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Cover image for What is your background if not computer science?

What is your background if not computer science?

ari_o profile image Arika O ・1 min read

In the last two years, while trying to switch fields, I met many people who were trying to do the same and were coming from totally different backgrounds than computer science. After making the switch from product management (and having a Journalism bachelor), I am convinced a CS degree is not mandatory (but it helps) to work as a developer.

What is your story/ background?

Image source: Nicole Wolf/ @joeel56 on Unsplash

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Glenn Paquette

I'm an ancient history and classics graduate. Sadly, studying ancient Romans, Greeks, their cultures and languages did not lead to many job opportunities. It did lead me to the military where after a brief stint as a pilot in training I ended up being a public affairs officer working in social media. After leaving the military and working in marketing for 4 years, I started building web sites, which lead to learning how to code, and freelancing full time.

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Muni Perez

I started my career as a pilot as well :D Spent a few years in the Brazilian Air Force.

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Arika O Author

Wow, ancient history, piloting, social media. Interesting :). Is freelancing full time a realistic thing to do? How does it compare to holding a 9 to 5 job? Thx for the input.

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Glenn Paquette

I only went full time once I had enough clients. I've been full time for two years and pretty much matched my pay from my marketing job. Half my time is spent doing sales activities, (networking, client meetings, meeting prospects, etc) and the other is actual project work.

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Maciek Grzybek

I've studied Spatial Planning for almost 4 years, in the meantime I worked as a sushi chef for almost 6 years. Then started to work as a graphic designer and after that, coding :)

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Mateusz Borowiak

Hi Maciej! We did the Gatsby translation together! ...so check this out. I studied Architecture and Urban Planning for 5 years.

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Maciek Grzybek

😂 Such a small world :) :)

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Alex Chiu

Spatial planning aye? GIS guy here! At the time I hated the single programming module we had in our curriculum, but that was because it taught incredibly poorly. It took another five years after graduating when I rediscovered programming and decided actually, I think I can get into this :)

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Maciek Grzybek

I'm starting to see a pattern here.. 🤔 ☺

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Arika O Author

Interesting career path :). What happened with the Spatial Planning?

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Maciek Grzybek

After getting and engineer degree I've realised it's not something I want to do in my life :)

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Konnor Rogers

I was in the Army Reserves for 6 years as a Medic. While in the Reserves, I worked as an EMT Basic and went to school to get my paramedic license. I've been working in EMS for 7years, 4 of those 7years as a paramedic.

At some point in the last 2-3 years I realized I couldn't do this job forever. That's when I started to learn to code in my free time. I went through the entirety of TheOdinProject and now work on personal projects / open source projects. Ruby / Rails are my jam. But I also have the occasional fun with React.

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Arika O Author

Paramedic? Looks like a tough job so I can understand why you're reconsidering your career path. What is your impression of TheOdinProject?

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Konnor Rogers

My impression is that it's a great self-paced program that introduces concepts and then has you apply concepts into projects without holding your hand. I thought it was great. Also, it's free. How do you go wrong?

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Corey Thompson

An Electrical Engineer here who vowed during my 1 programming class in school that I would never hate myself enough to write code for a living. Two years of co-ops with an older generation of EE’s doing things manually led me to learn to make tools to make that job bearable.. then I fell in love with software and am closing in on a decade of it.. Never actually have done any Electrical Engineering 😆

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Arika O Author

I guess you could say you were lucky that you found early on that you should actually be writing software. What we want is not always what we need :). What does your job entail at the moment? Thank you for your input.

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Corey Thompson

Yeah, definitely lucky. :)

Thanks for asking. I guess I’d be best described as a tool developer. I work for an electronics manufacturer that is currently undergoing an initiative to design their products for manufacturability as well as customer functionality. I identify high value or high risk areas in manufacturing of our products and build tools to ensure our R&D engineers are solving the right problems.

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Arika O Author

Never heard of tool developers, must be interesting. Does your job have UX parts in it?

