Christopher Amherst

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since Aug 14, 2004
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Recent posts by Christopher Amherst

Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
What about consulting? The major IT consulting firms need deep expertise in areas, including SAS. You could then talk about acquiring other programming skills.

It's a another path worth considering, though it may be one that can only be reviewed 5 years down the line if I'm still stuck in SAS. (my years of experience with SAS have only just hit 5 years)

There is one thing that I think has been missing in the discussion which is:
My degree is Computer Science.

I have no interest in Statistics as a career path or a way to jump in the next X years into the industry that I want to be in.

SAS to me is only going to be a backup/security blanket in down times.

It's not something I like but it is something I can do well and effectively.
17 years ago

Originally posted by r phipps:
I wouldn't call SAS a killer, but i woundn't want it to be all i had, but there have several times over the last few years that i could have gotten a good paying contract if i had onnly had SAS. Seems it used heavly in the BIOTECH field.

True, it's a fairly extensive application used in the BioTech field.

However, as I said -
My long term career goal is to move over and into the Game Industry.
SAS is not used there, save for the limited marketing positions, if that.

In some ways, Java is serving as a stepping stone / transitional phase, to
move into the industry, and move up to the career path I wish to pursue.
17 years ago

Originally posted by Homer Phillips:
If you're 30, above average in height with proportionate weight and not too nerdy, you could make it if the economy holds up.

I don't know if you have an emotional attachment to java, but .net might be an easier market to sell into. IMO, it's not as mature.



My attachment to java is based on my long term career goals.

It's quite simple .NET from all of my research is not being used in the Video Game Industry.

It's still OO (C/C++, Java is making some inroads these days).
What it's not is .NET

I really have limited options if I want to pursue the eventual goal of working at the Ubi Soft's or THQ's of the world.

If it was about money, I'd just stick with SAS and revile myself in the mornings. (Rather than revile myself with MS VB.Net)
17 years ago

Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
How about looking for academic staff positions--in econ or social sciences--which heavily reply on SAS. You can leverage your SAS knowledge and on the projects start to include non-SAS code to build up a portfolio.

I posted a similiar question to the one I posted here on the SAS-L.
The problem is that what SAS does well, Java doesn't.
What Java does well, SAS doesn't.

The languages are at the end of the scales. At best, I can focus on trying to integrate Java code into SAS modules, it's not a pleasant bridge to Java development. SAS/IntrNet is another bridge (in that it's a way to integrate SAS into Web Development). It's just a question of whether there are any colleges that integrate SAS with web development.
17 years ago

Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
How about trying to work for SAS itself? You can move from SAS-based code (probably industry solutions) to core SAS development or other supporting projects. I'm sure SAS is written in a language other than SAS.


It is. Believe they shifted over to Java as their primary language.
However, they are looking for a minimum of 5 years development in Java.

Welcome to the paradox of SAS.
Programmed in Java _and_ just now integrating Java stubs into the language to import Java objects into SAS code.

I'll refrain from calling SAS a career killer.
17 years ago

Originally posted by Homer Phillips:

If you are over 30 it could be nearly impossible. It might happen but there are too many people available from foreign countries with experience you cannot compete with.

Well, I'm at 30. Not sure if this is a good thing or not.
17 years ago

Originally posted by Mike Gershman:
Your best bet is to take a SAS job at a major corporation with a strong internal job posting policy, take on some extra work involving Java (even just fixes or one-time programs) to gain credibility, and transfer via a job posting.

A front door Java hire is a real long shot.

From personal experience working in a SAS programming environment.
SAS to Java with extra work is also incredibly unlikely.

Management views you as a 'statistician'
IT views you as an 'accountant'.

Neither side is likely to be fond of me contemplating solutions outside of SAS.
17 years ago
My background is 5 years in SAS programming and statistical data analysis.

In my ongoing job search, I have tried to find a blend of Java and SAS but the market in that type of work is embryonic. Which one would say is good in some respects, but I'm looking to completely move out of any SAS development work.

I'm not of the stat geek or statistician temperament.

Having said that, I'm trying to decide if there is a way to crossover into a junior level Java programmer/developer position.

The debate I'm having is whether to simply take the SCJP exam
(having gone through an extensive multi-month java program at Boston University - an intensive enough program that with a brief review, I could take the exam and likely pass easily.) OR wait and try to leverage my experience as a programmer to make the jump, gain some real world development experience, then take the exam.

Anyone have an advice?

How difficult or easy is the career 'path' transition?

(Just wants to be a programmer, darn it.)
17 years ago

Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
Where were you a year ago? A friend of mine at HBS was looking for a software developer to help with some research projects, including a lot of SAS work.

A year ago, I hadn't quite been laid off due to state budget cuts.
C'est la vie.

Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:
Look to organizations which work in economics, social science, and data modeling. These are places most likely to use SAS or related tools and will most value your experience. These could be commerical, research, or academic institutions.

Unfortunately, I'm looking to completely get out of the "SAS" career pigeonhole entirely, which would place me at odds to economics, social science, and data modeling.

From personal experience, when I have seen positions for SAS professionals, I rarely see the institutions looking for professionals that can also develop in Java.
18 years ago
I'm looking for some suggestions to handle the work/experience paradox.

Let me give a brief overview:
I'm a SAS (statistical) programmer, with a Bachelor's in Comp Sci.
(Alma mater in question no longer provides Career Services to alumni)

I recently finished an extensive professional certificate program for "Enterprise Web Development using Java", which covered J2SE and various aspects of J2EE (applets, servlets, Struts, WSDL, XML, JAX, etc.)

I'm struggling a bit trying to find a way to shift from statistical programming to a career path in Java programming, and fully realize that
this may mean having to restart.

Especially since there are no simple ways of integrating Java into statistical programming (SAS just integrated Java this past year)

So my question is:
How does a 30 year old programming professional with 4 years experience in programming (statistical) find opportunities to gain practical, professional Java experience?

(My plan is to take the certification test after working in a professional environment for 3 months or so...)
18 years ago

Originally posted by Jack Kay:
I want to be able to be a really good leader in programming

Here's a few questions you should consider:
Does your school or school district offer the Computer Science A and AB Advanced Placement exams (or classes)?

What is the speciality of programming you want to pursue?

What industry do you want to work in?

For example, noticing that you mentioned Warcraft 3 and Unreal Tournament,
you could be expressing an interest in working in the game industry.

In that case, you'd want to take classes that help you understand how to program real world physics or AIs or even graphics..
(And likely want to find schools that are good for those specialities)

For other industries such as Finance or Marketing, you'd want to look at schools that have good business school programs.

There are many options for you.
(Electronic Engineering, Statistics, Cognitive Science (if you are focused on developing interfaces..) )

You already have some tools to make you the best programmer you want to be.

You're curious and driven.
Just think about where you'd ideally like to work, and you'll have a good place to start for pondering where you want to go.
18 years ago