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Old 12-06-2012, 01:25 PM   #176
Go_Blue
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Originally Posted by Biggle10 View Post
Since this is a poker forum you get the poker answer. It depends. What kind of programming job are you looking for?
Well this is the big question that I haven't been able to answer. Right now my answer is more "I want to have a versatile skill set that will make me very marketable to many different types of employers, and continuously develop my skills so that what I'm good at never becomes obsolete."

Obviously I need to simplify/improve that answer. If you had to divide the category "Programming jobs," into 5 different categories what would they be? For example, Web Development, Front End stuff, Back End stuff, Mobile, something language specific, could be 5 categories. If I can divide the possibilities into categories, I should be able to narrow my focus on general categories that interest me.

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Originally Posted by PJo336 View Post
Learn Java EE, it goes well with the background you get in Java syntax in the classes and almost every Java job wants you to know it
Thansk, I'll look into it.

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Originally Posted by daveT View Post
I think every new programmer goes through the candy store faze. I know I was in it. Honestly, I think you should stick with what your professors are teaching you right now. It will definitely help you in your later classes to be excellent at whatever they are teaching you in. If your next class is in Python or something, I would introduce that to myself instead.

Right now, focusing on what some unknown employer wants when you are still so new doesn't sound like an optimal strategy when there are still so many basic concepts to learn. Languages are like religion. Spending time to learn some new language is cool and all, but it has to come from the correct place, which is not to impress other people, but to learn a new tool because the desire burns too strongly to ignore, or you hate working in Java so much that you need to see something else keep your sanity intact. You can't reasonably predict what kind of employer you are likely to face in the future, unless you really are dead-set on working at a Java + MS house.
I wouldn't classify wanting to learn new languages as a desire to impress people; more, as a desire to be very valuable to people. Also, right now I just think it's so cool that I can learn whatever I want given my current fundamentals. That's not to say I will become an expert at everything; that is to say, I can understand random lectures/tutorials and do practice problems in any language. That is a huge improvement from where I was a year ago.

One hard thing is to classify when you're a beginner, an intermediate, or an expert and what separates the jumps in each classification. Obviously I am not an expert in Java yet, but I hope I am move towards having an intermediate skill level. According to my school I am an intermediate, but then when I work on the "intermediate" problems on a site like this http://www.codechef.com/, it turns out that maybe I'm not quite there.

Overall, classifications of skill level are irrelevant, but they provide a great goal model. And setting goals and going after them is what I thrive on. So, I'd like to be able to say "Ok, you've learned x,y,z concepts but you need to learn a,b,c,d and then you can consider yourself an intermediate." That type of thing helps me focus and reassures me that I'm heading in the right direction.
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Old 12-06-2012, 02:53 PM   #177
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Does anyone have any thoughts on VBA in terms of value to an employer? I started learning it this morning, and it seems like it's very easy to pick up. However, is it worth spending a month getting really good at it?

I am putting most of my effort into getting good at Java and C, but it seems like there's so many other "specialty" languages out there that it's tough to narrow down a strict focus. There's so much to learn. It seems like I'm turning into a child that gets distracted by shiny things...every day I see a new shiny thing and think "oh wow, ok, I'll learn that," and then the next day there's an even shinier thing and then I'm like "Ok, well lets learn that... here's so many videos on that subject, this is great!!" etc

Obviously, this is not a productive/efficient/optimal way to go about things.
You'll get my "lol this dude sounds like a dick" answer. VBA is something I'd expect a good business dude to master not a programmer (at least not explicitly, I'd expect them to pick it up on the fly if need be).

I would never hire someone that applies for a programming job and has VBA expert as one of his big items. But I'm very biased against the entire Microsoft technology stack in general.

[I'm also about to oversee a VBA based paper by a student...something I don't exactly look forward to but at least it's mildly interesting due to the Markov chains]

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I wouldn't classify wanting to learn new languages as a desire to impress people; more, as a desire to be very valuable to people.
If you worry about programming jobs don't add more bling (language X,Y,Z) to your CV add finished projects. Doesn't matter what they are or what language they are written in. Finished projects trump everything else by a landslide. The more projects you have finished the more valuable you'll be.

Last edited by clowntable; 12-06-2012 at 03:00 PM.
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Old 12-06-2012, 08:29 PM   #178
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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You'll get my "lol this dude sounds like a dick" answer. VBA is something I'd expect a good business dude to master not a programmer (at least not explicitly, I'd expect them to pick it up on the fly if need be).

