A Monkey Looking for Computer Degree Advice.

Discussion in 'Technical' started by TheEconomist, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. TheEconomist

    TheEconomist Creighton Bluejay

    My wife is looking at going back to school for a new degree and she is thinking about going for something in computers.

    The problem is I do not know which way she is supposed to go with it.

    Penn State is offering an Online Science and Technology degree that seems legit. But then I know there are CIS, CS, and many other degrees out there.

    She was a political science major and is sick of being told that she doesn't have any skills when she gets rejected during job interviews.

    I know a lot of you monkeys are computer guys so I was wondering if you could give any advice as to what she should be doing. What is a good career map and education/certification path? Are online classes at REAL universities like Penn State or The University of Washington worth while?

    To outline my wife:
    1. Excellent at following directions
    2. Pays attention to detail
    3. Likes a challenge and learning new things
    4. Great researcher

    1. Gets frustraited when she isn't the best at something right away (I am like that also)
    2. It has been a while since she has taken a Calculus or science class
    3. Afraid to make that jump!
    It is the third con that has been the problem. We do not know a solid path and therefore she is scared to take a chance.

    Advice is greatly appreciated.

  2. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    Issues with online learning programs
    • Can be difficult for folks who get sidetracked
    • lack of interaction with other students
    • difficult to set up study groups
    • same cost as in seat classes with less access to instructors
    • technology changes so you might need to update all MS office programs or save as an older version to match instructors system
    • need a good interweb pipe 56k won't do it...
    • access to labs/equipment if you are doing networking (servers, systems, etc)
    • costs of programs that you do not have at home (available at college labs for free)

    • you can do it at home
    • at anytime
    • saves $$ on travel and food...

    As to getting a MIS/IT/CIS/IS degree... find out what type of jobs are available in your AO unless you plan on moving...
    here folks with strong network administration /security folks get a premium... programmers with out a computer enginerring degree can get work but the salaries are not that great..
    consider getting certificates instead of a degree...


    these will get you a job faster than a degree with out them...
    Good luck....
    TheEconomist likes this.
  3. Quigley_Sharps

    Quigley_Sharps The Badministrator Administrator Founding Member

    Get a hold of Conhager, he's been down that Road.
  4. DKR

    DKR Raconteur of the first stripe

    Certificates are a lot less expensive than a degree, keep in mind that the certificate issuer view these 'programs' as a cash cow - you'll forever be taking more tests to stay current @ 200 to 400 dollars a pop. Just remember that.

    I agree, check for jobs BEFORE you sign up for classes - do not take the schools word for opportunities, check with the local employment office to what, if any, demand there may be.

    If your SO already has a PolySci degree (and those folks are correct, it was pretty much a waste of money) consider a parallel degree with the fewest "new" classes required - English Lit, English, looking at tech writing opportunities -- Accounting or Business Admin, Business management, keeping in mind the MBAs are as thick as fleas in some area of the country.

    And last, Education. Easiest degree to land, likely the one that would need the least in new classwork and portable, esp in rural areas. Private school are always looking for good teachers, tho they pay less than the Unionized Public schools.

    So, in sum.

    What jobs are available @ what pay scale?
    What is the least number of classes to take to land the degree?

    Best of luck.
  5. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    I'm not going to sugar coat it.

    Getting a Computer Anything degree is not necessarily the golden ticket like it use to some 20 years ago.
    Unless you are at the top of the game (and you won't be unless you put in lots of personal hours learning after the degree) or are willing to have a decent job at one of the big players (Tech Team, Compuware, Oracle, CyberCoders or others) and like contract work it's a tough game to play.

    Outsourcing is still an issue with:
    Network Administration
    Database Administration
    Content Administration or Publishing
    Development Tools Application Programming
    Vanilla type business application development (stuff like quickbook competitors)
    Some Industry Verticals like Banking, Warehousing and Inventory, Logistics.

    But if you work for one of the outsource labor providers there is room to play.

