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1. Am I too old? 2. Will Masters degree help? 3. Best technical school

Tim Davids
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 27, 2002
Posts: 2
I've seen a lot of peoples resume comming out of college and it looks very impressive.
I've spend the last 5 years doing basic simple cobol and mainframe type of work.
I'm trying hard to get into Java and J2EE and new technologies.
I got my java certification but don't know much about j2ee and ejb.
Where do you get all this great knowledge.
Do you have to learn it all at home by yourself.
Or will a masters degree teach you all this j2ee and everything else that employers are looking for. Will a master program take you from now knowing much to being a guru.
I've thought about going and getting my masters.
But when I was in school 7-8 years ago all they thought was cobol and c++ and very basic simple stuff.
If I go get my masters will I learn everything about j2ee and unix and
all this other stuff everyone else seems to know.
Most major universities I look at don't seem to be teaching the things employer list as requirement for most web development and java developer position.
The seem to be teaching just general basic programming skills.
Am I right that I just have to seat around and
push myself to learn this stuff
or will getting a masters make all my dreams come true?
I don't want to waste another year or 2 for a master if its not going to do any good and most stuuff I need to learn I'll have to learn on my spear time.
I'm getting really depressed because I'm almost 30 and all I know is cobol. I feel bad for not keeping up with new technology and just doing my 9-5 and going home for the last 7 years. I just settled for sitting around type gathering requiremnt and just typing some basinc procedural code. I could move up to being a manager but I hate management. I really want to be a professional programmer of today. But don't know the best and fastest way to get there.
The second part of my problem is that
most my programmers I know who have turned 30 have become managers and have put coding behind them.
Best case scenerio if I forget what i've been doing and move forward with knew thing is that I'll spend the next 2 years catching up and then may be I'll know as much as the average 22 year old comming out of college hoping for an entry level position. Is it too late for me to start from scrach or will a masters program fix all my problems.
Or is there a technical school out there that
can speed up the process.
Does any one know of a specialy great technical school? A technical school that once you come out of everyone will want you.
Thanks in advance
Tim
Barry Gaunt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 03, 2002
Posts: 7729
Well, I wish I was 30 again...I'm much older than
you and I'm learning Java, J2EE, XML, JMX, Python, Jython, Zope and other stuff beside.
If you have a job, then spend a lot of effort getting your business knowledge and learn the new stuff in parallel. Do something via distance-learning to get the qualifications if you want.
For starters, you want to learn a bit Java first before playing with that J2EE stuff. I recommend
-doing JavaRanch's Cattle Drive. Then going through SCJP and SCJD. Those and your business knowhow will give you pretty good leverage, especially if your current employer makes the decision to move away form the legacy system he has.
You could also dabble with OO-Cobol, why not?
Just my two eurocents.
-Barry


Ask a Meaningful Question and HowToAskQuestionsOnJavaRanch
Getting someone to think and try something out is much more useful than just telling them the answer.
Kyle Brown
author
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 10, 2001
Posts: 3892
    
    5
Tim,
you don't have to go all the way to a Master's, even though you can (it can't hurt). Most community colleges offer courses on basic skills in Java -- some good ones even offer intermediate Java classes.
Once you've done that, then you may want to look at either doing a Master's or just taking some individual courses at a 4-year college. What was your original degree in? My guess is that it was probably not computer science -- but instead something like Information Technology. If that's true, then picking up a C.S degree might not hurt, even if it's a second B.S.
Where are you located? That makes a big difference in the opportunities for finding classes in hot topics. For instance, if you were in the RTP, NC area, I could point you at classes on advanced Java, J2EE and Web Services at UNC and NCSU both... But not all colleges offer that -- it really varies greatly.
Kyle


Kyle Brown, Author of Persistence in the Enterprise and Enterprise Java Programming with IBM Websphere, 2nd Edition
See my homepage at http://www.kyle-brown.com/ for other WebSphere information.
Tony Evans
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 29, 2002
Posts: 579
Tim, I am 40 I am alos considering doing a Master, but not in IT but more in the business Managerial side. In my book soft skills are more important than hard skills.
Hard skills such as programming quickly go out of fashion as new technology comes online, as I have stated elswwhere in this forem, we have a skill shortage and lots of unemployed developers, because the developers have the wrong hard skill set.
So go for a Master that emphasis soft skills.
Tony
Tony Evans
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jun 29, 2002
Posts: 579
exscuse spelling, must learn to read before I send
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
Thirty is not too old, but you're getting close.
Could you get your current employer to consider
upgrading it's technology and retire its COBOL?
Maybe they have a huge investment in their legacy
system and that makes you a hard to replace
asset. Domain knowlege can be more valuable than
hot technical skills.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Tim Davids:

Where do you get all this great knowledge.
Do you have to learn it all at home by yourself.
Or will a masters degree teach you all this j2ee and everything else that employers are looking for. Will a master program take you from now knowing much to being a guru.
Practice, practice, practice. You get it from experience. The experience could be paid (i.e. on your job), or unpaid (doing open source projects, or your own pet projects). I also recommend reading books, journals, trade magazines, and working through tutorials (including those here on the ranch).
Originally posted by Tim Davids:

Most major universities I look at don't seem to be teaching the things employer list as requirement for most web development and java developer position. The seem to be teaching just general basic programming skills.