I would never hire someone that applies for a programming job and has VBA expert as one of his big items. But I'm very biased against the entire Microsoft technology stack in general.

[I'm also about to oversee a VBA based paper by a student...something I don't exactly look forward to but at least it's mildly interesting due to the Markov chains]


If you worry about programming jobs don't add more bling (language X,Y,Z) to your CV add finished projects. Doesn't matter what they are or what language they are written in. Finished projects trump everything else by a landslide. The more projects you have finished the more valuable you'll be.
Hmmm interesting, thanks. I started experimenting with putting random languages on my online resumes just to see if it increased the amount of times it appeared in searches, and while certain ones did cause more recruiters to view my resume, none of them contacted me. But that makes sense after reading your explanation. haha good use of the term "bling"...I suppose that is what I was doing.
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Old 12-08-2012, 03:06 AM   #179
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Originally Posted by Go_Blue View Post
Well this is the big question that I haven't been able to answer. Right now my answer is more "I want to have a versatile skill set that will make me very marketable to many different types of employers, and continuously develop my skills so that what I'm good at never becomes obsolete."

Obviously I need to simplify/improve that answer. If you had to divide the category "Programming jobs," into 5 different categories what would they be? For example, Web Development, Front End stuff, Back End stuff, Mobile, something language specific, could be 5 categories. If I can divide the possibilities into categories, I should be able to narrow my focus on general categories that interest me.
Hey there,

I'd classify programming jobs into the following categories:

System architects - Entrusted with building and maintaining entire large programming systems of high value. Must be highly productive and also capable of managing teams of programmers.

Industry specialists - Responsible largely for implementing industry specific logic. Expected to be able to communicate effectively with domain experts and be familiar with technologies that may be specific to the industry.

Technology specialists - I think this encompasses all five of your categories. These are jobs where familiarity with specific technologies and/or specific niche within a technology stack is essential.

System programmers - Strong grasp of fundamentals and sufficiently well-developed skills to be able to design and implement at a very high level, but not enough experience, especially in terms of working with large teams, maintaining large, scalable systems. Think entry/mid-level general hires at Google or Microsoft type of companies.

Junior programmers - People who can program, but not strong enough in any dimension to be qualified for the previous four categories.
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Old 12-08-2012, 03:18 AM   #180
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Does anyone have any thoughts on VBA in terms of value to an employer?
This depends heavily on what kind of programmer you want to be. There are some jobs/companies/industries where this is incredibly valuable (some specific areas within finance) and others (say Silicon Valley startups using open source technologies) where even having it on your resume may invite disdain.

In general, if you're a good programmer in Java and C and understand their semantics inside out, VBA is a boring, limited language with slightly weird (and not in a useful way) semantics and syntax that you can be pick up and be productive in a couple of days. But if you want to do interesting things in VBA, you have know the language AND understand the host application's capabilities well, whether Excel, Access, Word or others, and that's going to take more time. And whether learning Excel, Access, Word or whatever well enough is valuable isn't anything anyone here can answer without know what kinds of jobs you're looking at, but in general, it is far more useful in a business analyst/programmer combo role than pure developer roles in most industries.
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:42 PM   #181
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

As a developer, i feel your pain. College is a scam imo.

As a hiring manager, I see you as a really expensive noobie. Sorry, but real world development just doesn't correlate that great with what you learn in University. You're better than a candidate with no degree and no experience, but I'll take the highschool dropout with even just 2 years in the field over somebody in your position.
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Old 12-10-2012, 10:20 AM   #182
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Originally Posted by deafeye View Post
As a developer, i feel your pain. College is a scam imo.

As a hiring manager, I see you as a really expensive noobie. Sorry, but real world development just doesn't correlate that great with what you learn in University. You're better than a candidate with no degree and no experience, but I'll take the highschool dropout with even just 2 years in the field over somebody in your position.
Ok, but this is only really relevant if you are representative of the hiring practices in the types of places OP wants to work, and we have no idea if this is the case.
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Old 12-10-2012, 11:42 AM   #183
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Originally Posted by deafeye View Post
As a developer, i feel your pain. College is a scam imo.

As a hiring manager, I see you as a really expensive noobie. Sorry, but real world development just doesn't correlate that great with what you learn in University. You're better than a candidate with no degree and no experience, but I'll take the highschool dropout with even just 2 years in the field over somebody in your position.
Thanks from the post, it is good to hear negative perspectives in order to give me the full picture of what to expect. I know some people think that way which is why an internship will be important.

