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Career Advise Please

 
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What I think I need is a little advice of where my career should go. In order for you to give me good advise I will briefly explain my schooling and experience.
I went to ITI(Information Technology Institute) where I learned FrontPage, Html, Access, VBA, ASP, Microsoft Information Server (IIS), Microsoft Transaction Server (MTS), and ActiveX Data Objects (ADO) were used in a network-computing environment, VisualAge for Java, SQL, DB2, and UML. ITI grading consists of team based deliverables and individual tests. Each unit ended in a project most of which boiled down to a 3-tier application to access a backend relational database and of course a personal test.
I learned not only the hard programming skills but also worked with UML to create ERDs, Use Cases, and storyboards. As the work was done in groups with deliverables on a tight schedule I learned to get productive in a group setting fast. The schooling was full time for 9 months and you cannot get in without a previous degree and a skills test. The Trustforte Corporation and Baruch College found "Accordingly, it follows that individuals completing the AIT program of the ITI have exceeded the requirements in connection with a two-year post-secondary diploma in the information technology field"
I achieved an A+ average and prior to attending ITI I received an Honours degree in English and Ancient Civilizations and a certificate in Public Relations. My work history includes at this point two PR jobs and customer service. I am having a devil of a time getting into IT.
My goal is simply programming and the question is how to get there?
Given what Mark Herschberg said about only hiring people with CS degrees I am beginning to feel that when people look at my resume and see no CS degree it is getting pitched when I apply for jr. programming positions.
Hope this answers questions a bit about what I did at ITI any more specific questions are welcome of course.
 
Luther Adon
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Mark asked me what I thought of the school:
It is the hardest thing I have ever done. I programmed alot as a kid as a hobby with the ZX81 and Vic20 and moving to Object Oriented Development was tough. But nothing worth doing is easy.
I think the school ITI is focused on getting people to a point where they are able to be productive to a company in minimal time. I don't think too many colleges or universities focus on this team building aspect. In fact, I am part of an Extreme Programming user group and I'll be darned if we didn't essentially do some Extreme Programming without even knowing what it was at the time.
 
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It is a hard time to get into any field right now. Continue to study what you enjoy and work on areas where you lack. When the economy comes around demand for entry level programmers will rise once again.
You won't see the mind-blowing salaries that you did two years ago, but it will still be a lucrative field. Participate in some open-source projects, study for more certifications, do whatever your time/finances/abilities allow while you are searching.
In a poor economy, only the alpha-MIT genii will have a shot at anything. Your qualifications are excellent, and even in a mediocre job market a good employer will see your skills as valuable. Just keep at it.
 
Luther Adon
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John,
You have no idea how much your post meant to me, thanx. It was realistic and yet positive.
I do have a part time job currently and am building my knowledge to the point where I can build some apps with J2ME. So it's Cert and projects that I am aiming for now, guess I am following your advice already.
The problem is I am not sure how much time to spend job hunting and how much coding. The job hunting is pretty depressing the coding is good for the soul
 
John Fontana
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Then code away, my friend, code till the sun goes down and comes back up again. I put up with naysayers who said I couldn't program because my degree is in music. Well, most of my programming career has been spent fixing mistakes made by people holding CS degrees. So pooh-pooh on them.
Besides, most jobs are had by networking. Maybe someone on this board wants to collaborate with you on a project to put on your resume? (I haven't worked with J2ME yet, but if you have any ideas, let me know.)
Glad I could be of help...now I have to put away the vodka and take my own advice!
 
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I agree with everything John said. I would also try to fill in the gaps in my knowledge. Check out the CS program at your local university, or pick any, since they are all online. Find their course books (see if you can confirm that the course follows the book closely--some don't), and read through them.
--Mark
 
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John, I'd also like to say that your words are inspiring. I'm one of the lucky ones who is presently working as a programmer, but I've been looking for something better for three months. In the meantime, I'm doing just as you say, building up my skills, getting certified, and participating in open source projects. I find that it keeps me very interested in the profession. Otherwise, job hunting would be very stressful.
 
