Hey guys I was looking for some advice, I am currently in my second year of college for a computer science degree at a community college and I will be transferring soon to continue on to get my Bachelor's degree. I have heard some stories about different names for similar degrees and was wondering if you guys have had any experience with this, some programming degrees being called "Computer Science of Software Engineering" or something similar with the word engineering in it, and other programming degrees that don't have engineering in the title. So the question is lets say you have to very similar degrees from decent colleges but one calls it engineering and the other doesn't that when you go to get a job they rate people with "engineer" in their degree over others, specially when they are trying to get someone for a project leader or something like that. I was wondering if you have had this happen or heard of it before and what your degree title is, if this is something to worry about or not. Also does the word engineer really apply to programming or is it only for professional level software development or system development, or is it completely made up for this field of work?
For me the degree situation hasn't mattered much. I've always just done things and that's been enough. I think that is true for anyone: if you have the talent, desire, and ambition (and can turn that into productive and profitable results) you're going to be hired somewhere.
I would say rather than worrying about what the degree title is and how that will relate in the market place, jump on the curriculum that sounds the most appealing. Then go out and intern somewhere and work your ass off! Hard working interns tend to get hired with a quickness. I went from hard working intern to full time PL/SQL programmer for my first job and I didn't know shit from Oracle at the time. I got hired because I worked hard on whatever they had for me as an intern and all they had available for me when my internship ended was PL/SQL. Likewise at my current job we just hired one of our interns because he was hard working and figured out hard problems. That--more than a degree-is valuable.
I'd say by watching programming tutorials on your own time like you're doing is a good indication that you're the hard-working dedicated type, and that you probably genuinely like to write code (so you're crazy like us).
I think my job title now is something like "Secure Development Analyst/Consultant" and "Project Lead" but those are just titles. What matters is that I'm able to steal pens at the end of every day (just kidding...if ppl at work read this don't fire me for stealing pens. Also if you're reading this I need more pens). Actually what matters is that I showed my worth with my work to get my job rather than the education I recieved formally. I don't even list my education on my resume any more (not recommended) and when I'm interviewing candidates to join my team I don't ask them much about the education they list other than what is relevant to the position we're hiring for. I tend to only talk about that job, and programming/development in general.
To sum up: for me a degree of any kind is just a title that becomes obsolete the moment you start actually doing things in the job market, so instead of focusing on the degree's title focus on what you can learn and what you can do with it and highlight that in your job search. I hope that helps. Kevin, Bryan, and our friend Gary may have a different take on it.
I agree with what you are saying and I do plan on interning along with working my ass off, not only do I look at videos here I want to learn it all to be honest, I was just worried about the long run of things. Getting the best job I can, getting promotions I know almost all of that depends on your experience and the individual, not what they have down on paper. I am just worried that not everyone, especially the people in HR see it the same way we do, sometimes you don't even get that chance to get a interview when HR is told "we need a engineer" and they just toss your resume to the side because you have "Computer Science of Software Development" or something that does not say engineer. Also I know your job title has changed over the years but do you have engineering in your degree title, do you consider yourself a engineer? The problem with this degree is its randomly named from college to college. I live in Ohio unfortunately there is not a lot of jobs to go around, unless I want to join the best buy geek squad, just trying to go the safe route.
HR and recruiters can be a hinderence, but you wouldn't know it if they were. If they're out looking for a specific person you're either going to fit their mold or not. As far as that goes just post to Dice.com or something your general resume, but then tailor it to each job you specificially apply for. So if you're applying to be an Objective-C developer and have built mostly Java applications but also collaborated on an iOS app you should mention the Java, but really detail your involvement with the iOS app. That's how you're going to get past recruiters and HR: by being what they want to hear as much as possible. Once you're past the HR dept and are interviewing with the team you'll actually be joining then all that stuff doesn't matter any more.
I think "engineer" has been attached to me at least once or twice but I hardly pay attention to that, not to sound snooty. I know when I went to a conference last January my title on my lamanent was "Secure Software Engineer" but at the same time my business card said "Secure Development Consultant" and LinkedIn said "Development Team Lead"....but that was right after the company I worked for merged with a larger company that to that point had no development team at all so they didn't know what to do with us. Prior to the merger, and I swear this is true, my official title at the small company was "Viceroy of These Jams". One awesome part of working for a small company is that things tend to be less formal ;-)
I do not consider myself an engineer exactly because I am so scattered in my experience. I think to be an engineer you should be well versed in the whole of computer science which I, personally, am not. Kevin and Bryan fit that mold though, they're overall bad-asses. I'm just good with server administration, PHP, SQL, and various other things I've learned for a specific thing. I'm the worst educated developer you'll ever meet in that way. I'm a mutt of a developer.
If Ohio is hard for jobs check things like oDesk. oDesk'll let you freelance and gain some experience and some coin while you look for a full time job. DON'T SUCCUMB TO THE GEEK SQUAD. We are as far beyond them as they are beyond mortal men...no offense to them. I love 'em, but dev and network admin are different disciplines and skill sets.
I pretty much agree with Jason.. But I will say, if you have the means and motivation college can't hurt you. Just expect a well rounded skimming of topics and to learn how to follow instructions.
Just go with whatever makes you happy and work hard. You'll be fine!
This is a cool subject you bring up. I think you are going to get a very bias answer from the WiBit.Net crew because we are quite jaded about formal education in computer science. We are very dissatisfied with how colleges treat the subject. That is the reason WiBit.Net exists in the first place. I know some guys that have multiple college degrees and can’t write a Hello World program. In this field, thankfully, it is what you know and your experience that takes precedence. Some of the most talented developers I know don’t even have a bachelor’s degree.
