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Re: (OT) Real World Skills Versus CS Skills

by radiantmatrix (Parson)
on Jan 24, 2006 at 15:48 UTC ( #525205=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to (OT) Real World Skills Versus CS Skills

I agree that a theoretical background is no replacement for experience and vice-versa. All too often, hiring managers want people with CS degrees, but have little care about the type of experience these candidates have in the real world. Often enough, people with real-world experience and little or no theory background (like me) are pulled into development because of short-term needs (and/or short-sighted management).

The latter was my experience. I have managed to do pretty decent work despite my lack of theoretical knowledge, and I have put a couple of green CS grads to shame. They've also taught me a few things. I think the real problem comes when your team lacks either theoretical or experiential skills, or when the two skillsets are too proud to listen to and learn from each other.

Unfortunately for me, theory is a little harder to learn independently. I don't believe that's due to the nature of CS theory, but due to a lack of good, accessible, beginner and intermediate CS theoretical materials. I'm always open to learning about key design patterns, standard data structures, etc. -- but it's hard to find that stuff if you don't know exactly what to look for.

<-radiant.matrix->
A collection of thoughts and links from the minds of geeks
The Code that can be seen is not the true Code
I haven't found a problem yet that can't be solved by a well-placed trebuchet


Comment on Re: (OT) Real World Skills Versus CS Skills
Re^2: (OT) Real World Skills Versus CS Skills
by samizdat (Vicar) on Jan 24, 2006 at 16:16 UTC
    hear, hear! I think that there's a real problem in CS (at least, I've sure had one!) with theorists who start by defining their own language and depart from there. If you were not standing on the ground where they created that train station, you will never be able to travel with them. WikiPedia helps a lot; that's the best starting point I know of with its multiple definition links.

    Don Wilde
    "There's more than one level to any answer."
Re^2: (OT) Real World Skills Versus CS Skills
by Ovid (Cardinal) on Jan 24, 2006 at 17:15 UTC

    I have managed to do pretty decent work despite my lack of theoretical knowledge, and I have put a couple of green CS grads to shame.

    That reminds me of the time a CS intern came to work for the summer at a company I was at. He was very, very bright, knew several programming languages and was pretty handy at server administration. When the intern left, he told his father (friends with our boss) that he walked into our company convinced that he knew everything there was to know about programming and was just in college to get the degree. He left us absolutely amazed at what we could do and he was eager to intern with us the next summer. Only one person in our department had a CS degree. The rest of us taught ourselves.

    Cheers,
    Ovid

    New address of my CGI Course.

      He left us absolutely amazed at what we could do and he was eager to intern with us the next summer.

      Something about working with -- or even just talking with -- truly excellent programmers does wonders for one's humility. I can still remember a few questions I've asked right here on PerlMonks which got answers that truly humbled me.

      I think one of the best experiences a novice/intermediate programmer can have is to be humbled by those much better than them. I know it's helped me have a more open mind and pay much more attention to my own design and code. I'll have to remember to ask about those kinds of experiences when next I'm asked to hire developers. ;)

      <-radiant.matrix->
      A collection of thoughts and links from the minds of geeks
      The Code that can be seen is not the true Code
      I haven't found a problem yet that can't be solved by a well-placed trebuchet
      That reminds me of the time a CS intern came to work for the summer at a company I was at. He was very, very bright, knew several programming languages and was pretty handy at server administration. When the intern left, he told his father (friends with our boss) that he walked into our company convinced that he knew everything there was to know about programming and was just in college to get the degree

      I too have had similar experiences. I've also seen the reverse where somebody without "academic" experience has been amazed by how a little type theory / some big O notation / knowledge of a problem being NP-complete, etc. has made solving a problem much simpler.

      What matters is the knowledge. Where you get it? Feh - personally I don't care :-)

      What pisses me off (and I know this is not anywhere close to what Ovid is saying - but since I'm in a mildly ranty mood) is the sheer bigotry of some people, whether from the academic or the industrial side, to what the "opposition" is saying.

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