September 16th, 2014, 01:37 AM
Advice on moving into a CS career
I'm interested in your experiences and opinions regarding my current career "path".
I'm currently working for a very successful software company where I do technical support for our products. I interact with various customer teams, answer their questions regarding our software, help them troubleshoot problems, and even do some development on the software. For a company that is well know for hiring moldable minds right out of college, I'm getting some great experience in a lot of general skills (time management, learning a topic from scratch to solve a problem, etc.) But we use a very archaic programming language so I won't have direct experience to transfer with a language that is more commonly used like Java or C++.
I have been given the opportunity to participate in a 1 year certificate program through my company and the local state university. I'm taking general computer science courses which will give me a good general background in CS (with some programming experience) but without any specialized skills or a particular languages that I will be proficient in.
I'd like to continue my career in the CS realm, but I'm not sure what I should be doing between now and when my wife and I move (would like to try out someplace new in a few years regardless of how good my current job is). I'm not set on any particular path (such as web development, continuing to do software support, etc) and not sure how to determine what I'd like to do.
Between my job and the courses I'm taking each semester (including summer), I don't have a lot of free time to spend on developing myself especially when I have a mentally challenging job and courses. Oh and my wife and I are expecting a baby soon -- we all know how much free time we'll have!
So do you have some suggestions for ways that I could learn more about what I want my next career path to include? Or some suggestions for working on my career goals given my busy schedule? I'd like to be prepared to be able to take on more opportunities that my experience and education will open up.
September 16th, 2014, 03:54 AM
In your shoes, first thing I would figure out is what type of development I'd want to do. Game programming and desktop applications and web development are all very different, even if some languages and frameworks (coughdotnet) try to make them as similar as possible.
Game programming is generally pretty heavy on math and algorithms; conventional desktop and mobile applications focus on knowing the environment (eg, Windows vs Mac) and its capabilities; web development focuses on databases and client-side programming. A general knowledge is great, of course, ideal, but knowing graduate-level math really won't help you much with websites, and similarly HTML/CSS isn't so useful if you want to create IDE for software developers.