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Re: Autodidact

by Dog and Pony (Priest)
on Apr 17, 2002 at 15:25 UTC ( #159853=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Autodidact

Well, I kind of see myself as an autodidact. That depends a bit on how you see it of course, and if you can "stop" being one. :) I most definetely learned to program on my own ,starting way back on the old commodore C=64. Sitting alone out in the woods, teaching myself first BASIC then assembler by looking at other programs, demos and games. Back in that day it was still reasonable to pull apart a "compiled" program and find out what it did. :)

Lots have happened since then, of course. For one thing, I have been working at real companies as a programmer and developer. I have had the honour to work with people that are a lot more talented and skilled than myself, and I have learned a lot from them - as I try to teach as much I can to those that know less than myself.

This is where I wonder if I am still an autodidact by definition? I still have no schools or degrees in computing, programming or whatever, other than the fact that we did some turtle graphics and COMAL on the old COMPIS computers (the worlds only 186, I am told) in school when I was about 14 or something. I don't think anyone cares. :) But I have been learning stuff from others, not teachers, but collegaues, and some of them more or less mentors - am I still self-taught?

In my own mind, yes. I taught myself to program on my own, and I got a job based on this knowledge, etc. As for what I can and can't - there are of course a lot theoretical stuff and stuff I do not have from a class. That might hurt my progress because I didn't think of a certain approach, on the other hand, I think I think more freely, as I don't have one "right path" that I follow. I might well be wrong. *Grin*

My biggest assets today are really the ability to learn new stuff fast, and the ability to find information on the things I do not know how to do even faster. I guess that comes from the background where you never had anyone to ask if you were stuck - find the answer, noone is gonna help you. My collegaues with 14 on a dozen networking degrees and stuff (everyone should join the IT sector, jump aboard) are simply stunned at what I can find in what time with google. I think it isn't uncommon here, but for them this is magic... and yes, they do use google. They just don't grasp how to sift information, and they can't seem to use it once they get it.

However, give them a school example of some algorithm to solve, and they will crack it in no time. I know who I'd rather be.

This is nothing specific to autodidacts contra degree-people. It just happens to be so at my latest workplace :). In reality, a good programmer is a good programmer no matter how he or she was taught. Just different approaches, and I'd rather have a mix of both, then just either one.

At least here in Sweden though, recruiters have an enourmous craving for pieces of paer. You will probably not get a job without a degree, without lots of luck. I got my first real programming job by a "bet". I bet them that I could learn to program java good enough to do a real work for them in 3 months as an intern. I was apparently good enough, as I won the bet, even though I kinda doubt I was really any good... haha. But they saw I could learn, and learn fast, and they accepted that. At least here (Sweden), it seems programmers, or people that know how the work is done, rarely has anything to do with hiring people. So of course there must be a huge respect for papers. :) Another thing is that it is a Microsoft country, which is bad for a java/perl programmer... but ah well. It should be good for the "certified"... just about anyone who has been unemployed at any time the last five years, that is, whatwith all these unemployment programs in the IT sector. :)

You have moved into a dark place.
It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

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Re: Re: Autodidact
by jepri (Parson) on Apr 17, 2002 at 16:11 UTC
    Cool. I got my first job on a bet. The boss went "You're interesting, but we need someone who knows SQL. Do you think you can learn?"

    "No problem!" I brazenly responded.

    He pushed a stack of paper at me and said "There's the manual. You need to know that by tomorrow."

    I got the job :D

    As you say, I wasn't that good, but I demonstrated I could learn fast enough to catch up... The next day I had to start learning javascript. Three days later I had to start debugging the bash programs. On the job training really meant something, and I loved it.

    I didn't believe in evil until I dated it.

      Really cool! Especially that you got to do lots of different things - I also got to learn javascript, SQL and stuff like that.

      And indeed, on the job training really meant something, it worked and everyone was happy. :) Now I am on a not so happy place, but ah well. It pays the bills.

      It might also be worth mentioning that when I made them that bet, I was employed, and had a reasonable salary. I was head chef at a small town hotel, got along good with everybody, and just at this particular time my boss decided to buy another hotel. He offered me a "name your pay" job to take the whole manager business for the hotel I was on while he focused on the new job. While being trainee meant cutting my income in half while moving to an expensive town. What would you have done?

      In retrospect, I think I did the right move. I love programming. I now make at least as much money as I ever would have as hotel manager. I think. And the proposed new hotel never got bought - partly because I left, but it is possible it would never have happened. And there I would be, still stirring soup and lifting heavy and very warm stuff. Which is fine, just not as fun. :)

      You have moved into a dark place.
      It is pitch black. You are likely to be eaten by a grue.

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