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Hi - I'm a little lost!

Discussion in 'New Members Introduction' started by Patient-Edd, Jan 27, 2010.

  1. Patient-Edd

    Patient-Edd Bit Poster

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    Hi,

    This is my first post here after many months of searching the web for answers, and still feeling a little misguided, I found this little treasure.

    I don't work in IT but after years of really lame, un-interesting jobs, I decided it was time to train in something I had a real interest in. I've always found computers and their programs quite absorbing and been curious as to how they really work. So I started a Bsc Hons in Computing with the OU back in September '08, and through them have already got a Certificate in Computing and Mathematics (although nothing special I am pleased with myself :)).

    What I would like to know is what can I do whilst doing the degree, I know there are many certificates out there, I am also happy to do self study - I am currently doing MCDST this way. My short term goal is just to get in to IT - I guess as a support tech, my long term goal is to be a developer - which one I can't decide, software or web?

    Any kind of advice is greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    Edd
     
    Certifications: CertCompMath (open)
    WIP: MCDST, BSc (Hons) Computing
  2. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Have you spoken to local colleges like Southampton University or Southampton Solent University?

    You can teach yourself programming from the internet and books if you are a self starter.

    Check out MIT OpenCourseware, Channel 8 etc.

    Landing a programming job without at least a Foundation Degree will be tough unless you can prove yourself in other ways like personal projects, open source, coding contests, etc.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  3. Patient-Edd

    Patient-Edd Bit Poster

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    Thanks for the quick response.

    Is it normal to learn both web and software languages, or do people do one or the other. I was thinking of learning some of the web languages first, to a skill level where I can create my own website and make a portfolio of projects I have done. Then perhaps look in to software languages, as my degree will cover mostly Java.
     
    Certifications: CertCompMath (open)
    WIP: MCDST, BSc (Hons) Computing
  4. Josiahb

    Josiahb Gigabyte Poster

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    The clever bit is that Java, along with a number of other technologies (.NET for instance) isn't exclusively 'software' or web.

    The most important thing is to understand the fundamental concepts, the language and syntax will be easier if the basic knowledge is there. This of course is something you'll get (or should get) through your degree.

    Oh and if you do go down the web route, make sure your HTML and CSS knowledge is good. I'm really getting tired of spending ages cleaning up other peoples crappy HTML.
     
    Certifications: A+, Network+, MCDST, ACA – Mac Integration 10.10
  5. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Some people specialise in client-side web development, some people server-side web development, some do both, others do not develop web applications at all. Most jobs will expect you to be flexible.

    Programming is programming largely, once you've learnt 3-4 different languages you will have normally seen most of the various styles of programming :- functional, imperative, procedural, object orientated, aspect orientated, declarative, meta / generic etc.

    I did not learn any web technologies at college but then the web was embryonic at the time, most of my early professional work experience consisted of embedded, client-server, thick-client, and distributed apps.

    Now it would be foolish to get a Computer Science degree without at least learning some web technologies, even if you only study them in your spare time.

    There is no need to learn web technologies either before or after more traditional thick-client or server-side programming. It merely depends on how the lectures/tutorials are structured and what topics are put in them.

    Languages like ActionScript or JavaScript from a learning perspective are not so different from things like Visual Basic or Java.

    Java and C# .Net are modern general purpose programming languages, they have extensions that allow them to be used for web serverside programming.

    The client side is usually made up of HTML, CSS and JavaScript, Rich Internet Apps are normally written in Flash or Silverlight.

    The main differences are in application of the technology, and toolsets, etc. Other differences are language design differences like dynamic versus static languages, weak versus strongly typed etc.

    Colleges often prefer to start off by teaching strongly typed languages, I learnt Ada for example, Java seems to be the modern equivalent for most colleges.

    If programming is your main interest I would also try and learn some Computer Architecture, Assembler, C, Data-structures and Algorithms.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  6. Patient-Edd

    Patient-Edd Bit Poster

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    Josiah and dmarsh thanks for your replies, already you're proving what a great choice I've made in joining this forum.

    Josiahb I will do my best with the HTML and CSS.

    I think my plan will be as follows:

    • Do the degree - for the long term
    • Whilst doing that get my MCDST, A+, Network + - for my own personal knowledge and perhaps to help get my 1st job in IT, I understand not as a programmer.
    • Learn all I can about the various web languages and databases
    • Use those skills to do personal projects, open source etc. and build my own portfolio as proof of what I have learned
    • Once I have a grasp of the web technologies I will look at assembler, computer architecture, C etc.. unless it is covered in the degree in detail

    One last question - With the exception of MCDST, A+, Network +, is it necessary to get certificates in the other things I intend to learn outside of the degree. My understanding is that good evidence and proof will go a long way with a potential employer?
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
    Certifications: CertCompMath (open)
    WIP: MCDST, BSc (Hons) Computing
  7. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    We can only give general advice, we can not know what any individual employer might want, I lost a recent role after getting down to the final two candidates, the other candidate was chosen because he had been a teacher in the past. Would I advise developers to become teachers just in case ? No.

    Try and think what a potential employer may want to see, both on your CV and in an interview. Look at job specifications and see what people are asking for, talk to employers at job fairs, ask your local careers advisor, determine career paths and roles in industry you might like, find people in those roles and ask them their opinions.

    Qualifications (Academic and Commercial) are one way to prove yourself on paper and win an interview place, afterwards you must impress in the interview.

    There are other ways to try to market yourself but they are less conventional, you can network, you can volunteer, you can start up on your own, you can do your own projects, contribute to open source, enter coding contests, etc.

    TopCoder regularly run contests, Google Summer of Code or SourceForge can be used to find open source projects.

    Don't just rely on other people, actively research things on your own, the internet is a massive resource for IT professionals.
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2010
    Certifications: CITP, BSc, HND, SCJP, SCJD, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCEA, N+, Sec+, Proj+, Server+, Linux+, MCTS, MCPD, MCSA, MCITP, CCDH
  8. imransheaven

    imransheaven New Member

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    Heelo Everybody
     
  9. JonnyMX

    JonnyMX Petabyte Poster

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    You lost too?

    :biggrin
     
    Certifications: MCT, MCTS, i-Net+, CIW CI, Prince2, MSP, MCSD
  10. Patient-Edd

    Patient-Edd Bit Poster

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    Certifications: CertCompMath (open)
    WIP: MCDST, BSc (Hons) Computing
  11. LukeP

    LukeP Gigabyte Poster

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    Here's the door in mate (@ Patient-Edd)
     
    WIP: Uhmm... not sure

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