I'm currently in my first semester in a CC for a CS degree, after two years here I will transfer to a University, if I can ever figure out which one. I do have some questions regarding a future in CS and what I should do now to better prepare myself.
First of all a little summary about me: I'm 17 (18 this year) and for lack of a better phrase, I didn't have my crap together. I had no idea what I wanted to go to college for, and so I never really did anything to better prepare myself. I was homeschooled, and got my GED right after I turned 17 and didn't go straight to college, instead I worked for 6 months or so part time not really doing anything. I have no personal projects like people say you should have, such as a phone app or website, something to put on your resume to show you have initiative. Well my problem is that I'm just now learning programming through Code Academy, and I'm only just now learning the basics of JS, but I'm working on it every day.
I'm behind in math, but I'm taking extra classes during this summer for it and I'm working as hard as I can to advance myself in it, though I've a ways to go.
I do currently have a 3.6GPA, though it's on the rise and it's only been 8 weeks.
Now that you know that little bit about me, time for the questions:
I've not yet met with a career counselor though I plan to sometime soon. After looking through some of the different job types available to someone with a CS degree (PayScale of CS Jobs) I feel a little overwhelmed. What are some of the job fields you guys are in, and what can you tell me about your personal experience with them?
I don't know what languages I should be focusing on learning, like I said right now I'm learning JS, about 20% through the Code Academy course, and I've piddled in the HTML course on CA. Am I on the right track? If not what languages should I focus on?
What types of projects can you recommend I do?
What, if any, certifications should I get? When should I pursue these certifications?
Internships. What can you tell me about them, and what should I plan on doing to prepare for them? I live in a small town area where there aren't any opportunities for internships in this field, the few companies that have a requirement for CS people want experienced people, not interns. If I can find a good paying internship somewhere else over the summer, would it be worth renting an apartment for the time I'd be there? Is it even worth bothering with internships during the first two years of college?
Any advice you can offer from your own personal experiences on the subject would be much appreciated!
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My friend only has his high school degree and he works as a programmer for the last year. He was unemployed and studied at code academy, worked at a non paying internship and was eventually hired by the company he works for now. He's been there a year now and is always busy. He loves his job. Having the degree always helps in terms of getting hired or moving upward but it's not the only way to get it done. Be willing to do what it takes. Focus on what is around and make it happen! Your alternative is to work somewhere like you did the first 6 months out of high school or you can create a situation for yourself like my friend did. I went to UCLA and studied Neuroscience and I work in the Psychology field but I'm just really good with computers as well. I've tried code academy and what's important from what I see is that you are methodical, pay attention to detail and most importantly can apply what you've learned. Being creative sets you apart. Obviously creating an app or putting something you've created on your resume that someone can see will make it easier for them to judge your abilities. Without that you should network, meaning if your dad knows a programmer, spend time after school a couple of hours a day with him, pay attention, ask good questions, show enthusiasm and you never know. That free internship can become a paid job if you show value. Best of luck to you! This isn't the only way but it's one I've seen work not just in computer science but in a lot of fields. Why not you now? Go for it!
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