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ultrafilter
Aug 23, 2007

It is time for your viscera to see the light of day!

Pollyanna posted:

I feel like I should get a CS degree in the future just in case a Big 4 style interview happens. It can only help, right?

Been thinking about further education, actually. Has anyone with a non-CS-specific background fine back to school for a Masters or Ph.D in something after working a while? What did you go for? I feel like its not a good idea to go for a higher degree unless youre sure what you want to work in, though.

There are at least a few master's programs that are basically an accelerated undergraduate CS degree. The only one I'm familiar with is the MCIT at Penn, but I know there are others out there. I think maybe U Chicago has one as well.

I'm not sure if it really makes sense for you to go given that you're already working as a programmer, but it might be at least worth looking into.

ultrafilter fucked around with this message at Jan 16, 2018 around 15:12

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Jose Valasquez
Apr 8, 2005

Bzzt Bzzt!

You can learn the amount of CS required for interviews a lot quicker and cheaper by just studying instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on a degree.

Star War Sex Parrot
Oct 2, 2003



Muldoon

Pollyanna posted:

I feel like I should get a CS degree in the future just in case a Big 4 style interview happens.
Figure out what you want to do first, and if you cant get those jobs without more education only then pursue school especially if you dont currently have an employer who will pay for it and would carry the cost yourself. Having been a non-traditional student myself and mentoring others in similar roles, school later in life is typically not something you succeed at if you impulsively decide to go. Think through your reasons, your potential obstacles, and the real costs.

Also it sounds like youre talking yourself into school for the Big 4, when as far as I know youve never had an interview with any of them. Try that first.

Pollyanna posted:

It can only help, right?
It depends on the costs: time, money, and opportunity.

The March Hare
Oct 15, 2006

Je rve d'un
Wayne's World 3


Buglord

Jose Valasquez posted:

You can learn the amount of CS required for interviews a lot quicker and cheaper by just studying instead of spending tens of thousands of dollars on a degree.

Yep, I'm basically an idiot and have almost no ability to self-motivate and yet I have read ctci and understood it. Now I'm writing a lisp in C and all sorts of other poo poo you might do in school and instead of paying $40k/yr to do so, I'm (and this part is critical) doing it in my spare time while earning (again, critical, earning > paying) more than twice that number of dollars by doing the job I would be doing anyway if I had the degree.

Good Will Hrunting
Oct 8, 2012

Fly on these secondhand wings
Willing to find out
What impossible means
I'll climb through the ladder
On feathers and dreams


ultrafilter posted:

There are at least a few master's programs that are basically an accelerated undergraduate CS degree.

This is what I did. I was an "Information Systems" major in Undergrad so I basically only took a few courses: Java I and II, C++ (which was a bit lower level dive into programming whereas Java was OOP stuff), Database Systems, Computer Architecture, and Web Design. When I realized I hated what I studied I just banked enough money to get my Masters. Don't regret it at all, but I could have taken 3 courses (Data Structures, Algorithms, and Web Programming) and had gotten enough for my first job.

Pollyanna we are much the same. You seem to want to learn everything. It's my Achilles as well. I burn out very quickly these days.

Pollyanna
Mar 5, 2005

Milk's on them.


I dont really want to learn everything, though. I recognize the usefulness of a lot of things but also realize that theres a lot of investment that goes into it, both time and effort. Im also naturally uncurious about things I dont immediately have to deal with, too...which is why stuff like how does SSH work and explain graph theory to me just sounds like minutiae, cause Ive never had to care before. I care about embarrassing myself by not knowing the answers, though...

This is why I wouldnt do another degree unless theres something I like and want to work in AND require a degree in.

Jose Valasquez
Apr 8, 2005

Bzzt Bzzt!

Read CtCI and do all the problems on leetcode.com. Maybe do some extra reading and youtube watching if a concept isn't clicking (I did this with dynamic programming problems). I just saved you $100k and 2 and a half years of time.

Love Stole the Day
Nov 4, 2012


The March Hare posted:

I'm (and this part is critical) doing it in my spare time while earning (again, critical, earning > paying) more than twice that number of dollars by doing the job I would be doing anyway if I had the degree.

All of my envy

Good Will Hrunting
Oct 8, 2012

Fly on these secondhand wings
Willing to find out
What impossible means
I'll climb through the ladder
On feathers and dreams


Let's not trivialize the importance of properly taking care of yourself and your physical/mental well being. It can be extremely tiresome to get home and do coding things after an 8 hour work day of also doing coding things, with a 30 minute commute each way. Toss exercise into the mix there (3 times a week to stay relatively healthy) and basic life things (laundry, grocery shopping, cleaning) and you have less time than you'd imagine. In my case, I'm glad I left my first job because focusing on school and learning got me where I wanted to be way quicker. The good thing is that its easy to assess the feasibility of doing that!

