school programming to actual job differences?

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#1 nujic  Icon User is offline

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school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 23 October 2012 - 02:32 PM

I've always been curious how programming and learning on the job/career differs from school. In school they give you assignments with fundamentals and what not. You don't go too much into various languages or all the different api,classes software you would at work.
I'm still in school,and when I look up jobs out of curiosity a lot list tons of languages to know+diff software, and agile? related stuff.
Main question is,for you that do programming as a career,after school, did you find programming to be easier,not only because you had learned stuff in school but because you work more as team and use a lot more tools to make it easier to code,or because there's somebody above you to plan the process out.
Do you still sit there constantly using loops,arrays non stop like we do on assignments. Might come off as a stupid question but I'm first year,and teachers don't go too much yet into how exactly it is at work you know.

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#2 Martyr2  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 23 October 2012 - 02:43 PM

I wouldn't say it was easier or harder, but just different. I went through school classes that focused on working on programming projects as a team (as schools should teach) and that was similar to industry. Things that were different was some of what you pointed out, industry allows more use of some special tools if it means that productivity is increased and generates more revenue (or cuts costs). Schools were all about the idea behind the code and they often see tools as handicapping your from knowing what is going on behind the scenes (which it does to some extent).

But either way, while in school you should try to also build industry experience. It is the perfect time to do it. You can learn on the job under the guise that you are a student, go back to class learn the theory while in the industry see how things work. That way when you get out, you already have an idea of what jobs out there are like and can market yourself more closely to what employers want to see. Co-op / intern positions are invaluable and there is absolutely no reason why you can't be learning in school while at the same time doing an internship or pro bono work for the industry as a way to gain experience.

:)

This post has been edited by Martyr2: 23 October 2012 - 02:43 PM

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#3 Lemur  Icon User is online

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 23 October 2012 - 04:47 PM

At least with my school most of it was teaching boiler plate coding and practices from local businesses that are about 20 years behind the curve. Most of my coding at work has been finding ways to cut my code as much as possible, and be as DRY (don't repeat yourself) as possible.

Most of my professional experience has been to undo what I was taught, so as to avoid massive overheads in development and deployment.

School taught C# and .NET. I chose Ruby and Common LISP. My workflow is on average 10% of what it would have been if I had tried to use .NET for any of it. I have Macros, functional programming, dynamic typing, and metaprogramming to thank for that.
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#4 nujic  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 23 October 2012 - 05:20 PM

View PostLemur, on 23 October 2012 - 07:47 PM, said:

At least with my school most of it was teaching boiler plate coding and practices from local businesses that are about 20 years behind the curve. Most of my coding at work has been finding ways to cut my code as much as possible, and be as DRY (don't repeat yourself) as possible.

Most of my professional experience has been to undo what I was taught, so as to avoid massive overheads in development and deployment.

School taught C# and .NET. I chose Ruby and Common LISP. My workflow is on average 10% of what it would have been if I had tried to use .NET for any of it. I have Macros, functional programming, dynamic typing, and metaprogramming to thank for that.

Yeah were doing .net, hate it, like java a lot better. I can understand have to have a really good grasp of it all, but at the same time kind of annoying knowing there is better/faster ways and tools but they dont really go much into it,have to do it on your own time, which has its positives and negatives. Just a bit discouraged right now, but thanks for the replies!
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#5 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 24 October 2012 - 06:52 AM

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I don't want to turn this into an English class but I will point out to the OP that good communication skills are as desirous as good coding skills.

Employers can't use coders that can't communicate with others. If you can't comment/document your code well then it makes it hard on the rest of your development team. If you can't communicate with co-workers in other departments you may misinterpret their needs and feature/behavior requests.

Why am I saying all this? Because your writing here is littered with problems that are covered by at least 8th grade. If English is a foreign language to you, then you are doing wonderfully. But if English is your primary language then you should consider a refresher course at community college.

Unemployment is HIGH right now. There are seasoned experienced professionals out there that you will be competing with. When there are 1,000 applicants for each job you need every edge you can get. You also need to NOT provide reasons to shift your resume to the bottom of the stack.
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#6 nujic  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 24 October 2012 - 07:50 AM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 24 October 2012 - 09:52 AM, said:

I don't want to turn this into an English class but I will point out to the OP that good communication skills are as desirous as good coding skills.

Employers can't use coders that can't communicate with others. If you can't comment/document your code well then it makes it hard on the rest of your development team. If you can't communicate with co-workers in other departments you may misinterpret their needs and feature/behavior requests.

Why am I saying all this? Because your writing here is littered with problems that are covered by at least 8th grade. If English is a foreign language to you, then you are doing wonderfully. But if English is your primary language then you should consider a refresher course at community college.

