is degree worth to get it?

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#16 Atli  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 08:41 AM

true said:

I have known many degree holders that didn't know anything, likewise I have known some that knew the theories, but couldn't implement printing a string.

I've seen a lot of this too.

Some people simply seem to have a skill for logic puzzles and problem solving, and some people don't. Like painting, or composing music. Either you have a talent for it, or you don't. Learning the theory and how to use all the tools won't really fix that.

Those without that skill will be poor programmers at best, regardless of their education, which they can still pass with high marks.
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#17 ArtificialSoldier  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 10:04 AM

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Could you please give few examples of what would you be looking for for a "solid" portfolio.

It's one of those things that you know when you see it. For example, if I was hiring for a PHP position I don't want to see something that looks like they learned PHP from 10 year old tutorials and then copied and pasted code everywhere, I want to see an MVC application and have them talk to me about things like the factory pattern and other things which demonstrate a knowledge of programming theory beyond online tutorials. In my job we don't follow tutorials, so if someone doesn't have a degree (or even if they do) I want to make sure that they know the theory and aren't just copying and pasting from some "how-to" guide.
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#18 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 11:35 AM

View Postastonecipher, on 24 May 2016 - 08:23 AM, said:

Can you do what you are being looked at for? Portfolios can provide that, a degree doesn't mean anything other than you paid money for a piece of paper.


"A degree doesn't mean anything"? I think that's putting it a little strongly. Yes, some degree holders have not acquired as much practical knowledge as you'd like, but by the same token there are plenty of people with "practical experience" who will happily throw you into exponential-time algorithms because they just haven't ever learned not to do that, because their practical experience wasn't enough to reinvent decades of research in computer science.

It seems clear to me that both are relevant in deciding who to bring in for an interview, and the interview is the deciding factor.
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#19 dday9  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 01:21 PM

I have read through a number of the posts, not all of them, but some of them. I would like to provide my $0.02 on this topic. I would also like to mention that I do not have a job related to computer science to take this with whatever grain of salt you'd like.

Is a degree worth having? Absolutely not in a free market; I know that the US is not a free market and that the UK isn't either but you get my point. In the US, we have been sold that in order to be successful(i.e. make more money) that you must have a college education, however whenever you live in an economy that is largely dictated by the invisible hand of free market economics this simply doesn't hold up. Instead you need to be able to make your skills and/or talent demand greater than or equal to the supply, i.e. you need to sell yourself. While you may have a similar skill as the person next to you interviewing for the same job, what makes you stand out? Are you going to be cliché and tell the employer that you're a great in a team environment or some other loaded phrase? If so then behavioral based interviewing will weed you out. Instead you need to convince the employer that you're the best person for the job that they have available.

I will give you my own example. I am 24 years old college drop out, according to the statistics that schools try to shove down your throat I should be making $2 million less over my lifetime than my friends who are now graduating college. Well for one, I don't have the same crippling debt that they now have. I only have a small business loan(no not a Donald Trump $1 million dollar loan) and a mortgage on my home. For another, since I decided that I wanted to work in the insurance industry I have a 5 year head start(I started insurance in 2011 when I was 19 going on 20) while my friends were working part time jobs they knew that they wouldn't keep to earn money while studying. Because of the decisions that I made, I am now a captive agency owner with one of the largest property and casualty companies(top 5... you can guess) in a state that has the highest average premium in the nation(agency owners get paid commission on premium by the way).

Am I an exception to the rule? No. I think that the statistic that college graduates earn more over their lifetime is disproportionately skewed for professions that truly require a higher education(doctors, lawyers, etc.). I know more people that skipped college and decided to work in some of the refineries that have a nice cushy union job that will make more than a lot of those who I went to high school with and decided to go into college. When it comes to technology specifically, there is soooooo much information out there that you can learn how to program from home, build yourself a nice profile page, and make yourself active within the programming community that will make you much more employable than the just out of college graduate showing that they successfully built an interest calculator that they had somebody make them off of DIC, MSDN, or any of the other forums.

For what it's worth... when I interview with potential employees, at the very end I do the same thing. I sit there, look them in the eye, and tell them "I'm sorry, you seem like a great person but I just don't see <insert position> material in you." and those who fight back are the ones that I hire. I can't tell you how many people I get say "OK well if anything changes....", I don't want them. They only way something will change is if they get the kahunas to fight back and tell my why they're exactly <insert position> material.
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#20 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 01:34 PM

View Postdday9, on 24 May 2016 - 03:21 PM, said:

For what it's worth... when I interview with potential employees, at the very end I do the same thing. I sit there, look them in the eye, and tell them "I'm sorry, you seem like a great person but I just don't see <insert position> material in you." and those who fight back are the ones that I hire. I can't tell you how many people I get say "OK well if anything changes....", I don't want them. They only way something will change is if they get the kahunas to fight back and tell my why they're exactly <insert position> material.


