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#1 Tenderfoot  Icon User is offline

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Job in development before a CS degree

Posted 18 December 2012 - 02:39 AM

Hello all!

I've been going back and forth on what to do for a while. This summer I will have graduate from college with a "journeyman examination(degree?)" in computer science, as well as the (I believe) equivalent of A levels in the UK. My school system is different from most, and so this may not make sense to some of you. In my country, we go to a school after high school (which was from the age of 5-15), which generally lasts from 16-19 or 16-20 if you go to the school I did. But to word it simply, I do have a degree but it's not a college/university one.

My future plan is to go to Sweden and study web development for a Bachelor's degree, but I'd like to work and save up for it first. So these are my options:

1) Work in retail and use my spare time to read some books and do some developing in my spare time. Create a portfolio and learn. This would last 1-2 years.
2) Attempt to get into software development right away, and then go out to study in a couple of years.

So my question is, do you believe any software development company would hire someone without a college degree? And if not, would it increase the odds if I ask for an unpaid internship? I would be willing to do that, I just want to learn more and do more related to this field.

And one more question: What would you recommend I focus on studying?

Right now I'm focusing on getting better at PHP/MySQL. I'm learning how to create database-driven websites by going through Kevin Yank's book on PHP/MySQL. It explains how to make small CMS, some content formatting, access control and some basic MySQL (which I already had down).

After that I'm debating on what to do though, and here are some options:
  • Read Murach's book on MySQL and master it
  • Read Murach C# 2010 and work on that
  • Get something more on PHP (perhaps security/something else)
  • Focus on mastering CSS, though I think I could do this along with a programming language.


Murach MySQL is a book that focuses on all parts of MySQL, complex joins/queries, database designs, triggers, SPs and so on. This is probably where I could develop a set of skills that would easily be translated into MS SQL or any other SQL.
Murach's C# 2010 is a book on C# from the ground up. I have a basic foundation in C# but could do with increasing my knowledge of OOP in it, as well as connecting to databases, using LINQ, XML, and whatever I didn't go through. I hear very good things about this book in terms of it being very clear, and practical. Downside is that it uses Windows Forms as opposed to WPF, but I could get into that later.
PHP books: I don't quite have one in mind, but there are surely a fair bit of things I could improve on. I'm just not sure which until I finish my current book, not sure how in-depth it is about security with PHP and so on.
CSS: I got CSS Mastery: Advanced Web Standards Solutions by Cameron Moll/Andy Budd/Simon Collison. I do know the basics of CSS, I'm pretty familiar with the theory, the box model, the syntax, and things like that, but I've never been good at putting things together with it.

I'd appreciate any advice you could give me, and my book choices are definitely not set in stone.

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#2 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job in development before a CS degree

Posted 18 December 2012 - 03:23 AM

Hey.

Even though I prefer working freelance myself, the way I hear it there is always demand for good programmers over here. If you've got any sort of education in that field, I do think getting a job in software development is at least worth a shot. - Just don't take it too seriously when they list proficiencies in half the programming languages ever created as "requirements" to apply. That's just what happens when you let HR or some clueless manager write up the ads :)

If you went to school where I think you did, at least when I was studying there, people were basically falling over themselves to hire people graduating from there. Although, those were happier times, before the banks screwed us all... but still.
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#3 Tenderfoot  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job in development before a CS degree

Posted 18 December 2012 - 05:46 AM

View PostAtli, on 18 December 2012 - 03:23 AM, said:

Hey.

Even though I prefer working freelance myself, the way I hear it there is always demand for good programmers over here. If you've got any sort of education in that field, I do think getting a job in software development is at least worth a shot. - Just don't take it too seriously when they list proficiencies in half the programming languages ever created as "requirements" to apply. That's just what happens when you let HR or some clueless manager write up the ads :)/>


Thanks, that was quite motivating. I'd been wondering about this for a while.

View PostAtli, on 18 December 2012 - 03:23 AM, said:

If you went to school where I think you did, at least when I was studying there, people were basically falling over themselves to hire people graduating from there. Although, those were happier times, before the banks screwed us all... but still.


Yeah, so I hear. Some of these software companies were hit hard after the collapse. I think I might just keep an eye out for open positions next summer, and just carry on studying. Speaking of freelancing though, what kind of projects do you do mostly?
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#4 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job in development before a CS degree

Posted 18 December 2012 - 06:13 AM

View PostTenderfoot, on 18 December 2012 - 12:46 PM, said:

Speaking of freelancing though, what kind of projects do you do mostly?

My freelance work has mostly been creating or fixing simple CMS systems. That seems to be what people want freelancers for. Companies involved in more interesting projects tend to want to hire coders. - That's at least what I've experienced. (For the most part.)
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#5 cfoley  Icon User is online

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Re: Job in development before a CS degree

Posted 18 December 2012 - 03:14 PM

Decide which job you would prefer to and aim for that. Its not always that the job most related to your career goal is the best choice. Something unrelated can give you a broader experience that you wont get the chance for later on. I worked as a lifeguard towards the end of high school and had a great time.

On the other hand, working as a developer might look better on your CV and might give you a better idea if you like the reality of day to day work on that field. This is most valuable if you decide its not for you!

In terms of what to learn, it doesn't matter too much. Just follow your interests. Avoid the temptation to delve too deeply into a single technology. Its good to be an expert in something but its more important to have a well rounded base.
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#6 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job in development before a CS degree

Posted 18 December 2012 - 10:19 PM

I read the basic syntax of the language, so I know it. HR puts it on there because they believe they'll get better applicants. Fair is fair, and I feel no guilt in doing such things to incompotent HR reps.

(Joking aside, anything I list on my Resume I can build enterprise grade applications at will in.)
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#7 Tenderfoot  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job in development before a CS degree

Posted 20 December 2012 - 03:29 AM

Thanks for the replies. I think I might just apply for a web development position (if available). If I can't find one of these, I could work in retail while I improve that, as well as possibly a language like C# that's very widespread over here (and probably worldwide). And thanks for the motivation Lemur, I might very well do that if I'm proficient enough in one web development language by then and they list another (like say, Python).
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