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  1. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Default Need opinions on transitioning into IT field

    I am looking into transitioning careers and stumbled upon this forum. I am specifically looking into being a program developer and wanted to know what the best way to get there would be.

    A little background about myself. I graduated from Temple University in 2013 majoring in Risk Management and Insurance with a minor in Management Information Systems (learned some SQL and JAVA). I have worked in the Insurance industry as an underwriter for 4 years and am now looking into transitioning into a programming role.
    I have been studying some coding on my own through Code Avengers and am learning JAVA and SQL now.

    I have plenty of options available to me including certificate programs, second bachelors in CS, Masters in CS and online Masters programs.
    The two options I am considering right now are an online Masters or an inclass masters. I thought about about a second bachelors, but credits wise it would be the same amount of credits as the masters program.

    Option #1- Post Bacc Certificate Program in Computer Science followed by Masters at Drexel University

    This program is local to me (Philadelphia) and would take the least amount of time to complete. I would have to complete the post bacc certificate program which is four classes followed by the masters which is another 42 credits. This is an expensive option, but it is the quickest option and I can take classes online or in the classroom since I am local.

    Option #2 - Prereqs + Masters Program at University of Illinois Springfield

    This is an online only Masters program. I would have about 9 prereqs prior to applying for the masters program. The program would take significantly longer than Drexel, but would be about half the cost.


    Any opinions welcomed. If there are other ways to make a career transition I am open to suggestions.

    Thanks!
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  3. Senior Member
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    Hello and welcome to TE.

    Can you elaborate on what you mean by "program developer"? That's not a technology role or term that I've heard used. AFAIK - a program developer is a role typically used in non-profit or public sector to describe someone that coordinates programs like education, etc.

    I am guessing that you want to be a software developer or programmer. Can you elaborate on the type of programming jobs that you are interested in? For example, web front-end, back-end, middleware, systems, embedded, etc.

    One other option since you appear to be in the US and close to a city is to explore a coding bootcamp - it could at least give you some exposure to commercial software development practices.

    Good luck.
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    #3
    When someone goes to a Masters degree from CS background it's a lot easier to accomplish. For someone with just a minor in non CS degree, I think it will take to much effort. You will not be learning how to code the basics at a degree at that level, you would already need to have the knowlege. Not that it cannot be done but while you are learning how to code a loop or how to call a function from a separate area of the program, the rest of your classmates will be coding functional programs.

    Make sure you really want to get into programming, it takes a loy of effort, logic, math and abstract problem solving.
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  5. Senior Member MontagueVandervort's Avatar
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    Programmer = B.S in Computer Science

    You're missing a 3rd option though... which is to find a more affordable option than #1. I think you're on the right track with option 1 except I feel like you're not opening your mind enough to the other options that may be out there (no offense). Remember that you can always transfer credits into any program and just simply take a B.S in CS anywhere. There are more affordable options with the same measure of speed out there. You just have to search for them.

    The other problem I see is that you may be in too much of a hurry.

    Pursue the BS first. Then do the MS later. Get some work experience in between and use the MS as career leverage. These are my suggestions to you.
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  6. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul78 View Post
    Hello and welcome to TE.

    Can you elaborate on what you mean by "program developer"? That's not a technology role or term that I've heard used. AFAIK - a program developer is a role typically used in non-profit or public sector to describe someone that coordinates programs like education, etc.

    I am guessing that you want to be a software developer or programmer. Can you elaborate on the type of programming jobs that you are interested in? For example, web front-end, back-end, middleware, systems, embedded, etc.

    One other option since you appear to be in the US and close to a city is to explore a coding bootcamp - it could at least give you some exposure to commercial software development practices.

    Good luck.
    Thank you for the response. Yes I was referring to software developer. Had a brain fart when typing the original post. I am really interested in any programming job to start off with and then figure out what may be the best role for me as I go along. I do enjoy the field and have enjoyed learning Python and Java on my own.