This would never fly in the tech sector - but I guess fact-based industries are different from financial services.
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#21 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 01:53 PM

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Is a degree worth having? Absolutely not in a free market; I know that the US is not a free market and that the UK isn't either but you get my point. In the US, we have been sold that in order to be successful(i.e. make more money) that you must have a college education, however whenever you live in an economy that is largely dictated by the invisible hand of free market economics this simply doesn't hold up. Instead you need to be able to make your skills and/or talent demand greater than or equal to the supply, i.e. you need to sell yourself. While you may have a similar skill as the person next to you interviewing for the same job, what makes you stand out? Are you going to be cliché and tell the employer that you're a great in a team environment or some other loaded phrase? If so then behavioral based interviewing will weed you out. Instead you need to convince the employer that you're the best person for the job that they have available.

The labor market can be studied at the macro level, but I think the micro level tells a better story. In particular, we look at it from a game theoretic perspective. You are correct- employers wish to hire workers that best fit their needs. However, employers do not know the quality (which we call the worker's type) of the workers a priori. A college degree is a signal indicating (imperfectly) the worker's type. So there are false positives. The employer's job (really, HR's job) is to screen potential workers in an attempt to ascertain their types. This does not imply the labor market is any less "free" (of course, we have wage floors and taxes, so the market has externalities with which to begin). A free market is something which needs to be precisely defined.


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When it comes to technology specifically, there is soooooo much information out there that you can learn how to program from home, build yourself a nice profile page, and make yourself active within the programming community that will make you much more employable than the just out of college graduate showing that they successfully built an interest calculator that they had somebody make them off of DIC, MSDN, or any of the other forums.

Sure. If someone aspires to build business applications, then a lot of the material can be self-taught. I think moving forward, additional education will be crucial in the tech sector. The reason is that big data has become more accessible than previously, and we have the computing power to handle it. Companies are hiring data scientists in increasing capacities. Machine learning algorithms are quite powerful, but also very mathematical in nature. I can almost guarantee a person self-taught from the internet wouldn't be very successful. That's not to say a college degree guarantees readiness for an upper level position. But someone with some college-level training in data science who can get through a technical interview is likely to be a good candidate for an internship or entry-level position.

The other benefit of college courses is to learn how to think. Jon hit on one point already. The material in the upper level math and CS theory courses translates into more effective algorithm design techniques. Additionally, upper level math and CS theory classes are usually axiomatic in nature. When developing software, it is important to discern the problem that needs to be solved. How often have you had to go back to the drawing board because said client said one thing but wanted another? Axiomatic courses spell out details and force us to examine our assumptions closely. This is an incredibly important skill for software architecture and design, and one that takes hard work to really pick up.

And at the end of the day, a degree is what you make of it.
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#22 dday9  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 02:32 PM

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 24 May 2016 - 01:34 PM, said:

This would never fly in the tech sector - but I guess fact-based industries are different from financial services.


Caution: I'm projecting.

It doesn't fly for you because you're afraid that it will leave a negative impression that you are disagreeing with the employer. I find this a lot from college graduates because they're taught in school not to challenge their professors, to go with the status quo. When in employment scenarios the interviewer wants to see how the interviewee will perform under pressure.

That is why I like to implement behavioral based interviewing and ask questions like "when was a time that you decided not to follow a rule or procedure that was set in place and why?" this will tell me if A) they can only follow the rules that are set in place and will make potentially bad decisions because a scenario didn't fit within the confines of the rules/procedures. B) they are too eager to break the rules if they think that the rule/procedure doesn't fit them. C) anything in between.

By the way, I have had friends that I told this to that do work in the technology industry and have gotten jobs because they fought back when told that they were not qualified or not what they were looking for. The point is to not piss off or disrespect the interviewer but to lay out and give scenarios where you are what they need. If at the end of your points they still disagree, then move on and thank them for the opportunity.
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#23 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 02:40 PM

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It doesn't fly for you because you're afraid that it will leave a negative impression that you are disagreeing with the employer.

Not really... There is a high demand for quality folks in software development. I'm used to companies being accommodating in the interview process. So are a lot of folks who have ended up with nice jobs. I also don't think Jon is too worried about finding a job, should he desire to move (which I don't think is the case, at present).

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I find this a lot from college graduates because they're taught in school not to challenge their professors, to go with the status quo.

In mathematics and theoretical disciplines, pointing out a mistake earns a "thank you" (granted as long as you're being constructive). Digging into something leads to interesting class discussions or worthwhile talks with the professor in office hours. People who enjoy these kinds of things are good candidates for graduate school, at which point the department pays your way.
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#24 dday9  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 02:51 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 24 May 2016 - 02:40 PM, said:

In mathematics and theoretical disciplines, pointing out a mistake earns a "thank you" (granted as long as you're being constructive). Digging into something leads to interesting class discussions or worthwhile talks with the professor in office hours. People who enjoy these kinds of things are good candidates for graduate school, at which point the department pays your way.


