3 Replies - 952 Views - Last Post: 18 October 2012 - 06:52 PM

#1 Sectio Divina  Icon User is offline

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Am I going about this all wrong? University path

Posted 18 October 2012 - 05:08 AM

This is going to be a slightly long winded post since I am essentially asking for advice on the direction of my life lol.

I am active duty military with 18 years in. My goal is to work in database development with a good amount of programming as well. So while my focus will be on creating databases for applications, I believe having a professional level of comfort and knowledge with at least one programming language will be of benefit. Not only do I think it would help me perform in assigned tasks but I think it will make employers more interested in hiring me.

While in the military I have been trained on a broad spectrum of electronics and electromagnetic spectrum devices, many of which would be largely irrelevant to my chosen field. I also pursued, on my own, a black belt in Six Sigma and lean process management. My educational background so far is 3 associates’ degrees in various fields the military thought would be helpful to them such as human resource management, Aerospace ground maintenance, Avionics systems. I am enrolled in Strayer University pursuing a BS in Computer Information Systems Database Development. Where possible I am going to take programming classes, mostly favoring SQL programming, T-SQL, C# and if I get the chance JAVA. I do have an amateurish yet workable level of experience with VBA.

I have picked up reading, on my own, the "Yellow book" by Rob Miles and "C# 5.0 in a nutshell". I played around with scripting in Linux but put that to the side to focus on C# for now.

My goal, as mentioned, is to get into database development and be competent enough in Java and C# to create not just the database but also the applications (both web and non-web) to interface with the database.

I would like any and all feedback you guys can give. I have roughly 2 years until I retire from the military and can start my 2nd career. Am I going about this all wrong?

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Replies To: Am I going about this all wrong? University path

#2 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Am I going about this all wrong? University path

Posted 18 October 2012 - 12:49 PM

As a former Army 32-G (Fixed Crypto Equipment Repairer) I totally empathize with your situation. We took these great MOSes for their supposed technological training only to find that much of it doesn't have a direct or even useful equivalency in the civilian market.

The first thing employers are going to see is a 20 year vet with 3-4 degrees in technology related fields. That already puts you miles in front of all the 20-somethings, with less time alive than you've had on the job, with no clue about the world; coming out of college thinking they are going to be the next Bill Gates. No employer wants to train these kids in how to be grown ups, how to report for duty on time, how to have a good work ethic and so on.

Every employer expects to have to train you to do their specific job their specific way. Even if you moved from Google to Apple they would still have to bring you up to speed. So slightly fudging but not outright lieing, to get your foot in the door goes a long way with your resume. "We did something similar in the Army, but with older tech. It shouldn't take me long to get used to how you do it here." - "Pressure? What pressure? I get to do my job without someone shooting at me? That's a cake walk after the last 20 years."

After that, I'd say java and C# are great directions. The two languages have amazingly similar syntax making it easy to shift from one to the other. Its just the underlying frameworks and concepts to grasp. JAVA works on top of a virtual machine, C# only in Windows (other OSes too if you go through MONO). They each have their pros and cons.

Since you know you have two years - USE THEM! Learn, learn learn. Jump on vWorker and just lurk. Watch the contracts coming up for bid. Study the requested technologies needed. Get a feel for what is really requested and paying decently. Let the job market guide your education. And when you are ready, start doing a few small contracts to build up your reputation. There is no reason you can't get yourself set-up before you ETS. (Do they still call it ETS? I got out in the 80's when we still wore woodland BDU's)
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#3 Sectio Divina  Icon User is offline

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Re: Am I going about this all wrong? University path

Posted 18 October 2012 - 06:15 PM

Thanks, good to know some of us make it once we get paroled. I will be 38 when I retire so I figure that is plenty young enough I just worry about having a non-standard education (i.e. working and going to school part time instead of full time in CS or some such). Ohh and yes they still call it ETS lol.
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#4 Apokio  Icon User is online

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Re: Am I going about this all wrong? University path

Posted 18 October 2012 - 06:52 PM

I don't have a military background, but I work on a military base as a contractor. Most of the companies that win contracts look for people with prior service because it is a big advantage when dealing with soldiers. People like me get hired when they can't find someone with my skills with prior military service. Depends if you want to get away from the military or not but I think you would have a pretty good chance getting a contract or even a GS position with your prior military experience. Good luck.

This post has been edited by Apokio: 18 October 2012 - 06:53 PM

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