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Discussion in 'Hangar Talk' started by Deelee, Apr 5, 2021.
It occurs to me that a degree in computer science is completely irrelevant after five years.
I think it's important to have if you're entry level. If you're a geezer like me... well, a CS degree when I started out would indeed have been irrelevant. I'd have learned COBOL and batch processing when the market was looking for everything but.
Yes and no. The tech you use will be outdated, yes. The first principals I still use today.
Kinda. True CS is about algorithms and problem solving. Usually the language students write in is irrelevant even before they're out of school but the patterns and such stay the same.
Example : My CS courses focused on an outdated version of Java. When I worked for a C/Pascal/C++ shop using Informix as a database -- on Unix boxes and a relatively rare real-time OS. Nobody anywhere ever used those for coursework. I was already writing code in 6809 assembly years and years before those college classes. Nothing about that course ever applied to work other than the math and algorithms.
Probablg the most useful advice from that prof who was a long time DoD Ada programmer was two things... Quit trying on the compiler to catch your errors (know your language better) and "never put anything in a database that doesn't need to be there including customer personal data, it'll be used for inappropriate things". She was right.
Other than that the classwork was irrelevant and outdated before the course even started.
very similar experience here ... my CompSci bachelor's was a general overview of technology with no one main emphasis. We touched IBM JCL, Pascal, COBOL...
My Software Engineering Master's got more tech specific in some areas, with Ada, Pascal, Assembler, Oracle, dBase, Informix, etc ...
However, shortly after finishing my MS, I got the opportunity to work in Oracle and C specifically and have been doing straight up Oracle work since then (with "then" being quite some time ago! ... 1985)
The basic principles of CS and SE continue to be applicable today.
Very true, and I'm certainly happy to have my degree! But when I had my existential career crisis about a year ago, relevancy wasn't the only issue - I was faced with an age problem too. Twenty years away from tech in any professional capacity was obviously going to be a massive hurdle, but I'm also 42, which puts me at a huge disadvantage unless I can be immediately valuable. If an employer is gonna need to spin me up - even if I have a strong CS foundation - they might as well give the job to a kid fresh out of college. Not that I blame them - that kid is likely to be hungrier. You're not going to convince a dinosaur like me to work 60 hour weeks by putting foosball tables and video games in the break rooms.
When the company I worked for wanted to put me on the management track, I quit and became an independent consultant. That was 15 long years ago and I haven't regretted it one second. I had no interest in management and wanted to stay marketable. As someone else said, most management positions seem more like a proxy for HR. After working for years on both the technical and functional side, I'm now a solution architect helping to design and implement large solutions working collaboratively with all of the teams. I enjoy it, I'm marketable and I don't have to worry about firing anyone.
You do have to keep up with tech and be able to spin yourself up on new stuff. But I find that it's easier because I have context and lots of understanding of what goes on under the covers.
As to 60 hour weeks at 42, I joined a startup at 44 as employee #2 and CTO. I built networks, servers, set up our entire IT infrastructure, and architected two Army training systems that are still in use. Oh and wrote proposals. I enjoyed the heck out of it. And I wouldn't sign up for it at 61. But I get to retire this year and can afford to fly and travel so there's that. But I also know that I picked and chose where I spent my time during those startup years. I could still debug code for 24 hours straight, but I couldn't come back to work after 8 hours of sleep and start again-at least effectively.
I wouldn't want to be an unemployed code slinger at my age today. I could easily find a job in my current field, but as an architect or technical director because I'm know in the industry. I could not (likely) be a software engineer.