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Wannabe Geek


Topic # 96700 2-Feb-2012 19:28
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I'm currently studying Computer Science and I have hit a fork in the road. I can take the programming or network path. Or a little of both. For now I'm thinking of doing a little of both. Because I'm really quite confused. But I'm not sure if it's a good idea to be 'jack of all trades, master of none' if you know what I mean.

I need some sort of insurance that I'll be able to get a job once I graduate. I'm not sure if I'm going to have enough knowledge to be able to actually perform the job given to me if i get it. Like what do I do if i have no experience. Won't it be easier to get a job as a programmer without experience? Because you would just know how to write code, and now all you need is the user requirements??

Programming is really difficult to learn as my teachers aren't very good at their jobs, they ramble about code like we know what they're talking about and then we get sent off into the lonely wilderness to code assignments and I have to put a lot of my spare time into it re-learning and teaching myself. I kinda wish I knew how to code, because well, I think that would be cool. But considering the time, stress and pain it causes me......I'm just not sure if it's what I really want to do.

Networking is more easier for me to learn. I'm actually taking in this information as it is spoken in my language - english. But how am I supposed to get hands on experience in this field though? It's easy with programming just open up a developer and code at it. Because when I graduate I don't think employers would want someone for the job that hasn't actually done any networking.

I'm mostly thinking about the job vacancies, how easy it is to get into after graduation, and the progression into higher roles and such.

Please help, thanks in advance :)

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 576446 2-Feb-2012 20:08
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Curious to see how this thread goes, will probably be me in 2 years time.

Just wondering, where are you studying currently?

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Geek


  Reply # 576471 2-Feb-2012 20:40
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I would say go with networking as a career and do programing on the side, like creating iOS apps.

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  Reply # 576682 3-Feb-2012 09:57
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Programming is something you really need to learn yourself. The lecturers can give you some starting points and some principles, but you really need to get hands on and do it. If you're finding it really difficult now, it's not for you. At uni we were given assignments, then told to do it in (say) C++, or Pascal, or Python, assembler, usually with a 1 hour introduction lecture. We had to learn it ourselves, which is the best way. Honestly programming isn't the difficult, and once you understand the principles you can move to almost any language pretty easily. Scripting languages are different, and so is Javascript. I have worked in PHP but I find it weird and I don't like it, and no-one I know likes Javascript. Learn PHP and Javascript and you'll do ok, I guess, but maybe not in NZ. Java and .Net are biggest here.

Once you get out of university and you think you're a gun programmer, you'll discover how little you know. Sure, you can code sorting algorithms, that sort of thing, but honestly most of that's done by libraries these days. Most code is workflow (eg spring webflow, struts is old now), user interface (jsp, asp, tiles, jsf, etc), or moving data around to database or external systems (xml, parsing, web services, oracle, sybase, etc). You have to use frameworks (spring, struct, etc), there are dozens of these, different databases, integrate with weird old or brand new external systems, etc. Integration and problem solving is the hard part. Programming's easy. Software development is more difficult.

The good news is companies do hire graduates, there's plenty of jobs, and you can go contracting. I've been doing software development for almost 15 years, i'm a senior dev moving into architecture, and i've been contracting for 8 years or so. Most weeks I get called by 2 or 3 recruiters, even though i'm fully occupied and they know it. There's always a demand, and i've not yet been out of work even though I contract and I charge a near the top of the market.

Networking I know little about. I know developers hugely outnumber them almost everywhere, maybe 50:1 - total guess. System administrators have a role too.




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  Reply # 576684 3-Feb-2012 10:05
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When I was at University, CompSci was "Programming in PASCAL". Even then it was only useful as an introduction to programming theory, the language was obsolete already and so similar to C++ that it seemed silly that they weren't using C++ to begin with.

If you're more of a "hands-on" sort of person, go with the network side, if you're more of a theoretical person (not that there isn't a LOAD of theory with networking - the physical side is the minor part of the process) then you may prefer programming.

You could learn SQL, seems to be a fair bit of demand for that, and it's basically just another programming language.




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  Reply # 576688 3-Feb-2012 10:10
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There is a big demand for DBAs, but SQL is only a small part of their job. Managing the database, optimising things, reports, etc.




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gjm

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 576720 3-Feb-2012 10:54
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if all you are worried about is getting a job straight away then it will be easier to get a programming job then a networking job. No business is going to let a fresh grad manage their core infrastrucuture where a mistake can take down the entire network / business.

The path to being a network admin might look like callcentre --> helpdesk --> desktop support --> sysadmin --> network admin or something similar.

Despite this the best piece of advice I could give you is do what you love otherwise you will end up miserable. Life is to short to spend 40+ hours a week working at something you dont want to be doing. Fresh out of uni I had 2 jobs lined up....1 at Vodafone being a techie and 1 as a credit analyst. Took the credit analyst one as it payed more money and future $$$ was better but quit 2 years later as I hated it and then had to work my way back into IT which I now love doing. Currently I'm implementing Exchange 2010, MS CRM, Sharepoint, SAN and VMWare Upgrades, new hardware coming out my ears and am having so much fun I cant believe I get paid to do this :)

Hope that helps you somehow. 




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  Reply # 576725 3-Feb-2012 10:59
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Do network guys really have to go through a helpdesk? Surely having a degree then professional industry networking qualifications would be enough to get your foot in the door as a junior.