IMHO, schools aren't even doing that. They are just teaching computer science, which is a good basis for programming skills, but not quite the same.

Originally posted by Tim Davids:

Am I right that I just have to seat around and
push myself to learn this stuff or will getting a masters make all my dreams come true?
I don't want to waste another year or 2 for a master if its not going to do any good and most stuuff I need to learn I'll have to learn on my spear time.

For most degree programs, a masters won't work magic. What it will do is put you above most candidates without a masters degree. Sadly most companies simply assume a masters degree means a better programmer. While there may be some correlation, it's not always true. If I were in your position, I'd learn Java and get a Java job before I committed to a masters program.

Originally posted by Tim Davids:

The second part of my problem is that
most my programmers I know who have turned 30 have become managers and have put coding behind them.
Best case scenerio if I forget what i've been doing and move forward with knew thing is that I'll spend the next 2 years catching up and then may be I'll know as much as the average 22 year old comming out of college hoping for an entry level position. Is it too late for me to start from scrach or will a masters program fix all my problems.

I'd recommend looking to work for big companies (e.g. IBM, Sun). Personally, I don't think most people should be managers before they are 30, but the industry disagrees with me. Bigger companies recognize that promoting to your level of incompetance isn't always the right strategy, and that a 40yo programmer on the line, who has been around the block quite a few times, should be paid just as well as a good manager.
Originally posted by Tim Davids:

Does any one know of a specialy great technical school? A technical school that once you come out of everyone will want you.

Yes, MIT. (Of course, I'm very biased :-)
Understand that MIT will not give you the skills that you are looking for, but it will make companies take notice of your resume. CMU, UC Berekley, Stanford, etc are also good "brand names" in our industry.

--Mark
Tim Davids
Greenhorn

Joined: Oct 27, 2002
Posts: 2
Thanks to everyone who replied.
My problem has been that I live in Hawaii.
The schools here really suck.
I'm going to start studying on my own
and try to get out of Hawaii
and find a good job and school in the mainland.
I've decided I'd rather be a programmer
no matter how old I get. I just hope I can handle when I'm coding at 40 and have to answer to an 28 year old manager.
Thanks again
Tim
Barry Gaunt
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 03, 2002
Posts: 7729
You're in Hawaii? :roll: Do they need PL/1 guys there, as well as Cobol?
Sam Smoot
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 18, 2002
Posts: 238
Condolences.. I'm just now working on finishing my Undergraduate degree (that I started 20 years ago) in CS. I'm 39 and have been doing mainframe assembler (with a little cobol) for the last 13 years, as well as web development over the past 2 years. Age is a factor, but you're still young... go for it... I think I'm doing it more to keep my kids from arguing against it. :roll:
I'm taking Java and design classes (as well as the math although I still don't know why I need it )so that I'll be more in tune with the current programming wave ( I know why they call it OOP's now.. )
Good Luck!


CNSS/NSA Infosec Professional,<br />Software Engineer
Ron Moddesette
Greenhorn

Joined: Jun 19, 2000
Posts: 17
Tim, the previous replies are all valid.
You're definitely not too old, considering you have at least another 20 years of work (unless you become wealthy).
I would consider going to a company that needs your mainframe skills but also use Java. You could get your foot in the door as a Cobol guy and perhaps after a year or so (once you've proven yourself) the company maybe willing to train you in Java. The advantage of this approach is you won't initially have to compete with other out of work Java developers - many of whom already have direct Java experience.
I did something similiar myself. I started in configuration management and moved over to development after a year. I now have been developing the past 3 years.
I would also consider broadening your scope. You may want to invest some time learning the .NET platform - learn C#. If you can get in early on the Microsoft.NET bandwagon, you may have more opportunities.
Just my 2 cents.
Ron.
Forrest Xu
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 16, 2002
Posts: 92
Hi,
I am 45, maybe the eldest SCJP and SCJD in the world.
Now I am working for SCEA.
If you try to get into Java and J2EE and new technologies, please try SCEA.
I learn it at home by myself.
I am working a company as software developer now. to keep stable income, I need to study forever.
Good luck
Guy Allard
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 24, 2000
Posts: 776
Guys - I am really uncomfortable with some of the posts in this thread.
If you think you are too old, you are! Get out, especially given the current economic conditions.
A master's (or a PHD for that matter) will not automagically fix all of your problems.
Otherwise, keep learning and keep working.
Guy, 54 years, 30+ years a programmer, SCJP, SCWCD, blah, blah .....
[ November 20, 2002: Message edited by: Guy Allard ]
Sam Tilley
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 05, 2001
Posts: 160
I don't think you can be too old, there are some great courses out there on line, i am currently in exactly the same boat as you, hitting a mid-point in life (and im only 27 so i guess i'll be seeing a few more of those yet) and trying to determine direction.
I weighed up the different options,
- just concentrating on experience
- getting more certs
- branching into new areas
But i decided that a Masters will do the best for my career, while it may not be the fix to all of lifes problems it generally seems to give people an edge, lets you experience of a lot of different technologies and how they work together and receive good tuition doing it.
Im also going to do it online and have found a good one in http://www.kitcampus.com/about/brochure.phtml
(British masters though) so i can carry on working and getting my experience at the same time. Then hopefully in 2-years i will be twice as employable as before, hopefully timed with a nice upturn in the economy and demand for IT.
The market is in the doldrums so why not take it as a chance to really develop yourself to take advantage of the inveitable upturn???
Anyway good luck, its never too late and you will always be glad you did it.


