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Formal Education Required?

by mexnix (Pilgrim)
on Jul 13, 2001 at 21:51 UTC ( #96495=perlmeditation: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

So here I am, 18yrs, full time job, started college, but dropped out 2nd semester freshman year because I'm an unmotivated loser.

Now lately I've been taking a perspective look on my life wondering, where do I go from here? I've lived in a small city 20miles north of Tampa, FL, (ALL 18yrs of my life, eek!) and I'm dying to leave. I'm starting to take a look at moving north, or west, but one problem keeps coming up. A Job. Now my dream job would be to go somewhere and grow into a (System|Network) Admin job, but most of the places I look into want either a B.S. in Computer Science (ironiclly most of us can B.S. C.S. anyday) or one of the "Amazingly Spectacular" Certs (cough...MSCE, A+...cough). [mexnix notes that most non-computer-based CO.'s will take most certs not knowing what they actually are]

My Questions:
Do some of you (older|experienced) monks believe that the formal education is worth the time spent?
AND
In your experience, have these things been required, or your previous experience brought you through?

This does not mean that I do not plan to get a B.S., but is, more or less, asking if, at this point in my life, will can I uproot and relocate sucessfully? I plan on going to whatever community college I can get my hands on when I get to where I'm going.

From a fellow monk afraid about his future,
mexnix

__________________________________________________
<moviequote name="The Whole Nine Yards">
Jimmy T: Oz, we're friends, friends do not engage in sexual congress with each others wives.
</moviequote>

%mexnix = (email = > "mexnix@hotmail.com", website => "http://mexnix.perlmonk.org");

Comment on Formal Education Required?
Re: Formal Education Required?
by dragonchild (Archbishop) on Jul 13, 2001 at 22:00 UTC
    There's two questions here.
    1. Does what I learned when I "earned" my CS/Math degree help me do my current (or any) job?
    2. Does the fact I have a degree help me get a job?
    I would be willing to put forward that very few monks, or CS professionals for that matter, would feel that the answer to #1 is Yes. Everything job-useful that I learned in college was done by the end of freshman year. (This isn't to say that I didn't enjoy the other 4 1/2 years of college I took ... it just wasn't very useful.)

    Now, the answer to #2 is a resounding YES. In fact, I wouldn't have a job without having a piece of paper. The one time I did get a Perl/CGI job without it, I was earning $7.50/hr doing basically what I do now for $25/hr.

    Please, please think through the fact that I went from $15k/year to $50k/year solely because I have a degree. No additional knowledge/skills required. Just the degree.

    In closing - the degree is useless (from a technical standpoint) but completely indispensible (from an economic standpoint).

      I wholeheartadle agree with dragonchild on:

      Does the fact I have a degree help me get a job?

      Not only does the fact that I have a degree help me to get a job in the first place, but it also gets me a much higher income.

      However, I can't say that I agree with:

      Does what I learned when I "earned" my CS/Math degree help me do my current (or any) job?

      I think this is somewhat subjective and I'll tell you why. If all I wanted to do was be a code-monkey (nothing against simply writing code), I could have left school after my first year. However, I really wanted to learn to design large software systems in addition and that is just what I did for the next few years of college. So, in my case, college was very useful for me. Granted, I didn't learn the details about what I'd be doing in my future job, but I did learn enough theory and developed the means to apply that theory to help me in my current job.

      Just as dragonchild mentioned, I went from a job where I made $7.30/hr and now, without a great amount of change in the work that I'm doing, I make $25/hr.

      If you really need to get away from where you are now, I think you can probably get a job doing programming or at least within the IT industry, but be prepared to be underpaid. Without a degree or some sort of certification, you're just not going to make as much money as you'd probably like to. But to this, I want you to ask yourself a question: If I have two employees, both apt individuals, and one has a degree in what I ask him/her to do and one does not, who do I pay more money? How would you answer that question?

      Best of luck to you in whatever you decide.

