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Looking for a little advice about grad school

Matt Kidd
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 17, 2002
Posts: 261
Its been a while since I've posted at Javaranch but I needed some insight and since this place has been so helpful in the past I figured I may as well bounce some ideas off people here.
My collegiate training is in the area of computer science. Problem is I was outdated the day I graduated. Sure I was lucky enough to get a job right out of school 3 years ago but 9 months later I was laid off. Six months unemployment, 1 tech intervew, and a job acceptance outside of my field because i needed to eat here I am doing a little better than the two years ago that I started here at this university library but I'm still yearning to do technical work.
But my skills have retarded. Plus I have no real work experience thats marketable. So I'm considering grad school because I get a great deal for working at this university. But, as I've discussed here in the past, a grad degree in Computer Science from the same school I did undergrad would either be a waste of time or look redundant. I mean yes the classes are updated but it just I guess doesn't look right.
So I'm considering b-school. Information Systems specifically. But every I talk to who is in b-school, plans to go, or works says I should couple that with something else like finance or marketing.
But how?
And thats where I'm stuck. I know I want to go to grad school for something but on the one hand its redundan (Computer Science) and on the other I have no background and seemingly no way of doubling up (b-school). I mean do they even allow doubling up in grad school for business.
And no leaving my current job isn't an option. Trust me when I say it hurts me in my heart and my wallet when I have managing programmers talk to me and say that they would hire me in a heartbeat because I have more of a head on my shoulders than most of the guys they have currently. Not to mention no one seeming to understand that I have a good deal here ($20 a credit hour) that would not neccersarily be garunteed elsewhere even with reimbursement.
Did I mention how I'd have to become a vegetable to lose my job too? Can anyone say that about their corporate programming position?

So does anyone have any insight into the direction I should head to research this?

Sidebar: I decided that keeping up on techonology could be done with a subscription to Dr. Dobbs, all the technical books that come in here at work, and reading on the web. Its now just a matter of sitting down and reading.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Some random bits of advice.
If you'll skills are quickly outdated, you're focusing on the wrong skills. Don't bother focusing on particular technologies. Know them, but that's just a medium. You're real skills are OOA/OOD and communication.
My feelings about b-school are that if you're not going to a top school, it's not worth it. Of course, that view stems primarily from those who go into business. If you want to be a developer, but demonstrate some business schools, then an MBA from any school might be sufficent as a signal. B-school's general don't care about your background.
There's nothing wrong with getting a masters degree from the same school where you did your undergrad. I did it, myself. If you're thinking abut a PhD, understand that is mostly useful for research and academia.
My advice is to think about the problem from the other side. Don't think about what to do in the next 5 years; rather, think about what you want to do at 45. Then ask yourself what skills are necesary and work backwards.
Good luck.
--Mark
Harpreet Singh
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 16, 2002
Posts: 56
Mark,
It seems you have been around the block for a while and have a good grip at planning things.
Can you talk more about ....
"My advice is to think about the problem from the other side. Don't think about what to do in the next 5 years; rather, think about what you want to do at 45. Then ask yourself what skills are necesary and work backwards".


Harpreet Singh<p>SCJP2/SCWCD/IBM Certified Specialist-DB2 7.1/IBM Certified Application Developer-DB2 8.1
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Sure.
Let's suppose you're fresh out of college. Where are you going to be in 20 years? Some options include: technical specialist, architect, project manager, CTO, consultant, starting your own company. We'll ignore personal constraints, like family, location, and financial situation.
For a technical specialist, you will need years of experience in a particular domain. You will likely need a masters degree and possible a PhD. Even without a PhD you probably need extra training in a field.
For an architect, you need experience with lots of projects. Variety in what they are (large, small, long, short) may help. You will need extensive knowledge of different tools and technologies, and how to apply them.
For a project manager you'll need to acquire a different set of skills. Deep technical knowledge isn't as critical here. Experience managing people is. Additional training, is important. Larger companies have training programs for this. A masters degree in some type of management field is useful.
For a CTO you'll probably need broader experience in comapny management. Some feel an MBA is important (I don't).
In consulting, there's a whole different set of skills. Strong business skills are far more important then technical strength. Some consulting work just uses technology as one piece of the project. Obviously you need a background in consulting. To become a partner, you often need an MBA.
Starying your own company involves a wide range of entrpeunerial skills. You should probably have prior expeirence with start-ups or working for VCs.
This is a 60 seconds example. Obviously the differences between the skill sets can be covered much more in depth. But the idea is that different careers require different skills. Some of these skills take years to develop.
For the record, there are no hard and fast rules. I worked as a sofware developer, but in companies with consulting groups, so I got some consulting experience when loaned to them. It also doesn't mean that if you want to be a consultant at 40, you need to be a consultant for the 20 years prior. Find people doing what you want to do and ask them what skills are important and where they learned it. Every time you change jobs (including promotions), ask yourself what skills you want to gain from your next job to prepare you for your future.
--Mark
Matt Kidd
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 17, 2002
Posts: 261
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
Sure.
Let's suppose you're fresh out of college. Where are you going to be in 20 years? Some options include: technical specialist, architect, project manager, CTO, consultant, starting your own company. We'll ignore personal constraints, like family, location, and financial situation.

