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Programming Start

By catherine ·
How vulnerable is it to start an IT career without being involved in programming? Is it necessary to start off here, as this is where everybody starts off as?

I don't dislike programming, but after 4 years in college education in IT, I figure there must be a wider world than programming.

Any career choices in the IT industry?

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by Jaqui In reply to Programming Start

or venerable? ( traditional / aged / respected )
programmiing isn't a required step, never has been.
the ancient days of programming by altering circuits around vacume tubes being the only time that programming was part of all it jobs.
( and no special training required )

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Gotta pay your dues

by amcol In reply to Programming Start

But that doesn't necessarily mean programming, at least not in the traditional sense, so in a way you're on to something.

However, I have a sense from your question that either your expectation level is unrealistic, or you should be looking for a different career path altogether.

Do you want to make a career in the corporate world? Expect to start at the bottom. I've mentored dozens of recent college graduates, and almost unanimously they all ask the same long before I'll be managing people? I actually interviewed a Cornell grad a few years ago for an entry level position with one of the world's largest corporations, and his only question for me after an hour long interview was in the event he decided to join our firm how many people would he be managing? Check, please.

Start at the bottom, work your way up. No way around that in the corporate arena. The trajectory and velocity can differ depending on your abilities, both professional and political, as well as just pure dumb luck. But right out of to the mailroom, learn the business from the ground up.

You may be too impatient or too entrepreneurial or too non-traditional for that kind of career path. In that event go a different route...think about consulting, or starting your own business. Of course, without a few gray hairs or scars you have little credibility, but you're certainly entitled to give it a try.

The moral of the story is you're right...there's a much wider world than programming in IT. But it's going to be hard to manage an upwardly sloping career path without at least some knowledge of and experience with what happens in the trenches. Whether you like it or not, you certainly can't hurt yourself by spending a year or two just slogging through code.

You're going to be working for decades. What's a few years at the beginning as an apprentice? It'll make you a more well rounded, productive professional in the end.

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by dtsonly2004 In reply to Gotta pay your dues

I was fortunate that I had a programming mentor. He was a senior programmer who showed me the ropes, answered questions and was just there for support. Unfortunately that ended when American companies decided that it was more important to import foreign programmers from India than use American programmers.

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Large Company vs. Small Co.

by jkowolf In reply to Gotta pay your dues

I'd like to clarify my perspective on the IT profession by letting you know: A) I started out as a public school teacher and then got into IT. B)I've only worked for small companies (50 - 100 employees).

I took a programming class as an elective (should have known this was a calling), so I was able to write a computer program for every job I've held. This lead to technical support, network administration and now programming almost full-time in my present position.

I think in smaller companies they want you to be able to do everything. Larger companies seem to advertise jobs with skill requirements are either programming or network admin/security specific. Since I've never had one of these jobs, the advertisements could be missleading. How much programming is a network admin. at a company with over 1000 employees required to do?

Just curious if this would make a difference in a career path choice.

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Progamming experience is a must.

by GoDaves In reply to Gotta pay your dues

Software Development is currently one of the only technical professions where low- and mid-level management is not required to have the requisite experience developing the products they manage.

For example, engineering depts. are almost always managed by someone who has (alot of) experience engineering what they are now managing. This applies to most other industries such as manufacturing, electronic, chemical, etc.

From my experience, lack of meaningful communication is the major reason for SD projects that fail. And, again in my experience, this almost always happens because of unrealistic expectations by management who don't "know what it takes" to develop good software. In order to communicate effectively, all members of the team must have a common basis for communication, and this common basis must be experience actually developing software. Not just managing it, but /developing/ it.

The most successful SD companies /always/ hire their team leads/project managers from the ranks of programmers. And not only just "programmers", but most often progammers with experience in developing the same type of software as they'll be managing the development of.

Give me the resume of one person - the project manager - and I'll be able to give you pretty accurate odds on how successful that project will be. And most of that judgement will come from the experience actually developing the same type of software. This is not to minimize the importance of the actual programmers - they are crucial. Good and /experienced/ project leadership will insist on having control over which programming resources they will use simply because of their past experience developing the same type of software. You'll never hear them utter anything assinine like "A programmer is just a resource, churning out line after line of code - it doesn't matter who they are or where we get them".

All this talk of CMM and the like by offshore firms (and now some on-shore firms) is, frankly, crap, because it doesn't enforce the actual quality of the requisite components used to make up the CMM ratings. It is merely a marketing ploy, much like "New and Improved" on the box of your favorite laundry detergent, with the composition of the same ingredients altered a little, sometimes for the worse.

The reason I mention this is because CMM ratings and the like are becoming inadequate substitutes for what it really takes to develop good software.

Managers who've come up the ranks such as 'Catherine' aspires to do (w/o actual programming experience) are the ones who fall for the CMM BS and are probably the primary reason why offshoring is currently an issue, and why it will fail - in one way or the other, later if not sooner - for US corporations specifically and the US as a whole ultimately.

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We had a thread about this not so long back

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Progamming experience is ...

in connection with being a PM. I've worked for many managers of the type you describe (lots of time in manufacturing), and in the main they knew their limitations and got out of my way when it was time to practice my expertise. So I don't believe she needs programming experience, a basic idea of what it's about coupled with an appreciation of her own limits and a willingness to listen to the people she's managing will do the job. I't's the business people who once did an excel macro while at college you've got to watch out for not fellow profesionals from a different IT discipline.

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Weak Resume

by catherine In reply to Progamming experience is ...

From what you mention, does that mean my resume will be much weaker than another candidate with richer programming experience? Because the employer will think that all I have got is talk, and I didn't manage to get my hands "dirty" doing the tedious programming...

I do understand the basics of programming, security, networking, but you can't substitute real working experience with academic education. Even with a MCSE, employers expect to see how you practice, not "preach"!

The critical part (from what I gathered) is making a compromise between business expectations and IT limitations. So, is programming really the "hard" way to move (vertically / horizontally) in the IT industry?

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Know your Trade

I believe that key to success is knowledge. Know your trade. Know some background on what you are doing. I've run across IT pros who not only knew all about their own field of work, but also one or more other fields. The more flexible you are, the better.

I think most IT professionals should have at least a little programming experience and a basic knowledge of how computer hardware works. A little networking knowledge is also useful. These days, that is knowledge you're best not to be without.

Sometimes learning these things can help you come up with more creative and useful answers to situations in your work. Programming isn't just learning to write instruction code that make computers work. Programming teaches some valuable skills you can use in other areas as well. It teaches a method of logical thinking that can prove very useful.

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Well the

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Programming Start

ability to do it or at least understand the principles won't hurt.
There are four tracks through IT + technical sales which is really sales with a different product.
Quality Assurance/ Business Analysis
Prgramming believe it or not is not mandatory in any of them. Well a little tongue in cheek, it is a useful skill if you are a non VB developer.
Administration, coding or at least scripting is a useful string to your bow, the first two it's a nice to know.
P.S. Programming is the art of taking a complex task and breaking it down into a series of small steps defined by the language in which you are programming, so you are doing it all the time.
If you don't enjoy the strict formalism of it don't do it, you won't ever be good at it until you do enjoy it, and will probably be more comfortable with the fuzzier end of the business such as project management or QA.

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there is a benefit though,

by Jaqui In reply to Well the

knowing programming does help to both learn new applications and to troubleshoot when someone screws them up.

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