      - Sherlock

      Skepticism is the source of knowledge as much as knowledge is the source of skepticism.
        In my defense, I should explain my assertion concerning the lack of school's applicability to real-world situations.

        Yes, general problem-solving skills are emphasized in school, and the exposure you get is invaluable. For that alone, I would reccomend going to school full-time between the ages of 18 to 22.

        However, I remember back to "Operating Systems", "File and Database", and similar courses. While the concepts were useful to come across, I don't use any of that as a programmer. Most of my practical OS knowledge comes from having my own Linux box, not what I learned in a classroom.

        Language courses are even worse. I learned 3 languages while at school. I don't use a single one. In fact, I have only ever used C (learned at an internship), JAM (learned on the job), and Perl (learned while working during a year off). I don't use PASCAL, QBasic, or the ASM flavor I learned while taking Assembler. *shrugs*

        Now, of course, learning all those languages helped me learn how to learn langauges.

        I guess the best way to put it is this:

        • If you're looking to school to teach you things you will use in the workforce, you'll be disappointed.
        • If you're looking to school to teach you how to learn what you will use in the workforce, you'll be pleased.
Re: Formal Education Required?
by scain (Curate) on Jul 13, 2001 at 22:22 UTC
    mexnix,

    Of course, you know you will get nothing but biased answers. That being said, I'll give you my biased view.

    Do I think a higher education is time well spent? Of course, but your reading from someone who spent 11 years after high school persuing a PhD. Could it be time well spent for you? Probably, but you'll have to figure out what you want to do there. I spend much of my time programming, but I don't have a CS or related background.

    The second question is much harder to answer, since you (in the general sense) are the sum of all of your experiences, so any time you are looking for a job, both work and educational experiences matter. Would I consider hiring an 18 year old to do Sys or Network admin stuff. Very likely no, unless he had an outstanding resume, and I trusted his references. (Which would be very hard for you to have if you were moving somewhere new.)

    I don't know if that is of any help, but it is just my $0.02.

    Good luck,
    Scott

Re: Formal Education Required?
by particle (Vicar) on Jul 13, 2001 at 22:33 UTC
    > Do some of you (older|experienced) monks believe that the formal education is worth the time spent?
    > AND
    > In your experience, have these things been required, or your previous experience brought you through?

    if nothing else, a formal education is an indicator that you are able to accomplish a goal that may span years, and may cover a wide range of situations, some of which probably will not be to your liking. although there are (of course)exceptions to the rule, "go to school, be a success," in general, higher education teaches you how to learn, how to approach problems, and how to react to difficulties--all skills you'll use the rest of your life.

    it took me eight years of on-again, off-again schooling to get my bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering. during that time, i also worked as a consultant in the world of computer programming. i'm proud of what i've accomplished in both areas. honestly, i didn't need to complete my engineering degree to get where i am in the working world today. but my years of schooling were invaluable to me by improving my problem solving skills, and business sensibility. i can say that without my years of schooling, i wouldn't run my business as smoothly and successfully as i do today.

    most importantly, achieving my degree was a personal goal, one of which i'm quite proud. don't sell schooling short. if you feel that you are, as you said, an "unmotivated loser," what makes you think you'll succeed in business, or in life? business is more difficult than school, and the responsibilities are much greater. if you're considering such a drastic change in the direction of your life, perhaps you should consider this before you make your decision.

    business and school can be done at the same time. i am proof of this. it was not easy. these were some of the most tumoltuous years of my life. it was with the support of my family, friends, schoolmates, and business mentors that i made it through. i grew up in new york, i went to school here, and i based my business here. that gave me a level of comfort that i may have taken for granted at the time, but looking back, it made these years much easier. if your support network is rooted one thousand miles away, i think you may have a difficult time adjusting to the twists and turns of life.

    i could ramble on, because i don't feel i've finished my thoughts, but, real life becons. it's my last day on my client's site, and they're waiting for all my documentation, and have just requested a change to my script. best of luck.

