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IT jobs: What's more important, skill or grades and college?

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  • User profile image
    ricodued

    Hrm. Being a Sophomore in high school, I've been thinking about what will come after I graduate, and I came up with some problems.

    With my last report card, I had a 2.994 GPA, 2.7 cumulative. My high school only counts core classes for GPA, so it didn't include CAD or Adv. Computers, etc. Just English, Algebra, History, and Biology.

    I've become increasingly worried a 2.9GPA out of high school is not going to get me into the colleges I'm looking at (Michigan State, or, if I can pull of a couple of 4.0s for the next two years, UC Berkeley) and then into the career I want (software development, possibly games) at a company I want (Microsoft is my first choice at the moment). I know I can work harder and get a 3.2-ish GPA, but I'm still slightly worried. My only problem is lack of attention in some classes. For example, I consider myself to be pretty skilled when it comes to writing code to perform a specified function in the language of my choice or solving complex problems, but I cannot for the life of me bring myself to write two pages on RNA replication, even though I understand it quite well.

    For those of you out there with jobs in the IT industry, preferrably those with jobs at Microsoft, what were your grades like in high school, what college did you attend, and in the end, do you think it really mattered?

    Probably a very stereotypical question, but I guess it needs to be asked.

    Thanks Big Smile

  • User profile image
    jozjan
  • User profile image
    balupton

    I'm sort of at the same position as you, deciding which courses should i do, and what is actually invloved in the IT industry.

    I recently started up the topic:
    Unvirsity, Which Course did You Do, Which Course should I Do?
    http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=160909#160909

    But in my experience grades.... well qualifications means everything.

    In the Australian system, High School is Yr8-12 with yr11-12 the ones that matter.

    But I dropped out in the 2nd month through yr11, and then went to TAFE (Like a optional pre-uni school).

    TAFE and University work like this:
    Cert1-4 (Tafe)
    Diploma (Tafe or Uni)
    Degree (Uni)
    Masters (Uni)
    Doctors (Uni)

    Now for programming, to do the Diploma (1 Year) at Tafe, you need to of completed the Cert4 (1 Year), and to do that you need to of completed the Cert3 (1 Year).

    Before i dropped out of high school, i had already completed nearly all of the part-time/casual Cert3 and Cert4 courses at Tafe.

    When i dropped out i did the Cert4 (1 Semester) in WebDesign, and then the Diploma in WebDesign (1 Semester), with some more programming Cert3 and Cert4 units.

    Now at Tafe, for all the courses i had already self taught myself most of the programming that we learnt, i just had to learn the alternative ways to do things in the different languages.

    Yer but now after completing my Diploma in WebDesign I got accepted to Curtin University, Western Australia, for the Bachelor of Science (Information Technology).
    But then I was shoked to discover they no longer do 'skill recognition' aka 'exemptions'.

    But yer in all my experience you CANNOT get into courses OR jobs, unless you have the paperwork behind it......... (or if you excell and you make good friends with the lecturers and student services people [cough cough nudge nudge])

    Yer even if you have the skills you either need good friends in the area who recognise your skill, or the paperwork aka certificates behind it.

    Hope this helps
    -Ben

  • User profile image
    Jason Cox

    It all depends on where you want to work and who is doing the hiring there. If you have some HR guy who only does HR then yeah, they'll probaly be looking at your degree and GPA in detail but if you have someone from inside the department doing the hiring they'll probally be looking at your skills and what you could bring to the company.

    At my job only half the staff are college grads, what got us all jobs isnt degrees and GPAs, but our technical skills with Windows. Then again we were all hired by our Director of IT Operations and not HR, so he knew what he was looking for.

    Of course however if you have two younger guys applying for the same job and both seem to have the same skill level then you might check out the degrees and GPA but in general the company wants to hire someone who can do the job and do it well.

    The JobsBlog is a great read for this subject, in the past Gretchen has talked about some the hiring myths such as this one.

  • User profile image
    ricodued

    Thanks guys, I'll bear all that in mind Smiley

    I would like to work at some place like Microsoft. Channel9 really gave me a look into how the company works and everything and it really does look like an awesome company to work for. If I recall, it's even in one of the top employers in the nation.

    Thanks again. Big Smile

  • User profile image
    Lee_Dale

    whats more importatnt skill, grades and college?

    hmmmm

    id go with experience and luck lol!






  • User profile image
    Andrei P

    If you would like to succeed in software development by running your own company, I'd say enthusiasm and motivation are very important. Because if you are very enthusiastic you'll learn the necessary skills.
    On the other hand, if you expect college to teach you all that there's needed for having a successful career... then you'll be needing luck Smiley

  • User profile image
    Andrei P

    ricodued wrote:


    I would like to work at some place like Microsoft. Channel9 really gave me a look into how the company works and everything and it really does look like an awesome company to work for. If I recall, it's even in one of the top employers in the nation.



    Well, who wouldn't like to work here? http://www.geekpedia.com/tag93_Microsoft-Campus.html

  • User profile image
    Flip

    Coming from the hardest working university student I know (and humble :>), there's two things to think about.

    If you have the highest grades going, life is easy, you call the shots, you decide where you want to work and most likely places like Microsoft, IBM, Sun, or big shops like that.  However, cause things come easy, life might get harder as you age cause you're so used to getting what you want, you might lose your drive.

