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What Do I Need To Know To Be a Programmer in the Workforce?

916 Contributor
I want to be a professional computer programmer, software engineer, etc. My dream job is to work for Google or Apple. Has anybody here worked for these companies (or any other big name companies)? Or even smaller computer based companies for that matter. What would you suggest I learn to achieve this goal? What are some key skills? I'm at the High School level right now, 11th grade to be exact. What should I be getting into? Any scholarships out there that I can get for computers?
Jul 10 '08 #1
6 6500
1,208 Recognized Expert Top Contributor
College there are numerous Majors you can get into that will lead you in the direction you want to go.

In the mean time you need to establish what kind of programming you want to do..


Once you decide what you want to do start learning it on your own before you head to college, this way you know what you want to do and if you will like it. This way you won't have to switch majors half way through school because you are doing something you don't like.

There are 1,000's of scholarships out there for anything. You just have to find them, talk to you guidance concealer at school they will be able to provide you with a list of things you can apply for.
Jul 10 '08 #2
63 New Member
Getting your foot in the door is the hardest but you have to keep at it on Dice.com Monster.com and other it sites as well as whatever college you choose that might have business' that look at it and ask for students to be employee's. It took me 2 months to get my current job and I was trained for both Software and Web developement by someone who was in the business. I realize most poeple aren't that lucky to have someone so close to them as a reference.

Google is a huge company and I suggest you look into any scholarships they provide or internships(non paying since you are a lower level right now). Getting your foot in the door is more important than the money. Look at the languages that company uses and start getting online tutorials that are free and gather reference guides/sheet's to help you and start simple and move to more complex Active Directory.

These are my suggestions and if you feel compelled to take them to heart they may help you in the long run. This is a jog not a sprint. You have plenty of time.
Jul 14 '08 #3
916 Contributor
This is a jog not a sprint. You have plenty of time.
I like that last part there. Thanks for the support.
Jul 14 '08 #4
3 New Member
When I went through college I did not learn much of anything that I actually use or implement today.
They taught me the basic fundamentals of programming and some useful techniques and theory, yes, but the projects that we tackled weren't anything like what most people actually get paid that fat $$$ to do. You can't expect it either, programming is a very very broad field, so like the guy above said, once you figure out what you want to do in it, definitely ask this question again with more specific goals.

Most of the more useful lessons that I've learned have come from trying to duplicate current industry implementations and learning their practices. Defining a goal, try to see if I know enough to achieve it on my own, with resources like msdn.

But a lot of the times I haven't known enough to achieve my goals, and have had to ask for help on sites like this, or ask colleagues/teachers/students/google.
Thats another thing. This sight has a policy against helping students too much, which is a valid concern I guess, but outside of the classroom the rules change big time. Your boss doesn't care where you learned or borrowed techniques or code from, they only care whether or not you can do it, and you only care if they're happy with your results. (its nice to comment in props though)
So use those resources, and ask tons of questions! No resource is off limits in the real world. But play fair in school, you only hurt yourself if you don't actually learn what they're teaching you.

Learn project management. You'll find this useful no matter what you do, especially during school and/or hobby projects.
http://en.wikipedia.or g/wiki/Software_develo pment_process
http://en.wikipedia.or g/wiki/Project_managem ent
I highly recommend you make yourself familiar with these concepts.
One of the most catastrophic mistakes you'll ever make as a programmer is starting to write code before you've clearly defined what you want to accomplish, or how you plan to go about accomplishing it. So you really need to learn management skills whether you work alone or on a team. And never trust customers to know what they want. Projects can be a lovely mess. ;) (most projects fail)

Do hobby projects that will make you more familiar with the areas that you want to specialize in. Once you figure out what you want to get into, use products that you'd like to help participate in. Think to yourself, what makes them tick? What do they do that you don't know how to do? Believe in yourself t be capable of it, especially if its already been done!

Ask questions and develop relationships with people in the fields that you want to get into. Showing interest and effort is very important. For instance, if I were a recruiter, just reading this post would make me more interested in you. It shows humility and drive, and that is very important, because you're never going to know everything, nobody does, and you'll constantly be learning new things in this field.

I could go on forever, but I guess I'll stop. :p
Good luck!
Aug 11 '08 #5
62 New Member
I think that one of the most important things to becoming a computer programmer is to love what you do and to pursue things on your own. I am currently a sophmore in college and doing in house programming work for a small company. So far, almost everything I learned in my classes I already knew. This isn't because I have already taken a lot of classes but because I do other programming activities (such as research). If you want to truly learn something find a research oportunity once you get to college (just start asking professors, couselors, TA's. Even if they don't need someone they might know someone who does.). As for getting a job for Google or Apple, get an amazing resume and some really impressive references. Get an internship/summer job in the field every summer if you can (ask people around you. Almost every company needs people to program and people who are good with computers).

I think my main suggestion would be to start learning and never stop. If you don't know where to start then choose a language and start programming. (For languages I would start with Java or C/C++). If you can't think of a program to write or you can't think of a basic one, look at projecteuler. It has some nice problems which are mathematically based. You could also ask for fun/basic programs to write on a forum. I am sure people remember programs they enjoyed writing when they where first starting.

Good luck,

Aug 13 '08 #6
583 Contributor
ya, like im a freshman this coming year, and i think i took visual basic already because my school is kind of popular, and has quite a selection to choose from, i forgot if i took it, but i know i took some kind of computer class, you just wanna keep your brain in shape with it, you dont wanna overdo it and slave yourself until the point you feel that you dont want to program anymore. in the same sense, you do not barely want to have any time programming up until the time you decide to go to college.

and another thing, and my county and some nearby have Work Career Centers, and when you are a junior you can take a two year course at the school and they have a variety of courses, basically like a pre-college, it gives you experience in the field, they have a couple of programming courses there. but you do have to know what kinda programmer you want to be, because programming is a huge sub-category of the IT category. ok hope i helped...
Aug 16 '08 #7

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