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Lain Rivers

Computer Science seems very daunting.

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First off, I've taken a first year college course for computer programming which focused on teaching the fundamentals through the python language. I was able to do all the assignments well enough, and I even feel as though I have an upper edge on some when it came to problem solving and programming in general in class. However, I feel very daunted by the computer science major as a whole. I have no idea what life is like in the shoes of a software developer or how hard the major/career actually is.

The real problem I'm facing is lately I've been insanely afraid of the career choice as a software developer because every time I look at anything, be it a video game, websites, etc, I feel completely overwhelmed by how much coding and effort has to go into all of it, and frankly, I'm not sure I have what it takes as I page through my books re-doing last years assignments (of which so far I've only been unable to complete one) What I want to know is; what the daily life of anyone who has a major in computer science consists of, what the workload is, and how much pressure they are under to perform to the best of their ability? Majorly, what happens when you aren't able to figure something out or complete a segment of code? What kind of problems do you have to tackle on a daily basis? etc. (Would a job shadow be highly recommended?)

Even if I'm completely overwhelmed at the moment, I really enjoy computers and the idea that with the proper training I could create anything I wanted. Would anyone completely recommend this career choice? Has anyone else felt this way and everything ended up turning out just fine?

Thanks in advance!

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I do not know the job availability and outlook, but I believe it would be a fun career.

If it feels daunting, rethink what you actually want to do with your life.

If it feels right still, forget how overwhelming it feels. You have to drive through with passion for what you love to do. When you have a project as a software designer or video game designer, you usually work with other people, and only on part of the project at a time. It's broken down into chunks to prevent this overwhelming. And when you have the knowledge of a high level programmer, things are still hard, but it's part of the job. It will get easier with time. Just stay passionate.

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If you have to ask yourself whether computer science is the right choice for you depending on the amount of work you'd have to do, then I think it's pretty obvious
When you choose your education you should try to take something for which you're motivated 100%, regardless of the amount of work you'll have to do; if computer science is not really your passion then you're probably going to have a hard time with it eventually

Just my 2 cents

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[quote name='Lain Rivers' timestamp='1313277206' post='4848793']
1. I have no idea what life is like in the shoes of a software developer or how hard the major/career actually is.
2. I've been insanely afraid of the career choice as a software developer because every time I look at anything, be it a video game, websites, etc, I feel completely overwhelmed by how much coding and effort has to go into all of it,
3. and frankly, I'm not sure I have what it takes
4. what the daily life of anyone who has a major in computer science consists of, what the workload is, and how much pressure they are under to perform to the best of their ability?
5. what happens when you aren't able to figure something out or complete a segment of code?
6. What kind of problems do you have to tackle on a daily basis? etc.
7. Would a job shadow be highly recommended?)
8. Has anyone else felt this way and everything ended up turning out just fine?
[/quote]
1. Read, then. Start with [url="http://archives.igda.org/breakingin/path_programming.htm"]this[/url]* and then read some postmortems at gdmag.
*The salary info is a little old; see http://gamedeveloper.texterity.com/gamedeveloper/2010cg?pg=19#pg19

2. You don't have to do it all alone! If you were studying skyscraper architecture, you wouldn't have to dig the holes, pour the concrete, erect all the steel, install all the glass all by yourself.

3. So what are you sure you have what it takes for? If you didn't go into game programming, what would you do instead? What career would you go for?

4. Read about "QoL" in the game industry -- Google it. Read about the L.A. Noire development process. That's like the worst case I've heard of. Usually a programmer works about 9 hours a day (45 hours a week), and longer during crunch times. There's almost always crunch on a project, although some companies crunch less and some crunch more. Depending.

5. Then you talk to some of the other programmers, see if they have ideas. You won't get assigned to do stuff you're not that good at.

6. You're given assignments. Usually stuff you're suited for.

7. It would be highly unlikely.

8. Most likely.

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Being a developer is about solving small problems and to keep doing such until you reach an overall goal. I think you're looking at the end process and imagining you doing all that work yourself which is pretty unreasonable on the examples you've given. I'd say stick it out. And, only focus on your immediate puzzle in front of you. Skyscrapers look pretty tall from the ground but everything looks tiny when you finally reach the top floor. :wink:

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All scientific fields require hard work to master. There is strong competition within all the fields among the people who practice them. The experience of studying something for several/many hours a day, however, can be anything between a total pain and a pleasure, depending on how much interest you hold for the subject. So you have to lay down the alternatives and decide for yourself which of them is closer to your interests and follow that.

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Note that Tom's points about workload and quality of life are gamedev specific. Bizdev tends to be less eh... extreme in the majority of cases.

[quote name='Lain Rivers' timestamp='1313277206' post='4848793']
The real problem I'm facing is lately I've been insanely afraid of the career choice as a software developer because every time I look at anything, be it a video game, websites, etc, I feel completely overwhelmed by how much coding and effort has to go into all of it,
[/quote]

Good. You're in a better spot than the majority who can't understand that the scope of even 'simple' things is fairly substantial. As you get more experienced, the perceived scope of some of those things will go down (as you understand how much has already been built and is in libraries). And as Tom said, you won't be alone in doing things.

[quote]
What I want to know is; what the daily life of anyone who has a major in computer science consists of, what the workload is, and how much pressure they are under to perform to the best of their ability?
[/quote]

It will vary mostly on where you work. Personally, I have a little bit of pressure because of our deadline, because my code will drive things that are visible to about 2 million people daily, but mostly because I'm now overseeing a small team of developers and are responsible for their output. I spend about 2 hours a day writing code. Most of that is automated tests. The rest is meetings or collaboration or design work or task management or code reviews. 2 hours is probably on the high side for your run of the mill bizdev house.

[quote]
Majorly, what happens when you aren't able to figure something out or complete a segment of code?
[/quote]

You google until you can, or ask one of your coworkers. Or see if that feature can but cut/modified to make it more tenable.

[quote]
What kind of problems do you have to tackle on a daily basis?
[/quote]

Mostly mundane problems. How can I get these bits to that machine; how can this piece of code know which widget to change; why is that unit test failing; how can I get my job done with all of this bureaucracy in my way...

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It becomes easier. I'm starting my 2.5 year now (took a 6 months break) and it's become alot easier to understand, structure and program. It's verry daunting the first year since there's so much to learn to actually be able to do some more advance things. But once you get the hang of it and learnt a thing or two you'll notice that your workflow will be alot faster ^^

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