    A big chunk of this goes overseas. And only the project management end of it stays here in the states.

    Yes some of it comes back but most of it doesn't if simple specifications can be generated and there are enough talented and hungry Indians and Chinese to do the job (and there are)

    IT newbies can expect long hours, mind numbing tasks interrupted by shear panic when the server that maintains your next release fries it's motherboard and takes the HD with it. Backups? Don't need no backups we have a SAN! ..Uh-oh. Who was responsible for monitoring the SAN again? Sangi? WTF!

    Project managers will have endless meetings, Even longer hours because they have to communicate with the overseas staff. A bottle of Gentleman Jack is usually in the back of the bottom drawer and often replenished.

    No such thing as a 40 hour work week. 45 minimum and 50 is typical. Depending on where you land after graduation, 70 is not unheard of.

    BTDT but that was nearly 10 years ago. Now I only am on the clock for 42-44 hours per week with an occasional 60 hr week (few times a year). Plus 4 geek gatherings to learn new things to stay current (20 hrs of my time per month). Plus at least one 3 day geek conference a year. A couple of industry publications per month. Lots of electronic news letters and geeky websites for best practices tools, tips, code samples and examples. Plus books, lot and lots of books on new tools for my craft. So maybe another 5-10 hrs a week related to work but not paid work just so i can stay up to date.

    If you had a hobby before you took up an IT career, You might not see it again for quite some time.

    Want to know what my hobby is? Writing software. Yep, I know. I am the most exciting person you have ever met.

    I tell my boy to take up Plumbing, welding or electrical. He'll probably make more money and more likely to have a life outside of work.

    Now where are the best jobs? Best gigs are those your friends find for you. Networking rulez. Yes, we tend to know who is hiring, what the job entails and which employers suck the sweat of a dead mans' ba .. ck. But, you'll pay your dues before job hopping becomes available to you. You'll have to be good at what you do, take ownership of problems, not care who gets credit for sucesses (because some idiot that wasn't part of the success will grab it anyway .. but don't worry, Karma is strong in the IT industry and idiots wind up shooting themselves in the head and burn out.)

    Best bet would be small to midsize company in niche market where they are the dominant player in the field. Small company that needs an IT manager but doesn't know it yet. Or one of the outsource companies.

    I think that CyberCoders might still offer free training if you commit to working for them for maybe 2 years? Pay was around 30k after training and you might be bouncing to new contract every 30 - 90 days as long as your performance is up to standards.

    Degree is not necessarily required. Employers want to see your abilities to solve real world problems. Not 'Hello World'.

    Where does your current skill set lie? Manufacturing, Inventory Control, Farm Management, Logistics or Healthcare? Are there current openings in this field for IT staff that you could work your way into? Typically college grads have lots of tech savvy, but absolutely not line of business experience. You combine the two? Now we are talking leverage and the true golden opportunity.

    That being said, I should have taken up plumbing. If I'd done that in the mid 80's, yeah, I'd be retired by now.
    Guit_fishN likes this.
  6. VisuTrac

    VisuTrac Ваша мать носит военные ботинки Site Supporter+++

    Ok, if that's not enough. You have to love computers. The hating of end-user and 3rd party tool vendors will come naturally.

    Everyone you know will ask her computer related questions at dinner parties, at the grocery store, a family get togethers, or any time any place. If you are good, they will hound you mercilessly!

    The best day I ever had was the day my daughter traded in her dell laptop that I'd resurrected numerous times and got an Apple. Thank Little Baby Jesus! I've no clue how to barely turn on a device with and Apple OS let alone do anything with it. She's on her own.

    If it were me, looking for a second or third (in my case 4th) reinvention of myself, I'd become a Certified Nurses Aid (CNA 2yr program), Physical therapist assistant (2yr) or a Certified Project Manager (CPM certificate program might just be a few months additional above her PolySci degree) if I wanted to go the formal route, or Being that I well down this career path and see life like this
    I'd become a plumber or a gunsmith.

