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Tell me about a career in computer science please! Thanks!
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TranquilityAndPeace




 
 
 


Post  Sun, Sep 22 2013, 11:45 pm
After months of soul searching and thinking and researching, I'm leaning heavily towards going to school for a degree in computer science.

What can you tell me about this field? Any specific sites that would be helpful as I sort out where to start?

Thanks in advance Very Happy
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amother






Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 12:00 am
It's a broad topic. Let's start with a few questions to uncover areas to talk about.

1. What is it that appeals to you about this field?

2. Are you interested in programming, security, network management, quality assurance, or something else?

3. What experience do you already have in this area? What did you like about it? What did you not like about it?

4. What is your ideal work environment?

5. What is your ideal work schedule?



It can be a lucrative field, but if you hate it you'll *really* hate it.
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TranquilityAndPeace




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 12:16 am
amother wrote:
It's a broad topic. Let's start with a few questions to uncover areas to talk about.

1. What is it that appeals to you about this field?

2. Are you interested in programming, security, network management, quality assurance, or something else?

3. What experience do you already have in this area? What did you like about it? What did you not like about it?

4. What is your ideal work environment?

5. What is your ideal work schedule?



It can be a lucrative field, but if you hate it you'll *really* hate it.


Thank you, amother.

1. I like accomplishing things in front of the computer. Dealing with people excessively drains me.

2. I have no clue! How on earth would I figure out which one would appeal to me?

3. I taught myself the basics of html and some php in order to build web sites. I liked accomplishing things using the computer. I hated getting stuck, but I never took any kind of formal class. OTOH, when I got stuck, I often was able to google my answer - or if it was too complex, simply hire someone from a site like elance to do the complex task for me.

4. A comfy chair and nice desk. I'd love to work at home in order to save time commuting, and avoid wearing a sheitel for hours on end, which gives me a headache.

5. I'm thinking 9-5.
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Hydrangea




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 11:44 am
I too am considering a "mid-life" career change to computer science. I have been searching for months trying to figure out what school to go to (online only) and to see what is offered under computer science. It seems that different programs offer different specialties.

By the way T&P, your answers to the questions by amother are exactly the way I would answer except #5!
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TranquilityAndPeace




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 1:29 pm
Hydrangea wrote:
I too am considering a "mid-life" career change to computer science. I have been searching for months trying to figure out what school to go to (online only) and to see what is offered under computer science. It seems that different programs offer different specialties.

By the way T&P, your answers to the questions by amother are exactly the way I would answer except #5!


Hi Hydrangea,

Do you want to message me the info you've discovered during your research? I've only decided to pursue this earlier this month, and due to yom tov, haven't done much research yet!

Are there any computer imamothers here??
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amother






Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 1:47 pm
I'm a computer imamother.
I am so glad I got into computer programming in college.
I got my bachelors and then while working at my first job (in the 1980s when the market was still pretty new and the field very open) I got my masters paid for by my company.
It is and was one of the few potentially wonderful careers that you need no more than a BA (or other similar degree).
I have found that jobs are less secure now but if you find a first job and use it to maximize your knowledge (I was lucky to be able to teach myself VB.NET and then C#.NET on the job) you should be able to find a new one after a short search.
The well-paying jobs are most often full time. You often cannot work from home at first but as you build trust perhaps a kind boss might allow one day a week and go from there.
What else did you want to know?

I should add one more thing - I agree very strongly with the above idea that you either hate it or love it. I LOVE programming and troubleshooting and finding solutions as long as my boss is not breathing down my back. I know a number of people that have taken lengthy courses and invested in laptops for school and found at the end that they couldn't stand programming, did not have the patience for it and really could not figure out how to write a correct program. You also have to be OK with having a very-not-people-oriented job (though of course you will have to work with co-workers, teams, etc...)
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e1234




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 2:40 pm
I am a computer programmer - I learned it 16 years ago and I have been programming for 14 years.

I really enjoy programming (I do mostly web and database programming) I love learning new things which you have to like with computers as things are always changing.

I work freelance which has it's plusses and minus's
I hate collecting money - I think I would prefer a company where I just do the programming but in the meantime it's working for me to do the project management and programming and I've developed myself a freelance business boruch hashem that I can work around my kids
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amother






Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 3:04 pm
I worked as a computer programmer 1985-1989 - I have a BA and I absolutely loved it and I was very good at it (don't mean to sound like I'm bragging, but it''s the type of thing that some people are good at and some aren't - like math, You really must have a natural ability for programming)

But I took a break when I started having kids and it was too hard to get back into (everything changed - I can't seem to grasp what OOP is but I didn't actually take a course - just online so maybe that's why)

I miss it, but think it was a terrible career choice (college right after HS) - It's a full time + career. I really can't imagine working so many hours with a family. If your kids are grown (or close to) itmay be possible but only if you want to work so many hours - it's always more than 9-5

r
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bigsis144




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 3:09 pm
I nearly completed a B.A. in computer science (I changed my major at the last minute). I'm sure that if I'd gotten a good job right away that used my skills, I would have stayed in the field, but most of my jobs were just "computer-ish" (I did tech support for a software company, minor SQL database management and some html/css/wordpress stuff) and I realized I don't like computer science enough to have to keep teaching myself new things to stay current.