Unemployment is HIGH right now. There are seasoned experienced professionals out there that you will be competing with. When there are 1,000 applicants for each job you need every edge you can get. You also need to NOT provide reasons to shift your resume to the bottom of the stack.


I honestly think you just made yourself look like an ass. THisAfOrUM i ASKed AbOuT CoDE reLatED StuFF, the first two were able to read and be helpful. I'm NEVER going to write in the forum with an essay/doc/letter format.

Best part is I have a education in business. I'm assuming you do too,so we can both agree on that essays upon essay/doc/letters/and emails with proper format was very helpful,and that it would be impossible to pass any business courses without doing it properly..but again,this is a forum
Currently in my comp related schooling I'm exempted from the english/comm course BECAUSE of my background.
I also help some of my Uni friends with their essays..shocking, I know.
...best part is..waaaait for it....
English IS my SECOND language, and I'm fluent in both of the languages I do use on regular basis.
Thanks for the tip anyway though.

...one more thing,I already did have an interview only few months into school with a big tech company here. Weird thing is, I wrote an 8th grade email straight to the HR and sent off my sloppy resume and got a reply back in two hours to go in for a meeting relating to co/op.
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#7 BenignDesign  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 24 October 2012 - 08:09 AM

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While our community Klingon can be a bit harsh and rough around the edges, I disagree that he made himself an ass with his last post. In fact, to illustrate his point, I've selected one paragraph of your response and highlighted some issues:

View Postnujic, on 24 October 2012 - 10:50 AM, said:

Best part is I have a education in business. I'm assuming you do too,so we can both agree on that essays upon essay/doc/letters/and emails with proper format was very helpful,and that it would be impossible to pass any business courses without doing it properly..but again,this is a forum


  • Improper use of a/an.
  • Improper comma positioning.
  • "agree on that essays upon essay" is bordering on unintelligible.
  • Improper verb format.
  • Improper use of elipses.
  • Improper placement of comma.
  • Improper spacing after punctuation.
  • Neglected to end sentence with a punctuation mark.


While, yes, this is "just a forum" it is also a large collection of professionals who actually work. In the field. Every day. What many of these fine folks have to say could be extremely beneficial in your future should you make the choice to swallow your pride and listen.
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#8 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 24 October 2012 - 08:26 AM

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Wow...

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 24 October 2012 - 07:52 AM, said:

If English is a foreign language to you, then you are doing wonderfully.


Best of luck with your interview - And your inevitable court-order anger management sessions.

While this is 'just a forum' I've noticed most people don't have two styles of writing unless you consider SMS abbreviations a style. Most people that actually understand breaking down ideas into individual sentences don't make the conscious decision to create long-winded run-ons in one place, and proper sentences in another. One doesn't do this is,for and loops,arrays in one place but properly space and punctuate in another. These types of things are just automatic.

But lets say you DID consciously go through some thought process for this. It would have ended with the determination: I can write like an adult but this is just a forum and these people don't really deserve my best effort. That's the message you're sending when you choose to write to your peers like this. Personally I would prefer to think that you DIDN'T know better and that these errors were because English is a second language for you. The alternative is you DO know better but just think little of the experts here that graciously donate their time to help the next generation such as yourself.
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#9 DarenR  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 24 October 2012 - 08:33 AM

In school I was drilled application, application, application, comments, comments, comments. All of my applications in college were basically form based.

real world:

I have to use xsl/xml/sql/vb.net/etc. to create free flowing applications in which each page pulls sections of the page from different locations. Unlike all the form based products I learned in school, the ones I use now are blank pages that fill up with literal controls that seem to come from no where. Our code here is very badly commented(meaning there is none unless i place it).
I also have liked coding web pages free form but here we have to use tables for eveything(annoying).
sql proceedures are much much larger then the simple select statements you are taught in school.
Even if you can fix something you can't without permission.

So in a nut shell college is a very very small jump off point for the real world.
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#10 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 24 October 2012 - 09:00 AM

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Briefly, I agree with the Klingon. Writing well is a habit, not a favor you do for someone.

On your original question, every workplace is going to be different, but there are some things you can reasonably expect.

Nobody is going to be grading your work in the field. What you do either works or it doesn't. Some people consider this to be permission to just screw around, others take some pride in their work. You decide which you want to do.

In school, you learn a lot about process and coding standards and stuff like that. Pay attention to all of that, and then boil it down to a few basic rules of common courtesy: commit code that works and makes your co-workers' lives easier. Do not commit code that makes other people's lives harder.

