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18 year old programmer... Uni or work

By andymaule ·
I'm 18 and I'm currently employed as an ASP and general web programmer. At the moment my future career hangs on a decision on whether to go straight into employment or go to Uni.

I work in a programming team with two software engineering graduates, both who got top grades. I work a very similar level as my collegues, and I get paid a very similar wage. If I decide to go to University I'll do AI or software engineering, and if I go to work I'll probably do something similar to what I'm doing now.

I'm going to be working until september anyway, but will it be better for me to do a computing degree which will start off covering a lot of things which I already can do, or should I go into work either as a contractor or with a large firm...

I would appreciate some opinions of people who would be responsible for hiring people such as myself or other IT professionals. I'd like to think that I'm quite good at what I do, and I enjoy doing it, but the road ahead is very puzzling.


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IT professional - New comer

by LCBHATIA In reply to 18 year old programmer... ...

Dear Andy,

I myself is an newcomer to IT feild and I am also seeking my Certified Professional Accountant exams in May 2001, my third attempt, I am working in the feild of accouting since past 20yrs .

Finally I would suggest you to persue youruniversity and get hands on experience which you are lucky to get at the moment. As I am going from pillar to post get such a offer.

Regards and Best Wishes

Lalit C Bhatia
Middle East,United Arab Emirates.

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Get a degree

by bssrssm In reply to IT professional - New com ...

My son is in a similar situation, and working to get MSCE certification because he is to excited about getting the big $$$, and is to impatient and lacks motivation to attend classes he isn't interested in.

I talked to several friends in the industry regarding my sons situation, to get their advice. One that's responsible for hardware engineering and software development, indicated he rarely will even bother to review a resume if the person doesn't have a college degree. His opinion is that they usually lack the maturity and motivation to handle the responsibility and work required to manage a major project.

Another friend just has his MSCE certification. He has been in the industry several years, is married, has kids, and is struggling to get a degree at nights so he can continue advancing and get a better position. He wishes he had gotten a degree while he was still young and single.

Finely, where I work, those without degrees generally are looked at technicians that provide support roles to the professionals, and rarelly get credit that the professionals do. Those that start with degrees, also start in suport roles, but they move up in the profession much faster, and are viewed as professionals from the start. Non degreed personnel have also moved into professional status, but it was after years of hard work. I have never met a professional that was sorry he had a degree. Nearly every professional that started without a degree wishes he had one. Those that were successful without degrees were usually talented highly motivated people that had good communication skills and were able to sell themselves and their talents. They also worked very hard, and probably put much more effort into their positions than even those with degrees.

You can be successful either route, but my experience tells me you will be happier in the long run with a degree.

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In the Long run...

by naveenusa In reply to IT professional - New com ...

You might well be doing the Job which you seem is exciting now. But as experienced professional, I can say that your enthusiasm will die sooner than you think and you will want to look for better opportunities. Then not just your experience, but also your education matters. So looking to your long term future, I would suggest that you should go for education.
By the way I have a Master in Computers. But after 6 years of Industry work, when I am in the stage to go to middle management, I find competition amongst my colleagues who have MBA. So I am considering the options for doing an evening MBA. You have advantage of age. Make the best use of it. Will never regret later.

Naveen D.

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An Enlisted Perspective...

by MHDhawaii In reply to 18 year old programmer... ...

Consider the US Military: there are plenty of enlisted personnel in the computer/networking field with extraordinary technical skills (most of them are getting out, but that's a different story?). Degreed officers, whether technical or not, are theleaders and the decision makers. The degree is all that sets them apart. The enlisted personnel are highly encouraged to get their degrees as well, but in many cases it takes the better part of a career to obtain that degree due to the pressures of working and going to school, and inevitably starting a family.

My suggestion is to get your degree first. I assume that you don't have the family commitments (wife and kids) that keep many tied to their desks, and you could do school full time. You could continue to work part time and summers to keep the active experience level.

God Bless!

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Work or Study?

by abi2 In reply to An Enlisted Perspective.. ...

Have u considered going to Uni. on a part time bases. And, remember, u would learn more than programming at Uni, communication skills, etc.