Portland Sucks
Dec 21, 2004
༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

Pollyanna posted:

I dont really want to learn everything, though. I recognize the usefulness of a lot of things but also realize that theres a lot of investment that goes into it, both time and effort. Im also naturally uncurious about things I dont immediately have to deal with, too...which is why stuff like how does SSH work and explain graph theory to me just sounds like minutiae, cause Ive never had to care before. I care about embarrassing myself by not knowing the answers, though...

This is why I wouldnt do another degree unless theres something I like and want to work in AND require a degree in.

For what it's worth, there isn't even any certainty that you'd actually be able to answer "how does SSH work" or "explain graph theory to me" just by obtaining a CS degree. Most CS programs don't even get into graph theory outside of 1-2 weeks in a discrete structures course, and unless you take a course on networking you won't learn jack about SSH other than maybe how to use it. Four year degrees give you very broad and very shallow formal understanding of a lot of critical things, but you essentially come out a blank slate not really knowing much when it comes down to it other than how to go about learning the things you need to.

TooMuchAbstraction
Oct 14, 2012

My fingers are set to vibrate


Fun Shoe

I would characterize the "how does SSH work" question as a Bad Interview Question unless you specified knowledge of networking on your resume, in which case I would expect you to know the basics of secure connections.

Jose Valasquez
Apr 8, 2005

Bzzt Bzzt!

I assume SSH works like all networking stuff

magic

Doctor w-rw-rw-
Jun 24, 2008


Im interview trained for one of the big four and I also dont have a degree.

Studying CTCI will do way more for you than college at this point. As other have said, just loving do it. College at this point (after entering the workforce) isnt going to mean much, unless you get perverse pleasure out of spending money poorly. A couple of months on your resume marked as self study with a concrete goal would not look so bad. Might even be something you could spin in your favor as demonstrating motivation and initiative.

If you want a gentler introduction to some of the stuff in CTCI I suggest reading Algorithms (Vazirani).

the talent deficit
Dec 20, 2003

self-deprecation is a very british trait, and problems can arise when the british attempt to do so with a foreign culture







College Slice

big 4 hiring standards aren't that much higher than the rest of the industry. they can afford to be a little more choosy because they typically pay more but they draw from the same hiring pool as everyone else

Skandranon
Sep 6, 2008
fucking stupid, dont listen to me

Pollyanna posted:

I feel like I should get a CS degree in the future just in case a Big 4 style interview happens. It can only help, right?

Been thinking about further education, actually. Has anyone with a non-CS-specific background fine back to school for a Masters or Ph.D in something after working a while? What did you go for? I feel like its not a good idea to go for a higher degree unless youre sure what you want to work in, though.

Bahahaha no, the value of getting a degree is plummeting daily and is never going to go back up. It will be a waste of time that you could have invested better.

Portland Sucks
Dec 21, 2004
༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

Skandranon posted:

Bahahaha no, the value of getting a degree is plummeting daily and is never going to go back up. It will be a waste of time that you could have invested better.

This probably needs a huge caveat *if you are the type of person who is generally successful self teaching.* There's no loving way I could have made it into this field without someone holding my hand through college to pound into me the fundamentals I needed to be successful. Now that I'm on the other side I don't need that structure, but the value was actually in the education that allowed me to get the first job.

The March Hare
Oct 15, 2006

Je rve d'un
Wayne's World 3


Buglord

Portland Sucks posted:

This probably needs a huge caveat *if you are the type of person who is generally successful self teaching.* There's no loving way I could have made it into this field without someone holding my hand through college to pound into me the fundamentals I needed to be successful. Now that I'm on the other side I don't need that structure, but the value was actually in the education that allowed me to get the first job.

Sure but Pollyanna already has a job.

Good Will Hrunting
Oct 8, 2012

Fly on these secondhand wings
Willing to find out
What impossible means
I'll climb through the ladder
On feathers and dreams


Portland Sucks posted:

This probably needs a huge caveat *if you are the type of person who is generally successful self teaching.* There's no loving way I could have made it into this field without someone holding my hand through college to pound into me the fundamentals I needed to be successful. Now that I'm on the other side I don't need that structure, but the value was actually in the education that allowed me to get the first job.

I bet if you had been giving reading + assignments and tried on your own, posting any questions in the respectable threads on SA you would have gotten as much help here as you would have from a professor if not more. Now, in the advent of poo poo like Coursera, this is even more true. I enjoy learning and I am perfectly capable of doing it on my own, I just struggle to find the time these days. A formal education provided me the focus and time to do so.