And I definitely realized that as much as I thought I'm an introvert who would rather sit in front of a screen than deal with people, working from home was NOT for me. I became starved for adult interaction.
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TranquilityAndPeace




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 3:31 pm
Thanks for responding, black and green amothers, and e1234 and bigsis!

Would any of you who are currently working in programming tell me which languages I should start off learning?

If I liked working with html to create web pages, do you think I'd like this - I.e. is it a similar type of work?

How could someone predict whether they'll love or hate it?

If any of you would want to email me (anonymously if you prefer), I'd love to chat - ellen at helpellen dot com.

Are there any sites that would be helpful?

How could I learn something that is least likely to be shipped offshore; aren't a lot of these jobs going to India?

Thanks so much Smile
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BlueRose52




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 3:46 pm
What most people here are talking about is computer programming, not computer science.

Computer programming and computer science, while often related, do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. It's like the relationship between being a mechanic and and being an automotive engineer. Most people who do computer programming these days (oftentimes even those with CS degrees), do not do anything remotely related to real computer-science. They typically do websites, typical business applications (customer management, order processing, inventory, etc.), database applications, financial data reporting, etc. This stuff, while still requiring serious technical skills in the computer programming field, is not really computer science. Computer science is much more heavily math and science oriented, such as 3D graphics, physics simulations, scientific data analysis, image processing, pattern recognition, machine learning (what used to be known as artificial intelligence), cryptography, distributed computing, algorithm optimizations, robotics, etc. This sort of stuff requires a very solid grounding in advanced math (e.g. calculus, linear algebra, logic, number theory, differential equations, combinatorics, etc.). In some ways it's much more focused on the science part of the "computer science", than the computer part. (In point of fact, the field of computer science existed long before modern day computers ever existed.)

If you're good at math, then computer science might be a good path. But you can become an excellent computer programmer without knowing any of the heavy math that is required in a computer science degree. If that's what you want, I would suggest you look more for something classified as software development, or specifically "programming". Otherwise, if you just want to do code, you might end up spending a lot of your time and energy studying areas that you have no need for.

I'd suggest you dip your toe in the water by trying out any of the many online introductions to computer programming and computer science, for instance https://www.khanacademy.org/cs/programming has great programming tutorials, and they also have sections on actual computer science, such as https://www.khanacademy.org/ma.....ptography. See if you can work through some of these sections and how they appeal to you.

Some other good sites for learning to code are:
http://codehs.com/
http://www.codecademy.com/
http://scratch.mit.edu/

Good luck!
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bigsis144




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 4:07 pm
BlueRose52 wrote:
What most people here are talking about is computer programming, not computer science.

Computer programming and computer science, while often related, do not necessarily go hand-in-hand. It's like the relationship between being a mechanic and and being an automotive engineer. Most people who do computer programming these days (oftentimes even those with CS degrees), do not do anything remotely related to real computer-science. They typically do websites, typical business applications (customer management, order processing, inventory, etc.), database applications, financial data reporting, etc. This stuff, while still requiring serious technical skills in the computer programming field, is not really computer science. Computer science is much more heavily math and science oriented, such as 3D graphics, physics simulations, scientific data analysis, image processing, pattern recognition, machine learning (what used to be known as artificial intelligence), cryptography, distributed computing, algorithm optimizations, robotics, etc. This sort of stuff requires a very solid grounding in advanced math (e.g. calculus, linear algebra, logic, number theory, differential equations, combinatorics, etc.). In some ways it's much more focused on the science part of the "computer science", than the computer part. (In point of fact, the field of computer science existed long before modern day computers ever existed.)

If you're good at math, then computer science might be a good path. But you can become an excellent computer programmer without knowing any of the heavy math that is required in a computer science degree. If that's what you want, I would suggest you look more for something classified as software development, or specifically "programming". Otherwise, if you just want to do code, you might end up spending a lot of your time and energy studying areas that you have no need for.

I'd suggest you dip your toe in the water by trying out any of the many online introductions to computer programming and computer science, for instance https://www.khanacademy.org/cs/programming has great programming tutorials, and they also have sections on actual computer science, such as https://www.khanacademy.org/ma.....ptography. See if you can work through some of these sections and how they appeal to you.

Some other good sites for learning to code are:
http://codehs.com/
http://www.codecademy.com/
http://scratch.mit.edu/

Good luck!


Eeyup. Yes
Well said!
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amother






Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 4:30 pm
BlueRose52 wrote:
What most people here are talking about is computer programming, not computer science.

Computer programming and computer science, while often related, do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.


I am the first amother - black.
I understand the point you are trying to make but it is also misleading. Computer programming and computer science are never unrelated.