    ~Particle

Re: Formal Education Required?
by mexnix (Pilgrim) on Jul 13, 2001 at 22:34 UTC
    To reply to both, very good, replies, I definitely plan to attend college once getting somewhere. Maybe I should have either switched the order of my questions, or worded them differently. Maybe question three: Am I stuck in po-dung city the until I get a formal education? Call me what you will, but I refuse to take a crappy job (flipping burgers, stocking shelves) while going through college. Sorry for any confusion. The other questions are still relevent. Thanks for fast replies.

    __________________________________________________
    <moviequote name="The Whole Nine Yards">
    Jimmy T: Oz, friends do not engage in sexual congress with each others wives.
    </moviequote>

    %mexnix = (email = > "mexnix@hotmail.com", website => "http://mexnix.perlmonk.org");

      What's a matter with flippin' burgers?

      Seriously, you can probably get a decent job doing what you want, but you will be underpaid doing it. We in the business world call them "interns", and love them because they work for cheap.

      Such is life.

      Scott

      Update: Oh right, the question: no you aren't stuck, but it might be better to pick a college, go there and find the job once you get there.

Re: Formal Education Required?
by scottstef (Curate) on Jul 13, 2001 at 22:42 UTC
    I don't have a degree and I am a sysadmin. I got my first paid computer job from a referral from a teacher that was teaching an A+ class I was taking. This job was crappy grunt work (installing 1700 pcs) that taught me little and paid me even less. I got my next job by hounding a recruiter until they finally gave me a job, that worked out well. When that job relocated and I didn't I was fortunate enough to get a job as a sysadmin with the recruiter's company based on the greatwork I had done for them on a contract.

    For me that was the good part, now the bad.
    Because I don't have a degree, I make about 20% less than people at similar levels as me
    Because I don't have a degree, I don't yet have the problem solving background that a lot of people here have, takes me longer to learn & develop algorithms etc.

    Because I too dropped out of college being an unmotivated loser also- I am now almost 30(yikes getting old), and miss spending two nights a week with my wife while I work towards a degree. If at all possible, get your degree now, if you hate where you live, move somewhere else and go to school. Do it now before you have the responsibilities of being older, debt, spouses, job, etc. Yes, school can be rough, however in 3-5 years of college, you will learn some great problem solving skills, probably be able to get a decent job without much of a problem, yet be able to move wherever you would like to live.

    You mentioned certs, I took classes for several, A+, ccna, mcse before I realized these certs proved nothing more than you could pass a test. While this may get you a job, it is rarely enough to help you succeed in a field. After working with mcse's, ccna's, ccnp,s, ccnd's, solaris certs etc, the only one I have any respect for based purely on the cert is a ccie.
    Just my opinion, hope it helps.

    "The social dynamics of the net are a direct consequence of the fact that nobody has yet developed a Remote Strangulation Protocol." -- Larry Wall

(ar0n: see k5) Re: Formal Education Required?
by ar0n (Priest) on Jul 13, 2001 at 22:52 UTC
Re: Formal Education Required?
by mikeB (Friar) on Jul 13, 2001 at 23:02 UTC
    I'll disagree a bit with dragonchild.

    What I learned in the CS degree program many years ago has been very useful in my 'real' jobs. Some of those things were/are: <lu>

  • TMTOL - There's More Than One Language. We implemented basic algorithms - sort, search, string manipulation, tree traversals, etc. - on every language available on our system. That hands-on experience made quite clear that each language has its strong points, and that no language is best at everything. Not even Perl, though it wasn't around then :)
  • Algorithms - While I can't say I've read all of Knuth's works front-to-back, they have kept me from trying to reinvent the wheel or implementing poor solutions. Many (not all!) of the self-taught and 2-year degree programmers I have encountered learned "a language" or two, but not "how to program". Poor implementations of basic algorithms, lack of appropriate data structures, poor analysis, etc. plague much of their code.
  • Learning by Example - Whether through textbooks, peer review, or live code from existing systems, including languages and operating systems, we <it>saw</it> a <it>lot</it> of code. In a classroom setting, we had the opportunity to discuss the approaches various authors had taken and learn from them. By the time we hit the job market, we already had a feel for what might or might not work in various situations.
  • Teamwork - While occasionally one gets the opportunity to work independently, the vast majority of jobs are with teams. Working on class projects as teams gave us a chance to experience the interpersonal dynamics and get used to - if not beyond - the give and take and exchange of ideas. MMWINAB (Maybe My Way Is Not Always Best :) </lu>