I'm not talking about mistakes; I'm talking about an interviewer making a judgment call on whether or not you are a good fit within their organization, two completely different things. If I'm doing an interview and I say "So what did you enjoy most at LSU?" and they say "I'm sorry, but I actually went to Southern. However I really did enjoy..." then of course I'm going to thank them for correcting my mistake. What I'm talking about is when two people have opposing view, i.e. interviewee thinks that they're the perfect match for this position and interviewer disagrees, I find that those without a college degree are more willing to challenge me on my position. Not to make me justify my position but to give a spill as to why they think that they're the best thing since sliced bread.
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#25 snoopy11  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 02:56 PM

All the above are good points.

As a manager I have had to hire and fire people.

Ive had to fire people who obviously couldn't do the job and had no basic understanding of how to do the job and yes they had degrees.

On the plus side I have employed people who had degrees and were excellent at their jobs.

Ive met people with CS degrees that could only make Unix console applications.

Ive met people with CS degrees that could turn their hand to anything.

mac said

Quote

a degree is what you make of it.


and there is the best point of them all because its generic and applies to all degrees if you only do enough just to pass the degree you will do miserably in the job market if you take on board the purpose and point of the degree and 'apply it and yourself' you will reach a level of understanding that you can only really reach while doing a degree and after.

It really is down to the individual.
A degree prepares you for life long learning, I'm always taking courses.
Either in Engineering or Computer Programming because I want to be the best I can be.
A degree prepares you for that mindset, a mindset that non-professionals simply cannot match.
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#26 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 03:06 PM

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View Postdday9, on 24 May 2016 - 03:21 PM, said:

For what it's worth... when I interview with potential employees, at the very end I do the same thing. I sit there, look them in the eye, and tell them "I'm sorry, you seem like a great person but I just don't see <insert position> material in you."

Haha some asshole tries this on me and I'm laughing my way out the door. I don't have time for stupid games. You want to know how I'm going to fit in your organization, don't try to bait me into a discussion that isn't relevant to my skillset and that would only serve to infuriate me in the office day-to-day as well. If that's the culture of your workplace, I don't want to be there anyway - I'm here to work, not indulge somebody's idea of a personality test.

This post has been edited by jon.kiparsky: 24 May 2016 - 06:24 PM
Reason for edit:: Fixed attribution

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#27 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 03:13 PM

I'm of the opinion that I don't go where I'm not wanted. This applies to graduate schools, employers, etc. My senior year of undergrad, I was looking for a summer internship before starting grad school in the fall. Most of the companies in the career fair wanted to hire me full time, and my resume really stood out. There was one company that told me my resume was too long. I didn't bother pursuing a job there any further.

If someone told me that I was missing a qualification and wouldn't hire me as a result, I'd thank them for their time and move onto the next offer. If an interviewer was using that as a test to see if I'd push back, then said employer would have lost out for it. At the end of the day, it goes back to a signaling and screening game. I imagine someone with fewer opportunities would fight harder for an opening. Thorough interviewing to ensure the person can think outside the box is great. Screening to see how feisty someone is seems rather unimportant to me, and I think your approach assumes the person at the other end of the table is incapable of advocating for themselves. It seems a rather negative way to achieve your result. Really, it sounds like you have a chip on your shoulder about the higher education process. I don't know your story, but your hiring process (as you've described it) seems to vent your frustrations on job candidates.

Note: I'm not making the claim that a college degree (let alone in CS) is either necessary or sufficient to obtain a job as a software developer. Personally, I think discriminating against clearly qualified folks without degrees is just as ridiculous as claiming a degree is pointless. As I said earlier, a degree is what the individual makes of it.
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#28 supersloth  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 03:17 PM

View Postxclite, on 24 May 2016 - 04:06 PM, said:

View Postjon.kiparsky, on 24 May 2016 - 04:34 PM, said:

For what it's worth... when I interview with potential employees, at the very end I do the same thing. I sit there, look them in the eye, and tell them "I'm sorry, you seem like a great person but I just don't see <insert position> material in you."

Haha some asshole tries this on me and I'm laughing my way out the door. I don't have time for stupid games. You want to know how I'm going to fit in your organization, don't try to bait me into a discussion that isn't relevant to my skillset and that would only serve to infuriate me in the office day-to-day as well. If that's the culture of your workplace, I don't want to be there anyway - I'm here to work, not indulge somebody's idea of a personality test.

this is what bad managers do, and in our line of business, programmers on power trips do. and i couldn't agree more.
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#29 dday9  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 04:20 PM

Say what you want and imply that I am a bad manager, but my sales reflect that I have the right people in my office.

It's worth mentioning that I did make an exception because I needed someone and so I went with my gut. When it came to said employee to pull his weight… he couldn't close. He was afraid that if we weren't the lowest price that we are not a fit for that person we're quoting; basically he could only close on price not on the features of our policies. We addressed it, tried giving him training, and gave him positive feedback but he ultimately left because I structure pay based on performance and he couldn't perform.
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#30 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: is degree worth to get it?

Posted 24 May 2016 - 05:35 PM

The job of a programmer is to write quality code, not to sell people insurance policies. Good employers should screen for the appropriate skills and fit for the job, not arbitrary personality traits.
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