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Just out of military, What college degree plan is best for just starting??

By csferguson1978 ·
I am 26 and fresh out of the Navy. I have been working for a year and I want a career. I have allways wanted to go IT or related fields. I guess my question is, If you were starting over, What would you do????

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by mattfjohnsonuk In reply to Just out of military, Wha ...

My advice to you is get experience. I mean Degrees are all well and good on paper but when it comes to getting an actual job they don't mean squat. Take my story for example. I did a year out after 6th form (18 years old) and worked for a large IT firm (Atos Origin). I got on quite well as an office junior type role and got offered a full time job at the end of my year. Of course I took the sensible option and went to university to get my degree first. After starting on Electronic engineering and not liking it I started again a year later doing computer science. After another hard (and very poor) 3 years later I came out with a BSc in Computer science from a very good university. When it came to getting a job in the industry I had terrible trouble. I found that I was over qualified for any jobs that were willing to train you up (even if I was willing to start on a basic sallery at first). They knew I would leave once I had gained the experience. Any job that paid a resonable amount wanted at least 2 years experience. How do you get experience if they won't give you a job. It was basically a year of searching until I convinced a small software house to give me a chance to prove myself worthy and I'm paid nothing compared to the other programmers. My advice is, unless you can guarentee you can get a really good degree (as in 1st class or 2:1) then don't bother. You're much better off getting 3 years experience and starting at the bottom. I know I wish I'd done that now.

Matt

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Re: Degree Plan

by Vaevictis In reply to Just out of military, Wha ...

First thing: The other person who said experience is more important is only correct to a certain degree. Experience determines what jobs you can get; the degree determines how high an office you can achieve and how portable that achievement is.

I went to work before getting a degree, and was able to work my way up to VP level of a small ($8m/yr revenue) company. I found that without the degree, my salary level (six figures) was not portable; I would always have to take a pay cut when moving between jobs, because HR will find _any_ excuse to cut your pay and jack with you. Not having a degree is onemore excuse.

That said, if you want to get a degree, these are the best degrees for a "career path" for IT:

1a. Finance (w/CS minor)
1b. An ABET accredited ElecE, CmpE, ChemE, AeroE, PetrolE,
2. An ABET accredited ME, IE, EnvironE, CivilE
3. An ABET accredited CS degree
4. A non-ABET accredited CS degree.
4. MIS degree
5. Any math-heavy degree -- physics, math, etc.

It really depends on what you want to do.

If you're willing to work on the business side of things, there is always a need for someone who _really_ understands how business works, AND understands how IT works. There aren't too many people who really have those cross-over skills. That's where the finance and CS minor come in. Note that your primary job in this case would be on the business side, facilitating communication with the technical side. This is a management-track job.

ElecE or CmpE are the best pure-technical degrees to get to get into a computer related field. Most people will expect that with either degree, you should be able to handle anything an IT guy would do, whether it's programming, design, whatever. On top of that, you have a proper engineering degree, which allows you to actually design circuits, get a PE license, etc.

The other engineering degrees make reasonable substitutes if all you want to do is IT, but they make excellent substitutes if you want to do IT in the related field; ie, if you want to do IT for an construction engineering firm.

CS degree is good if all you want to do is be a firefighter, OR if you want to bang out code to spec for the rest of your life.

MIS degree is a poor man's CS degree. All the CS rejects who couldn't hack it go into MIS -- or at least that is the perception. MIS < CS

Fundamentally, your very best bet long term is to get an bachelors in EE or a bachelors in CmpE and plan to work on your Masters in Business Administration in the long term. This combination will functionally permit you to do any job in the company, business side OR tech side, from CEO on down.

If you do get an engineering degree, it MUST be from an ABET accredited school, and you should keep an eye towards getting your Public Engineer license. Some jobs require at least one PE on the job, which increases your value to prospective employers.

For what it's worth, I AM starting over, and I'm now 12 months away from a bachelors in Computer Engineering with a minor in CS, and an additional 12 months beyond that from a masters in EE. MBA is for the future.

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