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Where to begin?

Where to begin?

Where to begin?

(OP)
I need help. I'm still in highschool and I believe the best path for me is to become a programmer. I already know advanced html, average BASIC, and am enthusiastic about beginning c++. I'm a Junior at my school and already taking A.P. Calc, so math skills come naturally to me as does the programming languages so far.

Can someone please tell me what I will need to do, read, or where to go in order to turn this into a career. Thanks to anyone who replies.

RE: Where to begin?

My best advice would be to pursue a B.S. degree in computer science from a reputable university.  I believe that the programming concepts are far more useful than the individual languages.

Also, I would recommend being active socially.  Many of the jobs that people get are because of who they know.  Also, you're young and you need to enjoy these years while they last.

Mostly, I would advise living life right now and not worrying too much about your future career.  Study hard and do well in school, but don't miss out on what's happening now because you're too busy focusing on the future.

 

RE: Where to begin?

wow, I wish I was so young!  I envy you your youth, you have so many opportunities before you!

If programming comes naturally to you (as you allude to in your post) then this is no bad career to follow.  However, I belive that your approach is premature in nature.

Whilst still at high school (presumably in North America) you still have a long way to go, before achieving your first degree.  I presume that you aspire to a professional career, and therefore a Bachelors degree will be essential, and in North America, I believe a masters is highly desirable.

At your age,  binding career decisions are probably not a good idea.  At such a low level of education (just high school) you can remain flexible, and alter your choices, to suit your maturing mind, thinking and experience.  To become locked in to programming right now, is, although not wrong, undesirable - in my opinion.

For example, I have an honours degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering, but am fluent an French and German to boot.  I nearly went in to languages, instead of a science based career, but enjoy both.  I sugges that you keep your options open, and study all subjects equally.   At high school, the academic requirements are so low that this is possible.  However, once you get into tertiary education, this is no longer the case.  Keep your options open, go with what you like (especially members of the opposite sex), get out and get a life, and then worry about academia.

Rant off?

Regards

T

RE: Where to begin?

Wow, Tharg.  Similar advice posted at the same time!  Great minds think alike. smile

RE: Where to begin?


sergarrick,

You said - "Can someone please tell me what I will need to do, read, or where to go in order to turn this into a career."  COLLEGE, like Korngeek said - Go for a BA or BS in MIS, Computer Science or Computer Engineering from a reputable university or a state college!!!

DO IT NOW, when you are done with HS, YOU WILL NEVER REGRET IT!!!!! Careers, jobs and money will follow once you are done with college.

Just some thoughts, hope they help!!!

E.A. Broda
CCNA, CCDA, CCAI, Network +

RE: Where to begin?

(OP)
Thank you guys a lot. Kinda funny but it seems like you guys think I have no life... This isn't the case lol. I have tons of friends and a gf. I am enjoying HS and doing moderatley well. Computers and acting are just major hobbies that I like, and theres no way I'm looking towards becomeing an actor. Thanks again though. Now I have lots to learn about and more to look forward to.

RE: Where to begin?

Quote:

go with what you like (especially members of the opposite sex),

What if what they like isn't members of the opposite sex?

At any rate, if you want a career in development then you definitely need to get at least a B.S. from a reputable university.  Learning C++ is good, and Java has been popular for years and will continue to be so.  As KornGeek pointed out, understanding the concepts is far more important than understanding the syntax.  If you understand programming from a conceptual level then you can learn almost any language relatively easily.

I will take a moment to disagree with Tharg.  If you know what you want to do with your life then the best time to begin to immerse yourself is when you're young.  It's not only easier to learn when you're younger, it's important to get a head start on your competition.  Here's an interesting statistical fact:  it usually takes about 10,000 hours of practice (roughly equivalent to 10 years of heavy practice) before you can reach a truly expert level of proficiency in something.  It doesn't matter if it's programming, playing an instrument, a sport, performing standup comedy or whatever.