    Granted, degree programs have changed, as have teaching styles and methodologies. But IMHO, a good formal education is worth the time and money.

    FWIW, I've not yet completed my BS after 20+ years, more due to lack of convenience and constantly changing degree program requirements than anything else. However, the deficit is only a few general credits: math, speech/communications. This has not been a factor so far in finding employment. Many years of consulting, including time with well known companies, along with good recommendations from previous employers, seem to mean more than a peice of paper.

    Speaking as one who now is on the hiring side of interviews, certifications are not anywhere near the top of the list of priorities for a potential new hire. The MSCE certifications, for example, tell me you simply know some basics on installing and running Microsoft products, not that you have an in-depth knowledge of programming or of the many quirks and oddities of the products. It certainly does not tell me if you work well with others, could adapt to our corporate culture, or play a good round of golf (Perl or otherwise).

    YMMV. Philosophical rebuttals welcome :)

Re: Formal Education Required?
by lemming (Priest) on Jul 13, 2001 at 23:06 UTC

    I took 4 years of college, but no degree. My time in college was worth it in that I got a lot of social training. Most of my CIS knowledge came afterwards. I struggled for a while in the beginning. I'm finding that the lack of degree does hurt in a couple areas, but mainly with companies that have the attitude that I'm not comfortable with. I've also got 15 years of experience at this point, so the degree is not that much of an issue as is my keeping up with current events.

    However, I have found that in this industry downturn the lack of degree is one more factor that will weed your resume out

    Knowing what I know now, I'd suggest going for the degree because you can afford the time. Once you get into the corporate world, it's a lot harder to break away and earn that degree.

      The degree is definitely helpful when finding a job. It gets your foot in the door. I spent 4 years in college as well with no degree to show for it. I get paid pretty fat, but it took me 7 years to get here.

      However after spending all that time in school, I can definitely say this: Don't go to school unless finishing is the most important thing to you. It wasn't for me and that's why I didn't finish. I don't regret it. Although, I do intend to go back when one day...it is important enough to me to finish.

Re: Formal Education Required?
by arashi (Priest) on Jul 13, 2001 at 23:06 UTC
    I've often found that my own problems in life don't seem so bad when I hear that other people are going through the same thing.

    I'm 22 years old, I'm going to be starting my 5th year of college. The reason I'm in my 5th year is because I don't learn a lot from classes, and school has always been a struggle for me. It's not that the topics that I'm studying are hard, in fact I find them very easy, but classes are boring, and I tend to fall asleep, or stop going. My parents view this as being unmotivated, but I have come to realize that my college doesn't teach in a way that interesting to me. I almost dropped out of school completely, but just before I did, I got a job on campus that probably saved my college career and my future plans for a career.

    I work in the Web Development Office at my university, and I have learned more than I ever had in any class. I feel that once I graduate college, it's not my degree that's going to help me get a job, but it's going to be the practice experience that I received while working. Don't get me wrong, as Sherlock noted that his degree helped him get paid a lot out of college, a degree is very important. In my opinion, if you have a degree, any degree (so take something that you enjoy and can do well at), it shows a prospective employer that you have the ability to learn. If you desire a job that requires a lot of specific training, then you need to get that training some how, either by getting a job that will teach you what you need to know (even if it's low paying--it's worth it for the training), or go for a degree that teaches you that specific knowledge (your best bet might be a Tech college, if you don't enjoy sitting in lectures). My boss, Mission, has a degree in history, and he's in charge of a Web Development Office, that doesn't have to do with history, and it's very technical, but he got the job because he has the ability to learn.

