Decoding Industry

In my job search, I’ve noticed a lot of terminology that actually refers to things that exist in both the world of industry AND the world of academia. Just a difference in vocabulary, though, can get very confusing very quickly. I’ve also noticed that not knowing the vocabulary, even if you know the concept behind the term, can make people think you know less than you do. Below are a list of “translations” between terms as they’re used in industry and terms as they’re used in the academic world, that have come to my attention. Some may be a little specific to the sort of job search I’m doing (data science/analytics), but I’m hoping they can be useful more broadly as well.

A/B testing – Between subjects design

Actionable insight – A result that is practically useful

Analytics – Data analysis, maybe.  Can be shorthand for data science/analytics, which does mean data analysis

Data driven – Basing conclusions on (quantitative) data; you know, what researchers have been doing for ages

Dev – Software developer; computer scientist who develops software

Experiment – I think what people mean by this varies widely; but then, it does also in academia, depending on the discipline

Opportunity – Job possibility

Project management – Leading a research project

Reaching out – Contacting, or frequently, reminding someone you exist; eg, “I am reaching out to you about an opportunity”, or “Thanks for reaching out!”.

Spurious correlation – This one’s the same, but it seems like a bigger concern in data science than in my field (psycholinguistics), which relies more on controlled experiments

User data – Human behavioral data

VC – Venture capital; venture capital firms are sort of the grant agencies of companies

Visualization = Graph, or other visual representation of data (some of you may use the term visualization in your academic world, but for me this was new)

Another general thing I’ve noticed, is that industry jargon seems to vary quite a bit in its meaning, depending on the industry, but also depending on the company.  For example, what a “product analyst” does in one company may be quite different from what the same title does in another.  Academic jargon can vary quite a bit too, between fields, but since the likelihood that you will go from working in one field to a completely different one is pretty low, it’s less noticeable.

If you can think of more terms not included here, please add them in the comments!

Just for fun, here is a link to an academic jargon generator. Industry definitely does not have a monopoly on jargon!