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Corey Thompson

Yeah, it’s a full-stack that varies in what it produces. It’s just about empowering our employees to be efficient as possible within our processes. Sometimes it means a new web app, sometimes it means rolling functionality of an app into something else and automating it away. We also build GUI’s for the operators that build on our manufacturing line, so that is very UX heavy - there’s no guarantee of how experienced our users are or whether they even speak our language and we build some fairly complex parts, so we lean a lot on current best accessibility practices to make things as clear as possible

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Stephen Leyva (He/Him)

I don’t encourage this at all, but I dropped out of high school and got an HS equivalency. Started a little business doing web dev and hosting on AWS for local business in my town. This branched into these businesses asking me to fix their printers and computers. Finally, a community bank took a chance on me and hired me on into their IT Dept as a junior developer. It was definitely kinda backwards and I got lucky with really good mentors.

My mistake back then was not paying attention to CS concepts. The fundamentals are important but they can be learned by yourself if you’re disciplined.

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Arika O Author

Of course, formal studies are (still) very important, but in the end everybody has their own path. I think we are very lucky to live times when we can break into the industry without a CS degree. Thank you for your input.

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Sebastian

I studied English philology, general linguistics and educational sciences. But I had already been a programmer for years before, and I keep doing this.

One thing I have learned is that nowadays you can get the proper education without going the formal way of studying at a school or university. Just have to commit to a systematic go at a subject and be determined.

Of course, knowledge in any formal science (such as maths, linguistics, languages) will help you tremendously.

In the end, competency only boils down to one thing: motivation. The rest will fall into place, as it keeps you pushing your boundaries, going for the ultimate knowledge and skills of your subject.

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Arika O Author

You were writing code in your free time, when you were not an English philologist? Nice. And yes, I agree, nowadays you can learn ALMOST whatever you want, without actually attending formal studies. I think this is one of the advantages of working in technology, in general (there are still many gatekeepers out there, but I suspect will change slowly, slowly). Thank you for your input.

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Sebastian

Yes, indeed. I got hooked on programming at the age of 12 using QBasic. At 14 I had various summer jobs and from the money I earned I bought a physical copy of VB4 from a local computer store. Switched to VB6, .Net and C# soon after. And from then on I have been trying almost everything my hands could grab. I have always enjoyed the openness and welcoming attitude among programmers. A passion shared is a passion doubled. 😍

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Arika O Author

I can agree with you on the dev community. This was one of the reasons I didn't give up when trying to switch fields. With very small exceptions, people are very welcoming and they're acting like they wanna teach everyone how to write code :). Great, great support.

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Geo

I got my BS in Bioengineering. I took one programming course in MATLAB (haha) and despised it so much that I told myself that I could never be a software engineer. When I got my first job as a lab researcher, I was required to code in MATLAB to operate some machinery and process my data. I began to love it because I was actually doing something useful with it. I started to like coding more than my actual job that I began to teach myself how to code. Now I plan to continue my career in the lab automation space or be a pure software engineer who works at a biotech company.

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Corey Thompson

Cool, @geo ! It sounds like our experiences were very similar, but mine in EE. I’m doing a lot of automation now too. What are you automating in the lab? Are you still in Matlab? I’ve still never used it outside of academics.

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Geo

We moved over to a python based code which I love much more! We are currently automating large liquid handlers to adapt bacteria cells to a new environment.

We also have smaller machines to automate a lot of repetitive bench lab work such as extracting DNA from cells.

What are you automating?

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Corey Thompson

That’s pretty cool! So does that involve dispense/extraction and temperature types of things? Are you using Python on a pi? Is this custom equipment or do they sell robots off the shelf for that stuff that you’re integrating?

My most recent projects include digitizing assembly instructions and adding physical sensors as interlocks in each step, I work in manufacturing for electronics. Imagine building lots of variations of desktop computers and needing to ensure every part is inserted in the proper order and have smart cameras and different sensors to check. We use C#, JavaScript and PLC’s as the core platform.

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Arika O Author

Sounds interesting, what is the stack you're interested in? Good luck with the learning :)!

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Geo

We started with just MATLAB, but moved over to python because the licensing fee was expensive and to be more aligned with industry. Also, the rest of our lab's software is written in python so the integration of other software would be easier.

Our stack is pretty simple: python, mySQL, and javascript.
We have a couple of web apps to visualize our data live and make changes to our experiments on the go.

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Ben Halpern

I studied a bit of computer science but wound up switching degrees, thinking this stuff wasn't for me at the time.

My degree is: Bachelor of Arts with a Major in Commerce and a minor in Canadian Studies. I studied a bit of everything in school. That major means business (focus marketing).

