Meaningless Drivel is fun!*
The moose likes Jobs Discussion and the fly likes What are your long term career strategies? 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 "What are your long term career strategies?" Watch "What are your long term career strategies?" New topic
Author

What are your long term career strategies?

Jon McDonald
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2001
Posts: 167
Hey all,
After looking at how the current market is treating someone with certificates who doesn't have a Tech or hard science degree and wants to be a programmer, I've come to the conclusion that it is in my best interest to go back to school and get a masters in CS,CIS,or IT. It seems to be the only way to become truely competative in this market.
what are your opinions on the future prospects for a person with a Masters degree as opposed to one with a bunch of certs? Their just doesn't seem to be anyone hiring individuals with certs alone these days. Oh Well.
Later all,
Jon


SCJP<br/>
"I study politics and war that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy in order to give their children a right to study painting poetry and music."<br />--John Adams
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
I am a big fan of formal education. as much as I think colleges are off target wrt to software training, you still need some of the knowledge.
However, I am skeptical of some people who gets masters degrees, without a US CS BS. I interviewed dozens of people who came from 18 month masters programs, including some from CMU. By and large these kids either had CS degrees from India, or non-CS degress from the US; most of the latter had certifications. Every one of these kids seemed to come right out of a cookie cutter program. They all seemed to take the same classes, including a one or two semester program in which they built an e-commerce web site. Each and every site looked the same, JSP or ASP front end, EJB or CORBA middle layer, Oracle of MS Access backend. When I asked questions about their web site, they could explain it to me. When I asked meta questions, or CS theory, I would get answers which made it clear they didn't even know they didn't know the answer. I never hired any of those kids. I'm still skeptical of these programs.
I'm not trying to discourage you from grad school. I'm just warning you to look carefully at the program. Too many seemed to be recently designed to be focused on the dot com boom.
--Mark
Jon McDonald
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2001
Posts: 167
When I asked questions about their web site, they could explain it to me. When I asked meta questions, or CS theory, I would get answers which made it clear they didn't even know they didn't know the answer.

Yeah, I've seen a lot of programs that were heavy on e-commerce and whatever hot new web technology was out there but light on theory or core level CS issues (e.g. data structures, algorithms, discrete mathematics and system level programming). i would much prefer a program that teaches these core CS topics than one that focuses on e-commerce strategies.
It seems to me that these masters programs can be broadly divided into three catagories:
The first are programs that force you to take several courses in core CS topics.
The second are programs that don't require that you take core CS topic courses, but they have several avalible if you want to take them. In essence, one can structure their program to have as much or as little core CS as they wish
The third are programs that not only don't require core CS topic courses, they don't even offer them. almost all of their courses seem to have the words web, internet or e-commerce in them. I would consider the shelf life for the knowledge gained from these programs to be fairly short.
Mark: You mentioned asking meta questions, and CS theory questions, could you provide a few examples?
I never hired any of those kids. I'm still skeptical of these programs.
If they had been able to answer those meta and theory questions sufficiently, do you think that you would have hired them?
I'm not trying to discourage you from grad school. I'm just warning you to look carefully at the program.

Thanks, nothing you said was discouraging, just good advice for long term planning.
Later all,
Jon
[ June 03, 2002: Message edited by: Jon McDonald ]
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Mark, could you outline what a good CS Graduate must know? I am thinking about upgrading my education, and I do not want to learn building e-commerce web sites during my Master program Isn't "advanced" education supposed to be more fundamental and less "practical" (in a bad sense)? Shouldn't it be Fielding's dissertation, for example, rather than JSP&ASP?


Uncontrolled vocabularies
"I try my best to make *all* my posts nice, even when I feel upset" -- Philippe Maquet
Sameer Jamal
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 16, 2001
Posts: 1870
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

However, I am skeptical of some people who gets masters degrees, without a US CS BS. I interviewed dozens of people who came from 18 month masters programs, including some from CMU. By and large these kids either had CS degrees from India, or non-CS degress from the US; most of the latter had certifications. Every one of these kids seemed to come right out of a cookie cutter program. They all seemed to take the same classes, including a one or two semester program in which they built an e-commerce web site. Each and every site looked the same, JSP or ASP front end, EJB or CORBA middle layer, Oracle of MS Access backend. When I asked questions about their web site, they could explain it to me. When I asked meta questions, or CS theory, I would get answers which made it clear they didn't even know they didn't know the answer. I never hired any of those kids. I'm still skeptical of these programs.
I'm not trying to discourage you from grad school. I'm just warning you to look carefully at the program. Too many seemed to be recently designed to be focused on the dot com boom.
--Mark

