Returning to college - Need help deciding between majors

By acidosmosis · 44 replies
Jun 7, 2003
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  1. I am going to be returning to college in August after 2 years of absence. I have narrowed my choices down to the following:

    Computer Programming
    Internet Technologies
    Network Administration
    Computer Engineering

    As far as programming I am really interested in taking it but I am not sure I want to have programming as a job. If I decide on something else then I will be taking programming classes on the side for my learning benefit.

    I have a job in the "internet technology" field at the moment working for an ISP so I have experience and having a degree in this area may be of great benefit to me also. The same thing for Network Administration.

    Would greatly appreciate some input on this matter.

  2. JSR

    JSR Banned Posts: 592

    create video games

    the market is hot
  3. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 1,350



    I'll pretend that helped.

  4. DigitAlex

    DigitAlex TechSpot Paladin Posts: 536

    LMAO ...................
  5. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    A career in IT is NOT a good place to be at the moment. There are few jobs available, even for experienced professionals, and many qualified IT graduates are still out of work. Having an education is good, but as far as careers go, employers tend to be more interested in experience, rather than qualifications. If you wish to carry on with a career in IT after you graduate, then it might be worth doing some research so that you pick the skills that are growing in demand, and that will feature strongly in the IT industry. Good luck with your career move. Hope you have better luck than I've had in an IT career. Sorry to be so negative.
  6. Phantasm66

    Phantasm66 TS Rookie Posts: 5,734   +8

    However, there ARE STILL IT JOBS - and IT is a very rewarding industry to work in, at least in terms of intellectual rewards. There's just so much to learn and do.

    Although the industry is in a downturn at the moment (basically, the word never ended because of Y2K and now people take a lot of things in the computer world with more of a pinch of salt, plus this "threat" flooded the market with a whole bunch of crappy people.)

    I expect this to change again. The poor jobs market will cause a lot of people who took to computing not because they liked it but because there was jobs there to move to another market, and leave the "real techs" to it. Then things will get better.

    Also, its a big mistake to think that there are no IT jobs. There are a great number of them. Its just a bit of a problem progressing your career at the moment. But as I said, I expect that to change in the next few years again.

    As to what choice to make, its a tough one, but have a good think, and a good look in your heart, and pick the thing you are most interesting in. Not being interested in something is death in any profession.
  7. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    In the UK, the number of jobs that are advertised in 2002 fell by 76% from that in 2001 (i.e. number of jobs down to less than one quarter the previous year - I can supply links if anyone is interested).

    With the large number of people being pushed into IT jobs, by the government, many are without work. There is vast over supply and too few jobs for those that are looking for a career in IT.

    Should the market start to recover, then there is still a backlog of qualified staff with which you will have to compete for work. Its true that there are still some jobs available, but these tend to be towards the higher end of the experience scale, rather than the lower end.

    Believe me, its true, as I am currently unemployed (one year and counting) despite having nearly three years software development experience, and despite being very talented (so other people tell me), and despite having a masters degree in software engineering.

    The jobs simply aren't there, and the few that do turn up will have literaly hundreds of applications with which you will have to compete. A friend of mine applied for one particular job and later found out that there had been over four hundred applicants for that position.

    Don't get me wrong, I love IT and wouldn't swap for anything else, but at the end of the day, you had better be prepared for a shock.
  8. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 1,350

    So, what do you suggest? I get a degree in flipping burgers?
  9. young&wild

    young&wild TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 993

    Hands-on experience, perhaps a techinical college might help?
  10. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    No, don't bother flipping burgers, but do your degree is you really are interested in IT. Things should improve eventually, though you may end up doing other work before you eventually get back into IT.

    Maybe you could consider doing your degree part-time, so that you still have an income, and allow the jobs market time to recover.

    If you are really keen to have a career in IT then by all means do it, but if you are going to have to borrow money to get you through your course, then you may find it difficult to pay back your loan afterwards. Something to bear in mind.

    Do some research to see what skills will be in demand when you graduate, so that you have the best chance of success.
  11. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 1,350

    As far as getting in the IT industry. I'm already there, because I work for an ISP doing everything such as network/Windows 2000 Server/Win2K troubleshooting, administration, billing, technical support, marketing, graphic/web/advertising design, etc. Pretty much everything that is needed here I do it. Also, soon I am probably going to be working two IT jobs. I have a cousin that owns a business doing networking/repair/etc. So I am probably going to help him on the side to learn some more and gain some more experience. This will going to school and working a full time job.

    What I make here I think would be more than enough to pay my way through college without needing to pay anything back later on. Though I may be wrong, but my guess is I can go without financial aid. I'm actually already paying back financial aid right now from the last college I was in (about $2500).