Sam Tilley SCJP, SCWCD
boyet silverio
Ranch Hand

Joined: Aug 28, 2002
Posts: 173
You're leaving Hawaii man! Wow! You really serious? But wait. What mainland are you referring to? Mainland Asia...? To Phuket, Thailand .... ooh you really got it going! Probably going nearer to the island of ..... Java.... Good luck then.
Randall Twede
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 21, 2000
Posts: 4347
    
    2

im 49 and have been programming on and off since the 80's but i am now going to school cause i cant get a job in this economy. i am in CC right now and plan to transfer to university. my opinion is a masters is the wrong way for you to go. the CC's teach programming languages like Java. the universities teach CS. two different things. if i was you and found it difficult to learn J2EE on my own i would enroll at CC. i have never seen a job description require a masters....90+% want a Bachelors though. thats why im in school again. getting certified doesnt mean much to them without the BS. your time would probly be better spent at CC.


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Sam Tilley
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 05, 2001
Posts: 160
Out of interest (and as a Brit) what are CC's, CS's and BS's???
Hema Menon
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 29, 2000
Posts: 569
Originally posted by Sam Tilley:
Out of interest (and as a Brit) what are CC's, CS's and BS's???

I guess,
CC- Community College
CS - Computer Science
BS - Bachelor in Science
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16250
    
  21

I've read one or 2 reports that a Master's degree is actually counterproductive. Ever so often I wonder if I would have benefitted if I'd made that last push to actually get a Baccalaureate, though.
On the other hand, most local shops with a no-degree/no-hire policy aren't places that would appeal to me if I wasn't too long since a paycheck anyway.
Locally, while some are demanding 5+ years PeopleSoft and MQSI experience, none are even mentioning certifications. Only cert. requirements I've ever seen were hardware techs, where an MCSE is de rigeur.


Customer surveys are for companies who didn't pay proper attention to begin with.
Sam Tilley
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 05, 2001
Posts: 160
Tim what reports did you read about the Masters that they are no good??? This has relevance to me as i am about to sign up for one so taking up a lot of cash and a lot of money so i want to be 100% before i commit (luckily i can do the first module for free before i commit to the whole thing)
Thanks
Peter Crowther
Greenhorn

Joined: May 03, 2002
Posts: 18
Sam, what sort of Masters are you about to undertake? I�m in the reverse situation to you in that I have a Masters (IT conversion course), but lack the banking experience. Would love to work in the City, but as everyone knows, things are tight and I�ve yet to convince any of the banks how much they really need me!
When I went to do mine there were awards available (one of which I managed to gain), but this was back in 1998 and the course was one year full time. I also moved to another part of the UK and have not yet managed to escape.
I undertook it for the reason you have previously stated and I can�t see how it can be detrimental. Moreover, more and more people have first degrees in the UK, therefore, I assumed it indicates that you�re willing to go that bit further. Then again, I�ll confirm this when I get my wonder job.
Sam Tilley
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 05, 2001
Posts: 160
Hi Peter,
The masters is in Information Technology and is done online over about 1.5 years through Liverpool University. It sounds good and my head of IT is doing it but im not sure now if its the right thing to do. I am getting some great experience and have just passed my SCJP and SCWCD so not sure if i should'nt just hold tight and bag some experience before starting it, or if i should just get on with it and have it done by the time im 30 while still getting the experience.
Confusion reigns...
 
With a little knowledge, a cast iron skillet is non-stick and lasts a lifetime.
 
subject: 1. Am I too old? 2. Will Masters degree help? 3. Best technical school