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Looking for career direction...

Looking for career direction...

Looking for career direction...

(OP)
I'm currently running around like a chicken with no head trying to figure out what the best plan of action is for my career. To make matters worse, when I ask ANYONE for advice, (college councilors, family, friends, etc.) I get a lot of "I'm not sure"s and "I don't really know much about that field". So to all you gurus out there, I would be eternally grateful for ANY advice you can give me. (I apologize, this got rather long)

As it stands now I think I have a pretty solid foundation for web-development, but virtually every single job-opening I've found as a minimum requires one or two skills that I don't have. (ASP.net, Silverlight, C++, C#, MSSQL, Python, Ruby, Perl, Ajax etc.) Currently, it seems my options are:

A: Continue job hunting, gain any work experience I can find (including unpaid), and in my downtime do online tutorials to learn what I can (for free or cheap) about new technologies. I've found that one site, Lynda.com, has some excellent video serieses(plural?). It was actually from there that I learned everything I know about Coldfusion and PHP, so it can be effective.

B: Go through a local community college's (renton technical college) computer science program (it has received an exorbitant amount of praise, and roughly 98% of their graduates get employed immediately). It will be a little pricey ($8000+), and there may be some overlap taught that I might not be able skip (i.e. basic web development classes and the like), but, especially in the second year they seem to get into some really cool, really deep stuff. (ASP.net, C#, and e-commerce related development.)

C: If I act fast, apparently there are some eight month programs being offered at another college (Bellevue College) that I could potentially get into for free due to being a dislocated worker. Unfortunately, there are only two subjects offered. One is for becoming a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (you don't actually get certified, but it prepares you for the exam(s)), which from what I can gather deals a lot with networking technology. The other delves deep into database management and prepares students to become database administrators.

I've done some homework and according to craig's list, most of the jobs that deal with network technology require an obscene amount of work experience, or a bachelor's degree at the least, leading me to believe that the MCSE program isn't really for me. I also could find no postings what-so-ever looking for database administrators, so that, coupled with the fact that databases aren't extremely interesting to me, makes me lean away from entering that program.

If we're going by what interests me, I really am starting to like server-side programming (PHP, Coldfusion, etc.) and would love to ultimately become some kind of programming super-guru that can program everything from flash games to accounting software. The only thing that would derail me from that is money. For example if being a database administrator DID mean I made a fair amount more money than say, a web developer or software engineer, I would have no qualms about "learning to love" to databases and SQL.

Again, any input, comments, or general life advice, would be extremely appreciated. Thanks!

RE: Looking for career direction...

If databases don't interest you, then stay away from that program, as doing work in something you aren't interested in is a sure way to burn out.  That said if you are going to be doing web programming, you'll need to learn about databases as they are where all your data will be stored.

Go for the programming jobs that you have found.  They don't actually expect you to have everything on the list, especially when you are starting out.  If you've got most of it, and are able to pick up new tech pretty quickly you'll be fine.  When they ask if you know a tech that you don't, tell them that you haven't had a need for it yet, but you'll be happy to learn it and use it as needed.

If you do want to get some great SQL training for not much (since you happen to be in Washington) there's a SQL Server conference happening in November in Seattle.  The website is http://summit2009.sqlpass.org/.

Denny
MVP
MCSA (2003) / MCDBA (SQL 2000)
MCTS (SQL 2005 / SQL 2005 BI / SQL 2008 DBA / SQL 2008 DBD / SQL 2008 BI / MWSS 3.0: Configuration / MOSS 2007: Configuration)
MCITP (SQL 2005 DBA / SQL 2008 DBA / SQL 2005 DBD / SQL 2008 DBD / SQL 2005 BI / SQL 2008 BI)

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