The sooner you can start getting experience the more quickly you will achieve your goal.  If you can begin your career path in high school you can be 4-6 years ahead of the competition.  That will make a huge difference when you come out of college and are competing with other graduates for jobs.  Not only will you be more likely to get any given job, but you would be more likely to get the better jobs.

Of course, if it turns out that you're not cut out for development after all, it's better to find out now than when you're in college.  That way you can get on to your true life's calling faster.

________________________________________
CompTIA A+, Network+, Server+, Security+
MCTS:Hyper-V
MCTS:System Center Virtual Machine Manager
MCSE:Security 2003
MCITP:Enterprise Administrator  

RE: Where to begin?

Why not think about military service? Not only will you get hands on experience, you can also achieve a degree, get valuable leadership experience, life skills, and generally a kick in the pants to experience things many will not.

College is not for everyone. Wasn't for me. Found that out after the $7500 1st semester that my parents "forced" me to pay for after I dropped out. I appreciate them doing such, as it made me aware of my own responsibilities. Military service helped me achieve a new level of knowledge, and personal drive.

Military service is not for everyone. Some will be disqualified medically, morally, or for drug/alcohol use.

May I suggest that one of the first things to do before making the decision is talk with your parents, guidance counselors, teachers, coaches, religious counselor, and friends about your thoughts/desires/plans. These individuals are more likely to know you better than anyone, and can help you reach a decision, but do not let them tell you what to do.

 

RE: Where to begin?

I have only been out of HS for 10 years now and I am still young in my professional career. I actually went to college with a different career in mind (psychology) and ended up getting my BA in Computer Science at a State University in NY (SUNY). I fiddled with HTML and some ASP before hand, but never thought of a career doing it. So you are already ahead of me, haha. Now, I am a Lead Java Developer at my current company for one of our biggest projects.

Many points that were made in here are very true. Having a degree from a reputable college will definitely help you out. Businesses out there, especially software companies, know which places are good. I strongly agree that getting a BA/BS in Computer Science would be a great push toward getting a career in development. And since you are a whiz at math, go ahead and do a minor or second major in that. Like mentioned before, the concepts you learn in college are far more important than the language itself. For example, if you learn how a for-loop is used, then you should be able to write that loop in another language easily by simply learning the syntax.

Let me ask you a question to you though. Why did you decide on C++ as the language you are going to program in? Is it because you hear it a lot or because you want to do something specific with it? Do you want to continue with your web development (since you know advanced HTML) or do you want to write desktop applications? These are some things you may want to consider.

Once you figure out what you want to do, then do some research. If you go with Web Development, do you want to use JSP and Servlets? Do you want to learn JSF or ASP.NET? If you want to do application development, what about C#? Or Java? Or VB.NET? Of course, you always have the option of learning more than one of these, haha.

When you figure out what you want to learn, grab an IDE and PRACTICE! Find some tutorials or get a book and go through it. You don't need to wait to be done with college (or even HS for that matter). If you learn some now, you can be ahead of the game.

Last thing... I would recommend reading Head First: Software Development by O'Reilly. This is a great book to learn software development concepts. And I would also recommend reading Head First: Design Patterns.

But the best way to start a career in programming is deciding to do so and have the drive. Which it seems you have already.

I wish you the best of luck!

RE: Where to begin?

all great ideas!  my two cents....look at job boards now, find out how many jobs are open in that field.  who takes those jobs?  are those jobs going to stay in the US?  can those jobs be done remotely?  overseas?  thats awesome you like computers but like everyone said, keep your options open.  maybe find a career that has less abilility to go overseas.  i work in network security and that is something that very rarely is outsourced (i know it is but rarely).

 

RE: Where to begin?

Quote:

Kinda funny but it seems like you guys think I have no life...
In no way did I mean to imply that you have no life.  (Without knowing you, there's no way to tell either way.)  I was just offering general advice that I would offer to anyone your age.

