6 Replies - 3372 Views - Last Post: 19 September 2010 - 08:41 AM

#1 RLB31384   User is offline

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Software Engineering job tips for graduating CS student

Posted 18 September 2010 - 03:13 PM

I'm a graduating CS major, CIS minor student in Kentucky. I have a gpa of like 3.8 for my CS major classes. I'm thinking of getting my Network+ cert after my Network class, but im wondering if this would be a waste of money if im wanting to do software engineering. How hard of a time will I have finding a job after college? Will people be jumping to hire me more will I have to try a few places. I know its one of the fastest growing fields but I still wonder if I might have trouble especially because I live in Kentucky.

Someone in a forum had offered to interview me for a insurance claims job, maintaining and helping reprogram their software. They are reprogramming to .NET which I really don't have any real experience with, should I go for this even though I dont graduate until May? Or I wonder if maybe I should just wait and see what kind of options I have in May. I don't want to end up at Walmart or something for a few months looking for a good job.

How are the online job outlooks? Perhaps coding for a facebook game or something until I find something better? I have read that its one of the best degrees for an online job but I figure they are a bit harder to get.

Another thing...all the coding I have done so far has been C++ and C..I taught myself some Java over the summer and have had some VB and Python. Should I focus on something else? I'm thinking I should just focus on C and C++ to help myself learn some of the things we didn't cover in the classes I have had. For example in classes we learned a lot of things without learning shortcuts and helpful ways to do it. Like we haven't done anything with vectors which Im sure would help me a lot to learn.

Im also really concerned with programming with graphics using C and C++...Everything we have done has been making programs in console. I have had C++ and Advanced C++, and we never do anything with graphics. Do I need to find something that will teach me how to work with graphics a bit more? The only real graphics experience I have had is in VB and VC++.

Im learning Parallel Programming atm which I assume could come in handy, and I have a Software Engineering class right now but it really doesnt focus on any coding. I'm kind of concerned that my coding skills may not be up to par as they should be even though I have gotten A's in all my programming classes and know everything I was taught. It just seems like maybe it won't be enough.

Sorry for the long ranting. Any help?

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Replies To: Software Engineering job tips for graduating CS student

#2 Oler1s   User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering job tips for graduating CS student

Posted 18 September 2010 - 05:56 PM

Your CS classes won't properly teach you about how to actually engineer software. You won't really have experience actually constructing non trivial code. You won't really understand and have experience with various design problems and patterns. You may or may not be familiar with how programmers work, with tools like version control, bug tracking, and so on.

All those things come from actually being a programmer. Which means that you should be actively working on projects. Initially, they'll be very simple. You finish a project, some piece of software. Then you come up with an idea for something more complicated. You complete that, and so on. The idea is that you actively engage in solving programming problems. You develop the mindset needed to analyze and construct solutions to problems. It's not mystical. It just requires you to actively be working with programming problems.

Isn't that what you already do in CS classes? Not really. CS classes are about theory. You can be a great CS person and be unable to write code on your own. You'll get some education in a bit of a few languages, but CS courses aren't really interested in teaching tools. They want to teach theory and the kind of thought process needed to work with those fundamentals.

Consequently, if you haven't actually been programming and studying on your own outside of class, you are significantly underprepared. You have a year before you graduate, so you should start taking this opportunity. Start coming up with ideas for projects that you think would challenge you, and then pick one that seems interesting. Then go about it. For example, you are concerned about only making C++ console programs. So you can set a challenge of making a program that displays a window with a spinning cube. Then start researching what it takes to do that.
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#3 macosxnerd101   User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering job tips for graduating CS student

Posted 18 September 2010 - 06:15 PM

Couldn't agree more on working on programming for projects of real complexity. Also, try helping out on the forums in your areas of knowledge a few hours a day. Helping out will involve research, and conversing with those around you who are more knowledgeable will help you grow as a programmer. It worked for me. This past summer, I worked at a local IT firm as an Android developer. I had never touched Android before then, but within a week I was familiar with API and by the end of the summer, I produced high-quality and real-world work. This is mainly due to hanging out in the Java forum over a couple years. And I'm a senior in high school. :)

In terms of jobs, the most important thing is to build up a portfolio. So take on challenging projects that push the bounds for your skill level, but don't completely overwhelm you, and save them when you finish. Before a job interview, pick the ones where you feel you have the best final products, the ones most relevant to the job, and the ones with the most organized code.
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#4 RLB31384   User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering job tips for graduating CS student

Posted 18 September 2010 - 08:11 PM

Thanks for the tips guys. I have been attempting to make time to actually do some more coding out of projects suggested in a bunch of ebooks and books I have. Its a bit difficult right now as I got classes to keep up with right now.

Anyways does anyone think its a good idea to get my Network+ cert? Or will that basically be a bit of a waste of money in my situation. The professor can let us take the exam half off I think in December so I may try for it if I think I am prepared for it then.

And did any of you guys who got a degree in CS have any trouble finding a job when you got out? I'm wondering if I should bother even interviewing for a job 8 months before I graduate. As someone is asking me if I can interview for one.

Im hoping I can find a good book that has a list of programs to write and then has a solution part to it to help me through it. I learn the best this way, but I suppose if not I can always look for help online.

Thanks a lot guys.
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#5 Oler1s   User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering job tips for graduating CS student

Posted 18 September 2010 - 10:27 PM

Quote

Im hoping I can find a good book that has a list of programs to write and then has a solution part to it to help me through it. I learn the best this way, but I suppose if not I can always look for help online.
This is precisely what you don't want to be doing. You don't want to be looking at simple isolated problems, and you don't want to have "solutions to help you through". You need to be able to handle large projects, where you break down and pursue subproblems for extended periods of time. You need to be able to form possible solutions, evaluate them, backtrack if necessary, and so on.
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#6 xTorvos   User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering job tips for graduating CS student

Posted 19 September 2010 - 06:02 AM

I agree with the above statement. Your job as a software engineer will be to take a problem that someone has given you and come up with a solution for it. 99% of the time, there will be no solution already custom made for you on the internet. You will need to use logic and reasoning to muddle your own way through. As macosxnerd101 pointed out, this will involve your own research. Get used to being faced with a problem that you've never seen before and working on bits and pieces of it until you get it solved.

As far as the Net+, I'm also considering getting mine. These are my thoughts on it:

1. It can never hurt to have more certifications under your belt. If you are get a job with C/C++ programming, you will probably have to do something with network code. (OSI model)
2. If you get it before January 1st, 2011, then you will never have to re-certify. If you wait until after that, then it is null after 3 years, requiring re-certification.
3. It's cheap enough that it's not going to break the bank.
4. If you already have networking knowledge, then it won't be that hard to pick up a book such as Mike Meyer's Certification Passport: CompTIA Network+ 3rd Edition and study the bare essentials for what the exam will ask you.

Lastly, when it comes to getting a job, my suggestion would be to get something while you're in college--preferably an internship (as opposed to full-time employment). Companies love giving internships because A. They get $30-$60/hour work for the price of $10-$15/hour, and B. They see it as a long-term interview. If you do well, you get a full time job afterwards. If you do poorly, they don't have to keep you.

Whatever you end up doing, I wish you luck.
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#7 RLB31384   User is offline

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Re: Software Engineering job tips for graduating CS student

Posted 19 September 2010 - 08:41 AM

Thanks guys, if anyone has anymore comments they are appreciated. I'm always concerned about being not prepared, which I guess is why I stress myself over exams. I almost always get A's on them but the stress sucks.
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