From a hiring manager's perspective (maybe others can chime in), how does it work in terms of your incentives? How long does an employee have to stay at a company to be considered a "successful" hire? If he quits does that reflect badly on you? If he's fired that definitely reflects badly on you. Does the 6 month review of a new hire play a role in your your superiors' review of you? Ie- if he has a great review, that makes you look good; if he has a bad review, that makes you look questionable?

I'm not sure if those are the right questions; but it would be interesting to understand how hiring managers look at things in terms of protecting their own jobs/getting bonuses, etc.
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Old 12-11-2012, 09:58 PM   #184
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

Usually in dev companies hiring managers are also programmers or director types who were former programmers. Project managers and product managers aren't responsible for hiring programmers usually. So the hiring manager are ultimately judged on the final product their teams produce.

I think you are confusing hiring managers with corporate recruiters. Those guys who originally bring you in are judged based on those factors you mentioned.
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Old 12-12-2012, 05:20 PM   #185
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Originally Posted by candybar View Post
Hey there,

I'd classify programming jobs into the following categories:

System architects - Entrusted with building and maintaining entire large programming systems of high value. Must be highly productive and also capable of managing teams of programmers.

Industry specialists - Responsible largely for implementing industry specific logic. Expected to be able to communicate effectively with domain experts and be familiar with technologies that may be specific to the industry.

Technology specialists - I think this encompasses all five of your categories. These are jobs where familiarity with specific technologies and/or specific niche within a technology stack is essential.

System programmers - Strong grasp of fundamentals and sufficiently well-developed skills to be able to design and implement at a very high level, but not enough experience, especially in terms of working with large teams, maintaining large, scalable systems. Think entry/mid-level general hires at Google or Microsoft type of companies.

Junior programmers - People who can program, but not strong enough in any dimension to be qualified for the previous four categories.
Ahh thanks, that will be very helpful for me going forward.

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Originally Posted by candybar View Post
This depends heavily on what kind of programmer you want to be. There are some jobs/companies/industries where this is incredibly valuable (some specific areas within finance) and others (say Silicon Valley startups using open source technologies) where even having it on your resume may invite disdain.

In general, if you're a good programmer in Java and C and understand their semantics inside out, VBA is a boring, limited language with slightly weird (and not in a useful way) semantics and syntax that you can be pick up and be productive in a couple of days. But if you want to do interesting things in VBA, you have know the language AND understand the host application's capabilities well, whether Excel, Access, Word or others, and that's going to take more time. And whether learning Excel, Access, Word or whatever well enough is valuable isn't anything anyone here can answer without know what kinds of jobs you're looking at, but in general, it is far more useful in a business analyst/programmer combo role than pure developer roles in most industries.
I agree that VBA is more boring than Java and C (also much easier). Some of the tutorials out there are pretty cool though in that you can see immediate improvements in yourself. I've used Excel for who knows how long and now I can do all sorts of random things. Although I showed my wife a really basic macro where you highlight a cell, click a button that you attached your macro to, and the cell becomes red...and she was not nearly as amused as I was...haha

Your point regarding potentially causing developers to roll their eyes if they see something related to VBA is interesting and probably true. Actually I was experimenting with including this in the first line of my technical proficiences: • Proficient in Java, Advanced in Excel including writing Macros

But now I think at the very least I will move Excel related skills to the very end as opposed to what people see first. As an aside, when I included Excel searchable terms in my resume, I appeared close to twice as often in people's searches; but that is sort of useless in that most of those jobs they're trying to fill are likely not what I am going after.

Anyway, thanks for your detailed post. I will reference it going forward.
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Old 12-21-2012, 11:23 PM   #186
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Currently I'm taking a Computational Investing Course on Coursera just for the fun of it and to get some practice using Python.
I'm enrolled in that course too, but haven't really done anything in it yet. I don't like the deadline oriented style of Coursera. I'd much rather work at my own pace.

Have you found the class beneficial? I'm sure it will be, but I found it odd being a finance course but using Python. From reading forums/articles it seemed like most banks used C+ and a little Java.

My plan right now is to just download the lectures and check out stuff on my own time as I can.
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Old 12-22-2012, 01:20 PM   #187
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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I'm enrolled in that course too, but haven't really done anything in it yet. I don't like the deadline oriented style of Coursera. I'd much rather work at my own pace.

Have you found the class beneficial? I'm sure it will be, but I found it odd being a finance course but using Python. From reading forums/articles it seemed like most banks used C+ and a little Java.

