What should I do

This is a discussion on What should I do within the A Brief History of Cprogramming.com forums, part of the Community Boards category; Hey guys, Firstly, I know I don't post here often but I have something worrying me and I would like ...

  1. #1
    Banned nickname_changed's Avatar
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    What should I do

    Hey guys,

    Firstly, I know I don't post here often but I have something worrying me and I would like to ask you all.

    I'm a 17 year old Australian just about to enter year 12. I am very interested in software engineering and computes in general. However, I'm not just another one of those kids who likes playing games so I think I should get a degree in IT. At the risk of sounding full of myself, I think I do actually have some skills in software engineering and IT.

    I'm a self taught C++ programmer for 4 years now. I also know PHP, Javascript & HTML, and a host of other languages. I think I am at the stage now where I am able to design programs regardless of language, and I can pick up almost any programming language and make decent use of it within a day or two. I'm sorry if I sound like a cocky 17 year old who thinks they know everything about computers. I know that compared to a lot of people on these boards I know next to nothing, and I know I have a long way to go.

    I was the lead developer and project manager for the SWEBS Web Server for a long time (most of the projects history) until I gave it up so it didn't distract me from year 12. I am also the person writing the engine for Racealerts that scans a host of sites for information on races (lots of regular expressions and tokenising crap). I'm also doing a website for our local cummunity that my girlfriend and I invented (when its ready it will be at www.bheardwhyalla.com).

    Now my problem: I'm not sure if I should go into IT.

    I've seen a lot of the professionals on these boards complaining about the IT industry accross the world. I know its full and probably very hard to break into. I've also seen a lot of programmers saying that their jobs are just another job, not as fun as hobby-coding is. Many people seem to put down the IT industry, and as much as I really want to get into software engineering or IT, I'm not sure if it would really be worth it. After high school I plan to go to uni to get a degree (perhaps with honours), but I'm not so sure now.

    I'm very good at maths (in my town anyway), so maybe I could go into engineering, or accounting, or other crap like that.

    I guess what I'm asking is, would someone like me with my history and a degree under my belt, be able to make a decent living off the IT industry programming, and actually having a bit of fun with their job?

    This isn't a knee-jerk reaction to a post I might have read somewhere about someone complaining, its something I've been scared about for the past few years, from the hundreds of articles/posts/letters I've seen complaining about the industry from many sites.

    What do you think? Should I just stick with being a hobbyist programmer and get a good job in another field like engineering, or should I try and make it in a failing, outsourced IT market?

  2. #2
    Senior Member joshdick's Avatar
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    From what you've said of your skills, you're already better than most freshman CS majors I've run into. I'd suggest math and/or CS at university. Professional coding may be "just another job" that isn't as much fun as hobby coding, but it's still more fun than another job, if you like programming.

    Pursue what you love, and apply yourself. All else shall follow.
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    "The computer programmer is a creator of universes for which he alone is responsible. Universes of virtually unlimited complexity can be created in the form of computer programs." -- Joseph Weizenbaum.

    "If you cannot grok the overall structure of a program while taking a shower, you are not ready to code it." -- Richard Pattis.

  3. #3
    Linguistic Engineer... doubleanti's Avatar
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    >Should I just stick with being a hobbyist programmer and get a good job in another field like engineering

    I agree with joshdick. In regards to engineering I can say this, in my experience I love it, I feel it is my purpose in life, not to say that this confidence may not change in fact perhaps it is a love for learning that is my ticket rather. Just do what you feel is for you. Also, perhaps do not be too alarmed because the curruculum is flexible and people change majors often, though having the plan from the start allows good things as well so far as schedule and so forth. Do not be rather alarmed, but if you have any questions regarding either Electrical Engineering or Computer Engineering, I suppose you can ask here as I am in my third year.

    Furthermore, I am a peer counselor at my school so often students come in to the office as freshmen or sophemores and have questions about majors and switching into engineering among other things like handling college lifestyle and the transition. In fact one particular student friend of mine asks repeatdly about the job market and whether it's wise to get a minor in this or that. But fact is that he nor I will know until we get there and neither will you. That is why I always recommend that you should study what you love, and I remind students if I can that lucky are those who were given the choice in the first place because many for whatever reason do not do what they love in their careers. Furthermore, though it is a long way ahead of you, if you are paranoid about landing a job in whatever state of economy you'll be in when you get out, I recommend to stay for graduate school. That is my plan and my reason, along with enjoyment of research and curriculum, so perhaps it is also right for you.

    It seems like you are a rather conscientious student and I am sure you'll have no problem whichever field you choose. In regards to joshdick's comment about students in their first year of CS, in fact it is of that trend for all majors so far as I can tell. Some are at an advantage in coursework or experience, and some quite literally choose a random major. I am sure you are of the former. Choosing a field does not mean choosing a career, or limiting yourself to curriculum on the four year plan. If you have the chance take courses in other fields (even humanities, unless the folks here convince you not to, just let me know and I'll mod-stick them... haha just kidding). Best of luck and if you have any questions feel free to PM me or post here.