I completely agree agree with Mark most of the Indian post graduate courses (mostly diploma courses ) are like that they teach you sytax and semantics of the program thats all. I also did(18 months) post graduate diploma in IT from an institute in India and during my job I realise that there are still many things I've to know (without which I cannot be a complete programmer)so I joined Masters Degree in CS now the basics which were not covered during my diploma are getting more clear.
But Mark every Institute and Univ in India is not like what you are saying (I agree most of them are).
John Dale
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2001
Posts: 399
Mark,
When you talk about masters programs that focus students on cookie cutter approaches with less academic foundation, are you talking about academically-oriented programs, or professionally oriented programs?
For instance to take
CMU, since you mention them, their School of CS offers three "academic" masters and six "professional" masters. And there are several other masters degress involving IT or IS, apparently more in the "professional" category, not to mention the engineering programs. None of these is a "Masters in Computer Science", although they do offer a "Ph.D. in Computer Science".
On the other hand, I've had no trouble finding MS CS programs with an emphasis on foundations, analysis of algorithms, and the like. In fact, one of my concerns about the one in which I intend to start this fall (evenings) is that employers may not like the academic emphasis.
(That leaves me needing to find another way to learn to do an e-commerce web site or whatever else will be hot in ten year. So I devote some of my learning time to stuff like web services, user interface design, etc.)
Anyway, my point is that the aims of the academic and professional masters programs are very different and, while there is some overlap in content, we should not confuse them.
Reid M. Pinchback
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 25, 2002
Posts: 775
Originally posted by Jon McDonald:
... but light on theory or core level CS issues (e.g. data structures, algorithms, discrete mathematics and system level programming). i would much prefer a program that teaches these core CS topics than one that focuses on e-commerce strategies.

Agreed. It is also one of the challenges in working with programmers who have crossed over from other disciplines. They may be capable coders and good employees, but they miss a lot of opportunities for more effective design, implementation, avoiding lifecycle and process problems, etc.
A perfect scenario: I was added to a project where the team thought they needed to create a big off-line batch processor because it would take so long to perform a particular kind of analysis. All I had to do was convert the data structure into a bit-vector representation and work out an appropriate algorithm. The analysis could be performed essentially in real time. It took a bit of selling before people would accept it; it was like I'd just performed black magic.
I think one of the defining characteristics of a CS vs non-CS background (whatever the degree name may actually be) is the ability to analyze problems and pick effective algorithms, and being able to create a reasonable algorithm from scratch if necessary.


Reid - SCJP2 (April 2002)
Jamie Robertson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 09, 2001
Posts: 1879

I've always thought of my CS degree as my education foundation for life. All the other certs, vendor specific courses and books, I think of as my education for now.
Jamie
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by John Dale:
Mark,
When you talk about masters programs that focus students on cookie cutter approaches with less academic foundation, are you talking about academically-oriented programs, or professionally oriented programs?

Very true. To be honest, I don't know. Back then I didn't realize there were different programs. Usually the resumes just put the school name, and not more information about the specific program. I would assume the latter, but can't say with 100% certainty.
--Mark
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Mark, could you outline what a good CS Graduate must know? I am thinking about upgrading my education, and I do not want to learn building e-commerce web sites during my Master program Isn't "advanced" education supposed to be more fundamental and less "practical" (in a bad sense)? Shouldn't it be Fielding's dissertation, for example, rather than JSP&ASP?


Excellent question. Hmm.... Mind if I take a week or two to get back to you on this? I think it's an excellent question, and one I'd like to think about before I answer.
--Mark
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Jon McDonald:

Mark: You mentioned asking meta questions, and CS theory questions, could you provide a few examples?
I never hired any of those kids. I'm still skeptical of these programs.
If they had been able to answer those meta and theory questions sufficiently, do you think that you would have hired them?

I have a list of interview questions burried somewhere. I'll try to find it. I think I'll try to post those in tandem with the answer to Map's question. Have questions to go with each skill set.
As for the latter, yes, if they could've answered them, I would've assumed they did have the necessary CS basis.
--Mark
Shura Balaganov
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 22, 2002
Posts: 664
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
I am a big fan of formal education. as much as I think colleges are off target wrt to software training, you still need some of the knowledge.
However, I am skeptical of some people who gets masters degrees, without a US CS BS. I interviewed dozens of people who came from 18 month masters programs, including some from CMU. By and large these kids either had CS degrees from India, or non-CS degress from the US; most of the latter had certifications. Every one of these kids seemed to come right out of a cookie cutter program. They all seemed to take the same classes, including a one or two semester program in which they built an e-commerce web site. Each and every site looked the same, JSP or ASP front end, EJB or CORBA middle layer, Oracle of MS Access backend. When I asked questions about their web site, they could explain it to me. When I asked meta questions, or CS theory, I would get answers which made it clear they didn't even know they didn't know the answer. I never hired any of those kids. I'm still skeptical of these programs.