Many of us, as we get older (35 in my case), wish to share the lessons we've learned with the next generation in the hopes that they won't have to make the same mistakes.

The best advice I have to give about life is that I don't regret my failures, only the times where I didn't try.  Let go of fear and go for what you want.  (Especially in romantic pursuits, as Tharg mentioned.)

RE: Where to begin?

There's a big difference in liking to program and being good at it as a hobby, and, doing it professionally. I know a couple of people who are very good at it but they decided that doing it day-in and day-out was not for them. They found it terribly boring as a career.

You may find out in college that you are destined for another career or you really don't like it as much as you think now. So, please keep an open mind as to your future career.

The best of luck to you in your future endeavors.

RE: Where to begin?

Quote:


There's a big difference in liking to program and being good at it as a hobby, and, doing it professionally.

Definitely.  As well, I might add that doing it professionally will take a much different form than doing it personally.  I'd say the time I was doing it that I would spend maybe 20% (at the most) of my time actually doing something that passes as programming.  The rest was dealing with customers (about 15%) and dealing with the typical stuff that you find in business (appeasing management by doing inconsequential paperwork, meetings, the lack of appreciation or value for anything you do from everyone; or other tasks with no purpose or meaning or true value-add to anyone beyond management's entertainment).

sergarrick: The big tip that I wish I gave myself before embarking on this path: Above all I'm saying that taking up a career as a programmer largely doesn't mean doing any real programming as you might think.  You would do well to discover the other 80-90% of a programmer's job and then make sure you can get along with that before you jump on doing this.  If you simply like programming things, going into it professionally will likely not be the best thing for you.

Measurement is not management.

RE: Where to begin?

Quote:

I'd say the time I was doing it that I would spend maybe 20% (at the most) of my time actually doing something that passes as programming.
I think that depends on the size of your company, too. Smaller companies (Mom and Pop Shops) tend to not have all that extra paperwork. I spend maybe 20% of my time not programming. There's a lot more freedom with the smaller companies.

sergarrick: I think it's cool that you have already figured out what you want to do. Be mindful, many of us here didn't start with computers. My first major was Political Science then it was Photo Journalism. I was a mechanic for 5 years before finally settling into programming and going back to get my Associate's Degree. You have a lot of time to figure it all out. I do recommend going to college right out of high school. Going back sucks. Having to work full time and go to school full time is not fun. Enjoy the time you have now, it'll be gone and you'll be punching a clock to make someone else a lot of money.  

--------------------------------------------------
Bluto: What? Over? Did you say "over"? Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? No!
Otter: Germans?
Boon: Forget it, he's rolling.
--------------------------------------------------

RE: Where to begin?

Oh, the other advice I have is to always lift with your knees, not your back.  Also, be kind to your knees (despite making them do the heavy lifting).

When you get to be my age, you'll wish you could go back and undo years of damage.

Not that this has anything to do (directly) with your career goals, but it's advice I wish I could go back and take.

RE: Where to begin?

Another comment: a lot of cutting-edge computing sits on the boundary between IT and another field. For instance, biology needs people who are developing DNA sequence analysis, people developing image analysis software, people developing modelling for complex systems, both chemical pathways and signalling pathways, lots of very interesting problems (to mention just a few). To do this, we need people who have not only IT skills, but also a thorough understanding of the application. People become bioanalysts either by being biologists who take a big interest in IT, or being computer science specialists who are prepared to put the effort in to start to understand biology; both ways are possible.

If you come across any other aspect of science, technology or maths that you enjoy, don't feel that pursuing it will betray your desire to work in IT. A computer specialist with a degree in chemistry can do things that a computer specialist with expertise in networking cannot (and vice versa). The same probably applies outside the sciences, but I wouldn't know.

 

RE: Where to begin?

lionelhill,

I have to agree with you. My friend had an interest in criminal justice and forensics, but also loved programming. So what does he do now? Well, let's just say he can tell you more about a fingerprint than you thought, haha. And he gets paid very well.

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