I graduated thinking I'd be an entrepreneur. My first job was at a startup doing marketing. I felt like the marketing part of things was really frustrating because so much of the creativity really fell on the product/engineering side. They were also paid more.

I started getting more code curious and found a lot more success hacking on Ruby on Rails than I ever had doing computer science stuff.

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Arika O Author

Wow, many subjects packed in your degree (I don't know much about the canadian study system so this must be the norm). Can I ask what do you mean by "I felt like the marketing part of things was really frustrating because so much of the creativity really fell on the product/engineering side."?

Thank you for your input :).

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Alex Sarafian

Mathematics but self educated programmer since childhood. I'm my experience, at least for my generation, the best software engineers I've met were all self educated. I grew up, studied and worked in Greece and then moved to Belgium to work with Belgium, Dutch people of the same age group and always the best we the self educated. But the best of them all were people who were into this from childhood, playing games as well as hobby programmers. For the younger of us, back then there were only books and no cloud based on demand advanced services. A database was something to do last when going pro.

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Arika O Author

I always laugh when my friends who are in the field for a much longer time than I am are telling me how they used to learn coding. Which was by using books and copying by hand insane amounts of lines. Sometimes the book would have errors in the code and they would spend hours or maybe days, just to realize that actually the code is wrong and they didn't make a mistake. We have it so easy nowadays when it comes to resources.

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Alex Sarafian

:)

My first attempt into c from a book ended up with rewriting the basic hello world example as I could not understand what the problem was. I first learned basic.

A year ago I attended a meetup about readable code. This young person was explaining why many code conventions don't help and he was right. Afterwards I asked him how old he was, he said 20 and then in the first time in my life (at 41) I used the "in my times" card and felt so old. In did this to explain to him that there is a reason for many of things here was complaining about.

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Lud

Yeah, another mathematician! I've as well started very early with playing with computers (gaming, but also tearing it apart, writing small scripts,..). I've work a bit in mathematics as a researcher, but figured out, the most fun was implementing algorithms in Matlab rather than inventing the algorithm on a piece of paper. Did several Udacity Nanodegrees and here I am as a software developer :D ... I think coming from mathematics isn't a far stretch actually.

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Alex Sarafian

To be honest if was my choice because Greece had and still had a very bad system of figuring out what your studies will be. Honestly there are not many options for mathematicians to do mathematics in Greece outside academia and was become teachers which is a pity. So, I was passing thru and did it like kind of a chore.

Many years later I understood how helpful it had been. The domain is an absolute training for abstract thinking which is super important in computer science and for the world in general. I always had a tendency to logic and I liked physics more second to computers but studying mathematics (Greece had one of the best and most demanding schools on theoretical domains) was a process that so much fine tuned by inert ability to do cold logic and I felt the difference in the second part of my career.

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Codycoder

English major here, who spent 15 years after college doing remodeling. It’s all just systems, patterns, and perseverance!

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Arika O Author

Omg, you skill set, how long did it take you learn all these things :)? But yes, it's never too late to get into writing code. Thank you for your input.

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Syakir Rahman

I am a business management bachelor.
Actually, i have learned programming in vocational high school and worked full time for 1 year as junior programmer before i went to college.
That time, i was thinking to quit programming and become an entrepreneur. Thats why i choose business management. But, during college, my financial condition force me to freelance programming to keep my study. And i didnt realize that i getting better at programming and i like it.
Now, since graduated from college last year, i am working as programmer because i dont want to start over in business management field. Life is funny, isnt it ? 😂

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Arika O Author

Life is funny, indeed. But I believe you were lucky you realized so early on that you like writing code (even forced by the circumstances). You have the diploma, you can always go back to business management if you wish to do so :D.

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Jan Kosutnik

My background is in Sound Engineering ( been doing that for the last 20 years ), in the meantime I graduated in Media Production Management with a Major in User Experience, and about a year and a half ago decided to make a career change, since I achieved everything that was possible at my previous job, so there were no more challenges and I kind of got tired of the industry.

And since the tech has so much changed, since the times of slicing up the psd files, I took a few live courses ( JavaScript and SQL ), to kick start my new journey.
Has is it been challenging? Most definitely. But, to wake up and look forward to work on something interesting, is worth it. So I keep going ;)

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Arika O Author

Are you planning on working in UX or on writing software? I like the way you think about your previous job, this was one the reasons I also changed fields - not many things left to do/ learn.