    We do have boot camps available in Philadelphia, but I am worried that it will not be beneficial from a career perspective vs a masters in C.S. I am really only thinking about the Masters because of all of the schools that advised me against a bachelors.
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    I have put a lot of thought into it and it is definitely what I want to do long term.
    I did initially reach out to schools regarding a second bachelors, but most advised to go for a masters because it would be strictly focused on CS and would not require me to take humanities, arts and other non associated classes.
    I am worried that the masters will be too difficult for me, but from what the academic advisors at Drexel tell me, plenty of people have succeeded in the program coming from a non technical background. The certificate program prior to the bachelors is intended to prepare for the masters.
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  8. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontagueVandervort View Post
    Programmer = B.S in Computer Science

    You're missing a 3rd option though... which is to find a more affordable option than #1. I think you're on the right track with option 1 except I feel like you're not opening your mind enough to the other options that may be out there (no offense). Remember that you can always transfer credits into any program and just simply take a B.S in CS anywhere. There are more affordable options with the same measure of speed out there. You just have to search for them.

    The other problem I see is that you may be in too much of a hurry.

    Pursue the BS first. Then do the MS later. Get some work experience in between and use the MS as career leverage. These are my suggestions to you.
    I wish I could, but with one degree already under my belt I don't think I can afford the debt of another bachelors prior to a masters. I am rushing a bit in a way, but it is because I have limited funds and cannot afford to not work or work part time for multiple years. I figure a masters in CS maybe overkill now, but long term if I am seeking a management role it could be the right choice.
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  9. Senior Member jdancer's Avatar
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    #8
    If you looking to go the CS degree route, two options:

    1) At the bachelor level, look at OSU online degree. You decide how fast you want to go Computer Science -- Undergraduate Degrees Online -- Online & Distance Degrees | Oregon State Ecampus | OSU Degrees Online

    2) Once you get the bachelors, take a look at Georgia Tech's online master's degree https://www.omscs.gatech.edu/

    Master's degree in CS require a strong foundation of undergrad CS courses.

    Since you already have a degree, may want to take a look at alternative credentials. Like

    1) EdX MicroMasters https://www.edx.org/micromasters
    2) Udacity Nanodegrees https://www.udacity.com/nanodegree
    3) Coursera Certificates https://www.coursera.org

    Personally, the alternative credentialing is the bigger bang for your buck and time. Most employers don't really care what degree you have since it's a HR checklist. Employers want actionable skills and experience.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jdancer View Post
    Personally, the alternative credentialing is the bigger bang for your buck and time. Most employers don't really care what degree you have since it's a HR checklist. Employers want actionable skills and experience.
    Yeah - I'm going to echo what @jdancer said.

    @Temple90 - it's great that you know that this is definitely what you want to do. But you may find better value initially with a dev boot-camp or one of the training programs that @jdancer mentioned. Again - it really all depends on what you what to do. There are some decent boot-camps and they will give you a more real-world taste of commercial software development. You can always go back to get your masters. It largely depends on the pace that you want to set for yourself.
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  11. Senior Member MontagueVandervort's Avatar
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    #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Temple90 View Post
    I wish I could, but with one degree already under my belt I don't think I can afford the debt of another bachelors prior to a masters. I am rushing a bit in a way, but it is because I have limited funds and cannot afford to not work or work part time for multiple years. I figure a masters in CS maybe overkill now, but long term if I am seeking a management role it could be the right choice.
    I think you may be overestimating the cost of another Bachelor's. There are a lot of affordable options online now, and you already have a ton of classes you can transfer in that will save you a load of money. If you're working and plan everything right, options where you wouldn't even have to incur debt probably do exist for you (dependent on your current salary). Please take the time (time=money) to do the research on the options that are out there.

    As for rushing, yes, no reason for that either. With the options that exist now, there is no reason why you cannot work FT and go to school at the same time.

    Quote Originally Posted by jdancer View Post
    Most employers don't really care what degree you have since it's a HR checklist. Employers want actionable skills and experience.
    I know this is true in other parts of IT... but Programming? Wouldn't you have to have a very large amount of experience (or at least large, impressive portfolio) for this to be true(r) in Programming?
    Last edited by MontagueVandervort; 05-20-2017 at 03:28 PM. Reason: Consolidation of responses
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  12. Junior Member Registered Member
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    #11
    I appreciate all of the suggestions! I will look into the certifications and single courses.