Mark, aren't you contradicting to your own point (a while back), about 3-6 months learning curve after being hired? How does the fact that a person is not familiar with an MIT-endorsed Algorithms book make him/her a second grade? Given a 6 months learning period, shouldn't a person be able to pick that up, especially if (s)he is directed by such an authority as yourself, in picking technologies and books?
Just from what I get to know from your comments, I'd get blown away by you at an interview. That's great to know and all, but it doesn't help neither me nor most of the others with cookie cutter program degrees.
I have yet to see a program that didn't bore me to the near death. Mostly it was the fact that material was presented either in a very slow manner, or lectors being classical nerds with no knowledge of public speaking. So far I have tried Penn State, Drexel and U of Delaware. Since then, I'd take Borders (or Barnes&Noble) over any program in a heart beat. Of course, MIT experience might've been different...
Shura
[ June 04, 2002: Message edited by: Shura Balaganov ]

Any posted remarks that may or may not seem offensive, intrusive or politically incorrect are not truly so.
RusUSA.com - Russian America today - Guide To Russia
Jamie Robertson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 09, 2001
Posts: 1879

everyone can have a PHd now! ( I get this email every day )
-----------------------------------------
U N I V E R S I T Y D I P L O M A S
Obtain a prosperous future, money earning power,
and the admiration of all.
Diplomas from prestigious non-accredited
universities based on your present knowledge
and life experience.
No required tests, classes, books, or interviews.
Bachelors, masters, MBA, and doctorate (PhD)
diplomas available in the field of your choice.
No one is turned down.
Confidentiality assured.
CALL NOW to receive your diploma
within days!!!
1 - 2 8 1 - 5 8 7 - 6 1 0 1
or
1 - 6 1 5 - 3 6 6 - 7 8 3 0
Call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including
Sundays and holidays.

------------------------------------------
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Shura Balaganov:

Mark, aren't you contradicting to your own point (a while back), about 3-6 months learning curve after being hired? How does the fact that a person is not familiar with an MIT-endorsed Algorithms book make him/her a second grade? Given a 6 months learning period, shouldn't a person be able to pick that up, especially if (s)he is directed by such an authority as yourself, in picking technologies and books? :p

I was waiting for someone to put two and two together. I'm not surprised that it was you Shura. :-)
I regularly bash most educational programs as insufficent for software engineering. I think you get two things out of such programs. First, A handful of classes with directly applicable knowledge, Second, you get trained in analytical thinking. I think that the latter is very valuable, but could be done within the context of more directly applicable knowledge.
I think most of the knowledge can be learned in 3-6 months. I think the analytical thinking takes longer. That's what colleges are great at, and why they still add value to many careers. (Algorithms, for the record falls more under analytical thinking then under knowledge, although it does cover some of both.)
Originally posted by Shura Balaganov:

Just from what I get to know from your comments, I'd get blown away by you at an interview. That's great to know and all, but it doesn't help neither me nor most of the others with cookie cutter program degrees.

Thanks :-)
Originally posted by Shura Balaganov:

I have yet to see a program that didn't bore me to the near death. Mostly it was the fact that material was presented either in a very slow manner, or lectors being classical nerds with no knowledge of public speaking. So far I have tried Penn State, Drexel and U of Delaware. Since then, I'd take Borders (or Barnes&Noble) over any program in a heart beat. Of course, MIT experience might've been different... ;)

Of course, everything is magical at MIT :-) Seriously, I don't know what to say. I find most programs interesting. It may just be personal preference. You're right that at lot of the program, much like, many jobs, really is made by the people, and not the actual content. Just remember, programs are about the meta-lessons, and not the actual detailed facts provided in the course.
--Mark
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Mapraputa Is:
Mark, could you outline what a good CS Graduate must know? I am thinking about upgrading my education, and I do not want to learn building e-commerce web sites during my Master program Isn't "advanced" education supposed to be more fundamental and less "practical" (in a bad sense)? Shouldn't it be Fielding's dissertation, for example, rather than JSP&ASP?

