Learning is not to be missed: Does an IT specialist need a university?

From the translator: today we are publishing for you an article by Paul M , a programmer who shares his thoughts and experiences on the relationship of formal education and a career in information technology. Is an IT tower really necessary?

I was discouraged when I came to the conclusion that the standard “school-college-career” way is almost useless for someone who is going to make a career as an information technology specialist. All my life I thought that college is very important, and this is true, but not in the case of IT.

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I was completing an online bachelor’s study at the University of Western Governors when I realized that education is not too important. The training course was constantly updated, new blocks were added. Once I was offered to watch a collection of videos as a teaching tool for my specialty.

This is quite a reasonable move on the part of the university, since programming is an area that is changing very quickly. At a time when JavaScript frameworks are updated every month, if not weekly, how to be sure that the university offers modern educational materials? Video is, of course, good. But after all, I can find educational materials myself, is it so important to me a piece of paper confirming the completion of a university course? Is it all worth it to waste my time?

I am constantly engaged in self-education, my specialty is Python. He opened up many opportunities for me, giving a deeper understanding of the principles of software and hardware.

One day, I became interested in a programming course offered by a local university, and a highly respected one. This is about the boot camp, I requested materials about the camp, and I received everything I needed on my e-mail. After that, a university representative asked how much I would rate the boot camp. I calculated that a one-year subscription to the online courses of one of the well-known resources would cost me about $ 1000. Other courses that would be worth after the completion of the first, at that time cost $ 1200. Then my time, effort, and the like. I attached to this a possible university profit, plus the expenses of the school for the resources that the students spend. I got about $ 4000-5000.

This amount I called. But it turned out that the real price is much higher - about $ 12,000. My question is why the answer was: becauseWell, we offer networking with other students, plus our university is highly respected.

But after all, I myself can attend as many conferences as I like for those same remaining $ 8,000. After that, I wondered why we really need these boot camps and other training programs.

Why is learning so expensive?

I know those who have passed the boot camp, and this is a great opportunity to start programming. But the price tag is too high. They attract people, simply because they are convinced of the complexity of programming. In fact, this illusion disappears when you start working. And I don’t like the idea of ​​knowledge keepers that many organizations are trying to play in.

Now knowledge is open to anyone who is truly ready to plunge into education and work process. I learned how to program virtually for free. And it seems to me that information technology is open to those who want to learn. I bought and bought books and courses because I like to study. The value of books and courses is well understood by those who plan to go ahead.

I will give an example. Let's say you want to learn how to fix computers. Will you go to college to get the necessary education? No, most likely you will start to google and study online. As a result, you will understand what all the elements of your PC are for, and you will learn how to assemble a computer on your own. Programming is about the same: studying element by element, framework for a framework, you finally understand what you need.

Programmers are no different from the craftsmen who create the devices with their own hands, forge iron or work with glass.

If you look at the statistics on developers with Stack Overflow ( here , here and here ), then we will see that only half of them have a bachelor's degree.

There are two more points to consider. 80% of what you learn in college (university), you will not come in handy. In addition, if we talk about education in the United States, students to learn, piling in huge debts.

German learning model

Here I remembered the training model in Germany . Children at school can focus on knowledge and experience, which will be useful to them in a pre-selected professional way (talking about high school). About two thirds of high school students choose their personal path to the profession in advance. At the same time, the unemployment rate among young people in Germany is lower than in the USA.

However, some companies in Germany offer a model of apprenticeship. So, Siemens allows young people who at the same time get the title of junior technical specialist to participate in the working routine every day. Siemens then offers the best $ 55,000 a year. And no debt and student loans.

I would like more technical companies to open such training programs. So, a company that needs programmers could start its own boot camp, then offering the best of the best. Will students of such a course leave it from time to time? Yes, but this should not be a concern. Much more problematic is the situation when the company employs a person who is not interested in the work that he (or she) performs.

The model “Learn and then work with us” can be applied in relation to many areas. All this would be extremely useful for a huge number of companies. Yes, and for young professionals, too — after all, one could have avoided lending for education and be a good and sought-after specialist who benefits his employer.

By the way, a similar system is offered by the US military. I served four years in the Air Force, becoming a specialist in military computer systems. I did not have experience in order to perform qualified work, for example, in information security. Over time, I gained the necessary skills, and on my own. The military has no time (or desire) to constantly help you. To the question “Where to plug this cable” I received the answer: “RTFM” (“Read the f &% cking Manual”). To the question “On which server do I install the hypervisor?” The answer was the same: “RTFM”.

Create your own courses for yourself

If you are not able to get practice in a company or become a member of a program that Siemens or any other company offers, open your own courses.

In other words, learn on your own. For example, when I learned to program in Python, I was constantly creating applications. I programmed templates and classes for Dungeons & Dragons. I made a generator of jokes. I made an origami divinator and many other applications. Many of them are stupid, but by developing them, I gained the necessary knowledge.

One of the questions that torment newbies seeking to become IT specialists is “What to start learning? Which side to go to this? The answer is: there is no perfect theme or sphere. No matter where you start, it’s important how deep you can immerse yourself in training.

Perhaps you are just in fear of failure. If so, try to convince yourself that you will only begin, and if it does not work out, quickly stop everything. And if everything is OK, you can continue learning.

This is an ongoing process. You will climb the highest mountain only to understand what you see from the top of an even higher mountain. On your way you can find those from whom you can learn, they will help you. Everything will be fine.

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