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How essential is programming for BS degree holder?

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  1. Apr 28, 2014 #1
    Hey guys,
    I am graduating in about a month or so. I have applied to only a few graduate schools due to financial problems, but i was just rejected from my first school earlier this week. Im starting to worry that i wont get into graduate school this year.. I have some subsidized loans out so if i dont get in i will need to start working a better-than-minimum wage job to pay them.

    That being said, I dont have any programming experience beyond knowing how to work mathematica. I dont know solid works or any cad style programs very well, but i am apt at learning and understanding things. Would this fact put me at the bottom of the barrel for job searches?
    I am starting to freak out thinking about life after college.
    Thank you all for any help
     
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  3. Apr 28, 2014 #2
    Well, it will put you at the bottom of the barrel for jobs that require programming skills...

    Give us a better idea what skills you do have and what kind of job you're looking for.
     
  4. Apr 28, 2014 #3
    For your loans, note that you usually get a grace period of 6 months to start paying them off (unless you already used it).

    And also there is income based repayment which means you only have to pay 10% of your above poverty line income. Its not ideal, but there is no reason you should go to default or have issues paying if you are only making around minimum wage.
     
  5. Apr 28, 2014 #4
    I'm more of just a good problem solver really. I am great at trouble shooting. I am able to explain things simply.
    But like I said earlier, I am missing those basic computer skills like python, C++, CAD programs, and machining work.
    I have however used google sketch up, Eagle Cad, and mathematica. All of which seem pretty rudimentary in the grand scheme of things. I definitely received more theory work than anything in my undergraduate experience. So I am worried that i may not have the experience needed for many entry level jobs.
     
  6. Apr 28, 2014 #5

    MarneMath

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    It definitely puts you at the bottom if you are applying for a STEM related job at the b.s. level. However, if you're simply looking for a decent job that pays well while you wait to apply to graduate school, you can find something.
     
  7. Apr 28, 2014 #6

    SteamKing

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    You haven't disclosed what your major was in college or what sort of jobs you are looking for currently. Without knowing this, how are we supposed to provide relevant advice?
     
  8. Apr 28, 2014 #7

    jim hardy

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    we all do that.
    I graduated just marginally competent in Fortran II.

    Industry needs practical people with a demonstrated ability to learn .
    What are your strengths? Are you handy with machinery and tools?

    That you are a self described "good explainer" suggests you'd be an asset to a company that operates machinery, like a railroad, airline, utility or factory. Such a person is a catalyst to such an organization in that he increases the productivity of those around him by increasing their depth of understanding. Good management recognizes that talent.

    Focus your thoughts not on your perceived weaknesses but on your successes . You have to consciously take charge of your thoughts to do that but you'll be surprised how much it helps.

    Go to your job interviews ready to "start at the bottom" because the 4 year degree really just prepares you for a lifetime of continuing education through experience.
     
  9. May 5, 2014 #8
    I am not going to sugar coat it, but i don't have a lot of experience working with machinery, but not incompetent. Likewise, I don't have very great computational skills as i lack any experience with programming. I normally revert back to Mathematica when i need computation assistance.

    But I am very good with being learning, and problem solving! That may not be the most outstanding way to go into an interview, but it is a necessary skill fortunately.

    So, if i don't get into graduate school (or even if i do), should i try to become competent at a programming language over summer? would that aid me in my search for a job
     
  10. May 5, 2014 #9

    jim hardy

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    Experts are made not born.
    Prepare a couple anecdotes about things you have fixed, troubles you have shot, and an Eaglecad project.

    Those skills are valuable to any organization that operates machinery.
    I've said this before - not every sailor works in a white uniform on the bridge. Titanic's boiler stokers got good seats in the lifeboats because of their strong arms - they could really row.

    Your degree proves that you can learn and have done so.
    Humility and willingness to continue that learning are the requisites for entry level positions.
    So go into your interviews and sell your strengths instead of apologizing for your perceived weaknesses.

    old jim
     
  11. May 5, 2014 #10

    jim hardy

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    i'd say you should learn to solve problems with some computer language.
    In all honesty - i became competent at Fortran while working on a simulator, but i did a LOT of my developing of algorithms in Basic so as to avoid the complications of compile, link & load.
    Doubtless i'm obsolete now . I shudder at just the names of today's languages.

    point being - programming is training your brain to think like the computer
    test & branch, store & retrieve, manipulate bits, calculate, handle strings, call subroutines; in any language they're the same concepts differing in details.
    So any skill you pick up this summer will give you a running start. Lots of folks find Excel useful.
     
