senior member of IEEE, Nitish M. Devadiga, claims that the level of the software engineering curriculum—even at top-tier grad schools—places very little emphasis on key skills required to work in a start-up environment.
Similarly, Software Engineer and developer Bhanu Prakash feels that there is still a lot fresh that graduates have to learn after stepping out of school. “Entering a big company is not easy, while start-ups are usually hunting for fresh graduates who are innovative and willing to work in the constantly challenging work environment of a start-up,” he said. 
According to Prakash, who is the Lead Software Engineer at Prudential Financial, although start-ups are not as stable as big organizations they are always a great place to start one’s career as the work environment is far more challenging and requires a lot more patience as it requires one to not only at times develop a software but also market it. “So, you are not only the developer but also the person marketing your product,” he said.
He firmly believes that software developers need to know how to market their own products and this knowledge is something they should learn at school. “As software engineers, we create new products, we are innovators with great ideas and that means we should also know how to turn our ideas and work into revenues,” he said.
According to him, there are several things software engineers and developers need to know and understand to get into the entrepreneurial groove:
Great ideas are not always profitable:
Ideas can look great on paper and the product you developed may be the best of its kind, but you cannot sell people something they do not need. 
Prakash states that young developers need to first ask themselves, what problem my product will solve. Why will someone use my app or program? What value can I give them?
 “Once you ask yourself these questions, try and answer them as truthfully as possible,” If you cannot find a simple answer to your questions, your idea maybe not be as profitable as you would want it to be,” he explained, while adding that products and apps which do not serve a purpose are more likely to fail than apps and programs designed to solve the problems of their target market.
Determine your target market:
Knowing who you are selling to will allow you to position yourself correctly in the market. “First you will need to clearly define your product or service and then define the person or business that will want to use what you have to offer,” Prakash stated as according to him understanding the needs of consumers is essential. 
Study the market and market trends:
Philip Kotler has defined marketing as, “Satisfying needs and wants through an exchange process”, which means that the key to a successful business is understanding the needs and wants of the consumers and providing them value through products and Services. 
“This is pretty universal if we want people to use our products we should be able to satisfy their needs and wants, our products should be things that will solve their problems not something that is of no use to them,” said Prakash.
According to him, doing a SWOT analysis before actually developing the app or program, will save aspiring entrepreneurs a lot of time and effort and will help them make educated decisions before actually developing a product that will not sell.
Becoming an entrepreneur and your own boss may sound like a piece of cake but before getting into it, it is very important to understand the fundamentals of business and how it functions, according to Prakash, who feels that little knowledge is extremely dangerous so it is always a good idea to read books and learn the ropes of enterprising before actually starting an enterprise. 
About the Author
Prabalta has done extensive reporting and handled desk teams at various levels of the media. She began her career in journalism as a volunteer at a government-run National English Daily, Rising Nepal. After working as a reporting volunteer for about a month, she was hired as a reporter for the tourism beat in 2006. By 2014, she was working with the Government daily as Desk Editor. In August 2014, she began working for the Norway Based Human Rights news portal The Oslo Times, where she worked as the Chief International Correspondent till 2018.
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