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kangawoot says

I can back up this post by saying that joining orgs on campus definitely helped me get opportunities too!

I wouldn’t even consider myself a webdesigner or even a developer yet (my experience has just been managing/running/editing sites), but I applied to be the webmaster of a club I was in and to be honest, I didn’t think my interview went well at all (I even messed up on very basic html code when they asked me to write something!), but I was pretty sure my web skills surpassed the others who were applying so I got the position.

The resulting website looked pretty good, but all I really did was install a CMS and free template, and changed a few things around. But to non-web people, all they cared was that I had helped them set up a really nice site. Because of this one project, I have already gotten a few messages from people looking for a website designer/developer.

Now my problem is that there are too many things I want to learn, I’m not sure where to start. I feel like I’m overwhelming myself:

-actually designing sites (photoshop) -coding sites (dreamweaver) -SEO, keywords, online marketing -javascript -PHP -ajax -mysql -jquery -flash, illustrator -programming languages: python, java, c++

:(

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SpadUK says
Wow, this really hits home for me. Thank you for this insightful post Naomi.

I’m currently studying Computer Science at a university in the UK, and to be honest, it’s not going very well. The course is not exactly well “designed” – There’s an OOP module, a maths module, an Information Systems module and a “Managers and Organisations” module. The last two are utterly dull and completely detract from any enjoyment I could gain from the OOP module. They’re not just dull; I would definitely question their relevance to my course. Frankly, the IS module, is just re-iterating what I had to learn in secondary school.

I tried joining some societies but there were none that tickled my fancy.

I think universities in general have changed masses over the years, and people older and wiser than me can attest to this. They used to be a place where you could turn up to a lecture or seminar if you were interested, but now these institutions are riddled with requirements. The university process has morphed into a tick-box exercise… It doesn’t feel like learning; it feels like a chore…

This is just my limited opinion. I’m going to stop writing now.. I could easily talk for days on end about this topic!

I did something similar, I did a 3 years course at university doing Internet Computing. Like you the course consisted of a OOP module, discrete mathematics, computer ethics, computer fundamentals, professional development.. etc.. I could go on…the one module that was remotely related to the ‘web development’ was a module that briefly covered the use of PHP and XHTML … I found by year 3 I was just wasting my time, but I stuck it out anyway, and well, here I am with a IT support job… a job I could have done before attending university.

Anyways… article made for a good read :)

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Nori_Silverrage says

I feel like college was a necessary evil for me. I went to it because my future jobs require it. I feel like overall the experience was good and I did learn stuff, but most of my computer classes were a waste of time as I already knew what they were teaching, and I wasted sooo much time on all these other classes that had nothing to do with my degree… And i didn’t really get any contacts out of this…. Eh, its a toss up.

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ImadJomaa says
I feel like college was a necessary evil for me. I went to it because my future jobs require it. I feel like overall the experience was good and I did learn stuff, but most of my computer classes were a waste of time as I already knew what they were teaching, and I wasted sooo much time on all these other classes that had nothing to do with my degree… And i didn’t really get any contacts out of this…. Eh, its a toss up.

A degree is definitely a necessity in this era. I agree about some of the computer courses however, you feel like they’re a big waste of time because either they’re useless for the future, or something you already learned previously. Nonetheless, it is still great knowledge gained. :)

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JimmyP says
A degree is definitely a necessity in this era

I have to disagree. That may be what society wants you to believe but it’s not the truth. Experience and practical knowledge will always trump a degree. Yes, a degree can be helpful and it will open doors for some people, but it is by no means a necessity, and it certainly is not required to make a decent living.

Degrees used to be something to behold, because so few had the privilege to attend universities, but nowadays it’s just another pointless piece of paper.

I would have thought that people working in the web industry would be more against university than for it. You can self-learn this stuff and with little more than three years experience you can be heading for contracts worth £200+ a day…. no degree… It certainly beats spending 3 years on a CS degree and then getting a job at Sun for only £16k!

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JimmyP says
I did something similar, I did a 3 years course at university doing Internet Computing. Like you the course consisted of a OOP module, discrete mathematics, computer ethics, computer fundamentals, professional development.. etc.. I could go on…the one module that was remotely related to the ‘web development’ was a module that briefly covered the use of PHP and XHTML … I found by year 3 I was just wasting my time, but I stuck it out anyway, and well, here I am with a IT support job… a job I could have done before attending university.

