How does one begin a programming career?

By gretchinmek ·
Are there any programmers out there with advice on entering a career in programming? I have served on a help desk for some time, but am considering programming.

Is there a certain way to do this? A test to take or a book to read? Do most programmers start on the help desk and subsequently get promoted to a programming job?

I guess the paths to programming are many, but I don't know where to begin.

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Nowadays they go and get a degree

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to How does one begin a prog ...

You other options are self teaching and contributing to open source, or very rare getting your current employer to resource get you taught and getting the experience.

Not being funny, but why are you considering programming?

If I were you , I'd have a bit of a play, and see if you will like it first.

You can download visual studio express off ms, loads of books and tutorials.

Got to caution you, even if you turn out to be a genius, without the qualification you are going to be up against it in the job market.

The paths to pgraming are many, past HR, there would appear to be only one.

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by rick In reply to Nowadays they go and get ...

I would have to second Tony's question of "why?" When a market goes thru a down swing it tends to weed out the day traders (people without the love who are in it for the quick buck.) I cannot think of a career path that is immune to this business cycle. Let's say you do transition into some sort of programming. Are you moving in that direction because you really like to code or does it just seem like a neat thing to try. Again, I agree with Tony - try it out on the side.

As far as what specific language, that depends on what the market dictates in your area. I would never recommend anyone going out to learn COBOL but yet there are still a lot of legacy apps out there where there is money to be made in certain markets for that. If you are looking to work for a development firm, what language(s) is that firm asking for? If you are looking to make a lateral move within your company, what language(s) are needed to work on company apps? Programming logic is pretty much universal so whatever language you do decide, at least the logic will carry over to other languages as you learn them. Happy coding!

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How many languages do you speak.....???

by kehill50 In reply to Why?

That was from Star Wars, however it does have some revelance.

I will have to agree with my colleagues on "why" do you want to be a programmer.

For those of us veterans, and I will go out on a limb, you kind of have it in your blood.

Now with that in mind, you have to figure out if you are in it for the $$$$ or for the satisfaction of watching your application launch (...or crash...)and that warm or "cold" feeling which will follow.

Back to the "How many Languagues do you speak" quote - for those of us who remember the ONLY kid on the block was the IBM 360/370 MVS, 2301 Card Punched Card Reader, 3278 Terminal (Big Green Monster), IBM 370/380, IBM 4341, Digital Equipment PDP Series, VAX, Alpha-64's, Pascal, RPG-II,COBOl, BASIC, (SPOILER--> This may cause you to scream) "IBM ASSEMBLY LANGUAGE", Fortran,C,UNIX and Shell...

This is a very good indicator that "we do it because we love it..."

Now if you are one of the ones who do it because you want the big $$$$$, then please, do something else.

Why you may ask? Remember the meltdown, the 100k Web designer postions, BMWs and Condo Perks where 11 and 12 year olds were making websites and becoming gazillionaires? (NOTE: I have NO ill will to our bretheren Web Developers - you guys do rock) But back then, they were lacking the BIG PICTURE:

You did not know how to work the back end..

Sure, you could develop the Web Page of all Web Pages, and you were done. But us "old foggiies" had to figure out how to hook the damn thing up and how to fix it when it broke on the application side.

I have heard over and over and over from those Web guys back then, who were highly paid at the time, "...I just do the front end, that's not my problem..."

My point, if THIS is your mindset, and you just want the quick $$$$$, do myself and others like me a favor....

Get into Real Estate or something......

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Programming != Priesthood

by SnoopDougEDoug In reply to How does one begin a prog ...

I don't get this whole "don't get into programming if you are only doing it for the money", like programming is like some higher calling. BS. It's another career. Who ever heard of investment bankers saying this drivel? There is absolutely nothing wrong with being motivated by money. Otherwise, all of these so-called experts would be working on open-source projects for free!

And the malarky about downtimes squeezing out the less altruistic is also BS. It squeezes out the less senior (which is supposedly the less capable, but that is another story). If you suck, it doesn't matter whatsoever whether you *love* to code, you just suck. Or don't have the exact, precise, specific skills that some HR monkey has on their punchlist.

So how does one break into the field? You are already on the help desk. Find something you are doing and automate it. Create a simple app that tracks something you do and show it around. How about an app that shows from which city/state/country the calls are coming from and when and about which product/feature the call is concerned. Then produce a color graph showing the moving trend.

Or try an open source project. There are a bazillion out there that would love to get help. You might have to learn a programming language, but most are available in some free form on the Web. I'm teaching myself PHP right now, using an IBM tutorial online. I regularly send feedback (who knows if anyone reads them?) on each step as I figure out the missing piece(s).


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Excuse Me...

by kehill50 In reply to Programming != Priesthood

I think you missed the point about don't do it if your just doing it for the money. It is an inherent fact that we DO do it for the money, thats how we make our living. However the motivations are different.

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Missing the point

by rick In reply to Programming != Priesthood

Indeed you did miss the point of my previous post. Of course if there was a market for an entry level programmer to walk in and make a ton of dough right off the bat, we would all be coworkers. You would be a fool not to. However, back here in reality we all know that with the exception of the early days of web development those types of positions just don't exist. Every kid coming out of college who thinks he is going to land one of those jobs finds out the hard way when they have to start lower and work their way up (just like everyone else.)

As far as the *LOVE*, my recommendation to anyone picking a new career would be to pick something you LOVE. You hear so many people say how much they hate their job and how they can't wait for x:30 and they don't have a clue as to why they do what they do - that is the malarkey. Ask anyone in real estate these days what is keeping them there. The day traders left long ago. The only ones left are the "lifers" - the people who love what they do.

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I enjoy what I do, but it sure ain't love

by SnoopDougEDoug In reply to Missing the point

Perhaps we are splitting hairs here, but I bet most folks would consider themselves lucky to like their job, let alone "love" it. Once you have been working for a decade or so it is very difficult to change positions. Inertia, fear, retirement start to creep into your brain.

I totally agree that anyone wanting to enter any field should be careful in doing so to simply make a pile of money. That is not likely to happen. The notion of riches sitting on the table for newbies during the DOT COM days is an urban legend. Sure there were a few outfits that blew through cash on idiotic business propositions, but $100k for a new dev is BS. Never happened.


Collapse - was true

by kehill50 In reply to I enjoy what I do, but it ...

I can't remember the name of the company, but they actually were luring newdevs with condo's BMWs and at least 90K. The company was in Silicon Valley.

Well, BTW.

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by kehill50 In reply to Missing the point

Thanks! I can work with that! You were on point about "working your way up". I see it all the time. Now of course, if you are an Astrophysicist with the combined intellect of Carl and Stephan...well you just might walk in making BIG $$$$$ <smile>

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Higher calling BS

by jmolina03 In reply to Programming != Priesthood

I don't think the point was that programming is reserved for the elite and the righteous! Programming is a combination of methodologies, programming disciplines, algorithms, etc. I assume you have some degree of development background so you know first-hand that there are countless-hours looking at code and understanding logic, etc. In my humble opinion --Not doing it for the money means, there's a LOT of sacrifice to become a skilled developer and PLENTY of competition out there (cheaper=H1B). Either way, you're right. If you suck, you suck! But as an architect I've seen developers with outstanding resumes that don't know s*_t about coding standards. Good point though!

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