A Matter of Degree

  • BS in pharmacy. Many years later, MS in Computing and Information Systems.

    Aunt Kathi Data Platform MVP
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  • Not to change the direction of the topic, but I bet there are a lot of college days stories out there that are related to what you may have done (computer wise) while in school.

    Stories like passing card decks around and only having to change the top card before handing them in. Reprogramming others work. Crashing the network. Twice.

    Hacking another college net..., oops. :Whistling:

    Maybe that could be another Friday topic someday.

  • Actually, those are the sorts of "Lessons Learned" you could pick up from your first IT job too. It doesn't have to be college. @=)

    Brandie Tarvin, MCITP Database AdministratorLiveJournal Blog: http://brandietarvin.livejournal.com/[/url]On LinkedIn!, Google+, and Twitter.Freelance Writer: ShadowrunLatchkeys: Nevermore, Latchkeys: The Bootleg War, and Latchkeys: Roscoes in the Night are now available on Nook and Kindle.

  • B.A. in Anthropology (with a heavy tilt toward Archaeology).

    Though between 1995 (when I was kicked out of university) and 2003 (when I finally graduated from that same university) is when I started down the path to my tech career.

    Kindest Regards,


    (SELECT COALESCE(Phlogiston,Caloric,DarkMatter) as Construct FROM Science.dbo.Theory)

  • Actually started getting into computers in Junior High School. My grandfather had a medical lab and purchased an HP 9810 (actually just a BIG programmable calculator) to do the computations he had been doing by hand. At first I just modified existing code to eliminate extra blank lines on output, but he actually paid me to write a couple of programs also. He provided the calculations needed, sample data and expected output, and I did the rest. From that, I was hooked. In High School, I learned Fortran, COBOL, BASIC, ALGOL (self taught during a teacher strike), and FOCAL; all on a DEC System 10.

    Started going to college, but then found myself enlisting in the Air Force a year later. I was a computer operator and learned a lot about computers from the perspective (as well as about myself). After fours years in the Air Force, went back to college eventually earning a BS degree in Computer Science and Business Administration with a minor in Mathematics and Technical Writing. Two years later, I graduated with a MA in Computer Information Resource Management and Space Systems Management.

    I have worked in numerous areas of IT from Computer Operations, System Administration, Programming (development and support) and Database Administration and Development. I thing my diverse background in IT has helped me more than my degrees, but the theory learned in school has been a solid basis to build on over the past 30 years.

    Is a degree important, I think so, and I will encourage my kids to persue college degrees. In fact my middle daughter has already set her sites on attending Oxford University (and I hope she is able to). I'm sure the others will also, as one wants to be a nurse and the other a speech therapist.

    Is a degree the end all, no. We all are learning every day, it's called the Univeristy of Hard Knocks; aka LIFE.


  • I went into the Marine Corps (grunt) after high school (1990-94). It was there that I found that I liked the possibilities of what a computer can do. I left the Corps and got my Associates in Info Sys with emphasis on operating systems and networking (Novell-Yikes). After working in a programming position for a DotCom (busted like most) I went to work at my current employer. Here, I started as an operator for an AIX system, moved to (Windows) networking, moved to programming and am now working on internal database development and administration. I haven't finished my B.S. degree but have enjoyed doing what I do. It pays well, which really is a relative term, and I get to steer my experience and position. I work with degreed individuals who are well rounded and I do desire that finished finesse at times but have to settle on the fact that not having a degree just means the propensity of moving into management is lower for me than my constituents. I know my job well and, more importantly, I know where I lack knowledge and sites like this come into play. I understand my boss's expectations and the requirements for this position. With that I completely enjoy my life, my job and the flexibility my boss has given me to perform for my company.


    Jim Jesska

  • Probably the most way-out degree on this thread: BA and MA in ancient Greek and Latin (and someday still want to be a prof of ancient history). But I wanted to raise a family and not starve/struggle, so I parlayed my teaching experience into a job with a startup New Horizons branch. I started on Monday (no computer experience beyond basics), taught Word by Wednesday, taught Access on Friday (having never seen a database before that week), got rave reviews from the class, and went from there -- since that week I sort of became known as "the database guy".

