Where to next?

ahstanahstan Posts: 4Member ■□□□□□□□□□
Hello TechExams.net,

I'm a front end developer for an NYC specialized social networking company. I do not have any degree or certifications and I am completely self-taught. I got this job strictly by impressing the CEO on-the-spot, not through credentials, experience or education. I'm 18 years old, I've been interested and engaged in front end development since age 11. I have experimented with some back end programming and even graphic design. Graphic design is not my preference, but I would like to get into programming.

My pay is quite a bit below average from what some other IT professionals have told me. But, due to my circumstances, I am pretty happy with the job. I'm 18 and working from home, and I'm only committed to 4 hours / day mon-fri - beyond that is optional. I get a paycheck every two weeks. It's a pretty easy and fun setup, giving me time to learn the ropes, industry and business practices. Plus, it avoids any transportation issues, as I do not have a car. On top of this, it's great experience and will look wonderful in my portfolio upon completion. So, what is the catch? $10 / hour.

I'm here to find out what you all think of the position I've taken on and held for a couple of months, as described above and find out what I should be looking forward to and working towards.

I would like to either do high-end web development or software development. All I currently am completely proficient in is XHTML/CSS with a strong focus on web standards, accessibility, usability and optimization. I was thinking of moving towards PHP, but I'm not sure if it is the best step or not. Also, should I get certified? If so, what track? Back to college? (I'm a college dropout)

I need some guidance on my path of choice, any help would be appreciated.

Kind regards,
Alex Stanford

Comments

  • janmikejanmike Posts: 3,076Member
    First, welcome to the forums!

    My advice is to get the degree and the experience. Some certificates can expire or just become outdated. A degree and experience will always stay with you.

    In the area where I live, I seldom see any requirements for certifications listed in employment offers. But, education and experience requirements are always listed.

    Good luck!
    "It doesn't matter, it's in the past!"--Rafiki
  • jryantechjryantech Posts: 623Member
    Yes, I believe Degrees are very important!

    Certifications are only the icing on the cake, but you definitely need a cake first icon_lol.gif
    "It's Microsoft versus mankind with Microsoft having only a slight lead."
    -Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle

    Studying: SCJA
    Occupation: Information Systems Technician
  • ahstanahstan Posts: 4Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    What do you guys think of this: http://utoledo.edu/business/academic_programs/programming_and_software_devel.html

    I am considering going back to college on that track, but is it too short? It's only for an associates. I'm not sure how I could build on it and get a BA, or if I can at all.

    No one in my family has ever been to college, so I know nothing about this and have no one much to ask.

    I could do that program for now, though, because it doesn't require transportation that I don't yet have but it is still local (10 minutes drive away). I don't have any funding for college, but I am approved for FAFSA and could build on that.
  • jryantechjryantech Posts: 623Member
    ahstan wrote:
    What do you guys think of this: http://utoledo.edu/business/academic_programs/programming_and_software_devel.html

    I am considering going back to college on that track, but is it too short? It's only for an associates. I'm not sure how I could build on it and get a BA, or if I can at all.

    No one in my family has ever been to college, so I know nothing about this and have no one much to ask.

    I could do that program for now, though, because it doesn't require transportation that I don't yet have but it is still local (10 minutes drive away). I don't have any funding for college, but I am approved for FAFSA and could build on that.

    That college does not look bad at all!
    Ask a coordinator at the school if you can build onto a BA after you complete your AA, and I'm sure you can from the looks of it.

    If you need money for college get something like a Standford Loan.

    I also recommend if you have free time between School & Work to study for at least one certification at a time, do so!

    Good luck :D
    "It's Microsoft versus mankind with Microsoft having only a slight lead."
    -Larry Ellison, CEO, Oracle

    Studying: SCJA
    Occupation: Information Systems Technician
  • stlsmoorestlsmoore Posts: 515Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Yea I would def. go the degree route and then hit certs once thats finish later down the road. You already made the smart choice by getting experience ASAP so it will make your life ALOT easier farther down the road. I was in your same exact position 3 years ago when I was 18 except I'm in the networking field. I had a part time gig that paid very little (6 an hour) but I went ahead and got my associates degree while I worked there. I didn't realize at the time how much that first job would help me out in the future as I had a one up on pretty much everyone in my age group because I had actual experience. I've never had a problem finding a job in IT so far, as a matter of fact as time is going along I'm finding myself being able to chose which company I want to work for instead of the other way around!

    I'm starting to learn XHTML and CSS myself, it's pretty fun stuff and a good change of pace from the M$ exams and products.
    My Cisco Blog Adventure: http://shawnmoorecisco.blogspot.com/

    Don't Forget to Add me on LinkedIn!
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/shawnrmoore
  • dynamikdynamik Posts: 12,314Banned ■■■■■■■■□□
    I think you have a pretty sweet gig for your age. You should really ignore the amount of money and focus on gaining experience. That'll pay off big time in the near future, and since you don't have to worry about transportation, you're probably on par with someone who has to commute even though he or she is making more per hour than you.