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Jan Kosutnik

I would like to combine both fields, I strongly believe that anyone in dev field should have at least minimum knowledge of UX.
Yes, after 20 years it was enough, no way to advance or further develop my career.
Kudos to you too for msking a change 🙌

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Mateusz Borowiak

I did 5 years of Architecture and Urban Planning. It gives me this extra understanding when consuming art and architecture. But there is no way I would like to live off this kind of service, its a tough business, stressful, undervalued by most and often very underpaid. It's better to consume architecture than to produce it.

After that I did 3D graphics (artstation.com/borowiak)

...and after that I made my way to software engineering. I'm not looking back since then, it's the best job I did so far - I'm glad I made it.

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Arika O Author

I am confused, are the works in your portfolio 3d graphics :D?

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Mateusz Borowiak

Haha, I take that as a complement! :D Yes, I've been professional, I have spent some years learning and improving and challanging myself on every 3D project, this is where I got

Now I'm challanging myself to achieve the same skill level in programming, it has been an amazing journey so far!

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Arika O Author

Well, I'm still confused, they're super realistic - does Immobilien Scout uses some of your works to promote their apartments :)? Good luck wth the programming journey, with determination everything is achievable!

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Jon Randy

100% self taught from the age of 7 (back in 1983) - no degrees at all, and no formal qualifications to be a programmer

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Arika O Author

What is the stack you're working with? Thx for the input.

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Jon Randy

Many over the years: Sinclair ZX Spectrum BASIC, Z80 assembler, C, Pascal, AMOS Basic, Visual Basic, PowerBASIC, Lua. Ongoing projects at my current job are utilising PHP, Ruby, JS

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radoslaven

Applied Mathematics was the bachelor of choice from my side. Pretty hard it was and still it is, cannot work while studying and with the virus thing a year of education is lost so my graduation would be two years from now if everything goes to plan. It was helpful enough but bootcamping and actually developing my own projects were the thing that landed me a job not my degree, but of course the focus was on them, it is a choice.

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Arika O Author

What bootcamp did you take (I suppose it was somewhere in Europe)?

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radoslaven

Code Institute, practically not very expensive and it is intense. As I said, working while studying Mathematics is hard and it was similar to this, had to retake some exams because of it but in the end is worth it, of course you have to do your own projects as the projects you are doing while there are sensitive information and you cannot show it to everyone so when applying to a job without the help of the Institute you have to show your own projects based on your ideas and concepts.

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Rémi Mercier

I've studied design until 19 then got my first job as a stained-glass master. I've done it for four years, restoring 15th to 21st-century stained-glasses throughout France.

Then I studied history of art and museology. Worked in museums, libraries, and art galleries for a while until I was 25-ish.

Then I dabbled in marketing and started working in startups as a content creator until 33.

Then I got bored of that too and learned Rails through a 2-month Bootcamp. Landed my first gig as a fullstack dev at 34. Still doing that, two years later.

I glossed over all the small jobs I've done over the years but they range from making popcorn for theaters in London and carpentry. :D

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Arika O Author

I see you did the bootcamp with Le Wagon? I also wanted to try them here in Berlin but I wasn't into Ruby back then. If two months enough to get you to the "job ready stage", that's impressive. I know what you mean about the other jobs, I too switched many field until I stopped at this.

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Rémi Mercier

Yup! I did Le Wagon in Paris a couple of years ago. Well, tbh, Le Wagon is not enough to be "job ready" for 95% of people. Some ppl are outliers in terms of learning ability and are amazingly good in just two months. In my case, I spent a few months coding things for myself to learn a bit more. Also, I had a lot of professional background to leverage too. It compensated for my lack of technical knowledge.

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Jenny Mikac

I'm only a semester away from having a two year human services degree. I volunteered for a crisis textline and it made me realize that I don't have it takes to be in this line of work. I've also been a stay-at-home mom for the past four years.

I thought about finishing out this bachelor's and get my BSW, maybe get my masters in Library Science. I felt overwhelmed thinking of all that schooling I'd still be stuck doing, and I just turned34 this year. Did I really want to squeeze in that many more years of school and wait until I was 40 to be hireable? I said "Fuck it, let's see what I can do in a year by myself." So here I am, teaching myself web development from scratch. Thankfully 10-year-old me taught herself HTML and CSS all those years ago, so it's a matter of refining what I learned all those years.