As far as the word “Engineering” is concerned… I believe the formal study for this discipline is Computer Science. Some schools may use the term Engineer as a sales pitch, but it is very likely the same thing. From my experience, the only time this term differentiates is in the context of electronics and hardware (often called Computer or Electrical Engineering). In the professional field you are often called engineer by title or role. For computer programming, it usually ranks as Programmer (entry level), Developer (lower mid level), Engineer (upper mid level), and Architect (upper level). I am a certified architect, but my formal degree is “Computer Science”. No engineering, no architecting. I think that Jason and Bryan are engineers by title but with no engineering degrees per say. None of us have a degree that states Engineering but we all maintain that status professionally.
The best advice when choosing a college for software development is to consider the curriculum. Read the course overviews and see if it interests you. Don’t go for the degree with the sexiest sounding name. Trust me, when you look through job postings you will more often than not see a “Computer Science” degree is required. You will never see a job posting looking for a “Computer Engineer Scientist Astronaut Super Hero” degree. You may get passed the HR screenings with a fancy sounding degree, but once your resume gets to the technical savvy folks it will be seen right through. I know this because I have been on the other side of the interview table a quite few times.
My fellow WiBit.Net colleagues may disagree with me, but also take a look at the colleges ranking in the major you’re choosing. A Computer Science degree can sell you better from MIT compared to Jim’s Super Awesome College of Computer Scientists.
Despite my advice, none of us went to a highly ranked Computer Science university but we are all doing quite well. Oddly enough, I was accepted to a ranked technology school, but chose a different one because I wanted to be closer to the girl I was dating at the time. Ha ha ha! As stupid of a decision as that was, it ended up working out great for me.
I want to stress hard that the reason for our success is not our college education. We walked into college already knowing everything they taught us. None of us entered college with dreams of being a rich computer programmer. We walked in as total geeks studying the subject that we love and are passionate about. I wrote my first BASIC program when I was 8 years old, and I haven’t stopped since then.
I am lucky that I walk into work every day and think to myself, “I can’t believe they pay me to do this.” We followed our hearts and it paid off… At least so far.
Hard work, determination, and obsessive compulsiveness will get you farther than any degree ever will. But, get the piece of paper just in case!
I've asked you not to tell people about my degree from Jim’s Super Awesome College of Computer Scientists (off of Rt. 209, just ask for Jim and you'll get a good deal!).
In general terms, I do not disagree with any of the comments from the WiBit team, because all 3 have been working in the field and relate to their own life experiences. My formal degrees are a BA in Biology and MS eCommerce. My career has been within sales and marketing in the healthcare industry and what specific degree I have, was not the driving factor for promotions, salary, etc. Careers are built by personal performance.
Having said that, I think the following definitions are closer to real word differentiation of the engineer vs programmer positions and may help in your decision.
“Computer software engineers design and develop software. They apply the theories and principles of computer science and mathematical analysis to create, test, and evaluate the software applications and systems that make computers work. The tasks performed by these workers evolve quickly, reflecting changes in technology and new areas of specialization, as well as the changing practices of employers. “
“Computer programmers write programs. After computer software engineers and systems analysts design software programs, the programmer converts that design into a logical series of instructions that the computer can follow (A section on computer systems analysts appears elsewhere in the Handbook.). The programmer codes these instructions in any of a number of programming languages, depending on the need. The most common languages are C++ and Python.”
Having worked within 2 large multi-national organizations that hire both positions, my experience tells me there is a bias that engineer degrees are held in higher regard, better initial salary, etc. However, this can be quickly overcome with personal performance and contributions to the tasks at hand, within that specific organization. Move to another and the degree may define your worth to that specific organization. Good luck with your decision!
Now that I think of it, if that was a real school I would soooooo go there! Haha
As far as I know, a computer science or similar degree certainly isn't required to work as a software developer. It might say so in job ads, but there aren't really enough CS graduates to fill all the positions advertised. Also, most positions (I've seen estimates as high as 80%) are filled way before an employer gets desperate enough to go on craigslist or monster.
There's another forum that I'm a member of where there are a large number of software programmers and designers. One guy never went to college at all, but now typically makes over 90k per year. He's certainly not a genius. He started as a programmer by working for a software company in another role, and then he proved to them that he was competent. Another guy went to college but studied music and physics. He pursued a PhD in physics for awhile before dropping out. He's more of a lead designer now and makes closer to 150k. Most of the others majored in psychology, but that's not surprising considering that almost everyone majors in psychology. The ones who majored in engineering, math, or some kind of hard science seem to enjoy the most overall success. Physics and math majors in particular seem to do well, but that's probably because they tend to be really smart.
Also, software development isn't all about design principles, programming, and computers in general. There's also the subject matter of the software (assuming that you're not working on frameworks, platforms, etc - anything where the subject matter is other software, the computer, the network, whatever). You could potentially major in anything - let's say geology - learn how to write software, and then move into that field as a software developer. Of course, if you went this route with, say, art history, then it would be much harder and more research oriented (software than can recognize forgery, etc).
Most of the others majored in psychology, but that's not surprising considering that almost everyone majors in psychology.
Ha! Very true!
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This blog is a reminder that cheating in software development can get you into big trouble. Sometimes developers get really really lazy, OR are pressured to write something using overly simplified data structures. Almost every time this happens you are bitten in the butt! Sometimes the problems show up immediately and other times it may take months or years (especially in integrated systems).
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