Career Advice

Posted:
in General Discussion edited January 2014
Hello,



I am seeking some career advice and I hope someone on these boards can help me out. I want to become a programmer and am not sure of the path I need to take to get there.



Brief History:



I obtained my B.S. in Forensic Chemistry in 1994 and I am currently working for a pharmaceutical company administrating computer systems in a quality control laboratory. Although most of my jobs involves IT/IS functions, I am not IS/IT, nor is my job title really worded as such. I held a similar position to my current one for about 2 years at my previous company.



Over the past couple of years, I have had some programming opportunities (mostly automating laboratory processes through VBA) and some limited database programming (through DAO and ADO). I really enjoyed my opportunities. I am also a bit of a hobbyist programmer on the side (both Mac and PC) and feel I would like to try programming full time. I am willing to start my career over again if I have to to do this.



I am looking for recommendations for the best way to pursue my goal. So far, I received the following advice from people:



1. I go back to school obtain a second degree (in CIS or CS). Currently I only have my B.S. in forensic chemistry.



2. Obtain some type of certifications (i.e., Network + or a MCP). I currently do not have any certifications. The programming certifications that are out there appear to be more oriented to people with a few years of programming experience.



3. Continue and learn the latest development tools and write some simple programming demos and include them with my resume.



4. Try and start a small consulting business.



Each bit of advice has it positives and negatives associate with it. I do have a family and cannot simply quit my day job to go back to school full time days (has to be nights) or quit to take temp jobs.



What I am looking for is the best way to pursue my goal.



Thanks in advance for assistance.



Dave K.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    What do you think you want to do? "Programming" is a wide field these days. So if your a chemist do you want to write programs to help chemists do ... spectral analysis? Digital signal processing? Or maybe an application like a electronic lab book for chemist? Or maybe a database app that people use to I don't know what? Leave chemistry all together?





    What do you see yourself doing and programming?







    BTW I'm a fan of education so my gut reaction is to go back to school and get a "real" CS degree. But that's my bias.
  • Reply 2 of 19
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    Suicide is the only answer.







    (that or bioinformatics)
  • Reply 3 of 19
    trumptmantrumptman Posts: 16,452member
    Programming is becoming like being a musician, writer or other artistic endeavor. People use to spend all this money thinking the code would be good forever and it never was. So now they treat programs like pop songs.



    I have heard that many code-monkeys make about $9-10 a whole hour now.



    Manage a 7-11 instead. It will be much more secure in the long run.



    Nick
  • Reply 4 of 19
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Scott

    What do you think you want to do? "Programming" is a wide field these days. So if your a chemist do you want to write programs to help chemists do ... spectral analysis? Digital signal processing? Or maybe an application like a electronic lab book for chemist? Or maybe a database app that people use to I don't know what? Leave chemistry all together?





    What do you see yourself doing and programming?







    BTW I'm a fan of education so my gut reaction is to go back to school and get a "real" CS degree. But that's my bias.




    Scott,



    Thanks for the feedback. I think I need to leave the chemistry thing behind, since I feel there isn't enough opportunities. What I would love to do is build applications that are used in some sort of process to make that process more efficient. I am too confusing?? I love VB/REALbasic and database work. I also think the internet stuff is cool to.



    I agree with you and feel a solid computer degree is needed. Unfortunately, of the local colleges in my area (Buffalo, NY) only one has a night time degree program and it is in CIS and not CS. Does this matter in your opinion?



    Thanks
  • Reply 5 of 19
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BR

    Suicide is the only answer.







    (that or bioinformatics)




    What exactly is bioinformatics? What do people in that field do?
  • Reply 6 of 19
    brbr Posts: 8,395member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Dave K.

    What exactly is bioinformatics? What do people in that field do?



    Computer programming the human genome...Basically you make the programs used in genetic research. It's a very new field. I have a friend getting into it.
  • Reply 7 of 19
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman

    Programming is becoming like being a musician, writer or other artistic endeavor. People use to spend all this money thinking the code would be good forever and it never was. So now they treat programs like pop songs.



    I have heard that many code-monkeys make about $9-10 a whole hour now.



    Manage a 7-11 instead. It will be much more secure in the long run.



    Nick




    What are people coding to only make $9-10 a whole hour? Every industry has a wide salary range. Doesn't it?



    Dave
  • Reply 8 of 19
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by BR

    Computer programming the human genome...Basically you make the programs used in genetic research. It's a very new field. I have a friend getting into it.



    They have a program like that at a local unniversity (UB). Thanks for the info, I will look into it. My science background may actually help me in that field.



    Dave
  • Reply 9 of 19
    spartspart Posts: 2,060member
    I'd like to get into some area of graphic design. I enjoy doing freelance design (current project) right now, even though I have no formal education in the area whatsoever.



    Just don't feel that the future looks good for that area...nor does the present.
  • Reply 10 of 19
    Quote:

    Originally posted by trumptman



    I have heard that many code-monkeys make about $9-10 a whole hour now.

    k




    i don't think that's true. my wife is a CIS major and a friend of her's works part time for a company and she makes $12 an hour.



    my wife will make $60,000 after graduation, possibly more, provided she works for a big company like an auto company



    heck i used to work for MacTemps (i think they're called something else now) as a production assistant and i made $12-13 and this was almost 10 years ago
  • Reply 11 of 19
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Dave K.

