Programming Career?

Michael Martino teaches the practicum course for our department. He holds a job fair for Computer Studies students in the spring and fall semesters every year. If you are preparing to graduate, consider taking ITSC 2364 Practicum -- CIS, General If you are looking for a job, please send Professor Martino your resume. See message below:

Please suggest to your students that they send their Word 2003 (or saved as compatible with Word 2003) resumes to me. No templates, please as the receiving business may not have the chosen template in which case the resume doesn't format well. Straight text works best.

Send the resumes to:     csjobs@austincc.edu

Below is an email conversation Professor Martino had with a student regarding careers:

Question:

Hello there. Professor Scholl referred me to you regarding a career inquiry I had. I am currently working towards a certificate in network admin. As part of that I am taking a programming class now and am starting to feel that programming is what I really want to do. Would you have any advice on attaining a certificate in programming? My main inquiries would be:

Would any particular programming language be more advantageous? (i.e. C ++ vs C#)

Would employment be available with a programming certificate in general?

From what I have researched network admin appears to be a fairly secure field regarding employment but with how much more I am enjoying the programming aspect I am just trying to weigh my options. Thank you in advance for any assistance.

Answer:

It seems clear to me that the world is moving to the "client-server" model just about everywhere so the programming languages that support that are likely to be more employable over the short run. At the same time, just about every appliance in my house (well, not my coffee pot) has an chip in it and some embedded code and that seems to be true of all automobiles now, to say nothing of GPS's, cell phones, TV's etc. etc. The thing is, predicting the future is easy; getting the correct prediction is a whole lot harder. For example, there are more lines of COBOL code in the world than any other language and yet it's very rare to find anyone writing in this language today; on the other hand, there are some number of people who are earning a good living keeping the old stuff running.

One thing which I did and which worked for me: I made my career decisions based on what I liked doing and the money followed. There are people I knew who went for the "bucks" and "dough" and made more than I did but they weren't as happy in the long run (they divorced/moved across the country/got stuck in things they hated, etc.). It was tough for me to make this decision because I grew up poor and money was a BIG factor for me, but a friend had told me it was a lot easier to live happy if you loved what you were doing. Up to a point, money is a motivator but after awhile, it won't get you out of bed in the morning nearly as well as going to a job you love.

If you think about the IT field, there are jobs that can easily be outsourced like coding. There are other jobs that, when outsourced, don't really work—like help desks. Once a business gets to a certain size, they pretty much must have an on-site sysadmin/tech support person because it doesn't make sense to have to call overseas to get your password reset or schedule an update of a common application (or just patch installation). And let's be real, no one overseas can run cables in the overhead.

Rather than me tell you what a programming certificate is worth (since it'll be an opinion) I'd like to suggest you do this: Go to http://www.craigslist.com for Austin and select this category under JOBS: software / qa / dba http://austin.craigslist.org/sof/ (right below it is: systems / network http://austin.craigslist.org/sad/ and finally, next comes Tech Support. Watch these three for a couple of weeks (you don't have to do it daily but you want to gather some data) and make a "ticky mark" for each of the types of jobs you like and that you will be qualified for. This will provide you with some hard, real data on what employers are looking for. You can include other job sites, but the ads are reality; everything else (including me!) is just opinion. But also remember that 10 years down the road and 10 years after that, you're going to have to get out of bed five days a week and go do something, so you might really want to choose something that will help you get out of bed rather than something that makes you want to turnover and go back to sleep.

Since you're going to try something (or maybe win the lottery) do your best but listen to your feelings and don't be afraid to change your career.

I know I haven't answered your question about C++ or C#. I suggest you go and talk with Prof. Mary Kohls, the department chair. But do it face-to-face, not with e-mail.

Michael Martino