My plan right now is to just download the lectures and check out stuff on my own time as I can.
That class is below average. He never teaches you about python or how to apply it to what he wants you to do. You'll get some general knowledge about portfolio optimization and hedge fund strategies though, which is interesting to me because when I was trading i always wondered how the big players were looking at things.

Also, the professor was a fighter jet pilot which is awesome. But he is not awesome at all.
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Old 12-24-2012, 12:15 PM   #188
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Originally Posted by ThaHero View Post
I'm enrolled in that course too, but haven't really done anything in it yet. I don't like the deadline oriented style of Coursera. I'd much rather work at my own pace.

Have you found the class beneficial? I'm sure it will be, but I found it odd being a finance course but using Python. From reading forums/articles it seemed like most banks used C+ and a little Java.

My plan right now is to just download the lectures and check out stuff on my own time as I can.
C++/Java and C# are all common in finance. However most of financial programming is very mathematical/numerical so it makes sense to learn the fundamentals in python. You can always reimplement in C++ once you learn the concept (and it's actually a good exercise because porting code is not trivial between the languages) .
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Old 01-28-2013, 02:56 PM   #189
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

Go_Blue...I'm considering a career switch and looking into CS programs in Chicago. Like yourself, my bachelors is in a completely unrelated field (Journalism). Seeing as you have already gone through the process, I'm hoping I could pick your brain to help determine which program would be best for me. Any chance you'd be willing to meet me for a beer (on me of course) and chat about your experience so far with the program at DePaul? I just joined this forum, and I don't see how to direct message users, so I hope this post isn't out of place. Thanks in advance whether or not you can help...I've read through pretty much your entire story on here and it's been very inspirational!
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Old 01-28-2013, 06:55 PM   #190
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Go_Blue...I'm considering a career switch and looking into CS programs in Chicago. Like yourself, my bachelors is in a completely unrelated field (Journalism). Seeing as you have already gone through the process, I'm hoping I could pick your brain to help determine which program would be best for me. Any chance you'd be willing to meet me for a beer (on me of course) and chat about your experience so far with the program at DePaul? I just joined this forum, and I don't see how to direct message users, so I hope this post isn't out of place. Thanks in advance whether or not you can help...I've read through pretty much your entire story on here and it's been very inspirational!
Share what ya learn, cuz I'm curious about it too haha
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Old 02-11-2013, 04:36 PM   #191
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

So my classes this quarter have gotten very tough. In my Systems Class I wrote a Unix Shell in C which took forever but is finally fully functional. It had to pass 17 tests, and I got it to pass the 17th at the end of the Super Bowl... so my neighbors probably think I'm a huge Ravens fan because I was running around cheering. If anyone is interested, I can post some code samples of it. Signals are pretty cool.

My Data Structures Class (Algorithms) is extremely challenging. I am developing a foundation in Linked Lists, Queues, Stacks, and other ADT's and a semi-decent understanding of recursive functions. However, where I really feel off is during Algorithmic Analysis where you have to figure out the constant in the order of growth. For example, Big O of two functions may be N squared, but one could have a much larger constant that causes it to have a longer run time. My non-math background is coming into play here since I barely (arguably don't) remember Geometric series, quadratic equations, etc.

Below is an example of one I worked out after going to Office Hours:

Quote:
for (int n=N; n>0; n/=2)
for (int i =0; i<n*2; i++)
sum ++;

What is the order of growth constant?

1. Outer Loop: N, N/2, N/4....
2. Inner Loop: 2N, N, N/2....1

2N + N + N/2....+1 = Total Run Time

2(N + N/2 + N/4 + .....+1)
2N(1+ 1/2 + 1/4 +....+ 1/N)

We can see here that this is similar to a Geometric series.

Geometric Series use the following equation: a((1-r^n) / (1-r))

So...

2N((1-1/2^LogN)/(1-1/2)
= N((1-1/N)/ (1-1/2))
= N-1/(r/2)
=2(N-1)

2(2(N-1) = 4N-4.
Does anyone have any recommendations on how I can build a stronger foundation to figure out these problems more quickly? I'm not even sure of what to google as if you google "Algorithmic Analysis," or anything similar, it all gets very advanced very fast. I want to start by building a foundation and then I'll give the advanced stuff a shot. I recently watched YouTube videos of quadratic equations and Geometric series. haha I think one of them was made by a 10 year old.