    Sincerely,
    doubleanti
    hasafraggin shizigishin oppashigger...

  4. #4
    Banned nickname_changed's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice guys

    I had become worried because like you, I felt my purpose in life was to be a software engineer, because I love it so much. But I also want to be successful (not so much in wealth but in power and respect and all that other stuff you want when your a teenager), and if I couldn't achieve that in programming I knew I would be dissapointed, and never truley happy (Even though I probably would have tried anyway).

    Furthermore, though it is a long way ahead of you, if you are paranoid about landing a job in whatever state of economy you'll be in when you get out, I recommend to stay for graduate school.
    Whats graduate school?

    And can anyone tell me what its like in the software industryut of uni (or college, whatever you call it) with a degree? What about engineering?

  5. #5
    Seven years? civix's Avatar
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    Re: What should I do

    Originally posted by stovellp

    I'm sorry if I sound like a cocky 17 year old who thinks they know everything about computers.
    Can you say 'RoD'? No, really, i'm just joking (I cant even remember how old RoD is, it's been so long since i've posted here)

    All I really have to say on the subject is to follow your dreams.. If you pursue something, it may be yours.

    ..But seriously, are you actually going to take advice from a 14 year old? Didnt think so.

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    Re: Re: What should I do

    Originally posted by civix
    Can you say 'RoD'?
    Hehehe
    ..But seriously, are you actually going to take advice from a 14 year old? Didnt think so.
    Your advice was good, so yes, yes I will

  7. #7
    Seven years? civix's Avatar
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    Haha, thanks, I appreciate that. It's good for my self-esteem.

  8. #8
    It's full of stars adrianxw's Avatar
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    >>>
    Professional coding may be "just another job" that isn't as much fun as hobby coding, but it's still more fun than another job, if you like programming.
    <<<

    I used to like programming - I'm a professional - I don't really like programming any more.
    Wave upon wave of demented avengers march cheerfully out of obscurity unto the dream.

  9. #9
    aurė entuluva! mithrandir's Avatar
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    I think you should stop being so damned smart and raising the talent bar for all of us in Australia .

    >>Now my problem: I'm not sure if I should go into IT.<<

    Listen very very very carefully - DO NOT go into IT in Australia. Maybe you could try the UK, Asia, or the US, but IT in Australia is dead.

  10. #10
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    If anyone knows, is it possible to do Software Engineering but minoring in something like mathematics or engineering (australia)? Because then that would make me more well rounded and suited for something that maybe uses my software engineering skills, but is more engineering or maths based... or would it be a waste of time?

  11. #11
    Linguistic Engineer... doubleanti's Avatar
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    >but in power and respect

    Well to be honest I still want that, I think we all want that...

    >I used to like programming - I'm a professional - I don't really like programming any more.

    Hehe, short and to the point, um... the downfall of the emotions of a SE? There there...

    >Whats graduate school?

    Well, like you not in college yet, I cannot answer because I am not in graduate school just the same, yet. So far as I know for your Masters degree you spent about a year doing regular coursework like that of your BS, and the second doing research advised by a few professors. I am looking forward to the research part and am trying to do as much (even it has all been done before, to the ground) as an undergrad as I can. I recommend it, it provides a much different experience from taking coursework because you aren't be a passive student anymore, you are an active learner and have to go far and wide to seek the information you need. Please go to my thread in the tech board! Hehe...

    Anyhow, I do not know of the curriculum options in Australia where you are going, but I'm sure they have minors in engineering and math and I do not see what is stopping you from picking those up along the way so far as time to take the coursework is concerned. I cannot tell you much about software engineering because that is not my field at hand, but I shared a similar enthusiasm for CS and SE when I was in highschool, and switched to EE and CpE for a variety of reasons as I feel it rounds me out like you (though EE I find is more interesting and, in my opinion, therefore more important to me). Suffice to say both and all are important in their own right and taking more coursework to round yourself out just makes you more tolerant and increases your understanding of multiple fields and the purpose of each in whatever the goal is. So take, and enjoy, and do not lose your love for whatever it is you enjoy, and do not be so stiff because what you love may change, and um, so forth... =)

    Sincerely,
    doubleanti

    PS, I hope you're getting a lot out of these long posts!
    hasafraggin shizigishin oppashigger...

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all the help Doubleanti

    I'll look into that graduate school thing, it sounds interesting, and you've put my mind at rest as far as SE goes. Thanks very much!

  13. #13
    Linguistic Engineer... doubleanti's Avatar
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    Always glad to help! =) Quite literally this sort of thing is my job... Have a good day!
    hasafraggin shizigishin oppashigger...

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