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What Does It Take To Be A Programmer ?

I am 39 years old and am anxious to change carreers and get into the programming field. While I am anxious to do so I do not want to waste any more time if I'm not being realistic.



I have been studying programming for about 1 1/2 years. I first took 2 community college courses in Cobol and now attend a business school where I have taken 2 courses in VB and will be taking 2 in C++ next.



I am somewhat getting the hang of it and can write some simple stuff using arrays, functions, procedures, random and sequential file access etc.



I still have doubts about whether or not I have what it takes to be a programmer. Is being able to pick up the above concepts,(and not so easily at times)an indication of yes, or not necessarily.



I especially have these doubts when I browse through books on advanced topics. I recently have purchased some books on computer science and algorithms thinking this would help my overall programming education.



They were way above my head, especially the books on algorithms, even though it was titled (Introduction To Algorithms, Thomas Cormen). It was very heady. Im not sure I can see myself ever comprehending this stuff.



Is knowing this stuff essential to being a good programmer or is just learning the language sufficent.



Thanks in advance for your time and help



Mark


Comments

  • A little comprehencion of Math (mostly discrete ("integer math" so to say)) like algebra.

    Being able to think logically is a must.

    Furthermore, don't rush into things'. Don't start of with to many languages, first learn one or two (C or Pascal would be nice, or Visual Basic if you want to dive dirctly into windows application programming). Main thing is to get a grasp of programming itsself, cause most algorithms are easely transfered from one language to the other, once you know the basics.



    Good luck


  • : I am 39 years old and am anxious to change carreers and get into the programming field. While I am anxious to do so I do not want to waste any more time if I'm not being realistic.

    :

    : I have been studying programming for about 1 1/2 years. I first took 2 community college courses in Cobol and now attend a business school where I have taken 2 courses in VB and will be taking 2 in C++ next.

    :

    : I am somewhat getting the hang of it and can write some simple stuff using arrays, functions, procedures, random and sequential file access etc.

    :

    : I still have doubts about whether or not I have what it takes to be a programmer. Is being able to pick up the above concepts,(and not so easily at times)an indication of yes, or not necessarily.

    :

    : I especially have these doubts when I browse through books on advanced topics. I recently have purchased some books on computer science and algorithms thinking this would help my overall programming education.

    :

    : They were way above my head, especially the books on algorithms, even though it was titled (Introduction To Algorithms, Thomas Cormen). It was very heady. Im not sure I can see myself ever comprehending this stuff.

    :

    : Is knowing this stuff essential to being a good programmer or is just learning the language sufficent.

    :

    : Thanks in advance for your time and help

    :

    : Mark

    :



    Ok, it is necessary...but I would'nt use books...they're an expensive investment. Search the web, they're much better. www.cpp-programming.com is a great resource, as is this site. Best of luck to you!



    any questions, feel free to email me...



    scallion@digintrus.com


  • : I am 39 years old and am anxious to change carreers and get into the programming field. While I am anxious to do so I do not want to waste any more time if I'm not being realistic.

    :

    : I have been studying programming for about 1 1/2 years. I first took 2 community college courses in Cobol and now attend a business school where I have taken 2 courses in VB and will be taking 2 in C++ next.

    :

    : I am somewhat getting the hang of it and can write some simple stuff using arrays, functions, procedures, random and sequential file access etc.

    :



    Hi all --



    I'll throw my two cents in too, even though this thread is getting a little old. This is my story: I call it "How to Not be a Computer Programmer".



    I once was 39, but it was back in the mid 80's at a time when the country was slowing down. I too realized that a new career in computer programming was a good idea.



    As a long-time computer enthusiast, I had the background, and the attitude that I knew would make me a fantastic computer programmer. My construction job was going nowhere; but, it could support my family while I took night classes at the community college.



    I started out with "Introduction to Business Data Processing" and "Elementary Algebra" (It had been a long time since my high-school algebra). I took classes in Pascal and C. When Object-oriented programming got a foot-hold, I took a class in C++. "Intermediate Algebra". "Data Structures and Algorithms". Assembly language. A semester of Cobol. "Programming for Science". Technical writing. Lecture courses in artificial intelligence. Astronomy. (??)



    And I loved it all! Computer science was for me! It seemed like a big toy. It was fun!



    Then the boom dropped. The rock quarry where I worked went belly-up. I went looking for a job at the bottom of the recession. Months later, I found one -- in a building materials sales yard that was an hour away from home. The job was ok; not much in the way of benefits, but I enjoyed the pleasant work place and good people. And I hated the commute. My day was two hours shorter so continuing my education was impossible.



    Finally, things turned around. The company was bought out by our competitor, but they bought only the infrastructure -- the stock and equipment. Technically, that meant that I would be terminated by the old company, and be hired by the new one. I had a plan. I would demand a 50% wage increase. The new company would opt out of paying my extortion, and I would be free to go look for a better job while I collected unemployment insurance!



    My plan didn't work. I got the raise. Oh well.



    Today, I still work for the same construction materials company, but in a division that is only 15 minutes from home. I have a much better position: I'm a driver with an income almost three times that of an entry-level programmer. It's a great place to work with great benefits, and great people.



    As a professional driver and a computer enthusiast now with a "Computer Programming Certificate" and a two-year college degree (major in Computer Science), I have no regrets. I enjoy programming as a hobby and I feel a little more secure with my certificate and degree. They are getting a little old now and I see a couple of classes listed at the community college that interest me: Visual Basic and Java.