Luther Adon
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I am thinking like you Mark I added to my wish list of books Structure and interpretation of Complex Programs yesterday and have started seeking it. Looking for other books though.
So far I have:
UML Distilled, Fowler Scott
Case Method: Entity Relationship Modelling, Barker
Developing JavaBeans using VisualAge for Java various
Core Java 2 Fundamentals (1st Java book, big mistake)
Java 2 Micro Edition, Gigurere
Programming with VisualAge for Java Version 2 Akerly et al
Complete Java 2 Certification
Wireless Java Programming with J2Me, Feng
Running Access 2000
The Practical SQL Handbook
DB2 Universal Database 7.1
and my fave Just Java 2 on recommendation of this site.
I intend to add to this list some true fundamental courses per your suggestion and various sources recommendations including this site.
 
Mark Herschberg
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Junior engineers generally don't read enough books on software engineering. Most don't read any. I spend $200-$300 on average on software books (in addition to magazine and online articles).
I would not recommend, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (which I think is what you meant). That's a little too theoretical. I would recommend Introduction to Algorithms.
--Mark
 
Luther Adon
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Hmm..
Are you serious Mark? That book Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs is on the course list for most good schools and is very highly recommended by most respectable techies I know. I am not afraid of reading complex, theoretical stuff as I've read Plato and Hobbes. But I will definitely look into your recommendation. Thanx for the input.
 
Mark Herschberg
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I'm quite serious. I've read the book. I took the course at MIT for which the book was written. I've also had the honor to work with Gerry Sussman. Frankly, I think lambda calculus isn't all that useful unless you're doing some hard core CS work. The theory concepts in the book can be explained, in a much easier and more practical way, and I'm sure there are books which do that. I think it's so common simply because everyone follow's MIT's lead when it comes to CS programs.
If you want to read it, go ahead, but honestly I think there are more useful theory books out there.
--Mark
 
John Fontana
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Originally posted by Dalia Rojas:
John, I'd also like to say that your words are inspiring. I'm one of the lucky ones who is presently working as a programmer, but I've been looking for something better for three months. In the meantime, I'm doing just as you say, building up my skills, getting certified, and participating in open source projects. I find that it keeps me very interested in the profession. Otherwise, job hunting would be very stressful.



Glad I could reaffirm that and keep up the great work!
I can also offer some books that helped me...my angle has been on web, which I know is not everyone's path, but these are some great books anyway:
Thinking in Java by Bruce Eckel
Core Servlets and Java Server Pages by Marty Hall
JSP Tag Libraries by Shachor/Chace and Rydin
Computer Science with Mathematica by Roman Maeder
C for Dummies (so basic, but one of the funniest books I've ever read. I wish there was one like this for EJB. J2EE people need some humor).
Any Syngress book on C# or VB.net.
Any Ben Forta book on Cold Fusion - great place to start with web programming. His approach is so simple and sensible that it can be applied to any language/methodology. Also, CF6 will plug into J2EE and I think it will be more important and useful than ever.
 
Luther Adon
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I will definitely look into those books too John. Currently on the VB/.net platform I have a few books but am still more interested in the Java.
 
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Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs is all online: http://mitpress.mit.edu/sicp/full-text/book/book-Z-H-4.html
I bought an old copy ($6 ) and finishing it now. I love this book. Not too useful from practical point of view, but abstract concepts are so beautifully illustrated, that it's a pure joy to read. Then, I need something to exercise my brain on, frustrate me and to prove once again how stupid I am
I am only afraid that if you do not have a habit of reading highly abstract stuff, the book will be too hard. I wouldn't recommend it as an introductory course to anybody! (except for MIT CS students, they are doomed to this book anyway )
 
Luther Adon
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I noticed this book was online as I was looking at the MIT courselist. I plan on going through it soon. Thanks for the link
The type of book I seek currently is how to put together some of these ideas in an object-oriented fashion.
I am finding this manner of thinking a little troublesome as I have worked with Basic since the Vic20 and this flowing fashion comes naturally. Books like Just Java are great for giving you a good basis but I feel like I have all the tools but lack a method for putting it together in a strict OOP format. Would a book on Design Patterns help?
 
Mapraputa Is
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Only when I read about Design Patterns I realized what OOP is all about. Um... It would be more correct to say "I relaized that before I didn't have any idea what OOP is about" There is wonderful book about them, "Design Patterns Explained" by Alan Shalloway and James R.Trott, and it is very beginner friendly, unlike SICP book.
 
Luther Adon
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Thanx again for another recommendation, I intend to pick up that book ASAP. Am nearly done Just Java 2 and I am anxious to start building some apps I've got in mind
 
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