I need some advice for my future and career.

Discussion in 'General Off-Topic Chat' started by lavera, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. lavera
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    lavera Member

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    Hi all. I have not posted in quite a while, and I have a feeling that this post is gonna be a really long one. But I think this would be a good break from all the Gateway posts lately.

    First of all, due to the difference in educational system in different countries, I apologize as there would probably be a few confusions.

    My subjects for 'A' Level:
    • General Paper
    • Mathematics and Statistics
    • Physics
    • Design and Technology
    Based on my subjects, I think my choices should be in engineering or architecture. I don't know which engineering paths are suitable for me but I know one which was recommended by my teacher, Civil Engineering, where I get to 'engineer' stuff that is used by the public e.g. roads, bridges, etc. I have to admit that doesn't sound fun to me.
    I basically want to choose a path that is easy and fun for me but I know it is not that easy. I really suck in researching about this and I have to choose my university course by this year.
    I am actually interested in computering but I have not had any formal education regarding the subject. Some of the paths that I know of include Software Engineering, Programming, Graphic Designer, and Hardware Engineering. I know the basics of using a computer, I just never had formal educations, which means I have never took any exam and I have no certificates whatsoever. I did look into BASIC language last year and was doing quite well until I stumbled upon arrays, which confused me and then I stopped.
    I know I sound like a lazy spoiled brat but I just want to hear suggestions because I'm really indecisive and this is a huge decision that will affect what I do for the next 40+ years. I'm not saying that my choice will depend on you guys but it will affect my final decision. Do you think I can manage if I take computering, even without any formal education before? How should I start preparing myself?
    Thank you.
    Extra information that you might want to know about me:
    • I got top 20 (around 17-ish I think) in my country for my 'O' Level
    • My school/college is the best college in my country, but then again, I don't know how it is compared to schools in other countries
    • I was nominated to be given scholarship, but didn't manage to get it
    • I find my 'A' Level studies difficult
    • My favorite subject right now would be Design and Technology
    • I'm a boy
     
  2. FireGrey

    FireGrey Undercover Admin

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    If you were to be doing programming, expect a lot of things to face you like arrays do and you'll be expected to solve them.
     
  3. lavera
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    lavera Member

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    Thanks for the quick reply. Things are going slow right now so I may have the time to look into programming. Do you think BASIC is a good start or should I try other language?
     
  4. Arras

    Arras GBAtemp Guru

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    One piece of advice I can give is to pick whatever you think will be the most fun. You'll most likely be stuck with it for a LONG time, so pick something you may be good at, but don't like and you will regret it eventually. If you like computering and design, try finding something that incorporates both.
    Also, BASIC kind of sucks. Learning either C++ or something object-oriented such as Java or C# (they're very similar) might be a better idea.
     
    emigre likes this.
  5. FireGrey

    FireGrey Undercover Admin

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    If you are comfortable learning with BASIC then go for it, it doesn't really matter what language you start on as it's translatable into other languages easily enough.
     
  6. lavera
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    lavera Member

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    I don't really know the differences but I picked up BASIC just because of Petit Computer, then I moved on to DarkBASIC. Now that I think of it, I think I'm okay with arrays. I think I got lost during the 'File Access' part of the guide. I also did try C++ before but it never really started as I can't even figure out how to use the compilers. Man, reminds me how pathetic I am.
     
  7. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    On computing, I would not worry as long as you have maths or can do maths. If D and T or physics included some electronics as far as logic/digital electronics then you are in a very good position indeed (there are some subtle differences at points but most of it carries directly over into programming). Frankly pre university IT education in the English speaking world is horrendous at every level and especially if you actually want to know computing. To that end you are probably better for missing out on it, at A level if you saw friends have troubles with business studies or business studies wanting maths and not caring about GCSE or whatever business studies then same idea.

    Have a read of some stuff on http://learnpythonthehardway.org/ or if python is not your thing then http://programming-motherfucker.com/become.html and watch http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=6B940F08B9773B9F
    On the matter of BASIC I would advise against it, it has a number of things wrong with its design if you are going to try to branch out or use it as a learning language. If you mean something like visual basic (nowadays VB.net) then carry on. Alternatively nobody uses basic these days and nobody really ever used it for anything big (unlike say Fortran, legacy C, COBOL, all of which are rare to find a programmer for these days which makes for a higher billing rate if you know it) so you might as well learn something useful right off the bat.

    More general engineering is broken down into any number of stripes. My experience has been the best one happens to be the one that the person you are speaking to does (as a disclaimer mine would be materials engineering/metallurgy). How it works as far as getting a job at the end of it goes varies widely, on the one hand a discipline like my own is not highly sought after but on the other hand you would be one of 10000 other mechanical engineers entering the job market the year you graduate (I am not sure what the graduate market is right now, let alone in your country or what it will be in 3-4 years time).

    As a broad overview the three big disciplines of engineering are electrical, mechanical and civil, they are all quite different and you will tend to learn a bit about everything in all of them and there are combinations of two or more. Chemical engineering and things in the medical world also exist as very distinct specialties, there is also some serious stuff in the medical world for electrical engineering. They branch almost immediately (some might be inclined to pick me up on not calling aerospace engineering as its own discipline but I will pick that fight). You can also combine several and have something called integrated engineering if you want.

    If D and T included some training in operating power tools as far as a lathe, bandsaw/table saw, sanding stuff and maybe some light CNC work as well as woodwork/metalwork theory (do you know what a butt joint is, a biscuit as far as woodwork....) then you are well ahead of most.

    Some have said engineering is physics without the hard maths and in some ways I am inclined to agree, at least at first. If you saw how your physics stuff was a bit light on calculus (differentiation and integration) then you met the idea before.

    The electrical engineering world will also have options for programming if that is what you want, indeed I am far more likely to hire an electrical engineer programmer or a physics/maths programmer than straight up programming these days. Also note IT does not necessarily mean programming, simply operating/installing computers and networks is its own discipline these days (I have had to teach several more than competent programmers the general theory of operations for a lot of networking over the course of things).
     
  8. Issac

    Issac I

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    A professor in my university said something that I liked back when I started: "The more you know when you're starting, the less you'll have learned in the end".
     
  9. lavera
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    lavera Member

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    Wow. Thank you for taking your time to write such a long post. I just remembered about Python. I don't think I've ever given it a try. Will try out the link you gave me.

    And to answer your question about D&T, yes, we are indeed trained to do practical works using various tools for different materials ranging from wood (mainly MDF) to metal (a little bit of welding) and even plastics (mainly acrylic). I also know what a butt joint is, and many other joints for wood.

    I'm also not sure of the graduate market in my country but I think people are more inclined to business, medicine and engineering (chemical to be specific). Most of my D&T peers either want to become civil engineers or architects.

    I find that funny and motivating. Thank you for sharing it with me. :)
     
  10. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

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    It is a sad fact of engineering that most people will not quite know what you can do for them. Unless you are especially risk loving you will have gone to a doctor or needed the services of one at some point, likewise you will at least know someone that could not do without the services of a lawyer, accountant and maybe architect as well.
    That might change as 3d printing and home CNC stuff explodes, I am certainly seeing the start of that now... in the meantime


    It pretty much says it all.