    I guess I'm trying to say is if you plan on attending college, take a major or program that you will enjoy, not one where you have to struggle to stay awake. If you want a job that doesn't match your major, then you need to find some other way of gaining knowledge in that area, either learning on your own, or get a low-paying job that will teach you what you need to know.

    I hope this helps you answer your questions.

    Arashi

    I'm sure Edison turned himself a lot of colors before he invented the lightbulb. - H.S.
Re: Formal Education Required?
by xphase_work (Pilgrim) on Jul 13, 2001 at 23:11 UTC
    I feel qualified to add to this discussion, because I have direct experience with this.

    I'm 20 years old and had completed two years of college when my university raised tuition and dropped one of my loans. So now I've been working full-time for a year.

    After leaving school I got a contract job to provide support while CIGNA upgraded their computer systems. Not bad pay, not very fun. Next I was unemployed for several months looking for a job, but found no companies that would look at my resume. Why not? It was missing two things: A degree and Java. The odd thing about Java was that everyone wanted people with 5 - 10 years of Java experience. Strange, no? Anyway I digress.

    My next job was at the wonderful Wal-Mart chain of stores(not fun). I worked graveyard cashier for 3 months until I got my current position.

    I now work at a large company that works on DoD contracts. It is almost impossible to get a job here without a degree. The company will not look at your resume if you don't have a degree. The only reason that I got my job is that someone I've known since High School is a management type person here. He got my resume in the door, and I got a job from the interview.

    The moral of this story? Get a degree, it's worth it. I am making 50% less then a college grad in the same position. I had to work at Wal-Mart<shudder>. Plus, where else do you get that much bandwidth except on a college dorm :-).

    I plan to go back once I've saved up money from my current position. I just thought I'd share my experiences in case they help.

    --xPhase

Re: Formal Education Required?
by hding (Chaplain) on Jul 13, 2001 at 23:46 UTC

    I spent a lot of time in school (4 years college, 6 years grad school, in mathematics, not CS), because that's where I wanted to be at the time. There are at least two senses in which one might take your first question. First, is it worth it in terms of career building? It's hard for me to answer that because my career, such as it is, probably isn't very representative (basically when I left school it was to trade options; when (for reasons irrelevant to this discussion) this failed to pan out, I started doing computer work for the same company. All this came out of a contact I had known for a long time, and my particular educational state was somewhat irrelevant, and I'll allow others with more experience to address that point.

    The other sense one might address is whether or not it is worth it in regards to what it adds to oneself beyond the career. Here I'm perfectly happy to conclude that for me it has been. Coming out of high school I couldn't imagine why I might want to spend any time studying anything except physics and mathematics. However, being forced to spend some effort studying things from psycholinguistics to traditional Chinese literature to political science was a blessing that opened up a larger world. Just for this kind of effect I think it is worth the time. (Do I sound enough like a guidance counselor there? :-)

    Of course, I'm a self-admitted academic elitist type, so my opinion may be biased. :-)

Re: Formal Education Required?
by bikeNomad (Priest) on Jul 14, 2001 at 00:00 UTC
    The answer would have to be "it depends". I've not got a degree, but I am self-taught in several subjects. One thing that helped me early on was that I was able to get jobs with small companies who cared more about what I could do (or could learn to do) and what I was enthusiastic about than what degree I had. But the first few times that I interviewed with bigger companies (>50 people), I had to answer the question "do you feel that you're at a disadvantage not having a degree?". My answer was usually that I'd been interested enough to teach myself (and backed this up with an intelligent discussion of "academic" CS topics that I was interested in at the time). And I also told them that I suspected that not having a degree meant that it took longer to get to the same career level. Since they generally had degrees, this made them feel better about themselves without making me look any worse.

    Of course, after I had 5+ years of experience, no one cared any more; I had a resume. But before that I had to fall back on my knowledge, enthusiasm, and portfolio (it helps to have something to point to that you've done and are proud of).

