7 Replies - 1481 Views - Last Post: 07 February 2012 - 07:31 AM

#1 alias120  Icon User is offline

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Programming as a Career

Posted 03 February 2012 - 05:02 PM

Hello DIC,

So I constantly find myself in a bit of turmoil. I am currently an undergraduate majoring in Physics with a minor in Computer Science and Mathematics. My problem is that I find myself unsure as to whether I would rather study physics, or computer science with the intent of being a programmer. I sincerely enjoy the idea of studying in either field, at least as much as one can with limited experience.

Now, I am not asking you guys to make this decision for me or something ridiculous like that. This is not a repeat of http://www.dreaminco...r-science-need/

I would like to gain some insight towards what a career as a programmer is like. I know the little projects I put together are nothing like working in a production environment, so I would like to know a little about what the professionals do. I know this question is rather subjective, but I imagine there are certain things about being a programmer that many programmers love or hate.

I ask this question because I am not blind to the fact that there is a difference between knowing how to program and being a programmer. What the latter entails though, I am not really sure.

Have a great weekend everyone, and to those of you that reply thanks for taking the time.

-alias

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Replies To: Programming as a Career

#2 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming as a Career

Posted 03 February 2012 - 05:31 PM

You aren't hired by the programming industry. You are hired by a company.

There is no standard for "what is it like to be a programmer" any more than there is a standard for any other job.

A programmer in company 'a' is different than a programmer for company 'b'

Game programmers work in teams with designated jobs. I am the sole programmer for a small company so I do everything from the software design, to the art to being the code monkey that writes it.

One posting will have you home every night at 6. I travel around the world doing installations and am gone 20 weeks a year. Yet both jobs are "being a programmer".

So I would say study the companies. Pick one with an ethic you like. Do you want an lab environment: Work for someone that makes Gas Mass Spectromitors for CSI labs.
Do you want to get out: Work for geothermic research companies.
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#3 alias120  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming as a Career

Posted 03 February 2012 - 05:43 PM

Thank you for the response tlhIn`toq. I didn't know the career field was so diverse in responsibility. So it would be safe so say that learning the languages/technologies is only one part in many of being a programmer. It sounds as if one has a lot of freedom (if qualified) in deciding exactly what they want to do.
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#4 darek9576  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming as a Career

Posted 04 February 2012 - 12:43 AM

You have to realize that you can be a software developer with a Physics degree. Employers often will provide you with technical training if your skills are lacking in any areas (at least the companies that im currently applying to, all provide a broad training).
As stated above, reaseach companies, what they require, what people say about them.
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#5 innuendoreplay  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming as a Career

Posted 04 February 2012 - 01:18 AM

It's very relative dude, is like if i question to you "for what the people use computers?" there are a lot of answers....same for programming; obviously you develop a software (graphically or via terminal) but than main point is that you every manipulate some information to get more important information and a beautiful viewer for that information (like an app that read a pdf show it like a real book).
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#6 SpartanGuy07  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming as a Career

Posted 06 February 2012 - 09:16 AM

I graduated with a degree in Biomedical Physics with some programming experience. I got an internship in a medical research company as a programmer where I am receiving the necessary programming training. I completely agree with darek (because it happened to me). I think the background in physics helped me a lot in the research sense.

So really, you can study physics or computer science and get a job as a programmer. Just study what you enjoy most!
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#7 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming as a Career

Posted 06 February 2012 - 10:04 AM

What's it like to be a programmer? Here's one answer:



Actually, it's going to depend on where you are and what you're doing, as other heads have said. I do a lot of different stuff in my day - I'm usually working on three or four different things, all of which go on a lot longer than they have any right to, and I'm sort of the local academic. All the guys who sneer at the "college kid" programmers come to me when things go wonky on them and I have to explain first-year concepts to them. That's always fun.

Other people seem to spend all of their time in one project, and I sometimes think that would be fun. Some people work in teams, some people seem to do most of their coding solo. It all depends what you want to do. The neat thing is, if you're smart and competent, you can really try your hand at just about anything, so it's wide open.

I'd suggest you do physics if you like it, and then fill in any holes in your CS as aftermarket retrofits. Almost anyone hiring will be much more interested in the fact that you can do physics than in any undergrad CS work you do. You'll benefit a lot from the math, as well.
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#8 wordswords  Icon User is offline

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Re: Programming as a Career

Posted 07 February 2012 - 07:31 AM

I would say working as a programmer is a lot like programming in your spare time, except more pressured and with lots of deadlines. You will usually be expected to know your language well enough to be able to concentrate on business objectives rather than the syntax of your code; this level of fluency is required.

The way I got into programming as a professional was to do lots of coding in my spare time. Once I had done enough of that, I progressed into voluntary projects, such as websites or software systems for charities and organisations such as my university newspaper. Once I had done that, I could put them on my CV/resume, and was more confident in my ability to progress to a full-time development job.
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