IT and some college questions.

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by Pluberus, Dec 26, 2009.

  1. Pluberus

    Pluberus New Member

    By saying my attention span was short, I did not mean to say I lack patience. There's just something about programming that grates on me. I have done some house calls for people before, and I enjoy that kind of work.

    For some reason, I can work on the same problem for hours without a problem (just ask my mom :D ) - but programming just bothers me.

    Thanks for the advice!
  2. ITJD

    ITJD Guest

    Jumping in late to the discussion as I've not been paying attention. :)

    I'd like to offer two cents worth of opinion.

    1. Carole's posts are spot on. Especially the ones about people skills being far more important than technical skills. You'll advance much farther by being the guy or girl that interfaces well with non-technical people and understands the customer.

    2. In terms of degree, if I had approached my career with computers in mind from the beginning and looking at my peers who have placed well in firms immediately after graduation, I'd have to choose a computer science degree over an IT degree and supplementing the degree with core IT certifications on some platform that I want to specialize in. These days it'd be a CS with a focus in mathematical computation and Red Hat Linux RHCT or RHCE.. then moving up from there. (your mileage may vary.)

    3. In terms of needing scripting or programming skills in the security space, my advice is to develop those skills in an appropriate language for your specialized area of networking. VBScript is a good starting point for Microsoft and any perl scripting will assist you in the Unix space but distributions vary and shells vary so in many cases you just need to read up on what's out there.

    If you're doing sysadmin work, then you may never need this ability as Carole and others have said. If you're doing consulting work across businesses and eventually writing your own primers/doing keynotes at conferences or doing ethical hacking work, you will need to be conversant in order to be seen as credible. Bottom line, all security work is or can be seen as lucrative. There are different levels of lucrative. (different strokes for different folks).

    All things stated, getting that CS degree will get you conversant at the beginning of your career. (While few CS programs focus on scripting languages for network systems it would get you thinking in code and make those scripts easier to digest.)

    The opposite side of the argument is that an IT degree isn't a bad thing. It's a degree and a worthy approach. If that's what suits you, you will find employment. I just see a lot of people coming in for interviews at my help desk saying "I want to get into security" as where they see themselves in five years. My general reply is.. "If you want to get somewhere in five years, you need to get yourself into the career path that most directly leads to that place. Help Desks don't dump into security." In general, that's where most people doing IT degrees start unless they get good internships from school.

    Hope this helps in some way.

    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 1, 2010
  3. cutedeedle

    cutedeedle I speak Geek. Will translate on request.

    Sorry, I was just giving some general advice, I wasn't assuming you're lacking in social skills. :D
    And programming grates on my nerves too, although writing short scripts is actually kind of fun, at least compared to "big iron" assembler language and COBOL. Once you've learned one scripting language you can easily pick up many others.
  4. Fortunato

    Fortunato Member


    I'm a little late to the party here, but I still hope that you'll see this message. I'm going to be a little contrary here and try and point you in a way that you might find more rewarding, both intrinsically and financially speaking. From reading your description of yourself, you might find a career in Electrical Engineering much more enticing than a career in IT. Someone who enjoys tearing apart computers and repairing them in high school will naturally get pushed towards a career in IT by those around him/her, because they're "good with computers". But if you have a real aptitude for electronics, it's going to be wasted swapping network cards and hooking up printers. As an electrical engineer, on the other hand, you're going to be guaranteed to be tackling something new and unique with each project you work on, because you'll be creating things instead of servicing them.

    I've been in the IT business a long time, and I've seen people who say the things you're saying - you enjoy working with computers, but you hate programming. The problem is that the way up in IT usually involves programming of some sort, whether it be business application development, scripting to make life as a admin easier, web site management, or whatever. Not many people jump from the help desk or desktop support into management (or even senior technical roles) without stopping somewhere in the software development world first. Every self-described "hardware guy" I've ever met in IT has seen their career stall and ended up doing one of two things:

    1. Gone to the "dark side" and learned Perl / PHP / Visual Basic / etc.​
    2. Stayed on the help desk and griped about money.​

    Desktop support is a great first job in IT, but it's not anyone's idea of a great career.