    And it may help you to move somewhere where people are enthusiastic about learning and doing new things. There are better places for this than Hillsborough/Pinellas/Pasco counties (I say this from years of experience).

    Coming soon to a screen near you: Escape from Brooksville!

      Interesting that someone knows their central florida. In that case, the title should be Escape from Zephyrhills. Do you feel my pain now, bikeNomad? (note: I'm not trying to be a jerk, but that's the only way I could think to say that)

      __________________________________________________
      <moviequote name="The Whole Nine Yards">
      Jimmy T: Oz, we're friends, friends do not engage in sexual congress with each others wives.
      </moviequote>

      %mexnix = (email = > "mexnix@hotmail.com", website => "http://mexnix.perlmonk.org");

Formal Education - Not Required, But a Darn Good Idea
by webfiend (Vicar) on Jul 14, 2001 at 02:13 UTC

    I'd like to offer an opinion from another unmotivated loser. The short version is : "Complete a degree as soon as you can, or it'll bug you when you get older."

    First, here's my background. I have a single college class: Art Design I ( good for 5 credits, and only vaguely related to my current position as "Web Developer"). I graduated high school with a glowing 1.7 GPA after spending an extra year learning about this "homework" thing. Unsurprisingly, most of my work history has been dominated by food service.

    Next, the good news. I have spent the last four years (or so) working as an all-around Web guy at various companies in the Pacific Northwest area. This is mostly due to the fact that I have lucky timing, a cooperative personality (apparently quite rare in IT people), and an obsession for programming & computers in general. I am well-paid: last month I took home more than my gross for the entire year of 1997. Of course, that might more of a reflection on what I made as a busboy in 1997 ;-)

    After the good news, is the less pleasant stuff. I have been laid off twice since moving to Seattle in late 1999. I make noticeably less than developers with a piece of paper. My job is good, but I get jittery any time a manager calls for a surprise meeting. I mean, it's usually good news at this company, but still ... you never know.

    Also, there are many huge, embarassing holes in my general CS knowledge. There's a lot of smiling and nodding when I talk to them guys with a phd. I'm all practice and no theory. A few years spent studying computer science with a bunch of other folks would definitely enhance my overall development ability.

    I think that I have been particularly blessed, and recently had to reevaluate my religious feelings. However, I don't think that I can ride forever just on this blessing / lucky streak. I know of few developers my age with no college, and the numbers get smaller as I look farther ahead. Seems they wander off back into food service, or other non-technical work.

    My long-term career may be perfectly safe, with or without a degree. I have no way of knowing the future. I do know that I would be better at my job with formal training. I'm also reasonably sure that I would be a little more confident in interviews if I had something official-looking to back me up.

    You already have an edge over somebody like me, since you have a little bit of (relevant) college. However, you'll probably be asked the same sorts of questions in interviews: "Why didn't you attend / finish college?"

    Of course, I'm going to school this fall, so I can stop nagging myself about this. I wonder how many other 30-year old freshmen I'll be running into?

    Hmmm ... my sig is almost topical here ...

    "All you need is ignorance and confidence; then success is sure." -- Mark Twain
Re: Formal Education Required?
by robsv (Curate) on Jul 14, 2001 at 10:29 UTC
    mexnix;
    My advice? Get the degree. A lot of job postings that I've seen call for a "B.S. or equivalent experience". The experience is kinda hard to come by without previous experience, so you've got your classic "Catch 22" situation. The way to fix it is to get that degree. Not knowing you (or your knowledge), I can't say if the piece of paper will improve your skills (chances are good it will - there's gotta be something they can teach you that you don't know). But here's what the degree will do:
    • Get your foot in the door. ("B.S. or equivalent experience? Got the degree!") When you apply for a job the "traditional way" (just sending in a resume, and not having a friend drop it on the right person's desk), your resume goes to human resources/staffing. They "screen" it vs. the job requirements. If the job calls for a degree and you don't have one, hiring managers will likely never see your resume. If it offers the option of equivalent knowledge (some do), that's hard even for software or IT professionals to gauge, let alone human resources.
    • Show potential employers that you have the level of dedication necessary to stick it out. In the working world, like in school, there's a lot of cases where "You don't have to like it, you just gotta do it." No job is perfect, and you ocassionally have to deal with B.S. (not the degree sort), be it office politics or whatever. Managers know this, and if you come equipped with a degree, they also know that you had to take several classes that may have been a drag and didn't improve your computer knowledge one iota, but did let you get the degree. You'll get points for that.
    • In probably the majority of cases, you'll get more coin if you've got the degree.
    I can sympathize, and wish you luck in your Escape from Zephyrhills. I grew up in Florida myself (Port Charlotte), so I understand the feeling of being stuck in a small town.

