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No Qualifications

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Good Day! Currently I'm running my own business (a garment printing business), but in all honesty - I'm just not happy with it anymore and feel it's time to move on to something that relates to my passion of programming (which I have developed over the course of the years as a hobby++). I'm 27 with no qualifications. However my questions are for anyone that was in my boat or has any clues: Is it possible I can find myself in a Software Engineering Course with my current level of skills: Fairly competent in each of these languages and have good experience with Windows based programming and have written quite a few programs and games. Assembly, C, C++, Java, PHP etc. I know Mathematics will probably be the key stop gap, since I can imagine that would be a requirement, however perhaps I can learn that along the way ? I have a lot of the fundamentals well nailed including OOP and visualising from a low level (Assembly, which I felt was the biggest boost to my overall understanding of all High languages). I guess I really should phone around shortly, but it would be nice to hear from anyone that has progressed from such a situation. I'm willing to put in the efforts for a better outlook in life. Thanks for stopping by :) [Edited by - PiCkLeD on March 29, 2006 8:24:44 AM]

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You could always go to a local community college and get your B.S. in Computer Science. Failing that, there are several certifications that you could get to make yourself look better.

Other than that, I can't think of much you can do to get into the industry withouth some sort of degree or certification. Then again, I'm not even *in* the industry so take my advice with a grain of salt.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Old? I have kids who are nearly your age (and I am in the industry). Get off your butt and get moving if you want it.

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The "Old" was meant to be for fun so my apologies if the "older" people take offense.

The get up off your butt and get moving thing is really great advice, however it dosen't quite answer any of my questions, if you wish to give me a lecture on the failings and shortfalls of a "lazy sitting on their butt" person, then take it to personal tells, since you seemed to labelled me before I have begun.

I am trying to get off my "butt" with regards to this, however I am not getting off my "butt" in general terms of life if that is what you are going to brand me as (a lay about).

As mentioned a change of direction (as happens in life).

Excuse my snappy nature, but I dont wear fools gladly.

[Edited by - PiCkLeD on March 29, 2006 8:14:36 AM]

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Most of these courses (e.g. software engineering, computer science and so on) are a big joke (at least in the UK). The most important thing they can teach you is how to properly research a subject (be it an API, language or what have you) and motivate you to pursue further study in a given field.

From what you've told us, I don't think you lack the motivation nor the skills in research, so go for it. Maybe you can get the course leader to allow you to enroll directly to the 2nd year of the degree, provided that you can demonstrate a sufficient level of understanding of the 1st year modules...blah...blah...(put together a small portfolio with the programmes you already have).

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Quote:
Original post by Fluffy-Bunny
Most of these courses (e.g. software engineering, computer science and so on) are a big joke (at least in the UK).


Why such a big joke? Students on the games prog. course at our (UK) uni. come out being able to program in C++ and with a portfolio of 4 or 5 playable games.
They also come out with knowledge of OpenGL, Direct3D, UnrealScript, RenderWare and can choose to specialise in AI, physics etc.

Why isn't that useful?

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Quote:
Original post by Fluffy-Bunny
Most of these courses (e.g. software engineering, computer science and so on) are a big joke (at least in the UK).


I totally agree.

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Original post by PiCkLeD
I know Mathematics will probably be the key stop gap, since I can imagine that would be a requirement, however perhaps I can learn that along the way ?

Don't worry about that. You only really need advanced maths for high level engineering and for graphics programming. Chances are, yes, you will be able to learn anything you need along the way, so do not worry about that.

I've been a professional programmer now to almost 2 months and the most complex piece maths I have done was some form of date calculation.

One thing you will need though, and I cannot stress this enough, you will need a great love of tea and/or coffee. If you hate those, then, boy, I don't know. [grin]

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<quote>
Why such a big joke? Students on the games prog. course at our (UK) uni. come out being able to program in C++ and with a portfolio of 4 or 5 playable games.
They also come out with knowledge of OpenGL, Direct3D, UnrealScript, RenderWare and can choose to specialise in AI, physics etc.

Why isn't that useful?
</quote>

Theoritically speaking, a BSc CGP (computer games programming) student should be proficient in the aforementioned APIs (well maybe not unrealscript) but surely the basic graphics APIs and a popular middleware solution like Renderware. In practice, many of them are NOT because they are, simply put, code monkeys. Being a code monkey and presenting other people's code as your own is quite different from being a knowledgeable programmer.

Ask yourself why universities like Teesside, which was one of the first to offer games-related courses, are now actively trying to employ modern software to track and punish the hordes of plagiarists. It is because things are quickly spiralling out of control and now students would rather spend a couple of hours hunting for a nice D3D9 wrapper than to go through the DX documentation and write it themselves. Of course, I need not mention that the original authors are never mentioned in the code or the accompanying reports...

All I can say is that they'll get a big surprise when they do their first interview for a programming job...

