That is such BS, and my profs in both undergrad and grad would disagree to those statements to varying degrees. It's certainly and especially very untrue for certain fields such as HCI, graphics, machine learning, and information retrieval, where research and industry work overlap (some very strongly like in HCI, others less so like in graphics). Of course industry experience is not the best substitute for valuable university research, but you make it sound like nothing value is taught from industry experience when going into research.
You're misunderstanding me. I didn't say industrial experience couldn't be useful in research. I'm saying that AFAIK, the adcoms don't care too much for industrial experience compared to research experience at a good university. So for instance, an applicant who did say 2 years of good research at a top 20 university would be looked at more favorably than a candidate who spend say 10 years at a company like Google. I've several friends working in ML/IR at Google and Microsoft and most of their work involves implementation, tuning various algorithm parameters, optimizing the algorithm to run in a distributed setting, etc. Research in ML/IR at good universities does have those components but what is valued there is the conceptual work that you do.
(Of course, if you're working in a good industrial research lab, that helps your case a lot as I mentioned before but industrial research labs are a very small part of the tech industry in general)
So yes, industrial experience is useful but I've not seen a single student at a top 10 university who got there on the basis of industrial experience alone. Invariably, they had research experience at a university.
Furthermore, a couple years of industry experience offers many things to the original poster that directly applying to a PhD program doesn't offer: strong material to put into the essay portion of the app
The essay portion is one of the least important parts of the app. It can hurt you if you do it badly. I rarely helps you.
Edited by jjsakurai, 07 April 2012 - 07:50 PM.