    On the other hand, I can point to the example of my college roommate, who was also "good with computers" but hated programming. A year into college, someone suggested to him that he check out the electrical engineering program at our school, because he seemed pretty unhappy in his chosen major, but loved to tinker with obsolete electronics, be they computers, or video game consoles, or stereos. It took him an extra year to graduate, but he's been steadily employed in a field he loves for the last twelve years. He started out in telecom, developing high density digital circuit cards, and now develops custom electronics for a prototyping shop in eastern NC. He still hates programming, and still doesn't do it. He makes really good money, and pokes fun at "business types" (like me) every chance he gets.

    I could be reading you all wrong here, but I suspect I'm not. You sound like an inveterate tinkerer, and I doubt that swapping PCI cards will keep your particular itch scratched for very long. Here are a couple of links to EE programs near you. Good luck, and let us know where you end up. Maybe you'll be back for some advice on an MBA or graduate engineering degree someday!

    Kansas State Electrical Engineering
    University of Kansas Electrical Engineering
    Wichita State Electrical Engineering

    P.S. I also get the sense from your posts that you're worried about money. As a high school senior whose college plans aren't solidified, you probably should be. A lot of scholarship deadlines will have already passed. That being said, don't let money make this decision for you. Whether you choose a career in IT or in EE, you are picking a field with (relatively) solid prospects and good earning potential. If you work part-time and stick with a state school, you should be able to handle the debt load you'll build up while you're in school.

    If you're really worried about money, spend next year at a community college getting your general education requirements out of the way, and use the extra year to get out in front of your educational funding needs. Apply for every scholarship you can find, then look for some more. Consider a ROTC scholarship - it will pay for school, and your first job will be waiting for you when you graduate. With your ACT scores and grades, you shouldn't have too much of a problem landing one.
  5. cutedeedle

    cutedeedle I speak Geek. Will translate on request.

    Pluberus and Fortunato, this is really fabulous advice! My only addition might be, and you can check out various degree tracks, is to dabble in various courses that you mentioned, to see what you think and if you like them as well as having the aptitude. I personally love the idea of web development, but with about zero artistic/creative molecules in my brain, that simply wasn't an option -- I would end up working very hard and the results would be ghastly. I sure admired my staff who could do such things -- awesome.

    Yeah, I agree, swapping out hard drives, PCI cards and motherboards doesn't sound like that will cut it for you, and trust me on this -- unless you'll be going into business for yourself it's pretty much the end of the road as far as careers. These choices are such personal things, so the best advice is choose an academic program you think interests you. It can always be adjusted if you don't like it. You're not stuck forever in network administration hell if the classes turn out to be unsuitable for you. (Check out the degree "washouts" postings if you don't believe me!)

    Once you have that degree you're ahead of about 3/4 of other people in I.T. based strictly on following through and completing a rigorous college program. I know I always preferred a college graduate when I had a choice of similar candidates for my staff. Being a hiring director in several places, private and government, GPA didn't matter, so never stress over that either.

    Okay, now go forth and compute, don't worry, be happy!
  6. Pluberus

    Pluberus New Member

    Wow. Excellent post. I'm gonna have to do some hard thinking and consider this. I'm not sure if I would like it or not, but you are right, I really do love tinkering with electronics (taking apart computers, messing with radios, amps, etc).

    The only thing I really know for now is that I love computers and fixing problems - that's why the IT degree appealed to me so much - I actually enjoy the "help-desk job".

    I will think about this. Thank you.
  7. Pluberus

    Pluberus New Member

    Sorry for the double post - it will not let me edit anymore. :(

    I actually enjoy "installing printers for people", "swapping network cards", etc. That's why I am so attracted to an IT degree. The main reason I'm so concerned with tuition is that between my Pell Grant (my efc is 0) and scholarships at Arkansas Tech University, I'd be able to attend there for free (getting an IT degree).

    I would of liked to get a degree (the BTOM) at Neumont University (2.5 years + guaranteed job), but the tuition there is wayy out of my league (they have very few scholarships).

    Currently, the main colleges I'm debating are:
    Abilene Christian University (if I can get a fullride) - BS in IT (Course Catalog: and (scroll down))
    Arkansas Tech University - BS in IT (Course Catalog:
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 11, 2010

Share This Page