Career Change to Programing

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26 Replies - 4074 Views - Last Post: 29 May 2014 - 06:18 AM

#16 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 27 May 2014 - 05:02 PM

Keep in mind programming is very applied. That is, people want to see what you've done or made. CS is great. But complement it as well. Since you're an educator, make history or math quiz-type programs to help elementary school kids prep for a test. If you're into advanced math, implement cryptographic protocols or graph algorithms. If you're into biology, be the bioinformatics person. Develop projects that interest you. Seriously, these go a long ways with employers. I've seen many people at my school get great jobs and internships with their portfolios after having been filtered out for their less than stellar GPAs.

So don't take on the mindset that the coursework will make you. It won't. Think of it as preliminary training. That's it. Even in the upper level classes, the projects are quite small compared to stuff I've worked on in the industry. None of my projects in my upper level data structures course nor my senior level cryptography course were large in scale compared to industry.
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#17 NJCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 27 May 2014 - 05:14 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 27 May 2014 - 05:02 PM, said:

Keep in mind programming is very applied. That is, people want to see what you've done or made. CS is great. But complement it as well. Since you're an educator, make history or math quiz-type programs to help elementary school kids prep for a test. If you're into advanced math, implement cryptographic protocols or graph algorithms. If you're into biology, be the bioinformatics person. Develop projects that interest you. Seriously, these go a long ways with employers. I've seen many people at my school get great jobs and internships with their portfolios after having been filtered out for their less than stellar GPAs.

So don't take on the mindset that the coursework will make you. It won't. Think of it as preliminary training. That's it. Even in the upper level classes, the projects are quite small compared to stuff I've worked on in the industry. None of my projects in my upper level data structures course nor my senior level cryptography course were large in scale compared to industry.


great advice thanks! The education route isn't as important as what I make of it. I would love to get involved in the education sector and create educational software. I also want to make sure I make as well informed of a discussion as possible regarding education.
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#18 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 27 May 2014 - 05:17 PM

After the intro level, you take two kinds of CS classes. There are the project classes, which get you experience and endurance in designing projects of increasing complexity. That's very important to getting a job.

The second type of course is the train the brain course. These are your discrete math, combinatorics and graph theory, and CS theory (algorithms, formal languages, and theory of computation). These courses really stretch your brain, help you learn to problem solve, and help you learn to think creatively. These courses are more or less math courses, but not the algebra, statistics, and calculus you're used to seeing. It's a lot of proof writing as well, but it's good for helping you better express yourself in a technical environment. These areas occasionally pop up as interview questions too.

So the coursework has value, and I'm not diminishing it. But it shouldn't be the focus.
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#19 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 27 May 2014 - 05:33 PM

I want to knock this back towards center just a little - you need both the theory and the practice, neither can be "not the focus". Frankly, you need to know the tools and the techniques, and you need to spend a lot of time using both. (Another reason why a compressed course seems like a mistake to my mind)

The main thing is, don't think there's an easy way to do this. It's going to be a lot of work, and you're going to have to like that work or just forget it. But it's completely possible, if you're willing to bust ass and enjoy learning neat stuff. The way to fail, however, is to think that it's going to be about just learning how to apply some tools, or about what to type when. What you're learning is how to think about a certain class of problems, and how to make those thoughts into effective solutions. Trying to argue about whether the theory or the practice is more important is like arguing about which blade of the scissors "really" cuts the paper.
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#20 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 27 May 2014 - 05:41 PM

To add to my previous post, there's also the project management end of things. Both managing a project effectively and being effectively managed, that is, being a good participant in a project. There's a huge amount of stuff there that you just don't know now, and you have to learn. It's not just about the code, it's about working with the customers to develop what they need, and working with your team to do it efficiently. That's very important here. If you don't take a software engineering course, you're going to be missing an awful lot!
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#21 farrell2k  Icon User is offline

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 27 May 2014 - 07:55 PM

Avoid these private, fly by night, unaccredited tech schools. I blew 10k on one 15 years ago. One of the biggest regrets of my life.
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#22 Xaos  Icon User is offline

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 27 May 2014 - 08:05 PM

An alternate route, if you want to just make educational software, is to learn a programming language and whatnot on your own and start making stuff. Or get on with a company/studio that makes educational software and give them educational insight and slowly work your way into programming with them on that team.
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#23 NJCoder  Icon User is offline