I started thinking about this the other night. Very quickly I decided that this should be a section in my book. Thanks Map! Of course, I'll be sure to credit you in the book, and I'll also post the info up here on JavaRanch. :-) I'll be thinking about it more over the next few days.
--Mark
John Dale
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2001
Posts: 399
I have yet to see a program that didn't bore me to the near death. Mostly it was the fact that material was presented either in a very slow manner, or lectors being classical nerds with no knowledge of public speaking. So far I have tried Penn State, Drexel and U of Delaware. Since then, I'd take Borders (or Barnes&Noble) over any program in a heart beat. Of course, MIT experience might've been different...

I've never been get a lot from lectures. But I find a good textbook, a structured set of assignments, tests, and someone into the material who I can talk to very valuable for learning, especially for stuff that involves a lot of ideas. Gradute programs have their drawbacks, but how often do you see someone learn the material covered in a MS CS (BS CS), without participating in a structured program? And as an added benefit, you have something fairly objective to put on a resume.
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
I don't know if anyone would agree, but I get the sense that a Master's is almost required these days for upward mobility. I know of course this isn't true in all cases. Maybe it's just where I am, but there does seem to be some slight pressure from management to go for the MS. I guess this could be because a contractor with an MS can command a higher rate and may be more competitive on contract bids, but I don't know.
Anyone else have any thoughts on this?
Shura Balaganov
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 22, 2002
Posts: 664
Originally posted by Jason Menard:
I don't know if anyone would agree, but I get the sense that a Master's is almost required these days for upward mobility. I know of course this isn't true in all cases. Maybe it's just where I am, but there does seem to be some slight pressure from management to go for the MS. I guess this could be because a contractor with an MS can command a higher rate and may be more competitive on contract bids, but I don't know.

I've converted my foreign degree to equivalent of US MS. Couple of recruiters I know did say it was somewhat uncommon in our area to see a programmer with Masters Degree. So you definitely get advantage, all rest being equal. In today's market though, extra 1-2 years of Java or C++ will easily outweight your (or mine) MS.
If I could add 1-2 years of either to my resume, I'd be working now, and making close to 6 digits. This might contradict to Maps (and mine) real-world experience bragging here

Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

...Second, you get trained in analytical thinking. I think that the latter is very valuable, but could be done within the context of more directly applicable knowledge.

Mark, you are right, analytical thinking is an invaluable asset. There are many other ways of training it though, for instance Chess... Now everybody will call me a dork. Bring it on, geeks!
Shura
[ June 05, 2002: Message edited by: Shura Balaganov ]
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Jason Menard:
I don't know if anyone would agree, but I get the sense that a Master's is almost required these days for upward mobility. I know of course this isn't true in all cases. Maybe it's just where I am, but there does seem to be some slight pressure from management to go for the MS. I guess this could be because a contractor with an MS can command a higher rate and may be more competitive on contract bids, but I don't know.
Anyone else have any thoughts on this?

I agree completely. I held up MIT's 5 year masters program in EE/CS for a year because I disagreed with it and feared the consequences.
Consider the BS, if you're middle class, it's a requirement. How many people go get a BS degree and then end up working in a semi-professioanl job that doesn't really require much of college education. I've seen it happen to plenty of friends, even those from schools such as BU and Wellesley.
I think the BS is excessive for many people and we should focus more on vocational programs. The masters degree push comes from the 5 years masters degree programs schools are emphasizing. Basically prof's are saying "these kids today, they aren't learning half of what I had to learn." So they want to keep them around longer, but the only way to do that is to entice them with an additional degree.
I think this is a mistake and it will cheaper the masters degree.
--Mark
PS Shura, not only did I play chess competitively, I used to go to chess camp in the summer. :-)
Jason Menard
Sheriff

Joined: Nov 09, 2000
Posts: 6450
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

The masters degree push comes from the 5 years masters degree programs schools are emphasizing.

