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Should I choose a Bsc major relevant to my career?

Rachel Swailes
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Joined: May 18, 2004
Posts: 434
Hi there

I have a good job working as a satellite communications programmer. I now want to study part time towards a degree, but I can decide if I should study something that sounds interesting or if should study something along my career field?

The choice I am fighting with at the moment is the choice between studying for a Bsc in Computer Science, or a BSc in Philosophy of Logic.

Any thoughts?
Rachel
[ November 24, 2004: Message edited by: Rachel Swailes ]
peter wooster
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Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Rachel Swailes:
Hi there

I have a good job working as a satellite communications programmer. I now want to study part time towards a degree, but I can decide if I should study something that sounds interesting or if should study something along my career field?

The choice I am fighting with at the moment is the choice between studying for a Bsc in Computer Science, or a BSc in Philosophy of Logic.

Any thoughts?
Rachel

[ November 24, 2004: Message edited by: Rachel Swailes ]


Since you have a job, take what interests you.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
I wasn't aware that it was an either/or choice. Let's assume for the moment that a double major is not an option. Why would you want to do each degree?

If you want to go into software, a CS degree is important. What can you do with a philosophy degree? Not much. What can you do with philosophy knowledge? Some people would say a lot. Unless you want to get a philosophy PhD (and maybe even if you do), I don't see why you need the actual piece of paper. Can't you just take the classes for fun and use the credits towards and overall dergeee?

--Mark
peter wooster
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Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
I wasn't aware that it was an either/or choice. Let's assume for the moment that a double major is not an option. Why would you want to do each degree?

If you want to go into software, a CS degree is important. What can you do with a philosophy degree? Not much. What can you do with philosophy knowledge? Some people would say a lot. Unless you want to get a philosophy PhD (and maybe even if you do), I don't see why you need the actual piece of paper. Can't you just take the classes for fun and use the credits towards and overall dergeee?

--Mark


When I worked for a small successful sofware company years ago one of the true gurus had a degree in psychology and statistics. that didn't stop him from designing and implementing the floating point arithmetic algorithms. I guess those are useful for stats.

Also that philosophy degree may be useful if you have thoughts of going into law, which I had. My degree was in Computer Science, but my minor was in Philosophy, mostly logic and metaphysics, since they mesh well with math. Its interesting stuff, depending on where you go, there is a possibility that you can do both, one as major, the other as minor.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by peter wooster:

When I worked for a small successful sofware company years ago one of the true gurus had a degree in psychology and statistics. that didn't stop him from designing and implementing the floating point arithmetic algorithms. I guess those are useful for stats.


My posting wasn't clear. I agree that a CS degree is not the only route--I
ve regularly hired non-CS guys and one of my best managers, who was an engineer himself, had a psych degree. However, if you want to work at a large company, they nearly all require the CS degree, so it will open more doors later on--right or wrong.

--Mark
peter wooster
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Joined: Jun 13, 2004
Posts: 1033
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

My posting wasn't clear. I agree that a CS degree is not the only route--I
ve regularly hired non-CS guys and one of my best managers, who was an engineer himself, had a psych degree. However, if you want to work at a large company, they nearly all require the CS degree, so it will open more doors later on--right or wrong.

--Mark


That is usually the case, but the Psych/Stats/FloatingPoint guy came to us from IBM. But that was years ago, before the cult of specialization took hold as much as now. For secure non-offshorable careers, Law and Plumbing are good choices. Lawyers have the political clout to keep the work at home and remote plumbing would be messy.
Rachel Swailes
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Joined: May 18, 2004
Posts: 434
I gave a lot of thought to what I want out of the degree and where I want to be in a few years. I would really love to be managing our programming department.

I am also then glad to see that from all your experience that your best managers did not neccessarily study Business Management or CS. I guess I have always wanted to study CS, but the thing that puts me off most about this course is that it will be done in C++ which feels to me like a bit of a waste since I'm getting so far into Java. Yes, it will be good to broaden my skills, but - yes. I've done first year studies in CS, Maths and Physics a while ago and I just feel like I don't want to waste this chance by choosing the wrong thing now.

Many thanks for listening to my musings.

Cheers,
Rachel
[ November 24, 2004: Message edited by: Rachel Swailes ]
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Rachel Swailes:
I gave a lot of thought to what I want out of the degree and where I want to be in a few years. I would really love to be managing our programming department.


It wouldn't hurt to take a business, marketing or econ course just to gain some basic exposure to the other fields. As a development manager, you will likely be interacting with people from those fields.

Also, don't just read software books, but read books on methdology and project management, leadership, managing people, and biographies of successful people. Talk to managers you meet and ask them what skills they have and how you can gain them. Look at the books on their shelves--you'll notice they tend to not be all technical.


Originally posted by Rachel Swailes:
I guess I have always wanted to study CS, but the thing that puts me off most about this course is that it will be done in C++ which feels to me like a bit of a waste since I'm getting so far into Java.


This is a very dangerous and short sighted view. This is also why many entry level developers are at righ of bieng outsourced. If you think the skills you offer to your employer are knowledge of the language, you're in trouble. Any programmer with any skill who knows C++ can learn Java. I've often hired C++ developers for my Java teams. The real value is understanding programming structures, OOA/OOD, and being able to translate business programs into software solutions.

--Mark
Guy Allard
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Joined: Nov 24, 2000
Posts: 776
IMO - A decent CS program should introduce you to a variety of languages.

You should have to produce non-trivial progams in all of them ( in addition to understanding finite automata theory, Goedel, AND/OR gates, ......).

Sample language list (in no particular order, and not complete):

Intel Assemlber
Mainframe Asembler
BASIC
FORTRAN
COBOL (Do you know the modern variant is OO?)
C
C++
Java
PERL
Unix Scripts: bash and csh with sed/grep/awk
Python
Ruby
REXX
VB
C#
LISP (and variants)
CLISTs (mainframe)
PL/I
.......

If you want to be a manager, none of the above really matters. But I believe you should have a keen understanding of things technical. You do not need a "tech" degree to do that.

By all means, go to school. But stick with the day job at the same time ....

Guy
Billy Tsai
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Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1297
just go do a postgraduate master degree


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
Rachel Swailes
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Joined: May 18, 2004
Posts: 434
Thanks for all of the replies. I have thought long and hard about it and just because it's c++ doesn't mean I should discount the course. So I'm going to go for the BSC in Software Engineering.

Thanks again!
Rachel
 
 
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