For the people that have degrees......

Discussion in 'Community Discussion' started by jc0481, Jun 6, 2011.

  1. jc0481 macrumors regular

    Mar 16, 2005
    How did you decide on what career path you wanted to do and that you enjoyed doing?

    I ask this question because I'm on the fence right now on what I want to do with my life. I currently am going to school for Computer degree. A bachelor degree. I am just worried that when I graduate I will have to relearn new things in the computer industry. Because of the constant change in technology.

    Don't get me wrong I enjoy computers. Always been the guy to call for family and friends when they needed computer help. But my idea of taking night classes while away from my wife and kids is not what I have in mind.

    So I am asking for some help. Did some of you have career counselor help, read a few books on what best job fit your personality or websites for that matter?

    I am asking before I make a costly mistake and don't want to pay for the student loans for that mistake for twenty years or however long it takes to pay off those student loans.
  2. iStudentUK macrumors 65816


    Mar 8, 2009
    With regards to your concerns, I think often the actual content of the degree is less important than the degree and university itself. Something like computer science will show your intelligence, but very few degrees actually prepare you for the career ahead. It is more about showing your ability to learn and develop skills.

    I have a chemistry degree and I am starting as a commercial lawyer next year (I have just finished a one year conversion course to law, but that is a joke more of a red-tape/regulations thing). I will essentially have to learn my profession from scratch, but a subject like chemistry does take some understanding and shows an ability to learn tricky concepts.

    I do think too many people are going to university. I'm not in favour of being overly elitist, but some people should question whether a degree in surfing studies at a university where the only entrance requirement is the ability to form a coherent sentence is worth it.

    I can't really help on the how to choose a career front, I knew I wanted to be a lawyer at about age 14!
  3. ucfgrad93 macrumors P6


    Aug 17, 2007
    It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do. I was 28 before I got my B.S. degree. I went to a community college for a couple of years then took a few years off.
  4. Abstract macrumors Penryn


    Dec 27, 2002
    Location Location Location
    You like computers. That's what you should do. ;)

    It's only a waste if you get a degree in computers, and don't get a career in computers that you're happy with.
  5. LethalWolfe macrumors G3


    Jan 11, 2002
    Los Angeles
    No matter what you do you'll have to be constantly learning unless you want to find yourself in the unemployment line. Technology is changing everything. Some career paths become obsolete and brand new ones open up.

    I went to a career counselor after my first semester in college and it was one the best decisions I ever made. The field he said I 'most matched' was filmmaking (basically) and I'd never really had an interest in that before. I'd always been creative but the creativity was steered towards writing. I transferred to the in-state school w/the best media/TV program and eventually ended up in Los Angeles working on TV shows and movies. Part of why it worked out so well I believe is because I jumped in with both feet and didn't hem and haw about whether or not the counselor was right or not.

    I mean, if he told me I was most like garbage collectors I probably would have balked at that though... ;)

  6. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I knew what I wanted to do before going to school as I entered the job market before going to college. I then spent the next several years going to night school.
  7. Big D 51 macrumors 6502a

    Big D 51

    Jan 15, 2011
    Mobile, AL
    I was always curious of how buildings stood up, how bridges carried large loads, etc. Therefore, I went for civil engineering so I could understand how all these work.

    It was my interest and liking that contributed to what degree I choose.
  8. palpatine macrumors 68040

    May 3, 2011
    There is no Procrustean bed you have to fit yourself into in order to enjoy life. Get a degree. Don't get a degree. It doesn't really matter. Really. What matters is what you get out of what you do, and only you can figure that one out.

    In my case, I got a BA, an MA, and now I am finishing up a PhD. I've enjoyed the process, even if I am actually earning less than I was after I got my BA, LOL. Paying off student loans sucks, but if you work through school you can minimize the burden. I was able to pay down the 15,000 dollars I owed for my BA in one year after I started working.

    One thing to consider about a degree (anywhere and in any field) is that the deed changes the doer. It's not so much the piece of paper you get at the end that matters, but what it does to you along the way. I found my undergraduate experience to be a truly life-altering period that transformed everything about me (some things good, other things not so good). I am glad I did it.
  9. 63dot, Jun 11, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2011

    63dot macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    I am in the field and my bachelor's is in another (business, HR). However, most of the successful programmers and technicians (database, network, other computer related) either don't have degrees or if they have, it's not computer science or computer engineering.