    - robsv
Re: Formal Education Required?
by mexnix (Pilgrim) on Jul 14, 2001 at 11:06 UTC
    I thank you all for the great advice. As for me, Escape from Zephyrhills is just in the writing phase. If everything goes well, it will hit somewhere near Oct (coinsidentally the same time my lease runs out), granted we get ample financial backing. Thanks a billion, everyone.

    __________________________________________________
    <moviequote name="The Whole Nine Yards">
    Jimmy T: Oz, we're friends, friends do not engage in sexual congress with each others wives.
    </moviequote>

    %mexnix = (email = > "mexnix@hotmail.com", website => "http://mexnix.perlmonk.org");

(jptxs)Re: Formal Education Required?
by jptxs (Curate) on Jul 14, 2001 at 16:28 UTC
    I left school with a philosophy degree. More amazing than the fact that I got *any* job is the fact that I got into a well-paying and interesting field like computers. Basically, I went to jobs when I was looking that were obviously out of my league on paper. But I would wow them in the interview with pure desire to do the work. That can go a long way.

    If I may, let me tell you a few places to look where they are less strict on qualifications, but will be long on getting exp on that resume:

    • non-profits - can't pay, but man will you work!
    • graveyard tech support
    • small retail/mom&pop ops - often hire the nicest person rather than the best resume

    Hope that helps...

    We speak the way we breathe. --Fugazi

Re: Formal Education Required?
by adamsj (Hermit) on Jul 14, 2001 at 17:36 UTC
    Well, I'm uniquely qualified to comment on this, as I've gone to college off and on for twenty years and still don't even have a high school diploma.

    (Okay, I changed majors, from math to electrical engineering to English and back to math again, so it isn't quite as awful as it sounds.)

    What I learned about algorithms, complexity, the dreaded big-O, the relational database model, compression, error correction, set theory--all that remains very helpful.

    Very little of it was directly applicable--few techniques--but the ways I learned to think about things still serves me well.

    However, I find that I'm also very well served by my good command of the written language. My ability to communicate clearly distinguishes me from other technical people and makes me very, very valuable. It might be that my time as an English major was more valuable than my math and CS courses.

    Now, as far as money is concerned, I've always done alright--I had to spend fifteen months as a Kelly Girl going from $6.50 an hour (on a help desk, answering phones) to $10 an hour (doing remote support), but at the end of it, I was hired into the job I'd been doing at a much higher rate of pay--more than I really needed--and I've been getting much more every time I make a change.

    Really, though, if I were primarily interested in money, I'd be in sales--there's where the cash is. I spent all that time in school learning and doing things that interested me and enriched my life. I still spend as much time as possible doing just exactly that.

    The habits of thought that will serve you well are taught in school, among other places. The techniques you use on the job are mostly learned on the job. The degree will help you, but its lack won't cripple you--if it did, I'd finish those three incomplete courses and take my BS.

    adamsj

    They laughed at Joan of Arc, but she went right ahead and built it. --Gracie Allen

    P.S. Oh, yeah--certs are a joke, unless you want the money they pay you for having them--but it isn't that different from wearing a tie now and then, now, is it?

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