1 Replies - 1225 Views - Last Post: 28 March 2012 - 07:56 AM

#1 xcmikeyd12  Icon User is offline

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CS post undergrad options for a Non-CS major

Posted 27 March 2012 - 03:54 AM

Hey guys, first post, big question about my future:

About me: I'm a Senior Double major in Information Systems and Analytics [MIS combined with Decision Sciences] and Accounting as my second. My minor is political science; random interest. I attend a top 25 business program in the country, and have competitive grades in my courses. After college I'll be taking the CPA examination to become a Certified Public Accountant --> Job opportunities include Big 4 Risk Assurance: IT auditing, i dont see a long term interest in this for damn sure, more so a resume booster and being able to gain knowledge about how different companies processes work & risk assessment.

True Goal:
I want to become proficient in several programming languages to be able to understand the back/front end of Project Management. From my psychological perspective, people who truly understand how to do something are given more respect and attentiveness when they tell me to do it, I would love to have this sort of credibility.

I would like to attend a Graduate school for Computer Science, though, intuition tells me thats not possible being that my undergrad had little focus in computer programming. [Experience with Visual Studios-> VB.net with random flavors of unimportant things in the business realm like Jquery, QueryPath, & touching PHP].

What are my options, you all seem to be the experts. Can anyone talk from experience? What are key programming languages to learn in the business realm when it comes to coding Enterprise wide systems for Fortune 500's?

Cheers, any direction would be of value

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Replies To: CS post undergrad options for a Non-CS major

#2 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: CS post undergrad options for a Non-CS major

Posted 28 March 2012 - 07:56 AM

I work for an offshoot of Thomson Reuters - maybe that's Fortune 500 enough for you. I'm actually writing during a meeting with a guy who's in a position somewhat like what you're talking about - a systems analyst who has a good understanding of web programming and can provide intelligent input on the functionality and design we're implementing, but doesn't actually write any of the code. It's certainly nice to have him on the team, because he has some good understanding of what's possible, and he knows how to mock up what he wants which makes it easy to understand what he's looking for.

The downside is that he's not actually a developer, so he sometimes has an overly optimistic view of the difficulty of his changes. He'll drop in "little UI changes" when we're going into QA, or even after QA is finished. This is incredibly aggravating.

I don't know if there's a niche in my company's ecosystem for what you're describing, though. You're talking about something a little more fully ambidextrous than this guy, and that's not something I see anyone going out looking for - probably in part because it's pretty rare.

If you want to do project management, I frankly don't know how you get into that role, but I think it should probably require actual in-the-trenches dev experience. I'd hate to have a project managed by someone who'd never faced the sort of deadlines they're setting. Whether it does require that, of course, depends on who's doing the hiring.

As for what languages to learn, I'd really think you'd get the most bang-for-buck by continuing with your web programming. Use your jquery experience to learn more javascript (possibly pursue that into the realm of functional programming and the lisps, if you want more egghead stuff). Get better at PHP, that sort of thing. I say this because, frankly, if you're on the business side of the house you're never going to touch or even see the source code for the stuff that's developed in java or C++ but you could easily get your hands dirty on the web stuff.

If you want to learn more "serious" programming - "real languages" instead of that web stuff - then you've got an awful lot to learn. Pursue whatever interests you most. Since you're never going to know it all or even a really serious subset, you might as well enjoy the process. You'll learn a lot more this way as well.

On this path, I'd suggest starting with Java (very common in business environments, good language for learning object orientation, weak on more modern language features, sort of a lingua franca for programmers these days) or python (very common in open-source environments, much less so in business, easy to learn, includes a lot of functional features borrowed from the lisps). Whichever you learn first, learn the other second. By the time you're competent in two languages, you'll have plenty of things on your must-do list, so follow your nose from there out.

I don't know enough to evaluate whether a CS degree will be useful to you. Depends on who you interview with and for what positions. If there's a good CS program near you, it can be good to take some courses in any case. This will help keep you focused, and will guide you towards the most important things you need to learn. It'll also provide you with good problems to solve, which can be hard to find when you're teaching yourself.

As for respect from programmers, programmers respect actual understanding and experience, and to a large extent they respect honest and serious curiosity. If you know something about what you're talking about, and you're aware of the limitations of your knowledge, most programmers will take you seriously. The worst thing, however, is to think that because you know how to write some code, that you know what they're doing. You don't, and until you do what they do, you won't. A good blast of humility will serve you well here.

Too much text, boring meeting. Hope this helps.
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