    You'll probably be exposed to various points of view regarding degrees vs. certs vs. experience. Just keep in mind that a degree will be much harder to obtain later on than it will be to do it now. You're already gaining experience, so I'd encourage you to keep working on a degree. Certs are easy to add at any time. If it's overwhelming or boring, just go part time and focus on some certs or personal studies as well. No matter which route you decide to take, don't overload yourself and burn out.

    Personally, I've hated my college experience, but I think it'll be worth it in the end.
  • KasorKasor Posts: 912Member ■■■□□□□□□□
    Nobody what people said, college is important.
    Kill All Suffer T "o" ReBorn
  • learningtofly22learningtofly22 Posts: 159Member
    ahstan wrote:
    What do you guys think of this: http://utoledo.edu/business/academic_programs/programming_and_software_devel.html

    I am considering going back to college on that track, but is it too short? It's only for an associates. I'm not sure how I could build on it and get a BA, or if I can at all.

    No one in my family has ever been to college, so I know nothing about this and have no one much to ask.

    I could do that program for now, though, because it doesn't require transportation that I don't yet have but it is still local (10 minutes drive away). I don't have any funding for college, but I am approved for FAFSA and could build on that.

    Great start! You hit the nail on the head when you said you weren't sure if you could build on that degree to get a BA or not, definitely find that out. There are 2 basic types of Associate's degrees(well, 3, but the third's not really relevant): Associate of Arts(AA), and Associate of Science(AS). The third is Associate of Applied Science(AAS). From my experience, an AA is used as a springboard to a Bachelor's - in other words, once you're finished with your AA, you can attend the same college, or a partner college (through what they call a 2 +2 program) as a junior. This is what I'm doing now - I went to a college in Florida, got my AA, and was accepted as a Junior to another college in Minnesota, where I am about to graduate(finally!).

    If you choose to get an AS or AAS, that's fine (that's what the degree in your link looks like), but they're usually for someone not intending to go for a Bachelor's. That's not to say that you can't get a Bachelor's with an AS or AAS, but you will have to go back and take "core" classes (englishes, maths, humanities) that the AA covers. The AS and AAS will cover all the "relevant" stuff that you want to have for your job, but not the basic englishes, maths, humanities, etc. that all Bachelor's degrees require.

    Take what I say with a grain of salt and go talk to a counselor! Congrats on your motivation and planning, and DO DO DO get that degree..... one of my few regrets is that I screwed off when I was 18, and am now just finishing my Bachelor's at age 31. As another poster said, it's MUCH easier for you to do it now, than 10 years from now when you have a full time job, son, etc. to worry about. Good luck!
  • ahstanahstan Posts: 4Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    ahstan wrote:
    What do you guys think of this: http://utoledo.edu/business/academic_programs/programming_and_software_devel.html

    I am considering going back to college on that track, but is it too short? It's only for an associates. I'm not sure how I could build on it and get a BA, or if I can at all.

    No one in my family has ever been to college, so I know nothing about this and have no one much to ask.

    I could do that program for now, though, because it doesn't require transportation that I don't yet have but it is still local (10 minutes drive away). I don't have any funding for college, but I am approved for FAFSA and could build on that.

    Great start! You hit the nail on the head when you said you weren't sure if you could build on that degree to get a BA or not, definitely find that out. There are 2 basic types of Associate's degrees(well, 3, but the third's not really relevant): Associate of Arts(AA), and Associate of Science(AS). The third is Associate of Applied Science(AAS). From my experience, an AA is used as a springboard to a Bachelor's - in other words, once you're finished with your AA, you can attend the same college, or a partner college (through what they call a 2 +2 program) as a junior. This is what I'm doing now - I went to a college in Florida, got my AA, and was accepted as a Junior to another college in Minnesota, where I am about to graduate(finally!).

    If you choose to get an AS or AAS, that's fine (that's what the degree in your link looks like), but they're usually for someone not intending to go for a Bachelor's. That's not to say that you can't get a Bachelor's with an AS or AAS, but you will have to go back and take "core" classes (englishes, maths, humanities) that the AA covers. The AS and AAS will cover all the "relevant" stuff that you want to have for your job, but not the basic englishes, maths, humanities, etc. that all Bachelor's degrees require.

    Take what I say with a grain of salt and go talk to a counselor! Congrats on your motivation and planning, and DO DO DO get that degree..... one of my few regrets is that I screwed off when I was 18, and am now just finishing my Bachelor's at age 31. As another poster said, it's MUCH easier for you to do it now, than 10 years from now when you have a full time job, son, etc. to worry about. Good luck!

    Well, I'm not sure where that one falls, but I did contact an academic advisor via email this morning in regards to whether the degree can be built upon into a BA.

    What kind of jobs am I looking at with only the associates that I linked to? How important is it to go for the BA? I've always heard BA should be minimum.

    I went yesterday (last day of registration for current term) to UT to fill out registration papers. It looks like I will make it for this term and begin.
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