    I'm not sure that this story will help anyone with career-changing decisions. I think that the most important advice that I can give anyone is this: find a way to enjoy whatever it is you want to do, and/or whatever it is you are doing!



    Enjoy!

    Al


    URL:http://www.norcalbm.com

  • : Ok, it is necessary...but I would'nt use

    : books...they're an expensive investment. Search

    : the web, they're much better. www.cpp-

    : programming.com is a great resource,

    : as is this site.



    Poppycock. Why do you think books are so expensive, and that all programmers has shelves full of them, if get the same for free on the net?



    Cheers,

    Eric


  • > I am 39 years old and am anxious to change carreers and get

    > into the programming field. While I am anxious to do so I do

    > not want to waste any more time if I'm not being realistic.



    I also started late in life, after a career as a musician. I have had the same doubts, so I can totally relate. I'm a professional programmer now, but I never could have imagined this would happen. I still remember how cryptic and frightening C looked to me when I first saw it. When I go back and re-read programs I wrote 3 years ago, they read like children's books. These are programs that at the time I thought were large and complex.



    > I still have doubts about whether or not I have what it takes

    > to be a programmer. Is being able to pick up the above

    > concepts,(and not so easily at times) an indication of yes,

    > or not necessarily.



    What do you think it takes? Here's an excerpt from "Code Complete" by Steve McConnell.



    "Being a programmer is less a matter of native intelligence and more a matter of character. The characteristics that matter most are humility, curiosity, intellectual honesty, creativity and discipline, and enlightened laziness. The characteristics of a superior programmer have almost nothing to do with talent and everything to do with a commitment to personal developments. Surprisingly, raw intelligence, experiences, persistence, and guts hurt as much as they help."



    Humility is understanding that you are dumb. Nobody is smart enough to program computers, software is simply too complex. Learning to be a good programmer is not about exercising your brain to the point where you can do super-human things, it's about learning tools and techniques to help you overcome limitations of your brain - to break down the unmanageably complex into manageable chunks.



    > I especially have these doubts when I browse through books on

    > advanced topics. I recently have purchased some books on

    > computer science and algorithms thinking this would help my

    > overall programming education.



    > They were way above my head, especially the books on

    > algorithms, even though it was titled (Introduction To

    > Algorithms, Thomas Cormen). It was very heady. Im not sure I

    > can see myself ever comprehending this stuff.



    Looking at books that are over your head is always intimidating. To reassure yourself, go back an look at some older material - stuff that used to look really hard that is now well within your grasp.



    There will never be an end to the learning - you will always be able to find books that will look scary - just don't get ahead of yourself and you will be fine. Just try to really understand each concept at every step of the way, and enjoy the ride.



    If 4 years from now you still cannot make heads-or-tails of those books, try different books. You may find a book that better suits your learning style, your current knowledge and abilities.



    > Is knowing this stuff essential to being a good programmer or

    > is just learning the language sufficent.



    It's important. Learning a computer language is like learning English. Being able to write grammatically correct sentences is only a start - it does not automatically follow that you can then write business letters, poems or novels. Conversely, the same skills required to write a novel can be applied in English, Russian, or Chinese.



    If you work your way through an entry-level data structures/algorithms book, that may be all you ever need. The important thing to get out of such a book is not how to write a Quick Sort, but understanding that a Quick Sort is faster than a bubble sort, and having some idea why.



    Anyway, I've rambled enough,



    Cheers,

    Eric


  • You are a fatass, you donkeyrapping shiteater. You big floppy donkeydick.
    That is my message.

    Johnny




  • The DudeThe Dude Posts: 6Member

    believe in yourself and you can do anything

  • ant_gant_g Posts: 5Member
    It takes a collection of very bad jumpers and a lack of social skills to do it properly (hehe) -

    but seriously you'll probably find that you're already better qualified that a lot of programmers already in the business --

    successful programmers basically are just able to apply their intelligence to problem solving - the lexical elements of most programming languages are all much of a muchness really (they do after all follow exactly the same principles of discrete mathematics)

    I did much the same as you (but I must admit at a much earlier age) - if you're happy taking a trainee / junior pay rate for a couple of years you should be set up afterwards

    I started out on bad bad pay (big drop as well) but know earn a mint as a contractor and I've only got about 4 yrs exp plus a couple of MCP exam passes (these really do help btw)

    hope that helps

  • tawdjawztawdjawz Posts: 1Member
    : I am 39 years old and am anxious to change carreers and get into the programming field. While I am anxious to do so I do not want to waste any more time if I'm not being realistic.
    :
    : I have been studying programming for about 1 1/2 years. I first took 2 community college courses in Cobol and now attend a business school where I have taken 2 courses in VB and will be taking 2 in C++ next.
    :
    : I am somewhat getting the hang of it and can write some simple stuff using arrays, functions, procedures, random and sequential file access etc.
    :
    : I still have doubts about whether or not I have what it takes to be a programmer. Is being able to pick up the above concepts,(and not so easily at times)an indication of yes, or not necessarily.
    :
    : I especially have these doubts when I browse through books on advanced topics. I recently have purchased some books on computer science and algorithms thinking this would help my overall programming education.
    :
    : They were way above my head, especially the books on algorithms, even though it was titled (Introduction To Algorithms, Thomas Cormen). It was very heady. Im not sure I can see myself ever comprehending this stuff.
    :
    : Is knowing this stuff essential to being a good programmer or is just learning the language sufficent.
    :
    : Thanks in advance for your time and help
    :
    : Mark
    :
    :


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