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Re: [OT] About Computer Careers

I'm jumping in a bit late, but I hope I can add something to the

I work as a sysadmin at a small ``liberal arts college of science
and engineering''.  I've also worked for a couple of other
organizations and companies as a sysadmin.  I have a B.A. in

So having a particular degree doesn't necessarily equate to
getting a particular job, at least outside of fairly rigid
organizations that focus more on paper achievements than actual
interests and skills.  (Even in those organizations, if you could
get past the human-resources barricade, someone with a less
traditional background could probably still get a job if their
skills fit.)

In the U.S., ``computer-science programs'' at colleges and
universities vary in exactly what they cover.  Some programs are
very focused on theory, to the exclusion of practical skills.
Some are practically job-training programs, aiming to turn out
students with all the ticked boxes they'll need to walk into a
mid- or entry-level programming job.  Most are somewhere in
between, trying to balance practical skills (e.g., Java, C++,
database design, software development, etc.)  with theoretical
chops (operating systems, theory of computation, logic,
programming languages (at the meta-level), etc.).  The more
``elite'' a school considers itself, the more likely that its
program will lean toward the theory side, although even many of
those schools tilted the other way when students (or their
parents) were scrambling for jobs in the dot-com boom economy.
(Post-Crash, programs are heading back to the theory side.)

There's also a second tier of schools (e.g., DeVry, ITT Tech) that
cater exclusively toward people who want a job programming Java,
or doing web development, or whatever.

I gather that there is a similar split in the U.K. and some of the
other Commonwealth countries, with ``computing science'' on the
theory end of things and ``IT'' on the practical side, often in
the same institution.


 Man cannot be civilised, or be kept civilised by what he does in his
	    spare time; only by what he does as his work.
			     W.R. Lethaby
  C.M. Connelly               c@eskimo.com                   SHC, DS

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