In school, you're concerned with learning the right thing from each assignment. At work, you never know what the thing you're supposed to learn will be until you've spent all night fixing it.

In school, the assignment ends and you turn it in and it's done. At work, the code goes live and you're always the last guy who touched it. In school, you have one prof running your code through his grader and reading it over if you're lucky. At work, you have a billion users pounding on your code, and none of them knows how to tell you what broke or how. 98% of them will never tell you if it broke at all, they'll just go somewhere else. 2% will somehow get your direct line and howl in your ear until you fix it. Both sorts are the worst customer ever, and the only way to avoid them is to never make a mistake.
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#11 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 24 October 2012 - 09:16 AM

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I think one should also remember that school is course in "Learning the Programming language of ________"

But the job you take is "Software Engineer". There is a huge gap between these. Like any other language its the difference between learning the words and rules, and USING the language to express your creativity. I am {slowly} learning Russian. But even when I become fluent in it doesn't mean I would be ready to write a mystery novel in that language.

School taught you the mechanics of the language. How a for loop is technically constructed and operates. But I have yet to see a school or a graduate that was even marginally prepared to actually engineer software. And the reason is simple: They can't teach experience or how to think.

Everyone for every job has to get out in the world and experience the lowest level of their chosen path to get a deeper understanding. The good ones start making mental connections and see ways of making things better. Again, this is for all fields. A good chef doesn't jump out of culinary school into a top slot running a 5 star restaurant. If you're lucky you can be the pre-cook on a food truck. From there you see the real world rushes, waste factors and so on. Maybe you see how you could do it better.

Same with coding. Expect to start out at the bottom. A newbie that gets the most menial of jobs. Mind numbing work that the coders with more seniority don't want to do and don't have to do because they have seniority. When you learn and PROVE yourself you will move up the food chain.
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#12 mojo666  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 24 October 2012 - 09:35 AM

While I am typically against the grammar police, it is a bit hard to follow what you typed. People might hold it against you if they have to put in the extra effort to understand what you say, so it wouldn't hurt to work on being a bit clearer in your communication.

In school you are made to design things from the ground up. In the work place, you typically have a lot of prebuilt tools that help shift the focus from coding to problem solving. You will always have loops because you will always want to repeat a process. Rudimentary data structures, however, are usually replaced with predefined objects/tables/ect. Instead of long routines to insert, find, or delete which make you track indexes and pointers, you will just type myObj.add(val), myObj.find(val), and myObj.remove(). Sometimes, such tools are not available so you have no choice but to build a solution from scratch, but I find myself mostly programming off the designs of other software developers.
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#13 nujic  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 24 October 2012 - 09:51 AM

Sweet,thanks.
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#14 BetaWar  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 24 October 2012 - 11:18 AM

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The major differences between class and work in terms of programming that I have noticed is code reviews and style requirements.

What I mean here is that all the code is stored in a source code repository; that wasn't much different from what I did on group projects (and even some single person projects), but the way it actually gets checked in is a lengthier process. You mark you code as "done" from your perspective then ask someone else to review it. Basically that person reads over all your changes (and perhaps things that you weren't responsible for -- though only in modified files) and checks to see that the code makes sense, the comments that are needed are there, and that your code style is consistent with what the company does. If they find anything that doesn't hold up to the above requirements they tell you to change it and they will look at it again after you have made the updates. Finally, you will get everything to their liking and will be allowed to actually check in the code changes to the repository for use by others.

Personally I like this process as I have been a part of some groups that all go their own way on coding style or naming conventions. That makes it a lot harder to track down a problem later on that wasn't in your section of the code as you aren't familiar with (a) the other person's code, and (B) their style (which can impact readability).

The other major difference is the sheer amount of code. In college we dealt with the largest project being a few thousand lines. At work, the base product is a few million lines long. It takes a lot longer to actually understand what is going on and what already exists out there for you to use.
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#15 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: school programming to actual job differences?

Posted 24 October 2012 - 11:38 AM

Lets not forget all the other systems that you deal with in a real job environment that aren't in school settings;

  • code repository systems
  • version control systems
  • bug reporting systems
  • Application deployment products
  • Quality Control people that will beat on your application and make you fix the stuff that is crap.
  • Third party API/SDK to interact with hardware or someone's on-line shopping cart for example.


In short, college courses aren't preperation for a job. They are a held-held walk through of a book on a given language. We've said this before in many threads. The same language syntax is taught through numerous "Learn C# in 21 days" type books. But college stretches it out over a year and charges thousands. For some the structured environment is what they need to be held accountable for actually doing the suggested exercises found in the books. But otherwise I haven't seen a big difference between students that came out of 4 years of C# at uni and those that self-taught.
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