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gjm

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 576730 3-Feb-2012 11:08
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My cousins boyfriend got a job straight out of uni in a grad program with one of the network companies...might have been fx but cant remember. Apart from him every other network admin I have worked with has come through desktop support at some stage in their career. I think they were better at their network job for having come through that route too.

When I worked for an ISP we had a few (small number) of people coming through from our call centre to desktop support and then moving into our NOC and then to a network engineer position. Not sure how many ISP's would follow that kind of model though as we were big on internal promotion. 




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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 576757 3-Feb-2012 12:08
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Man, thank you guys for all the extremely helpful feedback. I think I will do networking seeing as I definitely would enjoy it more than programming. And I get the idea about doing something you enjoy. Also I'm very afraid of actually not being able to code that well after graduation. I don't want to put in a lot of self-learning, as it is hard enough as it is at Uni for me.

I am a bit jealous of the demand in programming though, although I love everything to do with tech I will still be studying programming on the side. While I'm doing my network project in final year I will be doing an advanced programming paper at the same time. And before that I will be doing a Mob App paper. Hopefully with enough study, and hopefully it might get easier for me, I might be skilled in both.


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  Reply # 576760 3-Feb-2012 12:14
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If you can't self learn you should stay out of technology. The rate of change is increasing, and in industry no-one's going to teach you, you have to learn yourself. Also be aware that a degree usually gives you the theory or background required, you won't realise until you get out how little you really know. The only way to get that knowledge is experience.

There's a lot to be said for doing something you love, but you have to be practical. A huge number of people would want to be travel photographers, but the market's so small it's not practical. My point is that before you choose your course you should make sure there's a good chance you can get a job right out of uni. You don't want to end up on a helpdesk.




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gjm

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Ultimate Geek
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  Reply # 576788 3-Feb-2012 12:55
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yup...what he said. Best thing I got out of uni was how to learn, not what I learnt.




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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 577076 4-Feb-2012 00:01
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Oh, about the self-learning bit, I'm mostly talking about having to teach myself programming. As i find it difficult to find any good material on the net for getting programs to do what you want. It took me 8 hours to learn how to implement a search function in my program. I couldn't find code on the internet that I wanted, and I had to put little pieces of code together from different people. It took me ages, and than in the end I ended up going to my lecturer for help. In which she made it kinda crap, and not what I really wanted lol.

I don't mind self-learning, and sometimes I actually enjoy it. But examples such as these get me all down with a frown.

Anyway, I think I'll just start putting more time into my coding, and start programming projects as a hobby.



Edit: I'm still doing programming as a minor. I'm missing out on website development, and Multimedia Programming, but I'm getting SQL, JAVA, C#, Web Apps, and Mob Apps.

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  Reply # 577092 4-Feb-2012 02:11
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gjm: My cousins boyfriend got a job straight out of uni in a grad program with one of the network companies...might have been fx but cant remember. Apart from him every other network admin I have worked with has come through desktop support at some stage in their career. I think they were better at their network job for having come through that route too.

When I worked for an ISP we had a few (small number) of people coming through from our call centre to desktop support and then moving into our NOC and then to a network engineer position. Not sure how many ISP's would follow that kind of model though as we were big on internal promotion. 


We do the same, have moved several very keen guys through the residential helpdesk to corporate helpdesk, and then into systems or programming roles. Having said that we've never had anyone come though the ranks and into a networking position despite some guys having a CCNA, but that is mainly because we have no jnr positions in networks anymore.

My only word of advise to the OP is to find a job which you'll enjoy doing. Simply trading 40 hours a week of your time for a paycheck is hardly fulfilling in the long term, you need to be getting some kick out of the job.


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  Reply # 577122 4-Feb-2012 09:01
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Ultima707: Oh, about the self-learning bit, I'm mostly talking about having to teach myself programming. As i find it difficult to find any good material on the net for getting programs to do what you want. It took me 8 hours to learn how to implement a search function in my program. I couldn't find code on the internet that I wanted, and I had to put little pieces of code together from different people. It took me ages, and than in the end I ended up going to my lecturer for help. In which she made it kinda crap, and not what I really wanted lol.

I don't mind self-learning, and sometimes I actually enjoy it. But examples such as these get me all down with a frown.

Anyway, I think I'll just start putting more time into my coding, and start programming projects as a hobby.



Edit: I'm still doing programming as a minor. I'm missing out on website development, and Multimedia Programming, but I'm getting SQL, JAVA, C#, Web Apps, and Mob Apps.


I'm pretty sure that you're meant to understand the principles and write it yourself, not try to find it online. You'll never find exactly what you want online, for assignment or for corporate programming. If you expect it to be that easy then you either need to readjust your expectations, or get out of the field.

When I did my degree, which was around 15 years ago, there was much less online, in terms of tutorials, reference materials, etc. You have it really easy now.

In commercial programming you'll get a project, you'll have to learn new library, new systems to integrate with, new bits for talking to a database, perhaps new custom languages like SpEL, etc. Learning and change is constant.




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Wannabe Geek


  Reply # 577151 4-Feb-2012 10:45
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That example I gave, we didn't get taught it in class, but we needed it in our assignment (search function). How am I supposed to know it if I shouldn't be looking for it online? I got the book, but it sucks big time.

And, wow! You have been programming for a very long time, sorry if my questions sound stupid. I'm still learning.

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