Star War Sex Parrot
Oct 2, 2003



Muldoon

The March Hare posted:

Sure but Pollyanna already has a job.
Nope.

Skandranon
Sep 6, 2008
fucking stupid, dont listen to me


Has had one. And also already has an undergraduate degree. If she can't take herself through CTCI enough to pass further interviews, I don't think spending another 4 years at school will help.

Star War Sex Parrot
Oct 2, 2003



Muldoon

Skandranon posted:

If she can't take herself through CTCI enough to pass further interviews, I don't think spending another 4 years at school will help.
I agree. I'm just correcting the "Pollyanna already has a job" comment.

Good Will Hrunting
Oct 8, 2012

Fly on these secondhand wings
Willing to find out
What impossible means
I'll climb through the ladder
On feathers and dreams


Skandranon posted:

Has had one. And also already has an undergraduate degree. If she can't take herself through CTCI enough to pass further interviews, I don't think spending another 4 years at school will help.

Could always find a place that nixes white-boarding for take-home assignments. They're a lot more prevalent these days.

B-Nasty
May 25, 2005



Good Will Hrunting posted:

A formal education provided me the focus and time to do so.

College for CS is not much different than all the schooling required to be a pediatrician (kid doctor.) Most pediatricians are dealing with the same old infections/injuries/vaccinations 99.9% of the time, and the diagnosis and treatment is pretty rote. On those days, the doctor is probably wondering why he had to spend 2 semesters learning the biochemical details of the Krebs cycle. Occasionally, a novel patient my present themselves and the doc will have to peruse medical literature and studies to make a diagnosis. The medicine fundamentals come in handy for understanding the literature and seeing patterns where they might otherwise be overlooked.

The big difference is the licensing requirements demand a college degree+med school+residency for doctors. No such requirement exists for CS, though the fundamentals are no less valuable.

Portland Sucks
Dec 21, 2004
༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

Good Will Hrunting posted:

I bet if you had been giving reading + assignments and tried on your own, posting any questions in the respectable threads on SA you would have gotten as much help here as you would have from a professor if not more. Now, in the advent of poo poo like Coursera, this is even more true. I enjoy learning and I am perfectly capable of doing it on my own, I just struggle to find the time these days. A formal education provided me the focus and time to do so.

I'm not going to argue this any further, but no I don't think I would have been as successful. There is something to be said about the formal structure of academic institutes.

Is it necessary for everyone? No. Does it work for lots of people? Yes.

Skandranon
Sep 6, 2008
fucking stupid, dont listen to me

B-Nasty posted:

The big difference is the licensing requirements demand a college degree+med school+residency for doctors. No such requirement exists for CS, though the fundamentals are no less valuable.

The problem is the fundamentals are easily available outside the college environment. There is no need to be there to learn anything CS related. You have a lovely laptop & internet, you have all the tools necessary to learn what a 4 year degree purports to teach, and probably in less time.

TooMuchAbstraction
Oct 14, 2012

My fingers are set to vibrate


Fun Shoe

You can get fit without having regular appointments with a physical trainer at the gym, but having those appointments sure does make it easier.

Portland Sucks
Dec 21, 2004
༼ つ ◕_◕ ༽つ

Skandranon posted:

There is no need to be there to learn anything CS related. You have a lovely laptop & internet, you have all the tools necessary to learn what a 4 year degree purports to teach, and probably in less time.

You're obviously just significantly smarter and more driven than most of the population.

The Fool
Oct 16, 2003



Smarter? No. Driven? Probably. Self motivated education requires quite a bit of.. well.. motivation.


Also, a quick google search will give you a bunch of free "CS equivalent" study guides, like this one: https://github.com/mvillaloboz/open-source-cs-degree which seems to be entirely composed of free online courses offered by top-tier universities.

Jose Valasquez
Apr 8, 2005

Bzzt Bzzt!

There are a ton of things I learned getting my CS degree that I wouldn't have learned otherwise and I think that majoring in CS is a great idea for a college student who wants to be a software engineer.
Getting a CS degree = great and useful!
Getting a CS degree to pass interviews = expensive overkill.

brainwrinkle
Oct 18, 2009

What's going on in here?


Buglord

Going in for my first on-site interview in about 2 years tomorrow! I feel like working on a confident composure would be more helpful than studying more at this point.

The algorithm questions just become more annoying with more years of experience (and distance from college).

Pollyanna
Mar 5, 2005

Milk's on them.


https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-ha...ekiel-buchheit/

quote:

There is a small group of people for whom code speaks. They discovered more than a job, they discovered a calling. Code is a craft and they are artists. For every one of those folks there are thousands of amazing, solid developers that will write circles around 90% of the other CS graduates. But they aren't "the best."