    In regards to the Drexel masters. It does require for me to take a post bacc certificate prior to applying for the masters program. This certificate consists of four classes. Do you guys think that these four classes are enough of a background for someone without an undergrad in computer science to pursue a masters in CS? Link to post bacc certificate program below.

    Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Computer Science | College of Computing & Informatics | Drexel University

    I have looked into some additional bachelors programs, but the pure CS courses do not seem anymore in depth than the courses outlined in the Drexel certificate program.

    Thanks,
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  13. Senior Member jdancer's Avatar
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    #12
    A typical CS undergrad curriculum usually includes:

    1. Lots of high level math (Calculus and beyond)
    2. Computer architecture and organization theory
    3. Data structures and algorithms theory
    4. Operating systems theory
    5. Database and network theory
    6. Programming from low-level languages (Assembly) to high-level languages (Python, C++, etc)

    In summary, lots of math, theory, and programming.

    If you want to just do programming, perhaps a non-profit, reputable coding boot camp is what you are looking for.
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontagueVandervort View Post
    I know this is true in other parts of IT... but Programming? Wouldn't you have to have a very large amount of experience (or at least large, impressive portfolio) for this to be true(r) in Programming?
    It likely depends on the hiring manager. But for me - I don't care about the degree. And that is true for some of my colleagues and friends as well. I never hire software engineers based on degree. Yes - you are correct - for more senior positions, having a portfolio helps. But obviously for those more junior (less than 5 years experience and entry-level), there are going to be other factors. Given a candidate with a masters and a candidate coming from a dev boot-camp, I will always favor the candidate from the boot-camp since it more closely prepares that person - especially for full-stack engineers.

    I recall hiring an awesome software engineer about 2 years ago, he only had 2 years of professional experience but he was very passionate about his craft. It turned out that he never even went to college. I still recall watching how excited he got during the interview when we discussed some esoteric point about immutable objects in certain programming languages. That conversation alone guaranteed him the job.

    Quote Originally Posted by Temple90
    Link to post bacc certificate program below.
    @Temple90 - I checked out the Drexel program - it's actually not bad. My initial impression is that it seems pretty expensive. What would you take for the optional course? I would recommend the "Data Structures and Algo" as the optional if you don't already have a preference. That's a standard undergrad CS class. If you decide not to take that course, I would still suggest you find that course someplace else to take it - there a free one on Coursera from Princeton here - https://www.coursera.org/learn/algorithms-part1

    Again - it all depends on the type of software development that you want to do. But a good algo and data structures class can be invaluable.
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  15. Senior Member Node Man's Avatar
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    #14
    Philly has a number of IT & programming Meetups.
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  16. Junior Member Registered Member
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    Thank you guys for all of the awesome advice! I am so glad I stumbled onto this forum and community. It seems like everyone is very friendly and willing to give honest advice and opinions.
    Definitely have some great suggestions to look into more.
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  17. Senior Member MontagueVandervort's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by paul78 View Post
    It likely depends on the hiring manager. But for me - I don't care about the degree. And that is true for some of my colleagues and friends as well. I never hire software engineers based on degree. Yes - you are correct - for more senior positions, having a portfolio helps. But obviously for those more junior (less than 5 years experience and entry-level), there are going to be other factors. Given a candidate with a masters and a candidate coming from a dev boot-camp, I will always favor the candidate from the boot-camp since it more closely prepares that person - especially for full-stack engineers.

    I recall hiring an awesome software engineer about 2 years ago, he only had 2 years of professional experience but he was very passionate about his craft. It turned out that he never even went to college. I still recall watching how excited he got during the interview when we discussed some esoteric point about immutable objects in certain programming languages. That conversation alone guaranteed him the job.
    Ok, so mainly it differs between Junior and Senior, and I had applied broad-based understanding using requirements for Senior roles only. Thanks Paul. That's really interesting ... and good to know.
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