  • Got my BS in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering 30 something years ago. Worked as an engineer for < 2 years, switched to an airline and gravitated to computers. Later did Masters in Industrial Engineering-Operations Research. Prior to the OR work the only formal computer class was CS101 using punch cards for Fortran & PL/1.


    Greg Young

  • BBA in Finance. after 12 years in the investment/brokerage business was laid off and backed into the IT world.

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  • I nearly finished a Biochemistry degree but ran out of money and took a tech job in 2000. I later finished a BS degree in the business side of IT and am considering going back for a MBA for more business exposure. Although I rely heavily on job experience, I can say without a doubt that not having a degree (undergrad and higher) has cost me some positions since I generally work in hybrid roles.

  • I earned a 2 year degree in Electronics, spent 20 years in U.S. Navy electronics, then earned a B.S. in Education. Since then I've taken various courses toward an IT degree as well as earning an MCSE and CCNA.

  • I don't know how or if you have time to read all of these posts, but here are my stats.

    I obtained a BS in Software Engineering picking up a few misc certs along the way. Prior to getting my BA I almost finished my associates but transfered colleges a few courses away. I was really disappointed. I realize a degree means less and less the longer one is in the work force, but I like the "recognition" of the piece of paper, even if a computer is the only one who will ever see or care about it.


  • B.SC in computer science and physics. I wanted to go into physics, but there are very few jobs in that field in this country except teaching.

    Currently working on my Masters in Comp Sci

    Gail Shaw
    Microsoft Certified Master: SQL Server, MVP, M.Sc (Comp Sci)
    SQL In The Wild: Discussions on DB performance with occasional diversions into recoverability

    We walk in the dark places no others will enter
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  • I squeezed 4 years into 5 and graduated in '73 with a BA in Psychology after exploring majors of Math, Music, Engineering, Geography and Elem Education.

    After no jobs to speak of in degreed field, went back to college to get Elem Ed degree. After they started firing teachers, I switched to get what was needed to go to grad school in Statistics. Took mostly math, computers, some business. Didn't get degree and didn't go to grad school since I was recruted and got a job at IBM as a Junior Programmer in '78. (I put on my resume Math Major and Computer Science Minor).

    Have toyed with idea of going for MBA but with stability of job (no end of learning on the job possible) and family responsibilities it's unlikely I ever will.


  • Jereme Guenther (10/19/2007)

    I don't know how or if you have time to read all of these posts, but here are my stats.

    I obtained a BS in Software Engineering picking up a few misc certs along the way. Prior to getting my BA I almost finished my associates but transfered colleges a few courses away. I was really disappointed. I realize a degree means less and less the longer one is in the work force, but I like the "recognition" of the piece of paper, even if a computer is the only one who will ever see or care about it.


    Thanks for your comments! As others have mentioned, people in each situation (degree or no degree) will tend to emphasize the aspects of each that can indicate success.

    I think that criticism of degrees regarding the workforce and/or work aptitude reflect the deficiencies in the way many schools teach subjects rather than any inherent weakness in the idea of a degree itself. I bet if there were not an aversion to "vocational" skills in many schools, more people would emerge from programs better prepared for the real world.

    And, for better or worse, it seems that many schools consider real-world computer skills vocational in relation to the sometimes arcane theory that is taught. I've seen too many Java textbooks that omit testing, documentation, and error handling topics since they consider those topics peripheral to the main discussions on syntax and data structures. Obviously, omitting testing, documentation, and error handling is not a real-world situation!!

    Not that theory is bad - it is essential to have some grounding in the theory behind programming and computers - but I think there is probably a way to balance theory and practice in a way that more schools haven't done because they are afraid of not appearing elite enough.

    I think the best thing would be to have a degree program that combined database theory with heavy immersion in real-world stuff like DBA work, installing and maintaining SQL, backups, monitoring, confronting ugly slow SQL written by others (and also by oneself 🙂 ), etc., etc. Something like a 3-2 cooperative program with 3 years of school and 2 years of real-world work with a real DBA (or developer) mentor.


    A SQL query walks into a bar and sees two tables. He walks up to them and asks, "Can I join you?"
    Ref.: http://tkyte.blogspot.com/2009/02/sql-joke.html

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