Which is odd considering the number of people who take longer than four years to complete their BS these days.
I used to go to chess camp in the summer. :-)

"And this one time... in chess camp..." (not funny if you haven't seen American Pie.)
Shura Balaganov
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 22, 2002
Posts: 664
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

PS Shura, not only did I play chess competitively, I used to go to chess camp in the summer. :-)

Aha, so another one I could probably name a couple of men in top 100 in the world, as well as women (not my falt they like to play against men) who I beat at one point or another (I quit at 17 ).
So a lot of your (and mine) analytical abilities haven't been taught in college, they came from chess. So much for college programs.
Shura
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
I started thinking about this the other night. Very quickly I decided that this should be a section in my book. Thanks Map! Of course, I'll be sure to credit you in the book, and I'll also post the info up here on JavaRanch. :-)

Now I am convinced that I will be a more useful member of society chatting on the Internet than with all my "software development"
Mark, once I came upon Bertrand Meyer's "Software Engineering in the Academy" article and posted a link to it in the "Cattle Drive" forum. "You should check out this link, you might find it inetresting."
-------------------------
"There are no answers, only cross references."
Mapraputa Is
Leverager of our synergies
Sheriff

Joined: Aug 26, 2000
Posts: 10065
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
By and large these kids either had CS degrees from India, or non-CS degress from the US;

I've heard that you can go into Master in CS with a bachelor in any other field but I never believed it. Now you are saying that this is true. How is it possible? Can somebody who studied chemistry go into Master in math? It doesn't make sense! If we take "computer science" title seriously. Of course, if the program is about building e-commerce web-site, it's another matter… But then, why would anyone call it "Master degree"?
Peter Crowther
Greenhorn

Joined: May 03, 2002
Posts: 18
It’s perfectly possible to obtain a computer science masters (at least in the UK) while having a first degree in a non-cs field. However, these masters are viewed as conversion courses. I know as I took one myself about three and a half years ago. The entry requirements were quite stiff and for the one I completed there was a psychometric test as one of the pre-requisites. I’m not aware of anyone being able to undertake such a degree without some kind of first degree.
There were certainly some people who weren’t cut out for programming, who struggled all year and just passed. A lot of these have since ended up in other types of employment, or non-technical roles. It should be said that there was a considerable element of architecture, engineering, algorithms etc. as well as web based work. The people that did well were intelligent. One that springs to mind was a barrister who while working full time undertook the course and came in the top 5%. I’ve no idea how he managed it, but he did!
John Dale
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2001
Posts: 399
Re BS one field, MS/PhD another. I've known several people to get BS in chemistry and PhD in physics. They were easily among the best experimental physicists I knew. They were both people who were quick to recognize what they needed to know and then learn it, instead of dismissing it as unimportant because they didn't know it.
Re MS as "transition". Some schools offer a series of transition coures intended to prepare someone with a BS outside CS to start a master's program. I'm taking a course from such a series now to fill in the biggest hole in my background, and may take more to fill in lesser holes before taking graduate courses in those areas. These courses cannot be counted for credit toward any degree, but the one I'm taking now seems to have roughly the same content and homework as the regular undergraduate course.
The foundations course has been a bit harder than I expected. But it feels good to exercise the analytical skills that are used only indirectly in day-to-day computer work.
Carlisia Campos
sanitation engineer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 22, 2001
Posts: 135
I'd like to put in my perspective about a few points from different postings on this topics.
I'm an MIS major doing my MsCS. So I can attest that for you to get a MS in CS without a undergrad major in CS you have to take pre-requisites. The farther your undergrad major is from a CS degree, the more pre-requisites you will need.
Having a CS undergrad major probably will make you a better programmer than a non-CS degree. But I'm not sure that after getting a MsCS having had a CS undergrad major will make you a better professional software developer over someone who had a non-CS degree. I think we have to consider that other science majors outside a CS program have much to offer to the software development world. Someone with, say, a business major who fulfills the pre-reqs and gets a MS and work experience in the field might have completely different ideas and approaches to problem solving then someone who had the same background but a CS major instead of business.
Analytical skills can be learned just from having propblems to deal with, be it from academic, real life, or games of chess. I think school helps you with analytical skills (specially if you didn't get it from elsewhere) and also to focus on what to learn to accomplish this or that. I think two are the things that will fundamently differentiate graduates:
1. the classes they take
2. how much they rely on the lectures to learn
Having masters programs out there that are appealing to people who want to get some but not the most knowledge/analytical skills to do development work only make it harder for recruiters to recognize from a resume who to interview, if they are looking for a top professional. However, that's what interviews are for. Those candidates *most likely* will end up at a job that requires their level of knowledge/skill. So there's a place for these programs, for as long as there are places that need top professionals but can't afford them.
It is not the degree that makes the professional. For example, if you're a CS undergrad major you might know a lot more than some graduates from certain MS programs. That will become apparent in an interview for sure. However, there is the perception from the point of view of a recruiter that adding to your education is a good thing, so if you're in the process or if you have recently graduated, just the fact that you are out there trying to learn something else (might not be the best content) shows that you are not stagnated. The crucial differenciation to make from a personal point of view is weather:
a. you're doing it just to to keep moving or get a (better) job
b. you're doing it to learn concepts in depth, maybe to supplement your previous degree
I'm sure it's not clear cut like that and almost all cases it will involve both "a" and "b". But being that certainly your reasons will tend to go more in one direction than another, here's the advice I'd give if I were asked:
i. if you're going for "a", don't spend a lot of time or money on it. If it suits you, get a few of the fundamental classes in it; it might not be sufficient for becoming a full fledge cs professional (and that's not your goal anyway), but it will give you a better idea of what more advanced professionals are talking about when you interact with them. Also, it will give you a starting point if you want to teach yourself some of this stuff later. Other then that, make sure you attentd a program that offers classes that will further your knowledge on marketable technologies that you want to work with, or that are in demand. Don't waist time with fluff that's not in demand.
ii. if you're going for "b", choosing most classes that will teach you fundamentals of the field will be crucial. (we'll wait for Mark to let us know what classes these are). Make sure you have time to take the classes. You'd be surprised what good grades you can get by doing just the required work, but how much more leverage you get from the lectures if you do supplemental reading/work.
Whatever your case, make sure that you are able to have the soft skills to organize and present it from the perspective of the person who's interested, be it on your resume, on your website or on the interview. And there's nothing wrong with not being the most knowledgeble person on a specific area. Recognize and bring out your other attributes. Maybe the shought after position will greatly benefit from them. So do that instead of spending energy trying to figure out what you need to fluff to "appear" qualified.
Recognizing and bringing out other attributes in a job hunting process is something that someone from any background can and should do. I think it's easier to recognize which ones you have that are relevant for the position at hand if you get used to looking at problems from areas completely different than that of your work and how they map to each other and to your field. And what resource/process people used and how they used them to solve these problems and how you would do it and why. It's not that you'll be able to re-use these solutions, but you'll be able to see forms and relations that you wouldn't otherwise, and where you fit, and then you'll start perceiving new ways of thinking that could turn into very creative and efficient solutions.


