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Old 01-05-2010, 01:29 AM   #1
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moving forward in my career (software developer)

Edit: Oops. Sorry if this is in the wrong forum. I meant to post it in the general forums, yet somehow it ended up here. It kind of fits here as well I guess.

I am currently trying to move my career forward and am not having much luck. So I've come to see if any of you can offer some fresh advice to help me out.

Let me tell you first where I stand in my career to give you an idea of where I'm starting from. I am currently 26 years old and have recently graduated with a bachelors of computer science from university. I would call myself an average student, nothing special, nor anything horrible. Out of university this landed me an ok job as a PHP developer. However I dont want to stagnate in this position scripting junk all day and not ever challenge myself. not to mention i could certainly rant for a while on the things that fall short at my current position (read: being banned from object oriented programming because the boss cant understand it)

I'd like to find a job that
(1) challenges me just the right amount to help me learn and grow but not get overwhelmed in a language I enjoy (hopefully such as C/C++/Java or the like)

(2) is at a company with at least some software design process implemented (agile,xp,etc)

and if that is to much to ask, then I'd at least like to move in that direction.

So that is what I am looking towards and I would love any advice on how to achieve that. Maybe some of you were in my position 5 or 10 years ago and could shed some light on the subject.

I've scoured the internet for job postings that offer what I am looking for, but they are really hard to find. The postings are usually looking for senior or intermediate level programmers with at least 5+ years of experience, or looking for web development script monkeys to make "The next big facebook app" (the job I already have)

I've also considered attending conferences and such, but have never really been, and wouldn't know what to do, or where to even find out about them (I used to see postings every now and then at university, but now I live in a small town.)

Thanks for spending the time to read this, and thanks in advance for any advice you can give.


Last edited by valkrial; 01-05-2010 at 01:49 AM.
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Old 01-05-2010, 03:46 AM   #2
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Post My advice to programmers wishing to advance their careers.

Do what I did. Become a part-time student. That part-time is devoted to furthering your career. Find an interesting masters-degree-program. Make personal contacts at the university, both students and professors and others. Let them know what you are looking for. Many companies are looking for future employees there. And suddenly you might switch your part-time boring job with a part-time exciting one. While working on your next degree. (And the jobs you can get as a master are MUCH more exciting than those you get as a bachelor. And they come more easily.)

Also, a very useful hobby is to broaden your horizon by experimenting with different computer languages with other mindsets / paradigms than what you are used to. Every new language you learn will not only improve your mind and broaden your job opportunities, but will make you a better programmer, capable of utilizing ideas from how things are done in different languages into whatever language(s) you are using. And to better judge which tools (languages) would best be suited to solve which parts of your problems.

I'd suggest Python and Forth to start with. Python is quite powerful, easy to learn and has a syntax not too dissimilar from C, C++ and Java. You will quickly learn to love it. Forth, on the other hand, is extremely simple, easily expansible and encourages a slightly different mindset. Try Forth. Try to make your own Forth-like interpreter (yes, Forth is that simple). Modify it to whatever needs may arise.

After getting some grips on Forth and Python, there are some truly powerful languages waiting for you, i.e. Lisp, ProLog and J. There are other good ones as well, but of those few I have tried / investigated, these seem like a very, very good bunch to master.

I hope this might be of help, and I wish you an interesting future.

PS: Some readers of this post might wish to rant about which languages they would rather suggest. To you I say: please don't, even if you might be right. I know from experience that for some people, choice of language is an emotionally charged issue that can easily spark flame-wars (endless discussions). So please, please don't. At least not here.
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Old 01-09-2010, 02:17 PM   #3
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Thanks for your long and useful post! Assuming a masters includes a thesis, what kinds of stuff would a comp sci thesis paper be on? I've never done much in the way of computer science research.


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