This week's book giveaway is in the Servlets forum.
We're giving away four copies of Murach's Java Servlets and JSP and have Joel Murach on-line!
See this thread for details.
The moose likes Jobs Discussion and the fly likes anybody have 2 cents to spare? Big Moose Saloon
  Search | Java FAQ | Recent Topics | Flagged Topics | Hot Topics | Zero Replies
Register / Login


Win a copy of Murach's Java Servlets and JSP this week in the Servlets forum!
JavaRanch » Java Forums » Careers » Jobs Discussion
Bookmark "anybody have 2 cents to spare?" Watch "anybody have 2 cents to spare?" New topic
Author

anybody have 2 cents to spare?

fish water
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 04, 2001
Posts: 2
hi everyone,
i noticed your graciousness in lending directions to others' lives, so here's mine:
i'm feeling very indecisive of late. will turn 29 this month. after graduating w/ an English major in '95, i began my career writing for newspapers, then moved to editor of a trade magazine and its website. in '00 i jumped on the dot-com bandwagon and worked for a startup, hecklers.com, as a concept writer. when the ship started going down, i began really plunging into the technical side and learning everything -- Flash, Photoshop, HTML, PHP, JavaScript.
When it sank, I was able to keep myself afloat w/ freelance writing and some low-level web development. (I also went through CIW training, but have not yet taken the exams.) Currently, I'm finishing up a 6-month web development contract w/ a major health care provider, which has been disappointing since this company uses very little that could be considered cutting edge.
AND HERE I GET TO MY PROBLEM: While I do have a good variety of experience, I don't really have the "hard-core" experience called for in the current marketplace. I plan on moving back home to Alabama to take 2 JAVA course at a local university (each one week long). I've considered also enrolling in a program the university has which grooms you for Technical Writing, since I'm told it's a solid industry, and it somewhat appeals to me considering my background and what others say is a talent. This would give me a Masters in English w/ Tech Writing emphasis (don't know what this would mean to the Tech World, but I'd kind of like to keep one foot in the more creative Literary World without ruling myself out of either.) Obviously, I would lose time and some income, which at 29 [teeth gritting]. But at least I don't have a wife and family.
Anyway, here are my questions:
1) would a masters in english in this case be a waste of time? if i could also pursue knowledge of java, how effective a combo would that be? (I have heard from some recruiters that it's not uncommon for English majors to make the hop.)
2) if not a Masters, should i consider instead going back and getting a BS in Computer Science?
3) how do i aim myself for the better programmer jobs w/ no experience per se w/ in-demand things such as webspere, oracle, .net, PowerBuilder, etc. do i buckup and pay the costs at a technical institution for Oracle or something when I'm not even sure what that sort of job description entails?
Any response or insight would be helpful.
fish water
Greenhorn

Joined: Sep 04, 2001
Posts: 2
hi again,
i'm adding a little more to my previous post... i would add that while i seem to have a propensity for the "language side" of programming, i really, really suck at math and spatial concepts....is still possible to be a good programmer who doesn't excel at math or do i have to buck up and go back to algebra class (i barely passed it in college)?
William Barnes
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 16, 2001
Posts: 984

Math is not needed! And I say that from personal experience.
Not sure what a MS in English would give you, towards working as a technical writter. I think that the technical writter skill is a good one to get your foot in the door. Once in you can figure out other jobs look interesting to you.
I can't recommand that you get years of training for something you may not enjoy doing. So when you say something like "Oracle", unless you like playing with Databases (which I hate) I wouldn't drop any money for training.
If you want to be a programmer in the long run than a BS would be the best route. (Part or full time.)

Please ignore post, I have no idea what I am talking about.
John M. Gabriele
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2001
Posts: 232
fish,
Right now, most available Java jobs are going to experienced folks with solid experience. IMHO, this will likely continue for another year and a half or so. My advice is for you to do two things:
1. Find a part of computer programming you like and get a cool project done. This is the sort of thing you can put on your website, and on your resume, and use as dialog material in future programming interviews.
2. Get a "fall-back" writing job for when your web dev contract job ends. I suspect (ok, wild guessing follows) that if you spend your time searching for web dev work, you'll be SOL when the current contract ends. It's just a tight market right now. My 2 cents.
Oh, yeah, and I'd also bet that many english majors go on to successful programming (ahem, software development) careers. Boy, I'm just full of my humble opinion tonight!
Heh,.. I just turned 30 in April and I went to school for physics. I think I know exactly how you feel.
Sean Casey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 16, 2000
Posts: 625
I can relate to your situation. I graduated last year with a B.A. in English with a focus in Creative Writing. I wasn't sure exactly what I wanted to do, so I took some courses on Java and then got certified last Spring. I worked for my father's company to gain some experience, but that has since ended. I've thought about getting my Master's in English, and even considered going back for another undergraduate degree in Philosophy or Computer Science. I'm a bit younger, but I feel like I want to get out into the working world for a couple years before I return to school. I've been looking into Technical Writing. I haven't come across any programs around me yet, but the demand is pretty high. Although, I haven't seen anything for junior level yet.
Good luck though, and 29 really isn't that old so I wouldn't worry about career changes. You've got your whole life ahead of you.
Alex Kuritsyn
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 15, 2001
Posts: 8
Just read this topic,and got a question regarding Christopher's phrase "Math is not needed! And I say that from personal experience." Actually,I'm a college freshman and we almost do not have any programming courses at all and mainly discrethe math, calculus etc,although it's a CS course,and I'm just wandering why is that and would appreciate any opinions from experienced people.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
"fish water",
The Java Ranch has thousands of visitors every week, many with surprisingly similar names. To avoid confusion we have a naming convention, described at http://www.javaranch.com/name.jsp . We require names to have at least two words, separated by a space, and strongly recommend that you use your full real name. Please log in with a new name which meets the requirements.
Thanks.

--Mark
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Alex Kuritsyn:
Just read this topic,and got a question regarding Christopher's phrase "Math is not needed! And I say that from personal experience." Actually,I'm a college freshman and we almost do not have any programming courses at all and mainly discrethe math, calculus etc,although it's a CS course,and I'm just wandering why is that and would appreciate any opinions from experienced people.

To get a BS in CS from MIT, you need the following math and math-like classes:
Calc I (school req)
Calc II (school req)
Diff EQ
Discrete Math
Algorithms

In Algorithms, for example, you study data structures, searching, sorting, trees, graphs, basic complexity theory, basic recursion theory, etc. Have I ever used this? Well, certainly knowing when to use a hash table and when to use a binary tree. As for the 3 weeks we spent on searching and sorting, I've have twice in my career needed to sort. Once I did quicksort, and once I did bubblesort--it was only about 20 elements. Did I really need all those semesters of math?
Yes. It teaches me basic analytical thinking. More specifically, it teaches me how to analyse a problem and determine what the primary factors are.
Practically speaking, I've found people who have not gone through collegiate CS programs can't handle even the basic interview questions as well as those who have. (From here I extrapolate that they can't perform as well if I were to hire them.)

--Mark
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: anybody have 2 cents to spare?
 
Similar Threads
Is an MS beneficial for someone planning to return to India?
Looking for Java Developer/Software Engineer Position
H-1B Salaries in Houston
Looking for a little advice about grad school
Java Developers Needed