Computer Science is the umbrella term for the science of all things computer-related: include networking, database management, programming, web design, etc...
Programming can be scientific or business-related.
I worked for defense contractors creating algorithms for the Trident Submarine, financial companies coding profit/loss calculations, real estate firms developing web surveys and a small firm developing hand-held devices creating web applications but I always was a programmer. Sometimes my title was software engineer, sometimes it was software developer and sometimes senior programmer.
The difference was solely in the business and type of application I was developing.

Some scientific "programmers" do indeed bristle at being called a programmer when they would prefer software engineer, systems engineer, software developer... but they are all programmers underneath it all.
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BlueRose52




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 4:47 pm
amother wrote:
BlueRose52 wrote:
What most people here are talking about is computer programming, not computer science.
Computer programming and computer science, while often related, do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.

I understand the point you are trying to make but it is also misleading. Computer programming and computer science are never unrelated.

I'd agree that they USUALLY aren't unrelated, but they are indeed sometimes. I had CS professors in college who were experts in their field, but never coded at all. They didn't even allow questions about practical coding when it came to their lectures. They taught (and researched) pure CS, which (in their approach) didn't at all have to be tied to actual computer programming. To them, it was like solving puzzles (which it is). And I had friends who went into the field because they wanted to pursue the same theoretical approach to CS and had no interest in ever coding.

In any case, it's not really important if it's never or sometimes related. Or what exactly the title of CS includes. The main point I was making was that I think it's important to know if you want to just do mainstream business coding or you want to do more scientific/math applications. Because if you don't have an interest in the math stuff, it's important to not pursue a degree that has a focus in that (as most CS degrees do). I know people who wanted to do just programming and resented all the math and science they had to deal with when pursuing their CS degree. Just know (to the best of your ability) what areas you want to get into, what you're good at, and how exactly a particular program or career fits in with those goals.
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BlueRose52




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 4:54 pm
A much more detailed discussion of the difference between computer science and programming, if anyone's interested:
http://programmers.stackexchan.....rogramming
and
http://stackoverflow.com/quest.....programmer
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sara_s




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 6:33 pm
OP- where are you located?

In israel computer programming is a very lucrative progression(relative to other Israeli salaries) but the downside is the long hours (usually 9 hours a day, for instance 9-6 but may companies are flexible about the times) and it's difficult to find your first job. Afterwards it's usually easier depending on the experience you gained in your first job.
You do need a computer science degree, preferably from a university but a college can be OK too, and that degree will involve a LOT of math. If you're not good at and/or don't like math and logical thinking don't study computer science.
It may be possible to work as a web developer/ app developer without a CS degree, but I don't know how one breaks into that career. And you won't be able to work in many of the big companies without a CS degree.
Although a lot of the programming I do is more technical and doesn't draw on my CS knowledge, I do feel that NY CS studies helped me a lot in truly understanding what I'm doing, how computers.works below the surface, what is good design, etc.
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bigsis144




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 6:37 pm
I had to take up to Calculus II for my B.A. in Computer Science, in addition to Linear Algebra (which I think is more relevant).
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TranquilityAndPeace




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 7:09 pm
sara_s, I'm in the US; Baltimore, if that matters.

Thank you Bluerose and amother for all this detailed info - I appreciate it! Keep it coming!
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TranquilityAndPeace




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 7:12 pm
I did well in math, although it was not my favorite subject. I liked physics and chemistry; but I don't think I learned anything past high school level. (I have a BA in humanities.)

I really liked doing logic puzzles. (The ones where Rebecca went to city A on Wednesday, and Ms. Smith stayed home on Tuesday, so you figure out that Rebecca's last name is not Stein -- hope someone here knows what I mean!)

How can I figure out which aspect of the umbrella term CS I might be good at?

Thank you all Very Happy
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BlueRose52




 
 
 


Post  Mon, Sep 23 2013, 10:11 pm
TranquilityAndPeace wrote:
I did well in math, although it was not my favorite subject. I liked physics and chemistry; but I don't think I learned anything past high school level. (I have a BA in humanities.)

I really liked doing logic puzzles. (The ones where Rebecca went to city A on Wednesday, and Ms. Smith stayed home on Tuesday, so you figure out that Rebecca's last name is not Stein -- hope someone here knows what I mean!)

How can I figure out which aspect of the umbrella term CS I might be good at?

Thank you all Very Happy

Besides for the coding tutorials that I linked to above, these days we're lucky enough to have full online courses that are free for anyone to work on completely, or just check out to dabble in. They're often videos and syllabi of the actual classes offered at the most prestigious universities. So I'd suggest that you try out some of those. It's a no-risk, no-cost way to try out the material that you'd be studying and see if it appeals to you.
Here are some links to get you started:
https://www.coursera.org/cours.....,cs-theory
https://www.udacity.com/course/cs101
https://itunes.apple.com/us/it.....d341597455
http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/ele.....-lectures/
http://www.nand2tetris.org/
http://www.openculture.com/com.....ee_courses (this is a listing of almost 100 online computer science courses offered, covering virtually every field in the category)
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