    Scott,



    Thanks for the feedback. I think I need to leave the chemistry thing behind, since I feel there isn't enough opportunities. What I would love to do is build applications that are used in some sort of process to make that process more efficient. I am too confusing?? I love VB/REALbasic and database work. I also think the internet stuff is cool to.



    I agree with you and feel a solid computer degree is needed. Unfortunately, of the local colleges in my area (Buffalo, NY) only one has a night time degree program and it is in CIS and not CS. Does this matter in your opinion?



    Thanks




    Okay so do you see yourself working on the business side of things or the industry side of things? For example would you like to program to help a hospital improve it's billing (business) or it's internal information system to help convey patient information (industry).



    Maybe you should find some companies that do something you think you would like to do. Find out who they tend to hire. Don't be so quick to dump your chem background. It can help wedge you into a new area.
  • Reply 12 of 19
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Scott

    Okay so do you see yourself working on the business side of things or the industry side of things? For example would you like to program to help a hospital improve it's billing (business) or it's internal information system to help convey patient information (industry).



    Maybe you should find some companies that do something you think you would like to do. Find out who they tend to hire. Don't be so quick to dump your chem background. It can help wedge you into a new area.




    Thanks for the advice. What are your thoughts on a CS versus CIS degree. Any real differences or do most employers consider them somewhat the same.



    Dave
  • Reply 13 of 19
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    I don't know what a CIS person does? I would imagine that a CIS person uses the software that a CS person writes.
  • Reply 14 of 19
    mcqmcq Posts: 1,543member
    CS and CIS are basically the same thing, I'm a CS major in the CIS department (or some such thing) at my university. I even get lost in what exactly which department is what anymore. Computer Science, Computer and Information Sciences, bah. Same deal. I'm not sure how much certifications will help, at least if you're thinking of Network+ or other networking/administration type certifications.
  • Reply 15 of 19
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by MCQ

    CS and CIS are basically the same thing, I'm a CS major in the CIS department (or some such thing) at my university. I even get lost in what exactly which department is what anymore. Computer Science, Computer and Information Sciences, bah. Same deal. I'm not sure how much certifications will help, at least if you're thinking of Network+ or other networking/administration type certifications.



    Thanks for your response.



    Dave
  • Reply 16 of 19
    scottscott Posts: 7,431member
    I doubt that CIS and CS are the "same" thing. Maybe at the undergrad level but ... BUT I'm bias. When I think of a "real" CS degree it think of this.





    Dave K. I would suggest you figgure out what you want to do before you start doing it Take a year to research where you'd like to end up and how to get there. This is a book that alot of people use. You might find out you don't want to do "programming" but instead just work more with computers?
  • Reply 17 of 19
    matsumatsu Posts: 6,558member
    When I was an undergrad dabbling in psyc, I was really interested in forensics for a while. Mebbe you can be one of those CSI guys? haha I wonder if the job is like all those true crime books I was addicted to?
  • Reply 18 of 19
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Matsu

    When I was an undergrad dabbling in psyc, I was really interested in forensics for a while. Mebbe you can be one of those CSI guys? haha I wonder if the job is like all those true crime books I was addicted to?



    That is what I was thinking at the time I went for my B.S. Unfortunately most of the crime lab positions require two things:



    1. To be resident of the county were the crime lab resides.



    2. Be okay with the fact that you could lose your job everytime there a political change in local government office. Strangely, crime lab personal are quite offten linked to the people in political power.



    Thank you for the reply.



    Dave
  • Reply 19 of 19
    dave k.dave k. Posts: 1,306member
    Quote:

    Originally posted by Scott

    I doubt that CIS and CS are the "same" thing. Maybe at the undergrad level but ... BUT I'm bias. When I think of a "real" CS degree it think of this.





    Dave K. I would suggest you figgure out what you want to do before you start doing it Take a year to research where you'd like to end up and how to get there. This is a book that alot of people use. You might find out you don't want to do "programming" but instead just work more with computers?




    Scott,



    Thanks again for the advice. My thoughts right now are to start and take classes to earn a second B.S. (if I had choice, it would be definitely a CS degree, but since it isn't feasible, I will have to pursue a CIS). I figure another degree will not hurt me. In fact, it might improve my current position at my company by opening new doors. It is also financially feasible, since my company will most likely pay for it.



    Fortunately/Unfortunately, life has a funny way of playing out. While I am looking to become a "programmer", I know that is a very broad and generalized term. I know what I like now and will use that as a starting point. Maybe school will point me into the direction I want to go to (hey, I may think COBOL programming is too cool) or maybe I will find what I want a couple of years from now. It appears that no matter what, a computer based degree will only help me out in obtaining this goal.



    I love to program. It is one of my personal hobbies, and I think I am pretty good at it. The thought of taking a hobby that I love and possibly turning into a career is very attractive. I think I am at point in my life were my job is simply not attractive to me anymore. People say that you change careers 4 to 6 time in your lifetime, and each time you essence start over again. I am hoping this my next move.



    Thanks again



    Dave
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