8 Replies - 1470 Views - Last Post: 16 September 2014 - 07:58 PM

#1 dreaminguy  Icon User is offline

  • New D.I.C Head

Reputation: 0
  • View blog
  • Posts: 4
  • Joined: 15-September 14

Advice on moving into a CS career

Posted 15 September 2014 - 11:43 PM

I'm interested in your experiences and opinions regarding my current career "path".

I'm currently working for a very successful software company where I do technical support for our products. I interact with various customer teams, answer their questions regarding our software, help them troubleshoot problems, and even do some development on the software. For a company that is well know for hiring moldable minds right out of college, I'm getting some great experience in a lot of general skills (time management, learning a topic from scratch to solve a problem, etc.) But we use a very archaic programming language so I won't have direct experience to transfer with a language that is more commonly used like Java or C++.

I have been given the opportunity to participate in a 1 year certificate program through my company and the local state university. I'm taking general computer science courses which will give me a good general background in CS (with some programming experience) but without any specialized skills or a particular languages that I will be proficient in.

I'd like to continue my career in the CS realm, but I'm not sure what I should be doing between now and when my wife and I move (would like to try out someplace new in a few years regardless of how good my current job is). I'm not set on any particular path (such as web development, continuing to do software support, etc) and not sure how to determine what I'd like to do.

Between my job and the courses I'm taking each semester (including summer), I don't have a lot of free time to spend on developing myself especially when I have a mentally challenging job and courses. Oh and my wife and I are expecting a baby soon -- we all know how much free time we'll have!

So do you have some suggestions for ways that I could learn more about what I want my next career path to include? Or some suggestions for working on my career goals given my busy schedule? I'd like to be prepared to be able to take on more opportunities that my experience and education will open up.

Is This A Good Question/Topic? 0
  • +

Replies To: Advice on moving into a CS career

#2 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

  • Xamarin Cert. Dev.
  • member icon

Reputation: 6507
  • View blog
  • Posts: 14,372
  • Joined: 02-June 10

Re: Advice on moving into a CS career

Posted 16 September 2014 - 06:17 AM

So to sum up: I am not learning things that are forward-useful and I don't have the time in my day to take on more education. How can I squeeze more into my day?

Is that about right?

Give something up. If you think that course won't help you in the future then don't do it.

In the Army we went months at a time on 6 hours of sleep (or less).

I recently moved. We had internet hooked up but no TV. That's right, no cable TV or satellite. Its amazing how many more hours each day one has when you read the news then get going. Or have no TV at night, so you might as well read that C# book you've had stashed away for 6 months.

Quote

So do you have some suggestions for ways that I could learn more about what I want my next career path to include?

If you're just plain lost about what you want to be when you grow up, then join the Army. Let them educate you, show you the world, teach you some real time-management and dedication to task.
Was This Post Helpful? 1
  • +
  • -

#3 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

  • Suitor #2
  • member icon



Reputation: 13485
  • View blog
  • Posts: 53,843
  • Joined: 12-June 08

Re: Advice on moving into a CS career

Posted 16 September 2014 - 08:30 AM

Quote

But we use a very archaic programming language so I won't have direct experience to transfer with a language that is more commonly used like Java or C++.

Why not? You are solving bugs like any other software, right? You are designing like any other piece of software, right? You are following logic, meeting customer requirements, and releasing like any other software, right?

Programming is not just enmeshed in a language, but the whole abstract design/implementation that is outside of the muck and mud of the syntax.


Quote

I'm not set on any particular path (such as web development, continuing to do software support, etc) and not sure how to determine what I'd like to do.

I am not certain a random group of folk in one of the curved corners of the intrawebz will know how to determine what you like to do. Do you like design more than the actual code? Project management, business analyst, etc. Folks that deal with design docs, requirements, etc. Do you like to pound code? Software dev, web dev, etc. Do you like managing complex DBs? Head the db lead route. Do you like testing? There's routes for that? Do want to do system admin'ing? Then there's that.


Quote

Between my job and the courses I'm taking each semester (including summer), I don't have a lot of free time to spend on developing myself especially when I have a mentally challenging job and courses. Oh and my wife and I are expecting a baby soon

I have no way to tell you where you can cut back, and re-devote hours, nor can I make more hours in a day.

If your life is too busy then.. well.. your life is too busy. There's no need to fight against the inevitable.


Quote

So do you have some suggestions for ways that I could learn more about what I want my next career path to include?

Read job descriptions, look at job guides, etc.

binging "computer career guide" pulled up many examples:

http://www.jobguide....cupation/search
http://www.khake.com/page17.html
http://careerplannin...utercareers.htm
http://www.unlv.edu/...uterScience.pdf
http://www.education...uterscience.htm
http://www.barcodesi...ter-science.htm


Quote

Or some suggestions for working on my career goals given my busy schedule?