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Zoltan Halasz

I'm a qualified accountant with 15 years of work experience in corporate environment, but having coding as a hobby, and some side projects. In the last 3 years I spent my time writing business software. I also played trombone in various local bands etc as a hobby.

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Arika O Author

How does one go from writing code as a hobby to writing business software? I suppose, even the code you wrote as a hobby was used somewhere so you could get a feedback on your work?

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Zoltan Halasz

I wrote VBA at work for Excel, then some SQL, then Access + VBA, and I ended up with C#/MS SQL, this during work and besides my main responsibilities in finance. Now I have some fully working apps sold to the company and now I'm looking for work as a software developer.

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krishna kakade

HelmsmanFarmer or Monk is best Role for me in life spirituality and meditation is the best tool to live a happy life -If you got time then read The Art of happiness book by Dalai lama.
computer science is a safe career for everyone currently I am studying also and I am doing things because of passionate of web development .thank you have great days guys
God bless you all 😊🙏
Peace and love

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Arika O Author

Good luck with the studying, software development is indeed a safe career (at least for now).

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Shannon Crabill

I have a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design. I learned to code to stay competitive and have been coding ever since. I currently do email development, but I would like to move into front-end software engineering.

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Giorgos Kontopoulos 👀

Long time ago went to the states to study Civil Engineering since all of my relatives are Engineers and it was an easy choice. Before finishing my Master's in Civil Engineering fell in love with CS/programming and jumped into a Master of Science Computer Science program. Finished first my CS and then my engineering degrees. Worked for 3 years as a web developer in the states.

Came back to Greece and started working as a Civil Engineer in my family's office and in parallel started building websites for relatives and acquiantances. In 2006 (2 years later) I had enough clients to focus on Web development alone. I have been doing remote freelance web development ever since and have not looked back.

I would not say that are jobs are secure (as some people said) if we don't spend enough time on learning !!!! I am glad that I like learning new things all the time ...

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Jesse

I have a physics background, and I've met a lot of programmers who also have physics backgrouds. I'm not sure this is the case anymore, but functional programming is usually the starting point for many physicists because of how entrenched certain proprietary software is in the field (I will not be naming names...), which uses a functional approach....it's been kind of difficult relating to other developers who work with more traditional imperative/OOP technologies!

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David G. Horsman

While a deep understanding of computer science is often a prerequisite for quality work it is neccessary but insufficient.
With out a deep understanding of the domain or industry being coded for the results are typically suboptimal and/or inefficient.
This can be solved by (expensively) integrating domain experts as part of the development team.
Having said all that a domain expert can learn basic coding or a tool and I see excellent results that way all the time.
BTW, ignoring the past ten years I don't believe I ever worked on something that you could learn in a course, typing aside.

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Ali GOREN

I graduated from a CS-related department. But my old teammates graduated from a religion-related department. He works for a high-quality company for 5 years.

A diploma isn’t necessary but it would be good.

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Alex Edwards

I studied Photography and graduated back in 2014, constructed my own cameras and everything, but always been interested in coding stuff. Though probably not the best course subject to do, I was also led to read up on aspects like psychology. After that, went travelling as you do, and came back to the UK to take coding more serious and land my first job doing such.

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Michiel Hendriks

I am convinced a CS degree is not mandatory

It absolutely is not, but it also sort of is. Software development in 2020 is not the software development as it was in 2000 or 1990 (when CS degrees started to be an actual thing).

These days way more computer related things require software development skills. The level and kind of skill is vastly different. There is a huge difference between developing the Linux kernel or using Rails to create an online community. Neither strictly requires a CS degree, but it sure helps doing the former. But if you prefer the latter, than a CS degree might be a big financial and time risk (depending where you live).

I'm from the era when personal computers at home became a normal thing, and internet access started to become available. So my background is being kid who was interested in playing with the computer at home. I did go on to get a CS degree, because that was what the world was at in 1999.

If you want to read more about how the software development world changed over the years. I can highly recommend reading Clive Thompson's book Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World. It has a lot of great examples of software developers (I really don't like the term "coder") and their backgrounds. Like women in the 60s with lawyer degrees, but no future as a lawyer; to ex-coal miners in Kentucky from the last few years.

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Arika O Author

Sure, a CS degree helps a lot, I was just referring to the fact that compared to other fields you can actually get a job even without one (whereas you couldn't be a doctor or a lawyer without formal studies). Thank you for the book recommendation, from the reviews it looks interesting.