Carlisia Campos<br />--------------------------------<br />i blog here: carlisia.com
Carlisia Campos
sanitation engineer
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 22, 2001
Posts: 135
I neglected to explicitly address the original question to this posting: whether a CS degree is necessary these days. I think it is. I have a MIS background and I can't see myself as a good software professional if I don't know the hard-core concepts of CS, no matter how many current technology certs I might accumulate. Actually, in some cases it makes more sense to spend time getting some of these concepts than certs. In my case, I wouldn't want to go to an undergrad program. A MsCS program, with all the pre-reqs and advanced topics, will give me the appropriate content and mature level of discussion and problems through which I have to work my way around and hopefully learn how to apply these concepts. Many people ask as to whether to get the degree or not and forget that there's a middle ground also: you don't need to complete an entire masters to get a better, if not complete, understanding of CS. You can take some classes, learn the basics, learn more on your own. Just look up what books the universities use for each topic. A degree obviously help translate your credentials.
Jon McDonald
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2001
Posts: 167
Re MS in CS with no BSCS
Yes, this is very possible. A person doing this is simply required to take a few prerequisite courses beforehand. From what Ive seen, most schools ask for these courses:
CS 1 & CS 2 (intro to programming courses)
Discrete Mathmatics
(sometimes) data structures & algorithms
(occationally) computer organization
So this usually amounts to 3 to 5 courses of prerequisites before taking the "real" courses.
Also, this is not limited to "transition" masters programs, I've seen several very highly regarded universities state explicitly on their website that they one does not need to be a CS major in undergrad to enter their Phd program in CS. This is actually quite common throughout many different graduate programs, including Math and hard sciences.
Jon
Shura Balaganov
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 22, 2002
Posts: 664
Just my another worthless 2 cents.
I was "conditionally" admitted to MS in CS program at Drexel (good private school, usually does pretty well on different programming competitions), with MS in math. With my 7 years of IT experience, I would woop 99% of their CS grads (judging by the quality of my brothers and his friends' education ).
I am not sure whether this relates to "real-world experience" topic, or just to the fact that kids are allowed to pick their own courses, and they mostly take ones that are easier to pass.
Shura
 
 
subject: What are your long term career strategies?
 
Similar Threads
Want to work in US
If I go for a Masters Degree in CS
XML, SCWCD or SCEA ?
Value of SCWCD
Masters, industry qualification or what???