All options I've considered...
For a technical specialist, you will need years of experience in a particular domain. You will likely need a masters degree and possible a PhD. Even without a PhD you probably need extra training in a field.
I'm not looking to specialize...I've always gravitated to jack of all trades type jobs...eventhough I'm on my second "job" out of school.
For an architect, you need experience with lots of projects. Variety in what they are (large, small, long, short) may help. You will need extensive knowledge of different tools and technologies, and how to apply them.
Right but how does one get this when you can't even get an entry level position. Sure the market can play a factor but I'm competing against not only the whole world due to outsourcing but big business too. I mean my endearing personality only gets me so far.
For a project manager you'll need to acquire a different set of skills. Deep technical knowledge isn't as critical here. Experience managing people is. Additional training, is important. Larger companies have training programs for this. A masters degree in some type of management field is useful.
As of right now this is probably what I'm best suited for since I've been out of programming for 2 years now and I currently manage student work study staff (yes its full time work) at a university library. Meh...it pays the bills.
For a CTO you'll probably need broader experience in comapny management. Some feel an MBA is important (I don't).
CTO/CIO...the dream job...not ready yet I know but with no business knowledge will I ever be? Debating going back to school to gain said knowledge in a Master's format of Information Systems (the business CS degree) or maybe Finance/Marketing.
In consulting, there's a whole different set of skills. Strong business skills are far more important then technical strength. Some consulting work just uses technology as one piece of the project. Obviously you need a background in consulting. To become a partner, you often need an MBA.
Ah the old job. I was a grunt though for what basically amounted to a body shop of old Accenture (then Anderson Consulting) consultants. I was young, nieve, and glad to be getting paid what I was so I didn't complain and pretty much asked how high when told to jump. I liked it even though they would never allow me to learn the business skills neccesary to speak with clients. I was basically the programmer they hid in the back.
Starying your own company involves a wide range of entrpeunerial skills. You should probably have prior expeirence with start-ups or working for VCs.
Its a good idea but not right now...if ever. Without the marketable idea or different view point for an existing market I don't see anyway to get up and going especially in this market.
This is a 60 seconds example. Obviously the differences between the skill sets can be covered much more in depth. But the idea is that different careers require different skills. Some of these skills take years to develop.
For the record, there are no hard and fast rules. I worked as a sofware developer, but in companies with consulting groups, so I got some consulting experience when loaned to them. It also doesn't mean that if you want to be a consultant at 40, you need to be a consultant for the 20 years prior. Find people doing what you want to do and ask them what skills are important and where they learned it. Every time you change jobs (including promotions), ask yourself what skills you want to gain from your next job to prepare you for your future.
Okay...well I have people to turn to here at the university many of who probably have connections themselves. Talking with them would definitely be the first step. But I still can't get beyond futility of a Master's Degree in Computer Science. Yes it'll update my skills but every class will be a reminder of what I'm competing against as at this university (and many others I'm sure) its a cornacopia of international students who spend 2 years here in the US to return home. I don't see the point in garnering a degree when Students A, B, and C sitting next to me can return home and for a 1/3 of my salary compete for my exact job.
I guess what I'm saying is where's my niche. I've considered applying my CS knowledge to different verticals but I'd want a Master's in that area as two bachelor's seems to me like the employer would view it as indescision. Problem is I made my choice for my career and was told I can't do it anymore (or at least right now) 9 months after I started.
--Mark[/QB]
[ July 14, 2003: Message edited by: Matt Kidd ]
Matt Kidd
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 17, 2002
Posts: 261
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
Some random bits of advice.
If you'll skills are quickly outdated, you're focusing on the wrong skills. Don't bother focusing on particular technologies. Know them, but that's just a medium. You're real skills are OOA/OOD and communication.