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Shane Davis

I do not have a degree of any kind. I am self taught programmer. I was in Marine infantry for 4 years then got into law enforcement for 10 years. After 10 years of law enforcement I decided it was time to I take a leap of faith and I applied to Fullstack Academy. I got in and Fullstack Academy catapulted me in a software engineer career. I have been working as a SE for over a year now in Chicago and I couldn’t be happier.

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Arika O Author

Congrats on the change and on finishing the bootcamp; I hear they are very demanding.

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Marco Slooten

No, I don't think you need a CS degree. I'm self-taught as a developer. I've got a master's degree in Communication Science, which is only slightly helpful by understanding how the media works on a high level.

I've worked with people that got IT degrees (not quite CS) and I don't really feel like I'm missing out. The one thing that I will say is that I feel like people with an IT/CS degree tend to have more rules and patterns instilled in them. So they will see a task and say: 'oh, that data structure needs to be a linked list', things like that. However, I feel like that's quite easily learned later. Perhaps even easier because you probably get to apply it directly, instead of memorizing it for later use.

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Arika O Author

However, I feel like that's quite easily learned later. Perhaps even easier because you probably get to apply it directly, instead of memorizing it for later use.

Interesting point of view. And I do agree that people with a CS degree are more strict in a sense and I like that about them. Whenever I come up with some dirty code, they're there to tell me it will come back and haunt me so I'm grateful for every input :).

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manish srivastava

Food Engineering ( B Tech) , MBA ( Agri-Business), 8 years Govt Banker.
I had my own website coded by myself in 2002. In Btech I made the first C program for calculating some important eqs for processing engineering. In MBA, I used baseportal.com to create similar community like fb for my friends in 2008 and in the bank ( govt bank) you don't have enough freedom for creativity. so, I left Bank, now owns 3 companies. Learning more codes from friends here. I

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Jacob Herrington (he/him)

I was an Air Force cadet in college and studied Business. Dropped out and started working at startups! 😁

Learned a lot of stuff the hard way (and I'm still recovering mentally from some of those lessons), but I think I'm better off for dropping out.

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Matthieu Cneude

I've studied communication for 3 years, but I was already coding since I was 14 to try to make, as many others, video games.

At the end, I have 10 years of professional experience as developer, and I'm coding for 20 years. I'm happy I learned communication as my main "study path", it was very useful.

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Iron Alexander

Religious studies - mainly mysticism, but I always loved computers, played a lot of games and had some good 'digital literacy' so i started transitioning to coding. It was one of the best decisions of my life ^^

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Arika O Author

That's interesting, to say the least :). You've been doing it for how long now?

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Ivan Rusanov

Master’s degree in robotics. Now I am Java dev.

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Arika O Author

Robotics? Wow, sounds interesting, are you planning on working in the field (is the Java development related to this?).

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Ivan Rusanov

Thanks! That’s possible. I’m excited about software engineering and robotics and if one day I find the job related to both robotics and software engineering, I’ll join.

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Fabrícia Diniz

Biotechnology o/
I took an introduction to programming class at the end of my course and fell in love with it.

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Darius Kruythoff

Multimedia designer.
At least that’s what I graduated to while doing an internship at a web development company.
20 years later I’m the guy who tries to teach accessibility and simplicity to designers, and proper web development to CS degree people, while writing code I taught myself through web tutorials.

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Arika O Author

"Accessibility and simplicity". Both overlooked so many time, or at least this has been my experience until now. Your job sounds awesome. How do you mean you teach them? You're collaborating with multiple companies and help their staff? Thank you for sharing.

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Darius Kruythoff

I'm a freelance developer, and I prefer building over consulting. Therefore, I'm not specifically an advisor.
I just try my best to fill gaps wherever I happen to work.

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John Peters

Electronic Engineering Degree. Was offered position to work on the F15 Eagle radar team. Turned it down and picked another company writing low level code, because they offered me $1500 USD more.

I had only one class in Basic in college.

I failed my first job in a miserable fashion after 2 years.

I Then joined IBM as a contractor. That job went well for 7 years as a programmer but only because they had an excellent training program.

I've now been at it over 30 years. In my opinion, no degree is required if the person has right attitude and a good understanding of logic.

The path to success is never quit.