Narrow down what you want to do, and make time. Alternatively keep doing what you are doing and accept it will take longer (longer than what I am not certain, but longer).
Was This Post Helpful? 1
  • +
  • -

#4 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

  • Chinga la migra
  • member icon


Reputation: 10681
  • View blog
  • Posts: 18,294
  • Joined: 19-March 11

Re: Advice on moving into a CS career

Posted 16 September 2014 - 08:38 AM

What the boys said. Particularly the part about losing the TV. If you want to watch TV, I suppose you're allowed - but you have to be at the gym when you do it.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#5 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

  • Xamarin Cert. Dev.
  • member icon

Reputation: 6507
  • View blog
  • Posts: 14,372
  • Joined: 02-June 10

Re: Advice on moving into a CS career

Posted 16 September 2014 - 09:20 AM

I download all my TV. That means I watch it when I have time and can use it as a reward for accomplishment. It also means I cut out 25% of the show length to commercials: A 1 hour show is 42 mins. And shows like FaceOff can be watched with the fast-forward button down for half of the actual content. If you do that through a few shows you've just freed up an entire day (or more) per week.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#6 dreaminguy  Icon User is offline

  • New D.I.C Head

Reputation: 0
  • View blog
  • Posts: 4
  • Joined: 15-September 14

Re: Advice on moving into a CS career

Posted 16 September 2014 - 10:04 AM

Wow, I didn't expect the first response to be a Klingon telling me to join the army!

ALso, why the discussion on TV time? I sometimes have the TV on while I work, but I've found I can't sit and watch only TV without doing something else more productive.

I appreciate some of those links to CS career resources. I've looked through quite a bit, but I have trouble finding stuff that is a little more in depth or personal regarding people's experiences. I also see a lot of discussions/posts from the perspective of CS majors in college finding jobs. I wouldn't say I have a huge disadvatange since I am getting some industry experience, but they get plenty of free time to explore the different languages, collaborate on projects and even get to talk to other about their plans and CS related topics.

At my company, I can't really talk about leaving and what my future might look like. Also, we are very customer focused which means that I spend a lot of time alone in my office working on customer issues. I read recently in a blog post about finding some local coding groups where I could go learn about what the know and how they apply their knowledge in their jobs and free time. I think the biggest thing I can do to find out what I'd like to do is to talk to people about what they do since I have little free time to explore those options on my own.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#7 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

  • Chinga la migra
  • member icon


Reputation: 10681
  • View blog
  • Posts: 18,294
  • Joined: 19-March 11

Re: Advice on moving into a CS career

Posted 16 September 2014 - 10:43 AM

View Postdreaminguy, on 16 September 2014 - 12:04 PM, said:

ALso, why the discussion on TV time? I sometimes have the TV on while I work, but I've found I can't sit and watch only TV without doing something else more productive.



Anti-this. If you're doing something and it's important, do that one thing. If you're doing something and it's not important, why are you doing it?

Multitasking is the Wrong Thing To Do. Here's why: context switching is expensive. If you're trying to manage N tasks, you can give each of them 1/N of your attention, minus N*p, where p is your switching penalty. You always lose this way.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#8 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

  • Suitor #2
  • member icon



Reputation: 13485
  • View blog
  • Posts: 53,843
  • Joined: 12-June 08

Re: Advice on moving into a CS career

Posted 16 September 2014 - 10:57 AM

Quote

ALso, why the discussion on TV time? I sometimes have the TV on while I work, but I've found I can't sit and watch only TV without doing something else more productive.

Typically this is the first big area of a time sink, and being that you only have two posts here, and folks don't know you, one would trend to the common gap.

Quote

but I have trouble finding stuff that is a little more in depth or personal regarding people's experiences.
[...]
I think the biggest thing I can do to find out what I'd like to do is to talk to people about what they do since I have little free time to explore those options on my own.

How much more do you need? Those links, and the others easily searched ("computer career spotlight video"), give great job overviews. You should be able to make some sort of logical leap to see "does this sound like something I want to angle towards".

At some point you will hit that recursive indecision paralysis because you will constantly look for information that is not exactly how you want to hear it, what you want to hear, or in a format you are not beyond 100% accepting. Hopefully you can avoid that valley.

Quote

I also see a lot of discussions/posts from the perspective of CS majors [...] but they get plenty of free time to explore the different languages, collaborate on projects and even get to talk to other about their plans and CS related topics.

Okay.. and your experience is different from college kids, but not so different from the plethora (of pinatas?) of folk looking to shift careers.

Quote

I read recently in a blog post about finding some local coding groups where I could go learn about what the know and how they apply their knowledge in their jobs and free time.

That's not my typical experience with local dev groups, but I am probably doing it differently.
Was This Post Helpful? 0
  • +
  • -

#9 Lemur  Icon User is offline

  • Pragmatism over Dogma
  • member icon


Reputation: 1439
  • View blog
  • Posts: 3,609
  • Joined: 28-November 09

Re: Advice on moving into a CS career

Posted 16 September 2014 - 07:58 PM

Where is local for you? You sound exactly like a guy I know who's an Analyst in KC, so I'll tell you the same thing I told him.

Get code on GitHub. Show up to as many coding events as possible, ESPECIALLY hackathons. People say skill gets you in in the industry. Well, they're maybe 40% right. The rest is knowing people and making connections with people who can get you somewhere.

Now here's the question: What do YOU want to do? If you can't answer that in a coupe of seconds, you need to work on that first.
Was This Post Helpful? 1
  • +
  • -

Page 1 of 1