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Yes University But consider this

by jockel_carter In reply to Work or Study?

Going to a university is a good thing for many people. But if your motivation is to get a degree you may want to try a different tactic. First off there are very reputable schools, Regents in NY for one, that offer the ability to take credits (classes) anywhere and have them apply to a degree granted by their institution.

This approach provides flexibility. If you want to go to school part time or may need to change locations over the course of several years you do not lose your school standing. Another benefit of this approach is you may qualify for credit for your work history and accomplishments. You may also earn credit by taking qualification exams for some courses. This may allow you to start out in upper level courses instead of slogging through easy stuff for a couple years.

I am three credits shy of finishing my Bachelors through Regents. I would not be able to get a degree any other way.

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College vs Experience

by twhaight In reply to An Enlisted Perspective.. ...

I agree with MHDhawaii. U was in the Air Force, and tried to get my degree while I was in (a big recruiting point was the AF paid up to 90% of your tuition). Except the hours often were prohibitive (I worked alternating shifts) and was often deployed.
I was finally able to go back to school at 30 (after getting out). I managed to get my AA degree while I was in the service, and it took me 3 years to finish my BAS (I worked full time on swing shift and went to school part time during the day).A couple of years after graduation, I got a decent position as a helpdesk technician (my first computing job was as a large scale operator, and the money really sucked).

The sheep skin opened the doors for me to the better paying positions.

Ifyou are working already, see if your company reimburses tuition. That way you get your diploma, as well as get the experience on your resume.

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What do you want?

by pkust In reply to 18 year old programmer... ...

That is the real question. What do you want--out of your job, and out of your life?

If all you want to do is write code and develop software, then pursuing higher education probably won't do much to further that ambition. In fact, I would strongly encourage you NOT to go to college for that purpose--there is nothing a college can teach you that you aren't already learning where you are.

However, there is more to life than writing code, and more to a career as well. If you someday have ambitions of managing other developers, a college degree will be necessary. If you want to branch into other disciplines--perhaps even outside of IT--a college degree will be necessary.

The value of a degree is not in the education, or even the experience of the academic environment. A college degree tells the world (and current and future employers) that you are able to commit to long-term goals, and to work in a planned and structured fashion to achieve those goals. The degree is valuable, not for what it says about your knowledge, but for what it says about your character.


Peter Nayland Kust
TekMedia Communications

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Do Both!

by brian.stahl In reply to 18 year old programmer... ...

Do both! Go to school part time the whole year through and work full or part time as well. I think the fact that you are only 18 and are in the field is awesome. I am fairly new to the IT field and nothing beats experience to start out. As time goes on and if you want to move to management, then college can help. The trouble with getting a four year degree in a field such as IT is that how things wil change in 4 years! The stuff you learned the first few years may be obsolete by the time you graduate. Maybe consider a 2 year program.

There are going to be alot more people getting invovled with IT in the next 5-10 years who will have related degrees. Which may mean more competition for you if you don't have a degree.

Either way, it's going to come down to a few things. Are you good at what you do? Do people respect you and your abilities? And are you a good people person (are able to get along with just about anybody, a team player, ect...) Whatever you do, these skills will take you far regardless.

Hope this gives you some food for thought
You are in a great position. Good luck

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Different perspective!

by Gicu Artistu' In reply to 18 year old programmer... ...

My 2 cents.
I felt the way you feel 18 years ago. I learn in high school about PC's and I was able to work with some friends (with grads) and we build a very nice hard drive interface for Sinclair Z80 and we sold it. We didn't made much money and then we adapted it for IBM PC's and it worked nice and we made some money. Then we moved to create software (compresing and...). But we were specialized and only the two guys with grads were able to go in new grounds and think different. I went to univ and I got my grad. I am now a software developer and I plan to open my own software comp. I have a different perspective and I could work in any computer shop in this world with no hassles. This world is crazy. Yes you could do a very interesting thing now but this could be obsolete in about couple of months, a year or two. You're 18. You could do both (as I did) and whatever happens you will be able to cope with change. If you don't, you may be in a position (after 7-10 years) to change withno time to learn a new technology, no theoretical ground to understand it and probably a family to support. What are you going to do then?

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