When companies say they want "passionate developers" that are coding in their free time, when companies say they want "the best," I get nervous. It's a myopic approach to team building. It's a subtle way of requesting human machines.

[...]

The world is catching up to this reality, bit by bit. The Bay Area, Seattle, NYC - these may be the hottest, hippest areas to have your startup or giant conglomerate, but you severely limit your pool of potential candidates to a tiny puddle of people that can live in these cities. I have four children. I own an entire separate dog playcare business with my wife. I am an active member of the local art community. There is no way I could ever live in one of these other cities. And while some companies are realizing that I am not an edge case - Facebook, Google, Amazon, they all have a significant presence in Austin specifically because they've drained the talent elsewhere - too many places are still convinced that "the best" lives to code. That "the best" is attracted to your company because you have a nap room, work 80 hour weeks and have a ping pong table. That "the best" is happy to drink into the Earth every Friday and has absolutely no evening or weekend plans. Ever.

minato
Jun 7, 2004

cutty cain't hang, say 7-up.

Taco Defender

"passion" is just a codeword for 20-somethings who have infinite energy, a desire to please, and no obligations. Those large companies aren't ever going to come around to a more balanced and sane view, because they can tap a constant supply of those people. Hire 'em straight outta college, burn 'em into the ground, spit 'em out, get some new ones.

Stinky_Pete
Aug 15, 2015

:bernget:
Forever past
:bernget:
We live

Lipstick Apathy

TooMuchAbstraction posted:

You can get fit without having regular appointments with a physical trainer at the gym, but having those appointments sure does make it easier.

Yeah, I think the difference depends on how well you can gauge your own progress. For example, I routinely do the thing in this quotation

Alexander Pope posted:

 Some people will never learn anything, for this reason, because they understand everything too soon.

So I tend not to learn things deeply unless I really have to use it, be it for a class or for work. I've spent a good chunk of my young adulthood gawping at people who are self-motivated enough to take up tutorials and make things that have already been done, without an end goal, whereas I would've found a million reasons to say, "no, it's not worth it." My only exception was solving Project Euler puzzles. So I needed the formal courses to push me into actualizing the knowledge, where others will do just as well with self-study. However, it's hard to run into the fundamentals and paradigms in, say, an Operating Systems class, through an organic coding journey, but if you're not the type of mind that gets in its own way a lot, you should be able to search, study, and incorporate what you need as you go along.

The trick is proving you won't take too long to learn the company's systems, and that is the succinct advantage of listing coursework on your resume (until you have enough experience to fill the page).

Jaded Burnout
Jul 10, 2004





brainwrinkle posted:

The algorithm questions just become more annoying with more years of experience (and distance from college).

This is my feeling entirely, with an additional caveat that I did an AI degree 15 years ago and "traditional" CS algos were not involved.

Munkeymon
Aug 14, 2003

Motherfucker's got an
armor-piercing crowbar! Rigoddamndicu𝜆ous.



Pillbug


"drink into the Earth" is a weird way to put that

Pollyanna
Mar 5, 2005

Milk's on them.


What's the deal with recruiters wanting references? I'm used to references being important for things like grad school and internships, but one recruiter I'm working with wants some while I'm interviewing with this one place.

Munkeymon posted:

"drink into the Earth" is a weird way to put that

I assume it's a euphemism for "drink yourself to death". Six feet under and all that.

leper khan
Dec 28, 2010
Honest to god thinks Half Life 2 is a bad game. But at least he likes Monster Hunter.

Pollyanna posted:

I feel like I should get a CS degree in the future just in case a Big 4 style interview happens. It can only help, right?

Been thinking about further education, actually. Has anyone with a non-CS-specific background fine back to school for a Masters or Ph.D in something after working a while? What did you go for? I feel like its not a good idea to go for a higher degree unless youre sure what you want to work in, though.

Pollyanna posted:

What's the deal with recruiters wanting references? I'm used to references being important for things like grad school and internships, but one recruiter I'm working with wants some while I'm interviewing with this one place.


I assume it's a euphemism for "drink yourself to death". Six feet under and all that.

Ive never had a job not ask for references.

Pollyanna
Mar 5, 2005

Milk's on them.


I might be thinking of letters of recommendation, actually.

Jose Valasquez
Apr 8, 2005

Bzzt Bzzt!

I've always had to provide references prior to interviewing but I've never had a reference contacted.

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The Fool
Oct 16, 2003



Pollyanna posted:

I might be thinking of letters of recommendation, actually.

This is a little weird.

My wife had a job she was applying for last year ask for three letter of recommendation. Between the two of us it has been the only time that has been a requirement in our entire working lives.

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