Anyway this is my next project in my Systems class: http://condor.depaul.edu/glancast/37...lab_w2013.html

If anyone is reading this is in my class, I'm the 28 year old who always wears Michigan sweat shirts.

Virtual memory is incredible and I'm looking forward to tackling this. I think having a good understanding of how memory works has helped me with implementing Data Structures and Object Oriented programming in general.
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Old 02-11-2013, 08:12 PM   #192
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

How cheap can one get a masters in CS? I feel like it's gotta be a pretty expensive degree, but maybe I'm wrong...
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Old 02-11-2013, 11:56 PM   #193
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Does anyone have any recommendations on how I can build a stronger foundation to figure out these problems more quickly? I'm not even sure of what to google as if you google "Algorithmic Analysis," or anything similar, it all gets very advanced very fast. I want to start by building a foundation and then I'll give the advanced stuff a shot. I recently watched YouTube videos of quadratic equations and Geometric series. haha I think one of them was made by a 10 year old.
Get a decent textbook on discrete math. Also, a lot of Calculus textbooks will start with sequences and series.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:06 AM   #194
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

Oh man, that storage allocator sucked the most, gl. The final project for me and Im guessing you is a web proxy, which is pretty complicated as well but very awesome when its working.
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Old 02-12-2013, 12:09 AM   #195
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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How cheap can one get a masters in CS? I feel like it's gotta be a pretty expensive degree, but maybe I'm wrong...
I've know people who finished in two semesters. 15 units each semester and a comp test. So about $7000 total.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:36 AM   #196
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Oh man, that storage allocator sucked the most, gl. The final project for me and Im guessing you is a web proxy, which is pretty complicated as well but very awesome when its working.
If making an http proxy is difficult then the class is being taught in the wrong language. It's a 5min solution for a fully working but fairly naive solution (which is what most academic projects end up being).

Maybe 10 or 15 lines of code.
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:02 AM   #197
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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If making an http proxy is difficult then the class is being taught in the wrong language. It's a 5min solution for a fully working but fairly naive solution (which is what most academic projects end up being).

Maybe 10 or 15 lines of code.
I think the idea is more to learn about systems programming than to just get working projects quickly.
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Old 02-12-2013, 10:40 AM   #198
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Thanks from the post, it is good to hear negative perspectives in order to give me the full picture of what to expect. I know some people think that way which is why an internship will be important.

From a hiring manager's perspective (maybe others can chime in), how does it work in terms of your incentives? How long does an employee have to stay at a company to be considered a "successful" hire? If he quits does that reflect badly on you? If he's fired that definitely reflects badly on you. Does the 6 month review of a new hire play a role in your your superiors' review of you? Ie- if he has a great review, that makes you look good; if he has a bad review, that makes you look questionable?

I'm not sure if those are the right questions; but it would be interesting to understand how hiring managers look at things in terms of protecting their own jobs/getting bonuses, etc.
I'very been a software developer for a long time I'm expensive you're not. You have shown a lot of interest and enthusiasm in tackling software development issues. Given not too much time there's a high probability that you will become quite productive in software development for a particular company. You're definitely worth the risk of being hired as a full time employee.

I'm just trying to give you a perspective about how companies look at prospects. At every step of the way in the hiring process you to ned to communicate your genuine enthusiasm and excitement. It goes without saying your knowledge as well. How present yourself at least needs to be somewhat polished.

Studies on software development have shown that the gap between the most productive developers and the least is really, really wide. To me the perfect hire is someone that is new (thus less expensive), can "come up to speed" in a hurry, shows a willingness to think through problems, and is excited about what they do.
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:17 PM   #199
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

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Originally Posted by Shoe Lace View Post
If making an http proxy is difficult then the class is being taught in the wrong language. It's a 5min solution for a fully working but fairly naive solution (which is what most academic projects end up being).

Maybe 10 or 15 lines of code.
If only class assignments were "Throw together something quickly in whatever language you please." Thatd be sweet!

What an odd post to make in a thread about a guy trying to work his way through a graduate degree with no experience. "HA IM A MUCH BETTER PROGRAMMER THAN YOU!" Kool?
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Old 02-12-2013, 09:23 PM   #200
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Re: Masters In Comp Sci With No Prior Experience

Nah, lately I've been finding a lot of value in learning things that are extremely practical. I guess it was more of a "if something seems over the top difficult, don't forget you can often find that the problem has been solved elsewhere".

It did come off with a stupid tone though, I'll apologize for that.
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