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Quote:
Original post by PiCkLeD
Currently I'm running my own business

[...]

I'm 27 with no qualifications.

That's an oxymoron. You're running your own business. At 27. You didn't go bankrupt, and seem to be doing fine. That's allready more than some business majors that try to run their startup and fail miserably. Qualification can come through experience. In fact, experience is much more important than some degree that often isn't even worth the paper it was printed on.

Let me tell you about the holy grail of corporate computer engineer recruitment: someone who knows both programming and business. A technician-manager hybrid, if you want. Those people are incredibly difficult to find, and everybody wants them. While you might not be there yet, you shouldn't underestimate the business leadership experience you already have aquired with your own business. Don't drop it completely for some CS/SE degree. The power lies in combining both.

Have you thought about doing some freelance work for a start ?

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I just wanted to add that some of my former, mature coursemates included electrical engineers, people in the sales department and a bored housewife. Those guys didn't work long hours in front of a PC due to various other responsibilities (e.g. kids, full-time job, disabled relatives, etc.), but they usually scored the highest.

P.S.: I studied software engineering at an English university and have friends and acquaintances in computer games-related courses.

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Why not try to jump right in? Prepare a resume that gives a good representation of what you're about - obviously you don't have professional game programming experience, so concentrate on explaining what you do have, what your business is all about, and what you do / have accomplished in the scope of your business. Don't try to stretch things - you will come across better if you give a good idea of both your strengths and weaknesses - that makes you look like you're not trying to stretch your skills (oh yeah, don't try to stretch your skills). There's no shame in not knowing something, or even a lot.

Then, send your resume around. Put it on monster.com and you might get a few bites. Junior programming opportunities do exist. Go through some interviews and see how you do - you might be surprised. If you do fall on your face, at least you will have an idea for the interview process, and you will recognize the 'typical' questions. Learn how virtual functions work and how a compiler implements them - there wasn't an interview I had that didn't ask me to explain that specifically. If you're not already familiar with them, take a few months and concentrate on getting a solid foundation in C++. Books help tremendously here. Get Accelerated C++ to start, and be sure to get ahold of Meyers' "Effective *" books. Josuttis' book on the standard library is a must have, and Bjarne's book is a good language reference.

After that, you'll either have a new job, or you'll at least have had the opportunity to talk to people in the industry that are responsible for hiring. If you feel the interview is really going badly, you might consider pointing out that you feel that way and instead ask for a few minutes of their time asking their advice for what you should do. It might also be a good idea to ask about other people that come through interviews, and if you are right in with 'average' or if you at least have some solid footing, but need a little extra.

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Quote:
Original post by Fluffy-Bunny

Ask yourself why universities like Teesside, which was one of the first to offer games-related courses, are now actively trying to employ modern software to track and punish the hordes of plagiarists. It is because things are quickly spiralling out of control and now students would rather spend a couple of hours hunting for a nice D3D9 wrapper than to go through the DX documentation and write it themselves. Of course, I need not mention that the original authors are never mentioned in the code or the accompanying reports...

All I can say is that they'll get a big surprise when they do their first interview for a programming job...


*nods* yes this is a problem. Partly it's addressed by the plagiarism software you mentioned but of course it's difficult to discriminate 'fair use' (extensive mods to the code, crediting the original authors) from out and out cheating.

Final year projects are perhaps the most important assessment, though, and these are accompanied by a 1 hour student presentation in which it would (hopefully) become apparent that the student didn't understand their 'own' code :)

Personally I think those students who have a genuine interest and desire to succeed will do well on a games prog. course such as Teesside's where many of the staff have extensive 'real world' experience in the games industry.
Those who pass off code as their own work will, as you say, be in for a big surprise come interview time.

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Go for it! Maybe you should ease your self into it, while keeping up your business, and then once a job opens up jump on it. Wild guess but you didn't mention any family, so if you are single, you'll want to make your move now. However, you probably won't need a degree to do it. I'm not saying don't, by all means get one, but if you're halfway through college and a job opens that you're qualified for, take it and run(providing you like the terms, and you can finish your degree)! You could also go freelance, doing websites with Java and PHP, while hiring yourself out for Windows App programming.

Your Ace in the hole should be that you can break down a problem and program a solution in a clear concise manner. I can't tell you how many noobs(including me when I started) have memorized syntax backward and forward, yet have no idea how to solve problems with it! Do this, and you will have the advantage!

While there is a lot of risk, you have a choice: Enjoy security in a job you hate(or tolerate), or take a chance and do what you love! I would take option 2. As long as you do what makes you happy, nothing else matters!

PS. As long as you put a lot of forethought into each choice, you should be fine.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Yann L
Let me tell you about the holy grail of corporate computer engineer recruitment: someone who knows both programming and business. A technician-manager hybrid, if you want. Those people are incredibly difficult to find, and everybody wants them.


I just wanted to emphasize this.

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