    There IS actually another industry I would rather be in but we all know that being a professional musician is an even more bloodthirsty profession where instead of worrying about unemployment for a few years, in that industry you have a 1 out a 1 million chance of ever even making it INTO the industry. Then you have to worry about making millions of fans happy so that you can record that next album. Then when you do record the next album you get accused of "going pop" or "going alternative" or disappointing your loyal fans by not doing what they say is right. (I really hate how fans get upset because bands like Metallica experiment with music -- something they love and in turn go from fast metal to more alternative metal, I mean... bands owe fans nothing. You paid your $18 for the CD and you can always listen to it. What the band does next is their business.)

    You mentioned doing something that I like doing. Programming I am very interested in learning, like I said though I'm not sure I would like doing it as a job. Networking wouldnt be so bad and I wouldnt mind too much going to school for it.

    I think I may still go the programming route though due to the fact that a programming major can also get you other jobs too not just in programming jobs, and I could later on go for a bachelors and possibly end up working for some gaming company. (I said POSSIBLY, lol).
  12. JSR

    JSR Banned Posts: 592

    listen butthead

    you want to be on design teams for video's the only bright spot in the market.......ea stock is rising's a growing sector..........many interviews available regarding richard"levelord"gray........for me, i think that would be a blast...........and, to get paid.....schweeeeeet..................but, go ahead and bang away for ibm, it'll probably be safer.......and stick it brussels sprout(alex):grinthumb
  13. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 1,350

    lol, dude I think I've got a pretty long time before I can even consider trying to get into a company like EA. That's IF I'm even lucky enough to make it into a company like that in 10 years.
  14. dani_17

    dani_17 TS Rookie Posts: 146

    First of all, i think JSR you should clam down and stop doing that silly ..... post..... yo do...... or .... stop taking... mmmm.... drugs.... ¿??

    Back to where we go:

    The IT industry is a bit overwhelmed, mostly in countries like germany, USA, uk... and so on. I'm inside the industry, i have 18 years old and I have 2 years inside the software development industry, mainly ASP.NET and VB.NET related stuff. What I can say, considering that for what I the poeple and my customers think of my work, and my monthly income, the job market for this sector has droped 75% since the internet boom, but the truth is that the 75% of "IT professionals" are not good, don't have interest, or are inside their profession because they thought that the internet boom would make them rich. I currently live in the Dominican Republic, where things are even worse, I just work 16 hours a day cause I have so many work, mostly work that other people did that are rubish. I think there is always place for good employees, in whatever their industry they are working.

    The problem is also experience, if you can show a solid experience/works you did, then that's add points for you. Global economy is pretty f*****d up, but people still need intranets, websites, applications and databases. New companies are coming to the market as fast as the ones that get out of it.

    About the game developer market... I don't know how it's, but it depends on area. It's not only programming, it's design, 3d modelling, audio mastering...etc. I just think it's a very unstable market and with very high standards.

    If you are currently working in that ISP you mention, before taking a chance on it, analyze what future can the isp have and what opportunities you will be able to choose from.
  15. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 1,350

    Well as far as working for a gaming company and it not being JUST programming, I have more experience in the rest than programming.

    I went to college for computer animation, and literally was top in my class. I downloaded 3D Studio Max and within 2 weeks was ahead of everyone in my entire class, the same with Photoshop. I also am a musician so I've done a lot of sound editing and sound creation (as far as actual music). Video editing is something else I'm interested in and was good at. All those things combined make for some fun work.
  16. JSR

    JSR Banned Posts: 592

    hey dani

    aren't you the most downloaded woman in porn?.......always someone with their panties in a bunch..............oh well, acid, just a thought............a journey of a thousand steps begins with the first..........grasshopper........ i just know that i'd like to be excited about where is was heading in life..........instead of fillin' in some void for the bucks......and, i'd like to know, that it wasn't a dead end road............goodluck & cyaaaaaa
  17. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 1,350

    what the hell are you talking about? whos panties are in a wad???
  18. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    ... sounds like a career in 3D modelling within the games industry might just be your thing. The industry is always on the lookout for animation staff, so if thats what you enjoy, and as you already said, its something you appear to be good at, then its certainly worth a go. You may end up having to move location in order to find work, but that's life, and if things don't quite work out, then you may still be able to find remployment back in technical support.
  19. DigitAlex

    DigitAlex TechSpot Paladin Posts: 536

    some ppl get really annoying by taking the discussion away from the real point ....

    and NO jsr, i'm not a brussels sprout :p living in Brussels now, that's all :thefinger
  20. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 1,350

    Nic: Yes, I would love a job in that type of field; 3d modeling, game programming, etc. The problem is and was for example when I was in college that I wasn't that good at drawing. I can draw well, IF I take 4-5 hours on one drawing (if I look at something and draw from it), but the industry demands that you be able to do a drawing like that, from your own imagination quickly; sometimes in under 20 minutes. That is the barrier I face as far as that type of job. If I could get into something like 3D modeling and not have to do any of the drawing I know I would do well. I just couldn't keep up with my classmates in classes such as Drawing for Animators, but they couldnt keep up with me in classes like Photoshop and 3D Studio Max.