    Well, if she still wants to go ahead and get into IT, I'll be Uncle Sam is hiring. Gotta keep track of the money, or try to crack a power plant or an unbreakable code like MonkeyNet's OnePad.
    4fcf9e7058ec7. 4fcf9e7058ec7.
    Cruisin Sloth likes this.
  7. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    Consider getting a Masters of Public Administration....

    I have both a a poli-Sci and an MPA... you can get work in most towns/NGO's and the feds with one...
  8. TheEconomist

    TheEconomist Creighton Bluejay

    Vis, thanks for the candid response I will pass this along to her. Also I will suggested the Masters of Public Administration...Is that like an MBA for government jobs?
  9. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

  10. TheEconomist

    TheEconomist Creighton Bluejay

    Vis, what would she do with a Certified Project Manager certificate and a Poli Sci degree?


    Would getting her Master of Public Admin plus Certified Project Manager help her out?
  11. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    The Project Manager Crt and an MPA will give her a lot of possibilities especially with govermental bodies that are: undergoing change, grants, planning issues, and major govermental projects handed down tothe state and local goverments by the Feds...
    VisuTrac and TheEconomist like this.
  12. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    MBA combined with other skills can open a lot of doors.
  13. TheEconomist

    TheEconomist Creighton Bluejay

    I am currently getting my Master of Science in Security Analysis and Portfolio Management while sitting for my CFA Institute exams, one per year god willing I pass them all on the first attempt. I have suggested the MBA to her but she is not interested at this point.

    She has worked for NGO's and was very active with grant writing while working towards her undergraduate degree. She is only 24 years old and has her whole life ahead of her, I forgot to add that as I feel it gives better perspective to where is is in life.

    She has been working as a 1099 in the oil and gas industry for the past year but we have been going week on week off for work and its really hurting us. We want to get her loans back into deferment so that we have greater financial flexibility to pay down debt the smart way, not the way to loan companies feel we should.

    Once again, thank you to everyone who has posted already. Many of you have real world experience that us 20 somethings can gain a lot of insight from.
  14. Witch Doctor 01

    Witch Doctor 01 Mojo Maker

    She might consider opening a grant writing service.... If she has some experience... I have made some good $$ doing this for others... Make sure you have a contract that allows her to be paid wether the Grant is successful or not...
  15. ghrit

    ghrit Bad company Administrator Founding Member

    I have to throw rocks at MBAs as a goal. Back in the day, an MBA was assurance of employment, and a greased way up the ladder. The best and brightest might yet make on work, but from what I've seen, the status has dropped. More than anything else because the stature has been diluted by the many schools offering that degree that are not top shelf schools, and the instructors were those that couldn't make it in the business world when the cream floated and didn't carry them along. I'd essay a guess that a Master's in almost any discipline other than business would do better.

    If I were to do it again, I'd be looking pretty closely at law at the Master's level. That, with a good solid (non social science) Bachelor's would be hard to beat. With the computer background, it might well be better to look at a math degree rather than a cookbook user's training.
  16. HK_User

    HK_User A Productive Monkey is a Happy Monkey

    Experience has proven to me that an MBA and an Industrial Engineer as a TRUE project Engineer can get the job done.

  17. Conagher

    Conagher Dark Custom Rider Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I have a AAAS degree for Computer Networking and an AAAS degree for Computer Hardware and Software Support.

    Honestly, a lot of people are making great money at computer programming, but it all comes down to what she thinks she wants to learn and do for a living.
    BTPost likes this.
  18. Rich Seal

    Rich Seal Monkey

    I can understand being nervous about pulling the trigger on the career change.

    My whole life I spend doing some kind of mechanicin'. Cars, trucks, diesels, helicopters. All got too physically draining and down right dirty. Used my GI Bill $$$ & went back to school. Just an AAS in IT w/ a Microsoft Office SW specialization (silly I know). More hardware work these days than Office-linked stuff.