Your story is one that probably resonates with many university grads. They apply to university under false pretenses, being told that it will “guarantee success in the future” and that university years are the best of one’s life…

It’s all messed up – the motives are out of wack!

I.e.

Most lecturers are there to fund their research… Most students are there to drink… Most senior staff members don’t really care about education…

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ImadJomaa says
A degree is definitely a necessity in this era

I have to disagree. That may be what society wants you to believe but it’s not the truth. Experience and practical knowledge will always trump a degree. Yes, a degree can be helpful and it will open doors for some people, but it is by no means a necessity, and it certainly is not required to make a decent living.

Degrees used to be something to behold, because so few had the privilege to attend universities, but nowadays it’s just another pointless piece of paper.

I would have thought that people working in the web industry would be more against university than for it. You can self-learn this stuff and with little more than three years experience you can be heading for contracts worth £200+ a day…. no degree… It certainly beats spending 3 years on a CS degree and then getting a job at Sun for only £16k!

I taught myself all the programming knowledge I have and been at it for 4 years. However, some things require the sheet of paper but it honestly depends on your motive & your goals. There are definite things that you learn in University that you can’t through books or tutorials. However, the piece of paper without experience is pointless, and that is what most people do. They never attempt to do anything in their field until they start at Uni which is absolutely wrong. Additionally, freelancing isn’t quite my thing nor is working for the corporate world my goal either. I’m currently working on a startup company that we’re hoping to launch soon, however, if it deems failure, then working for the corporate world for a few years will happen until I get another opportunity and the funds to work at another.

No degree guaranties your future, it’s just the knowledge gained that helps understand your field better. As for the students who are there to drink & plainly “have fun” have bad motives and should definitely step out of it. On the positive side, if the class works on a curve, they’re good at giving you a better grade! :P

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kangawoot says
A degree is definitely a necessity in this era

I have to disagree. That may be what society wants you to believe but it’s not the truth. Experience and practical knowledge will always trump a degree. Yes, a degree can be helpful and it will open doors for some people, but it is by no means a necessity, and it certainly is not required to make a decent living.

Degrees used to be something to behold, because so few had the privilege to attend universities, but nowadays it’s just another pointless piece of paper.

I would have thought that people working in the web industry would be more against university than for it. You can self-learn this stuff and with little more than three years experience you can be heading for contracts worth £200+ a day…. no degree… It certainly beats spending 3 years on a CS degree and then getting a job at Sun for only £16k!
I think it really comes down to what each person makes of it. If you assume that just going to classes & getting a degree will automatically land you a nice job, then you should probably think twice. Especially if the coursework isn’t challenging for you (perhaps you had already self-taught before) or it’s too theoretical rather than practical, you should definitely put in your own time to self-learn. Many universities, supposedly,are meant to teach you how to think critically, not necessarily solid skills.

I agree that although a degree is important, it’s definitely not a complete necessity, especially in this industry. If you have the skills and the proof of it (portfolio, work/internship experience), that says everything. Someone could have a comp sci degree and know squat.

The thing about not going the university/college route is that you have to have a lot of discipline. You’ll need to set firm goals and routines of what you’re going to do and how you’re going to get there. And you have to actually do it. Or else you could find yourself having wasted the better part of 2 years just sitting around. Good thing about being at a college is that there’s the environment of learning.

I personally think if tuition isn’t a big issue, people should seriously consider going to college. If you have clear goals and take action and don’t limit your learning to classes, you can get a degree and still have your freelancing or web business on the side. Best of both worlds.

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dtbaker Volunteer moderator says

University FTW .

The student groups we created & joined, extra-curricular activities we created (eg: lan parties) & attended (eg: programming contests), and spending time with lecturers discussing more advanced topics set me up real good.

After Uni, majority of freelance work came from people I met through uni, my extra-curricular activities, or referrals by lecturers who could see I was interested. (imagine how good it would be if you were connected with every past real-world-successful student who had similar interests to you!)

Uni cannot (and will not) teach you everything you need in the real world work environment, but it certainly sets you up to be a great employee, employer, or freelancer. You get all the basic foundations that are missed in most self-taught scenarios.

University is a tool and you need squeeze every last experience out of it, then squeeze some more.

Can’t wait to go back for a second round one day.

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Pandemic says

....and this thread comes back from the dead

:P

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