    After more than a decade in this field I have observed a few things about the success stories and the bitter burnouts:

    1) Any degree is good for the mental exercise and it shows you can have a goal and finish it, but don't think for a second that anything taught to you in school will have anything to do with the real world (especially in computer related majors). BTW, I have most of the course work for my CS degree and computer engineering degree and don't really plan on getting a second bachelors having seen what is taught and what the field truly demands of you. If you don't have any degree, then by all means get the CS degree or computer engineering degree.

    2) Too many CS majors get this twisted view of what should be correct in this field and when they find out what it is really like, more often than not they get very depressed. People who enter this field with other degrees, and in many cases no degree, usually don't have the ridiculous misconceptions that CS majors have.

    3) A CS degree, from the perspective of a former HR person like me, and from every HR person I know, is one that can get dated very quickly. It's like a carton of milk with a date on it and it does get old, quickly. That being said, if you don't have any degree, it's still better to get that CS degree. But realize it comes with the conditions that, as stated above, that there is little correlation between the course work and the real world, and that you will constantly be in the tedious and painful state of re-educating and re-inventing yourself. However, for those who don't want to get bored with mastering anything, CS is perfect. This is one field more than any other where you can never be a master at it. Unlike being a lawyer, veterinarian, pharmacist, plumber, mechanic, pilot, or just about any field, you can always find a 12 year old on any block (or maybe in Silicon Valley where it's commonplace but not other areas) who can and will kick your ass in this field no matter how many degrees you get in CS. My guess is that any major city will have too many very skilled computer geeks far younger but far better than most CS degree holders. While it's a bit of a drama, check out Pirates of Silicon Valley (movie) or The Social Network. While not every computer geek who is in puberty becomes Steve, Steve, or Mark (without degrees and possessing many millions), there are many talented computer people too young to drink, and not yet in college, or nowhere near college graduation.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. And as for student loans, yes they can take time but there's no debt cop forcing you to pay it all off in one year. ;)

    In order of success, from programmers I have met over the years, here's the most successful to the least successful (financially and personally):

    1) programmers who would do it for free and who have been at it since a very young age

    2) people who may or may not have degrees but love to program as their hobby because they like it and are thrilled when they get work and don't worry about student loans if they have them, nor do they care how much they get paid

    3) degree holders who may or may not have studied CS but want a job, any job but will be as happy (or not) in the computer field as a programmer

    4) the least successful (and most personally devastated and walking wounded) by far is the CS degree holder who thinks they know it all, or know anything for that matter who are under the stupid impression that four years of some teachers (never having worked in the field with deadlines) are going to somehow be helpful in any way toward being a working programmer ;)

    That being said, many CS grads make great managers, real estate agents, therapists, landscapers, barristers, firemen, cooks, military personnel, civil servants, non-profit workers, or anything where showing you have the gusto to see yourself through four years of college successfully. In most areas, only a quarter of the people will have a bachelor's or more so it can't hurt to get a degree. The structure of college, and especially the structure of programming (using logic and building patience) is a great skill if the outcome is realizing that YOU are not expected to be a master programmer after the ordeal. Work in the field as a programmer for many years and then you have the right to call yourself competent (and this goes for bench techs, network administrators, and database professionals, too).

    OP, I hope this helps and PM me if you have any other questions.
  10. captainbeyond macrumors newbie

    Jul 8, 2010
    Boston, MA
    No matter what field or life path you choose, learning never ends.
  11. (marc) macrumors 6502a


    Sep 15, 2010
    the woods
    Well, if you have a CS degree that means you must be quite smart! I don't think the average person can handle that much logical thinking and math. :)
  12. Rodimus Prime macrumors G4

    Rodimus Prime

    Oct 9, 2006
    I am currently working on a degree in CS and it is my 2nd bacholors degree. I was laid off in 2009 and choose to retool myself because my first degree is pretty far unrelated to CS and computers in general. In hind sight I wish when I first went to school I got a CS degree but at the same time getting the first degree and then spending a year in the real world it opened my eyes to a lot of things.