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 28 May 2014 - 04:04 AM

View Postfarrell2k, on 27 May 2014 - 07:55 PM, said:

Avoid these private, fly by night, unaccredited tech schools. I blew 10k on one 15 years ago. One of the biggest regrets of my life.


why do yo regret this? Did you not learn anything significant? Did you find it was useless on a resume?
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#24 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 28 May 2014 - 04:23 AM

There are two school types for most people, educational value and progression value. Sometimes they match other times they don't. I always said when I started looking to get my Comp Sci bachelor's, that if I completed it I would want my masters to follow and possibly more. So, accreditation is important to me; progressive value. Other schools like ITT Tech, Devry, Full Sail, May have educational value , but the progression isn't there. The credit you earn is only usable at those places and not transferable. With that a lot of times the education you get is suspect as no pertinent body cares what they do teach paying students.

If you pick a place to learn vet the hell out of it before you agree to anything. Find out what their curriculum is if possible, what classes, accreditation, past complaints (these need to be tempered as someone will always be complaining regardless of the value), cost, if you can talk to the instructors and other students/ graduates.
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#25 Robin19  Icon User is offline

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 28 May 2014 - 08:30 AM

I have a BA in Music Education. After a year teaching and then moving on to other jobs I decided to switch careers. I liked working with computers so thought about going into the IT field. I went to ITT Tech and got an Associates in Programming. The school is definitely a "get what you put in to it" school. There were plenty of classmates I hope to never be coworkers with. I didn't get a second degree to transfer the credits. I used it to gain knowledge needed for a career. I paid tuition to force a working programmer to sit there for four hours a week and answer all of my questions. After graduation some places wouldn't look at me because of my school. Some realized the BA I already had showed I was capable of a tradition liberal arts college. I had to start out as part time, but quickly became full time and started getting raises. It has been five years and now nobody looks at my education, just work I've done in the industry.

I'm not saying this is the correct route for you, just that it is a route that can be taken. The Tech schools are about giving you a little experience in a field so you can get an entry level job. Your career path is up to the work you do. Avoid the Tech school if you care about the name on your resume or want to transfer credits to get a higher degree. I also attended ITT because all of the classes were at night so I was able to still work 40-50 hours a week while going to school.
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#26 depricated  Icon User is online

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 29 May 2014 - 05:54 AM

View PostRobin19, on 28 May 2014 - 09:30 AM, said:

I went to ITT Tech and got an Associates in Programming. The school is definitely a "get what you put in to it" school. There were plenty of classmates I hope to never be coworkers with. I didn't get a second degree to transfer the credits. I used it to gain knowledge needed for a career. I paid tuition to force a working programmer to sit there for four hours a week and answer all of my questions. After graduation some places wouldn't look at me because of my school

I know exactly what you mean. Exactly.

I went to ITT as well, and my classmates frightened me with their lack of knowledge/interest. There were 3 of us who were worth anything - 2 who were sent their by their employer, and me (and maybe I'm just full of myself). Another classmate has finally, 4 years after graduation, gotten his first IT job. It took me til the end of 2012 (we graduated 2010) to find a programming job. I don't have any way to prove anything, but I'm sure my resume was tossed out some places for attending ITT. Now I'm a full time developer, and every day I apply things I learned, but I only learned them because I was interested and focused on learning them. That classmate who only just got his first IT job? He and I became roommates and good friends, but he doesn't remember the first thing about programming.

It is definitely true that you get what you put in. I had a couple teachers who were awesome, really knowledgeable people who were a boon to learn from. If you showed interest, they were quick to help and would go out of their way for you - or at least for me, and I'm assuming that's for anyone. But the students who didn't question, didn't try to learn more, passed with lowest possible grades and no knowledge of the subject.

Now that I'm working as a developer I couldn't be happier, and hopefully in time my experience will outshine my education.
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#27 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Career Change to Programing

Posted 29 May 2014 - 06:18 AM

That is true for any school. You can graduate from an Ivey league school and know nothing, we have seen posts here , either asking for code, or better yet; I have been doing a pretty girls homework and she doesn't understand anything.


Self taught is all on the student with nothing to show from it other than presumably, programs that college students don't have as well.

Any school you go to , to some degree is going to require you putting in the effort. And some employers dislike some schools based on past histories from prior dealings. Sometimes it is the school, sometimes it is the instruction, sometimes it is the pupil. I have seen a variety of them all in various job disciplines.
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