  12. May 5, 2014 #11
    How to get programming experience as an recent physics graduate that's looking into the job market? I'm in Toronto. I had 1.0 credit of python and 0.5 credit of Matlab, + other courses that uses python. But that is not nearly enough experience.

    Even if I self learn programming like C/C++/Java/... how to get employers to trust my ability on a resume? 90% of jobs available to physics majors requires programming in C/C++.
     
  13. May 6, 2014 #12
    Well, as of today I was rejected from another school. I am only waiting on one more and that one was a school I wasn't too confident in being admitted to. So worst case scenario, or maybe its a positive, where do i go from here. I have student loans, so i will need to find something to do to hold off on those payments.

    I been searching indeed and monster[dot]com for just ideas for jobs, and a large portion of them seem to require technical abilities that i don't have like C++, or knowledge of more engineer styled aspects like material strengths and control systems. How can i compete with places like that?

    Should i beef up my resume by taking more applied courses at community college?
    Where should i start looking for jobs as a first resource?
     
  14. May 6, 2014 #13

    Vanadium 50

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    I'm afraid that the best time would have been while you were still in school. As you are learning, employers aren't moved by what pieces of paper a university might have given you; instead, they care about what skills you have that can advance their goals.

    So start there: what can you do that people would be willing to pay for?
     
  15. May 6, 2014 #14

    Choppy

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    One way to learn programming skills and demonstrate them to potential employers is to develop a portfolio. Compile a set of programs or projects that you have worked on and be able to show them on request. It's not the same as having completed a large amount of coursework, but it's one of the best ways to demonstrate your skills.

    As for looking to a community college, that can be a good idea, but I would generally only advise doing that if you have a specific direction in mind. Taking random courses on the off chance that they might help you has a lot of potential for wasting time and money. That said, it's not a bad idea to take a hard look at some community college programs that are specifically vocation oriented. Right now you have an education in an academic subject, but you need some profession-specific training.
     
  16. May 6, 2014 #15

    Vanadium 50

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    A portfolio helps someone who is already a strong programmer but is low on credentials. It's not so useful for someone who is not yet a strong programmer.
     
  17. May 6, 2014 #16

    jim hardy

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    Do you realize that in this entire thread, the only positive thing you've said about yourself is:
    Dont you realize what valuable and uncommon skills those are?

    Ever heard of 'the power of positive thinking' ?
    Force yourself for one entire day to concentrate on your successes, things you've trouble-shot and people you've helped. Write out a list of them. Read it to yourself first thing next morning, then tape it to your bathroom mirror..

    Where the conscious goes the subconscious must follow. ( from my old Dale Carnegie course instructor)
     
  18. May 6, 2014 #17

    symbolipoint

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    This means something:

    One way to become a better programmer might be, go to school to learn some programming - how many and what kind of programming courses? Not sure, but just some which formally make you learn. Continue your own projects, too. At least, you know why you go to school and have a clear goal.


    Having had some work experience gives you ideas of what programming projects to choose for yourself.
     
  19. May 6, 2014 #18
    I agree with some of your sentiment here. Positive thinking and focusing on successes is important. But I very much disagree that those "skills" are valuable and uncommon. Soft skills like that are assumed from and present in nearly every STEM graduate and the prospective workforce is filled with them. Its real, tangible hard skills that get one meaningful employment. If he/she doesn't have any of those then its going to be very hard.
     
  20. May 6, 2014 #19
    ok. Fair enough. I am confident in my ability to pick up new things and become comfortable them. so i thought to myself, since most jobs seem to have C++ or some sort of programming/computational ability as a criteria, I would take a class or two in C++. (Introduction and a course in Algorithms) Maybe even an electronics course or strengths and materials course. 3 classes shouldn't take me more than a semester or two.
    That will not only help my bruised ego, but give me an up-to-date way to apply my analytic skills.

    I really appreciate your advice! I been beating myself up for the last two days about this. I will be more positive, it seems to help.
     
  21. May 6, 2014 #20

    jim hardy

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    hmm fair enough.

    Knowledge workers are indeed expected to come pre-loaded with the hard skills you describe.

    That OP has noticed his own skill as an explainer suggests he's already been sought out by fellow STEM students for that talent.
    Which further suggests he's got at least average hard skills for his peer group, and when he's feeling confident a better than average skill at communicating same.

    He writes a good sentence , doesn't mix tenses or split infinitives, and doesn't ramble.

    ..you do have a point - we haven't seen his resume'.
     
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