    First rule what you learn in school is nothing like the real world. School teaches you theory but work world teaches you piratical and the people who do well know how to connect theory with piratical and mostly just means they pick up things quicker. I fully intend to leverage my first degree to get a job as proof programming and CS is where I want to go as it is proof on paper that it is what I want to do which is more than you can say for anyone else coming out of school because often times a lot of people in school figure out that is not what they truly want to do but are to far invested to make a switch. I ran into that problem. That and my other degree has more project management behind it and I have that experience as well which is not something that is tough in CS nor is that something you can truly teach.

    Also some advice that I was given and something that help me pick some of my electives is have a search going on career builders/ that just sends you jobs and always have it going. You then look at those job requirements and see what people are looking for and that can help you choose what new things to learn and keep re tooling yourself. I enjoy learning and more about computers. I for example saw C# popping up more and more so I made damn sure that was on of my electives to take since I saw more and more companies want that language.

    Also the important things to learn in CS is how to design programs much more so than Language as that part is key as it can be transferred to any programming language. Things like object orientated, how to break things up and so on.
  13. 63dot, Jun 13, 2011
    Last edited: Jun 13, 2011

    63dot macrumors 603


    Jun 12, 2006
    It may not be cheap, but in the long run, get a second degree and if CS, that is all fine. In the short run, you will have what some call an already outdated degree with overpriced tuition with loans putting you in the 8th level of hell in terms of debt for anybody who isn't Bill Gates, but life is not played in the short run all the time.

    Yes, you may have to rent in a bad apt. in bad neighborhood and put up with a crappy car (or take the bus, or ride a bike) longer than all of your hs and single degree friends, but in five, ten, or fifteen years, it all won't matter. You will be better off because the economy will be better by then.

    I won't make the prediction that the recession will be completely over, but in ten years we won't be at 9.1% percent unemployment. Hey, I would be thrilled if we were only at 7% percent and holding in 2020! If things really turn around for the better in next year and confidence goes way up, we can be below 5% percent unemployment.

    Don't worry about what some high school buddy with hs diploma and third house with swimming pool will do say you at 20th high school reunion because it's just a snapshot of how things are going. It used to take a few years for the college guy to get ahead of the hs guy without debt. But now it takes a decade or two (especially if you went Ivy like some family or friends), but you will end up way better off in the end. I am way past that 20 year mark and it went very fast and degree holders either end up with more money, but if not that will have the satisfaction and confidence getting extra education has done for them. Why do you think so many get second BA or go for a master's degree? It's a worthy goal. Also if not college (and the responsibility of school and tuition) after high school, a person who uses tens of thousands, and may get large debt, who go out and take a life changing trip to Tibet, or join the military, or use the money to buy a crab boat and rough it in Alaska for five years is not wasting their resources. The lessons learned in these cases, all people I know, are far better than having had the young person just have an extra pimped out motorcycle or cars and lots of electronic toys. The lesson here is to go out of one's comfort zone for a few years and everybody should do at least that. In life, most will take the easy way and never once step out of their comfort zone because it's hard, or because everybody else isn't doing that.

    What ten or twenty years of living on the cheap, likely because of oppressive student loans, will do for you is to show how live within or below your means and that's a better skill to have than anything taught to anybody in a college.

    To play devil's advocate, there is this:

    However, it takes into account that somebody just out of high school is thinking of investing. Investing at age 18, 19, 20? Really? The dour MSN article also doesn't take into account how many college grads do well as entrepreneurs. If anything, at least many of those business majors, the most numerous degree, are taught to be self-employed if their professors know what they are talking about. It's still the American dream and not the old world belief of being a dutiful servant (even if salary is good).

    Yes, the non college grads who become entrepreneurs will do well most likely. But most high school grads, regardless of age that I have come across are far more likely to work for somebody else and not even think about self-employment, unless that idea of making it on one's own innovation/idea in a business is suddenly a major topic in high school (which it isn't).
  14. AlexH macrumors 68020


    Mar 7, 2006
    I always wanted to do something related to my faith, whether it was missions, pastoral ministry, inner city missions, etc. I also have a desire to write and teach. I earned a B.S. in Biblical Studies from Moody, and am currently evaluating my options for graduate school. Seminary is certainly something I’m considering. I’ve been accepted to a MA in English program from a local university, but I’m taking a little time to step back, evaluate my life, pray, and then make a decision.

    Follow your passion. If it is technology, follow it passionately. Theology, writing, and teaching are my passions, and have been since high school, and I’ve enjoyed every step of the journey thus far.

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