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Working While Going to School - job chances?

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I am presently working towards a Masters (MS)degree in CS degree part-time while working. I am from Colorado originally and during the next year or so would like to relocate back there, and transfer into a school and continue with the MS studies. In addition to the MS studies, I am studying Java (which is not covered heavily in school! strange...), and plan to take the Sun Programmer exam within the next few months
Curently I am working as a drug developer for a pharmaceutical company, and am interested in obtaining CS employment after returning to CO. My question is : reasonably, what are my chances of landing a CS job, before finishing the degree? I am still probably a couple of years away from finishing up the MS at the rate I am going presently (it's slow going while working!), but when I look through employment ads, I have many of the qualifications already.
I'd love to begin working in the field while finishing up the degree. It seems like I'd be so much farther ahead that way!
Thanks for any advice!
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What's your undergraduate degree in?
You should have no problem getting a decent CS job out here
in Colorado.
Regarding Java in colleges...they don't teach it. I would have
to say 90% of my college classes (Pitt/Lehigh) do not relate
to my current job. Employers know this, yet the majority of
them still want that piece of paper. It's even tough trying to
find a COBOL class in the college environment today. Colleges
seem to run about 10 years behind the real world - at least for
the computer science degree.
Regarding transferring graduate credits - you need to watch
yourself here. Graduate credits do not transfer as easily
as undergraduate credits. Do your homework on this one.
Regarding employement. Hit up the career services center at
your current college. Occaisionally the pull out some gems.
Plus the advice (interview tips & resume writing) is usually free.
Since you are in college - get an account and password (free)
for - can get info from your career services
center. This site has some gems once in awhile too - especially
for Java. I think they even have internships listed there.
Hope this helps,
John Coxey
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Hi - thanks for the encouraging word.
My undergraduate degree is in Pharmacy, with an emphasis in Pharmaceutics, which is drug dosage form development.
I have looked a little bit into potential schools in CO to continue study once I move there, and it seems as if CU and DU are the choices. I will take a little bit of a hit on transfer credits, since not everything I have taken so far will transfer, but I'm not too bothered by that.
I'm glad to hear that it isn't just my particular school that is somewhat detached from what is relevant in the current job market. I have certainly learned a lot from the academic coursework, and feel that I have gotten a solid theoretical foundation, but I also feel like I have a lot of gaps which I need to fill in through my own independent study.
John Coxey
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What you need to do while in school - is grab a part time project doing Java for one of your professors. Even if it's in C/C++ - it's another line to add to the resume'. Can even list the university as your employer if you work for a professor (even if a volunteer - no one has to know how much $$$ you made - at least on the resume').
Also, you need to get some real-world job skills (away from the theoretical class works) to separate yourself from the other student's. I would absolutely recommend getting the Java Certification. You could list it right under your college degrees.
And don't worry about employers seeing the transition from Pharmacy to Computer Science. It's not like when my old man went to work (same company - same lousy job for 40 years). Most people (especially in their 30's) in this field have held positions in other fields. So it's not important.
The thing is, your resume needs to stress your computer science skills. The MS-Comp Sci degree along with the Java Certification will be the kicker. And no - do not think that taking one of these 9 month web development classes would have been the better alternative. You made the right choice.
Can you get a Java job before graduation - yepper. This is where the Certification will help out alot. And the bonus, most employers will pick up the tab for grad school. I know Lucent and EDS paid out around $6000/yr for grad school.
Let us know what happens.

[This message has been edited by John Coxey (edited January 26, 2001).]
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