  • If you are fired, find another IT job.
  • If you are bored and not learning enough, find another job.
  • If your salary is low, find another job.

Study continuously and try new things based on well established trends. StackOverflow's developer survey is excellent to find trends.

In 30 years, you'll be where you want to be in your career.

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Arika O Author

I really like the advice you give. Do you find is something that you applied most of the time in your career? And if so, it was always the right decision? Looks nice when you write it down but it might be a bit scary to change jobs, especially when you don't have too much experience. Thx for the input.

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John Peters

I once attended company sponsored Management training, in those classes they taught that "people are really only really good in their jobs for 2 or 3 years". They were talking about how after 3 years, they aren't really learning new things. Some people are fine with this because they aren't willing to take new challenges, they are just comfortable where they are. That attitude works pretty good for a long time, until the company has to start large staff reductions. The people who only maintain legacy code are targets.

Other's like continuous learning and attempt to get hired into things they only learned on paper or after work hours hacking away. Their only problem is to get by the interview. If they do, they've made a great step forward which is to learn that new thing on the job. The only issue they have to deal with is making sure they meet the expectations of their managers. But even it they don't and they are let go, they've picked up 6 months to a Year of solid on the job training in that area. Their next job is to hunt for the same area and pick up more experience. Within a 1 - 1.5 years they are Subject Matter Experts on that new thing.

Then there are the super genius types which just get it right now. They are rare, but you know them when you meet them. Work to them is always kind of a game, they just want to play to win, and they often do win.

My best place is to always learn and use new stuff in my job. If I can't do that and I don't like the environment, then it's time to find something else. I believe that people are right where they want to be, and if they are unhappy, don't believe them because they haven't done anything about it.

Stay motivated, put lots of effort into what you want to do, be disciplined and you'll will be amazed at what happens. It may not happen right away but it will happen.

And no, I took some positions I regretted, and I worked too long at others, I was laid off two times. Had plenty of challenges for sure...

Good luck to you Silvia!

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Paul O

I studied Industrial Design, but ended up working in Landscape design (3D modeling) for almost 2 years, then the economy took a dip, landed in Kitchen Design (also 3D modeling along project managing) for almost 3 years. I took those 3D skills to a realm of Graphic design where I began to tinker with HTML/CSS code.

But, I realized my passion for design was shifting... so I left to go back to school to study both front-end and back-end tech and now I've pivoted to Web Development :D

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Emanuel Quimper

Fireman -> Army -> Construction -> Programmer. Yes Programmer was really not in the same area as the others. But I always did love computer so when I found freecodecamp I never quit and now I do this for the past 6years almost

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Dmitry Pavlov

I was born in non-existing country/city - in USSR, LENINGRAD :) I have got MS in Geology, then MS in Computer Networks, then fell in love with coding and keep converting #c0ffee to #c0de as a software developer since 2000 - dmitry-pavlov.com

A degree doesn't make sense anymore IMHO. Online self-education is much more efficient nowadays. It is nice, fast, and very focused.

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Vladislav Aksjonov

Applied mathematician

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Arika O Author

Was that super helpful when writing code (I know your field is different than pure math but I guess you still need to be good at numbers?).

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Vladislav Aksjonov

One of our professors told us on very first lecture: "he we will fix your brains, teach you how to learn".
So my actual background is helpful from time to time, like when I was making 3d tour around our university building or was making game about astronaut on the orbit(store.steampowered.com/app/1304850...)

But mostly I grateful for how my background thought me to easily learn new stuff and do research if I did not yet know how to do something.

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Adam Crockett

Fine art degree.

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Tamas Ridly

I am a medical doctor and switched to software engineering right after the university. Doing it for 15+ years now. Never practiced medicine, only for family members.

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Fernando Garcia

Graphic Design

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Vandamme Wouter

I have a degree in welding and mechanics. But was also very interested in computer stuff and webdesign. Doiing it since 2008 part time in my own little business

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Jen Looper

I have a PhD in Medieval French Literature. Long story short, 20 years later I'm a Cloud Advocate at Microsoft. What a wild ride!

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Tom Streeter

Started out in analog video production, then worked in academia on both the faculty and staff side through the transition to digital and into the streaming video era.

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Arika O Author

Interesting job description you got :).

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Patricio Ferraggi

Studied accounting while working as a bank teller. Switching to sofware is the best decision I have made in my entire life.

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