View Full Version : Programming as a career

09-04-2001, 08:14 PM
How many of you guys actually work for a corporation and write code most of the day? I know there are many variations to programming but I'd like to see how many of you here do this.

For the ones that do, could you describe a typical day for you? How many hours are you coding, how many do you spend with systems analyists (sp) in meetings? You know, things like that.


09-04-2001, 08:24 PM
I do - my whole day is spent coding or looking for answers - my project is solo, so no meetings here, unless the company decides the interns need a nice networking exercise or smth.

09-04-2001, 08:27 PM
Do you still get that same satisfaction as you probably did when you first started? What kind of projects have you worked on?


09-04-2001, 08:32 PM
Well, yeah - I'm only 20 - it's not like I've been coding forever.

I'm currently working on a automation project. Last summer I worked on a document distribution sysmtem (altho not in C)

09-05-2001, 12:54 AM
I used to code 8 hours a day. Since our department increased
size and manpower, I'm more and more organizing and planning
and spend more time in meetings, to keep the rest of the crew

My typical coding day was coming in early, coding for the project
in progress, talking with the group members about interfaces
( no real meetings though, just strolling to their desk and having
a chat ). Sometimes, a bug was detected in another program,
or priorities changed or additional features had to be
implemented. Then the work was set aside, and the new task
had to fit in. Every now and then, when a new project popped up,
there were regular meetings to discuss what it should look like.

The projects I worked on included our main application, a client-
server program for defining and running batch jobs. This project
probably contains every aspect of programming but DirectX
graphics :p Networking, Multitasking, Scripting language, data
bases amass, speedy algorithms, user management etc...

Now, that I'm more of a lead programmer, I spend maybe one
hour of the day coding. The other time, I attend meetings, write
specifications for future projects and plan how these projects
can be implemented. Final implementation is done by someone

/*Edited to add: Yes, coding still satisfies me, and I'm happy if
I get to code more than this one hour. */

09-05-2001, 02:34 AM
I work for the software engineering department of a company. With this company, how many hours a day one spends coding depends upon where you are in whatever contracts you are currently working on. At times it is all design, ideas, specification writing and so on, at others it's is almost all day coding, but for the most it is some of each almost every day.

Most of the companies I have worked for/with tend to be similar.

Typical day - yesterday.

Arrived. German translation of the string table for a project has arrived. Need to integrate that, compile it and issue a beta to QA.


Specifications for the IrDA port on the handheld I am working on have arrived. Spend rest of day, train ride home, and half evening reading them.

Actual coding : zero.

Current project. I am one of 12 engineers working on a portable ticket issuing machine for bus and train conductors for a multi million dollar contract in London, (Windows CE based machine - embedded C++ coding). The 3 of us in Denmark are responsible for the hardcopy facilities of this beast. We have been told what printer we probably will be using - but not certain. We have a partial specification of what this printer might do. We have a tentative idea of what the rest of the project team in England are doing. We have a deadline to get the thing out, and next to no R&D finance allocated. Typical project really!

09-05-2001, 07:05 AM
Sounds cool!


09-05-2001, 07:30 AM
So what kind of prerequisites did you guys have before working as programmers? Do you need to be the "top of your class"? I'm thinking of it as a career myself...

09-05-2001, 07:35 AM
My qualifications were

1) graduating from high school (59/350 or smth like that - I had a 3.75 GPA)

2) Um... That's about it. I didn't know any C before I got hired here.

09-05-2001, 07:51 AM
>>> So what kind of prerequisites did you guys have

The ability to think logically and "see" how things could be done more easily.

As I said in another thread recently, I was doing something quite different when I started programming, I was at university studying geochemistry, (c. 1976). I started to program in JCL on the uni's mainframe because it was easier than manually producing each stats package run - pure laziness. When JCL wasn't enough, I learnt the assembler and used that, again in the pursuit of an easy way to get my paleontology assignments done. Others saw me doing this and soon I was programming for the School of Earth Sciences rather than doing paleo projects. Then FORTRAN arrived and away I went.

09-05-2001, 09:48 AM
So what kind of prerequisites did you guys have before working
as programmers? Do you need to be the "top of your class"?