    I'm looking into getting SoftImage XSI here soon since I have Linux installed. It will be fun to take a look at and play around with.

    One thing I've wanted to do ever since I moved back from Tampa (when I was in college) is get back into that kind of school. The problem I face with this is; the ability to move and have the money to do it, so the idea I have is to get a job in another field such as programming or networking and pay my way through a college like Gnomon 3D in California. But then again therein lies another problem. Gnomon requires that you submit a high quality portfolio of drawings, which I dont have and nor have the ability to create.

    It is a very exciting industry to be in, and it was also very very exciting to go to a school for animation, to see firsthand the kinds of things you would be doing working for a company like Valve, ILM, or film companys doing special FX for movies. The excitement just never stops (at least for me) in an environment like that.
  21. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Forget about becoming a games programmer, as you'll need to be extremely good and VERY experienced (it takes years) before you even get looked at. You'll also have to work VERY long hours, and the money isn't that great either. Gnomon do have video tutorials that they sell, so you don't necessarilly need to attend classes. There are also courses that can teach you how to draw, but just like being a musician, it will take some time. In this game, it is you portfolio that will get you a job rather than any college degree, so you could just study in your spare time until you get there.
  22. Tarkus

    Tarkus TechSpot Ambassador Posts: 621

    Hey Acid, I think you've heard my point of view on the IRC channel but just in case... I really hated the "Industry" where they treat you like a piece of equipment and if times slow down, which they do at least once a year they lay you off and if you didn't suck too bad they rehire you 3-6 months later. I remember being asked by my boss for my "5 year plan" and the company went out of business within 3 years. Try to get a government job in IT. City, county, state of Fed; the pay isn't that great to start but the retirement and other benifits are far better. Ive been working for a city in my area for 15 years and plan to retire from there. Other than MS I don't think any company will last 15 years or more.

    I think you could already qualify based on your job history but you can always get more training at a community college to fill in areas that you don't feel well rounded in. (I plan on going back for some courses in system and network administration, Cisco router management, and cabling next year, just for fun) Heh, I don't even work in IT, but given the trend in traffic control systems it's almost the same. I'm currently installing, managing and maintaining a dual NT server, 10 workstation, plus 100 instersection control and 20 PTZ video camera network. Next step is hooking it up to the city WAN and serving data to the internet.

    Anyway, good luck Acid.
  23. acidosmosis

    acidosmosis TechSpot Chancellor Topic Starter Posts: 1,350

    Ok if you read my previous posts you would notice that I did say it takes years to get into that kind of work.
  24. bedlam_4

    bedlam_4 TS Rookie Posts: 156

    I would l would listen well to Nic. A college education is very importent but one should cover the bases and get a trade as well. Then if things don't work out you will have options. Its a tuff job market but plumbers, electricians, computer techs, ect. always seem to be busy. My friends who are tradesmen all have a great deal of money to spend on houses, vehicles, computers (for their kids of course ) and vacations.

    Here is an example: My brother is a structural engineer who designs big buildings like banks, stores ect. He is very smart and has tons of college. He makes around 45k/year.

    My other bro is an architect with even more college and huge college debt. He makes 35k

    My sis does a bit better 80k though her debts to school are huge. She's a family doctor but since she works at a christian ministry she makes a bit less than most docs.

    I have a friend at the local utility co.. He works as a lineman and pulls in 100k+

    I bait hooks for a living and at 90k+ I can afford any damn computer I want and I only work six months a year.

    Sure I went to school but I like to fish.

    Play with computers, they are a great hobby.
  25. bedlam_4

    bedlam_4 TS Rookie Posts: 156

    After some thought I think I should modify what I just said. There probably are a lot of dream jobs in computing that require a degree. If rendering, or writing code is your thing then you should study for that. Just remember to get a good trade to carry you through when you are between computer jobs.

    If you are very hard working and have entrepeneurial talents you may be able to develope a cool company like Falcon Northwest or Dell.
    I know someone who starts small resteraunts/diners builds them up and sells them for profit.
    Anyways, follow your dreams. I did.
    good luck

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