Which I work on everyday in my current job here at this library. I can correlate each and every task I do practically to the business world but...I only have a Bacehelor's. HR views that as just entry level requirements as far as I know.
My feelings about b-school are that if you're not going to a top school, it's not worth it. Of course, that view stems primarily from those who go into business. If you want to be a developer, but demonstrate some business schools, then an MBA from any school might be sufficent as a signal. B-school's general don't care about your background.
Thats what I figured. But its not like i have options. Hell my advanced degree is only possible so long as I'm employed at this university...if I lose my job I have to make a beeline to UPS.
[QB}There's nothing wrong with getting a masters degree from the same school where you did your undergrad. I did it, myself. If you're thinking abut a PhD, understand that is mostly useful for research and academia.[/QB]
That is comforting to say the least. I mean its not like it won't be challenging..these professors are good here.
My advice is to think about the problem from the other side. Don't think about what to do in the next 5 years; rather, think about what you want to do at 45. Then ask yourself what skills are necesary and work backwards.
I thought of this which is why I tried to buy this how to become a CTO/CIO book but it never came in. Another part of the problem is that I don't know what I want to do when I'm 45 aside from a) be in charge of a lot of people/be high up in management b) work with computers to solve peoples problems i.e they outline their difficulties and I lead a team to come up with a solution or c) do sales but have the technical knowledge on hand to answer any and all questions I get thrown to me (no "i'll have to get back to you on that").
Eh...maybe I'm clueless since I'm burning the trail in this post collegiate forest the my parents thrust my into without having been through themselves.

Good luck.
--Mark
THanks....I'll need it...
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Matt Kidd:

I guess what I'm saying is where's my niche.

I strongly recommend reading "What Color Is Your Parachute?" and check out the book's web site.
To me, it sounds like you can leverage your consulting skills. Sure, you were the kid they locked in the cubicle, but if you spin it the right way, you can be hired by another consulting firm--one which will help grow your other skills. (I'll conceed that this isn't the best market for consultants, but it might be a long term goal.)
--Mark
Matt Kidd
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 17, 2002
Posts: 261
That books been recommended to me before. I think nows a good time to read it in addition to a couple other "how I became a millionaire" type books. thanks for all the advice.
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1304
I can not even do postgraduate degree for master in information technology or MSc computer science.
I got officially declined by two universities for my application to master degree despite the fact I have a BSc in information systems specialisation and the following certs. Probably my average grades are too low.
And now I am unemployed I have applied for all sort of job positions and junior level one like junior java developer and juni DBA and even non IT ones such as data entry and call centres etc... for the last 3 months
and all of them so far have been unsuccessful and I have tried several different apporaches.
my life is hopeless right now in fact I can't even get a toilet cleaner or car grooming/cleaner job with relevant reference and experience.
whats the point of keep going


BEA 8.1 Certified Administrator, IBM Certified Solution Developer For XML 1.1 and Related Technologies, SCJP, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCDJWS, SCJD, SCEA,
Oracle Certified Master Java EE 5 Enterprise Architect
Tim Holloway
Saloon Keeper

Joined: Jun 25, 2001
Posts: 16140
    
  21

Billy, I realize that the current labor market is so miserable it's enough to make anyone feel suicidal, but in your case, I worry. I think you should consider looking to professional counseling. You might even find it beneficial to discover the benefits of modern anti-depressants.
Maybe you're not the brightest star in the IT galaxy. That's not necessarily so bad, since employers like hiring people who aren't superstars with touchy egos and ridiculous salary demands. As for academics, since there's no job market to speak of at any educational level, I wouldn't worry too much.
The one thing that situations like this do for us is provide a time to reassess things. Are you a true computer geek or is it just a job? If you don't live and breathe tech, this is the time to think about what you actually do enjoy doing. The most sure-fire route to success I know is when you're doing what you'd do anyway for free and get people to pay you for doing it.
If computers are your air and lifeblood (like me), I strongly encourage you to look at getting involved in (or starting) an open-source project. It's not going to cause headhunters to descend on you, but it does provide credibility. Most employers will figure that anyone who can work without the carrot of salary and the club of getting fired is a good bet, and it shows you're keeing your skills polished. It's also a good way to while away those long lonely hours while you're waiting for a job offer and take your mind off your problems for a little while.
In short, follow the fun. Fun is a pretty reliable indicator for success. If nothing's fun, then you should chase down a good psychologist, because for all its problems, the world is big and complex enough to provide lots of fun for everyone, but sometimes our vision is clouded and we can't see it.