Finish school with a degree that would allow you to study in
your home country... whatever that is called where you live.
Here it's Abitur, I think it's A-Levels in the UK.

I had a pretty average Abitur, perfect in Math, good in physics
and english, much worse in History, German and Latin. All in all,
it was just enough to get it and don't look too bad.

I attended another private school and finished with a degree
that at that time was the equivalent of a Bachelor. As only
informatics specific stuff was tought there, mainly programming,
theory, maths and english ( and some business and legal stuff )
I was top of the class. Not the best, but within the best 20%.

Every single member of this class got a job after that. I don't
have contact to all of them anymore, but the ones I know are
still happily employed. Top of the class certainly helps, but the
most important thing is have fun !

Have fun at what you do, and you will be good at it. Grades
don't tell the whole story, and no one looks for Mr. Perfect
when recruiting. In fact, I like to see what someone likes
and dislikes when I see his resume and cv.
If you suck at chemistry, who cares ? I don't need you for
chemistry, and if you don't like it, the better :p

09-05-2001, 10:04 AM
There are a lot of good programming jobs availabe here in the U.S.

I do not think that employers are as concerned w/your class standing and GPA as much as your skill set and knowledge of whatever language they are hiring you to use.

I went through a program at the DeVry Institute of Technology to pick up a technical degree (I already had a B.A.) and when I interviewed for my current position they never asked about my grades.

They asked things like "Can you do this?" or "What would you do if you had to solve this problem?"

Mostly we talked about database stuff.

I code 8-10 hours a day for a small company. I am the only programmer here. The biggest challenge is trying to get the users to prioritize what they want and then to try and get some time to complete a project before they start clammoring for the next thing.

Being at a small company can be frustrating (pay and benefits aren't as good as a larger company) but it is kind of cool too. Along w/writing code I take care of the databases. I design them, maintain them, write queries, set up the back up schedules, etc. And I've got a lot of freedom to do what I want.

Of course the flip side of that is I'm the one holding the bag if everything blows up.

I am primarily a programmer now but I really am trying to position myself to move to database administration-- more money and lots of fun (I think).

09-05-2001, 09:38 PM
Well I finished High School 2 years ago, and have since being doing an IS degree. I didn't go too well in my first programming class, but the one I'm taking now is going really well. Our GPA is worked out on a scale of 0-6, lowest to highest. I'm around about a 4.5, so I'm going okay I guess.

If you suck at chemistry, who cares ? I don't need you for
chemistry, and if you don't like it, the better

I failed chemistry and was a dropout physics student in School - not that I didn't understand the subjects, I never did any work (I'm more mature about my study now though).

09-05-2001, 09:57 PM
*sigh* I sometimes dream of being a professional programmer, but I'm afraid the boat has already left the port for me! I'm already 28, just got in to programming, and am a visual artist for Nieman's by trade (not a graphics artist, mind you--I dress mannequin's)

I will disagree with Theologen, too. At least in Texas, there are more programmers than jobs available!

09-06-2001, 12:05 AM
make your own career when you get good, get some skilled friends together and make your own company.


09-06-2001, 12:36 AM
*sigh* I sometimes dream of being a professional programmer, but I'm afraid the boat has already left the port for me! I'm already 28, just got in to programming, ...

Next week I'll be 27. I've only been programming for about 2 years, and not solid programming because it's just one of many College courses, but I'm starting to show some promise. I don't think that 28 is too late, but it might require that you work harder.

09-06-2001, 11:03 AM
I made my career shift at 32 years old. Prior to working as a software engineer I was a pricing analyst in the marketing dept. of a major grocery chain. It is never too late to change careers.

There may be locations where there are more programmers than jobs. And jobs for inexperienced programmers may be a little tougher to find. But there are programming jobs out there. Just do a quick search on monster or most any other job board.

Here in AZ I see lots and lots of postings for GIS stuff. Maps and computers. 2 of my favorite things, hmmmm. I may have to start reading up on that.

09-06-2001, 11:27 AM
i know a person that started programming for his own purposes at the
age of 29. he wanted to write music and he developed a program
(after reading a lot. C/C++, Visual C/C++) so. he showed this to a
friend of his who knew a programmer. then he got a job in his friend's
friend company. well, he was 32 when he got the job, still...i think
that it is better now :)