    I've learned this much in my first 3 years in IT: all I did was move from stupid people & their cars to stupid people & their computers & networks. I enjoy the work most of the time. Sometimes I wanna pack my stuff up and open my toolbox again. The work is cleaner & less physically demanding but my brain hurts & my patience is tried each day on the phone with a hopeless user or 20.

    I was already used to long hours, so not a chance for me.

    Consider your strongpoints. If you have issues dealing with people & the telephone, I don't suggest IT. Nothing ever goes perfectly right in IT; I have a hard time accepting that. I'm a bit of a perfectionist, but trying to ease up a bit.

    It's been a huge change for me but slowly getting used to it. All in all, I do enjoy the work. Good luck to her in the choice.
  19. melbo

    melbo Hunter Gatherer Administrator Founding Member

    I have some pretty strong (albeit negative) opinions about our current system of higher education.

    I know that you and your wife are fairly young which = relatively recent graduates.
    Does it bother you or her that a Counseler/Advisor/Professor(s) lied by convincing her (or by omission for not dissuading her) that Political Science as a Major would be a fine way to make a living in 2010/11/12?

    How much did she spend in $ and time to walk away with a degree that (these days) is only good as a stepping stone to more school (higher education or law which = still no guarantee of job). Modern colleges are churning graduates out each year into an economy that can't support it's current workforce, let alone a new influx of bright eyed workers with vague degrees.

    15 years ago I would have tried to convince anyone that was close to graduating from high school to do whatever it took to get into college. Now I strongly suggest a trade over college. There are few jobs. Most degrees are not specific enough to equate to a job. The costs of education and ease of student loans add another pitfall to the process. Many people who serve me a sandwich and a beer at a bar or restaurant are still paying minimums on student loans...

    I have a son who's half way through a PhD program and a daughter who just started kindergarten. Since the boy's going to teach at a University as a PhD, his 'degree' could be in darn near anything since he doesn't actually have to go out and put it to work (or try to find work) with it. His undergrad, masters and php didn't cost us anythign since he had scholarships for each phase. I don't see things changing for the better to the point where I'll suggest my 5 year old seek a degree in 13 years. I'd rather teach her to culture yeast and make bread, make soap, forge knives, etc but at the very least, she'll learn trade skills from me until she leaves. Education is an investment and if there is no ROI, does it make sense? The only possible way I can be swayed that college is a good idea at this snapshot in time is if some 18 year old knows for 100% certain that they want to be something uber specific like a nurse. Otherwise it's a sham. I know this as I used to be an industry advisor to a technical school which had a program in my field. I'd point out that times were changing and that companies like mine were not hiring like they were a few years ago. It was like I broke some sort of mealy mouthed educators unwritten code. You do not talk about the fact that we are graduating these kids into a black hole. I was dropped from the meeting invite and email list after 2 of my honest talk meetings.

    On the IT side, I know a lot of degree'd CS guys who can't find work. If her heart is set on computers, I'd suggest learning PHP and MySQL and focusing on web based applications and performance. Or focus on the whole LAMP setup and learn how to be really good at deploying and maintaining webservers. (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP). This can be begun at home with a spare laptop or PC.

    I really think that being great with code is worth much more than graduating in code. my $.02
  20. CATO

    CATO Monkey+++

    +10 (One for every year I wasted in college). The only terminal degrees I see as useful are ones that result in a trade (e.g., dentistry, vet, doctor, engineer).

    Did you know that you can get a Master's degree in "General Studies?" Where I got my Master's, you can even get a Master's in "Storytelling."

    Unless all of these graduates learned something growing up from their parents/grandparents, they have no skills: can't fix a _____ or problem solve use stuff you have laying around to get anything done.

    All of the best programmers I know learned by books actually doing projects.

    Didn't you mention your wife was pregnant? Your free time will soon be cut to zero.
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