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

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1304
Maybe I would feel better if I got accepted in to the master's degree programme but I can't even get accepted and I am a computer geek, I dont have much a life I sit infront of the computer all day long and havent gone out with any of my friends for a long long time , last time I partied was like nearly more than a year ago and I dont have any girls and all the pretty chicks I know and I liked all have boyfriends, so my life is really pretty sad right now not to mention I dont have any money and no car.
I highly doubt there is any opensource project going on in this country anyway.
Also there are so many bloody rich kids who are younger than me driving expensive sports cars ,BMWs or Mercedes all over the city and some of them aren't even study just play all day long and some are still in university feeling they are so cool.
Matt Cao
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 715
Hey Billy,
What kind of graduate programme accept someone with not so astute with undergraduate records? If the school accepted, then I would second guess the quality of that school quality.
HS did providing you a good link. What have you do anything with that? I think those guys projects are interesting.
For the opensource projects, could you log into their websites and look around see what interesting to you and sign up with them. I do not think you have to travel anywhere.
BTW, could you stop behave like an immature? If you keep on with that attitude, you get nowhere. Your life isolate in the corner because you made it that way.
Regards,
MCao
[ July 15, 2003: Message edited by: Matt Cao ]
Matt Cao
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 715
Hi Tim,
For freshmeat just out of school, education records do count.
Regards,
MCao
Andres Gonzalez
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 27, 2001
Posts: 1561
Originally posted by Billy Tsai:
Maybe I would feel better if I got accepted in to the master's degree programme but I can't even get accepted and I am a computer geek, I dont have much a life I sit infront of the computer all day long and havent gone out with any of my friends for a long long time , last time I partied was like nearly more than a year ago and I dont have any girls and all the pretty chicks I know and I liked all have boyfriends, so my life is really pretty sad right now not to mention I dont have any money and no car.
I highly doubt there is any opensource project going on in this country anyway.
Also there are so many bloody rich kids who are younger than me driving expensive sports cars ,BMWs or Mercedes all over the city and some of them aren't even study just play all day long and some are still in university feeling they are so cool.

Billy, you're a legend man! (Don't ask me why ) I read a lot of posts at javaranch and I've always seen posts like this ones from you. Did you actually apply for MIT (USA) or IIT (indian institute of technology) that you weren't accepted!!?? There are plenty of good universities that will give you an offer letter, I'm pretty sure.
If I'm not mistaken you live in NZ. Whenever come to Aussieland let me know and we'll have few beers.
BTW, you've got plenty of certifications man (yes, I read the post in which you said SCJP was useless ), you've studied your a$$ off to achieve them (if all those certs are real), but.. how do you feel with your social skills? I've known many people that are really smart but can't socialize, and that's a BIG problem.
good luck "mate"...
chao
[ July 24, 2003: Message edited by: Andres Gonzalez ]

I'm not going to be a Rock Star. I'm going to be a LEGEND! --Freddie Mercury
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1304
Well I was going to sydney originall but I didnt get accepted into the universities I want so I am staying in Auckland, I applied university of Sydney and the university of NSW I got officially declined by both for master degree
but I got accepted for Macquarie university though however I didnt take up the offer.
I am going to get SCBCD,SCEA and 1 year of experience then apply again with all these certs plus exp see if I can get acceptted or not if still not I guess i'll have to go to Macquarie.
I have applied for several jobs in here with a BSc, SCJP and SCWCD and I wasnt even given the chance for interview which is very sad and discouraging to me.
Andres Gonzalez
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 27, 2001
Posts: 1561
hmm.. that's weird. I've got a friend studying in sydney uni and his grades are not the best. Did you apply for MSc (by research)?
anyways... you did not answer my question
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1304
The response I got is that they got lots application are the entries are very competitive, anyway my grades are really low, I applied the coursework option.
what was ur question, what city r u in?
if I still can't find a job here by end of next month I am going to sydney and try my luck there also complete SCEA and SCBCD while I am there see if I got better chances.
Andres Gonzalez
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 27, 2001
Posts: 1561
don't worry about my question.
I'm in brisbane.
good luck
 
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subject: Looking for a little advice about grad school