    However, if you have to fight for everyhting you have achieved, to learn everything you know by the school of hard knocks, then you appreciate what you have and just might be a happier person in life for it.  You might not be working for MS, but you'll possibly be making a bigger difference with a smaller company.

    Some hiring people (HR and dev managers) respect experience over grades cause you're job is to make them look good.  What makes the manager look good, a great final product or the spreadsheet of employee stats/specs?  Depends on where you work and if they never release stuff! :>

    Food for thought.  Good luck with your schooling. 

  • User profile image
    Red5

    We don't give a rip about grades.  We really don't give much of a rip about certifications either.

    Experience, technical knowledge, a good work ethic, and a sparkling personality are the big factors for us.

    Why a sparkling personality you ask?  Because you will have to work efficiently with other sparkling personalities.

    Creativity is also a big plus:D

  • User profile image
    balupton

    To sum up what everyones been saying;
    Excellent grades + Experience > Workforce.
    Excellent grades > School.
    Excellent grades > Workforce.
    Good grades > School.
    Good grades + Experience > Workforce.
    Bad grades < School, Workforce.

    As i said in my first post though, in School you need etiher good grades and the certifications/qualifications, or luck.

    In the workforce is good grades and experience, and some luck.

  • User profile image
    Charles

    I think good grades are overrated... Success in the real world of IT and computing depends primarily on one's ability to handle stress, level of creativity, level of productivity, desire, drive, passion and intelligence. An A in CompSci has little bearing on any of the above criteria. That said, sure, graduating MIT with honors doesn't hurt your chances of being hired into an IT gig... Just don't place too much of an emphasis on it.

    At Microsoft, for example, we pay much more attention to the above characteristics than we do academic standing. I have worked with somebody in the past that we hired right out of high school, with average grades...

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    Charles wrote:
    I have worked with somebody in the past that we hired right out of high school, with average grades...


    Details... I'm interested Wink

  • User profile image
    j0217995

    In face degree doesn't always matter.  Let me explain.  I have a degree in education, social studies secondary ed.  The job market for teachers in Michigan (USA) is probablly as tough a market as one can find.  The pay is great and the union is quite strong.  The problem with being a social studies teacher is that a majority of them are coaches (football coach, baseball, etc) and I did not have coaching experience.

    To pay for college I worked in the IT area of the university that I went to.  SO IT was my fall back career.  After a yearr of substitute teaching (which sucks big time btw), I decided to go back into IT.  I started doing Internet Helpdesk and slowly moved on to the job I have, a network administrator for a community bank.

    Why?  Cause I know my stuff, I work har d and I do my job correctly.  If you work hard and know you stuff and get along well with people I feel that you will always find a job.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    j0217995 wrote:

    In face degree doesn't always matter.  Let me explain.  I have a degree in education, social studies secondary ed.  The job market for teachers in Michigan (USA) is probablly as tough a market as one can find.  The pay is great and the union is quite strong.  The problem with being a social studies teacher is that a majority of them are coaches (football coach, baseball, etc) and I did not have coaching experience.


    ...what is being a teacher like? I'm pondering becoming an IT teacher if everything I'm doing right now doesn't work out well (not to mention it would make a change from the influx of Liverpudlian "ICT" teachers this part of Cheshire has seen (co-incidentally the only 'cool' IT teacher my past school ever had looked a little like I do right now, long hair FTW)

  • User profile image
    DoomBringer

    Good grades are just indicative of skill, at least when you're taking a moderately difficult set of courses at an accredited institution.  I mean, if I was hiring, and my choices were between good grades and bad grades, the bad grades person would really have to be stellar in an interview (if I let them get that far).  Experience is very important, so it can be an equalizer.
    For me, I have good grades and good experience: 8 months of internship and other things.

  • User profile image
    j0217995

    W3bbo wrote:
    j0217995 wrote:

    In face degree doesn't always matter.  Let me explain.  I have a degree in education, social studies secondary ed.  The job market for teachers in Michigan (USA) is probablly as tough a market as one can find.  The pay is great and the union is quite strong.  The problem with being a social studies teacher is that a majority of them are coaches (football coach, baseball, etc) and I did not have coaching experience.


    ...what is being a teacher like? I'm pondering becoming an IT teacher if everything I'm doing right now doesn't work out well (not to mention it would make a change from the influx of Liverpudlian "ICT" teachers this part of Cheshire has seen (co-incidentally the only 'cool' IT teacher my past school ever had looked a little like I do right now, long hair FTW)


    More work then people think.  If you really want to be a good teacher, don't try to be cool.  Students can see right through fakeness.  Treat your students with respect and the students will respect you, be as fair as you can, but always enforce the rules.

    I  think there needs to be more IT teachers out there.  One schoold district I subbed for had several IT classes, inlcuding the Cisco academy.  However the teacher wasn't technical, more teaching right out the book without real world experience and the students saw it.

    I don't know how teacher training happens in the UK but there are lot of hoops to jump through and the whole process is very political.

  • User profile image
    ricodued

    Heh, thanks for all the advice guys. Definitely relieves some worries set into my head by various people.

    -Eric

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