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Self-Taught Developers and Microsoft

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  • User profile image
    jsrfc58

    Have any "self-taught" programmers ever made it into Microsoft's ranks?  I don't mean completely self-taught...because real-world work experience is very important also...but I mean software developers without "degrees".

    Just curious.

  • User profile image
    pikatung

    Bill Gates and his chums did Tongue Out

  • User profile image
    Shaded

    jsrfc58 wrote:

    Have any "self-taught" programmers ever made it into Microsoft's ranks?  I don't mean completely self-taught...because real-world work experience is very important also...but I mean software developers without "degrees".

    Just curious.



    Degrees are over-rated, this is not a new thing.  Look at the Wright Brothers.

  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    jsrfc58 wrote:
    but I mean software developers without "degrees".


    I've got some radians somewhere...

  • User profile image
    footballism

    Shaded wrote:
    jsrfc58 wrote:

    Have any "self-taught" programmers ever made it into Microsoft's ranks?  I don't mean completely self-taught...because real-world work experience is very important also...but I mean software developers without "degrees".

    Just curious.



    Degrees are over-rated, this is not a new thing.  Look at the Wright Brothers.



    degree is realllllllllllllllllly important in China,there is no exaggeration to say that nearly 50 percent of chinese college students attend college just for the sake of getting degrees.

  • User profile image
    Buzza

    Yeah, Bill Gates didn't need one, but he had a great idea when the market was in a state that made Microsoft the company it is today.

    Back then - most developers / programmers did ALL that work themselves.  It was a lot simpler.

    The industry has changed so much since then.  The amount of different areas to cover, these days you have networking, administration, maintainance, graphics, UI, databases, internet, etc.

    Now, well the competition is huge, the area's of expertise are vast - a degree is one thing I would do to help me further my career in this industry.

    If you have 2 people with the same skill sets (including personality - which I class as a skill), but one with a degree and one without - i know which one would get the job time after time.

    What happens with certifications - who is better - someone with a MCSD or CS Degree ??  I don't have my MSCD (yet) but I know people who have - and I have to admit they have no clue at all except for how to start the ide - type code - compile and run.  If a ocx file isn't registered or they get a out of stack space error - they would have NO CLUE. 

    Your best bet would to decide what you want to do with your career - and if you really like software development, then i would suggest a degree.

  • User profile image
    sbc

    Buzza wrote:

    Yeah, Bill Gates didn't need one, but he had a great idea when the market was in a state that made Microsoft the company it is today.

    Back then - most developers / programmers did ALL that work themselves.  It was a lot simpler.

    The industry has changed so much since then.  The amount of different areas to cover, these days you have networking, administration, maintainance, graphics, UI, databases, internet, etc.

    Now, well the competition is huge, the area's of expertise are vast - a degree is one thing I would do to help me further my career in this industry.

    If you have 2 people with the same skill sets (including personality - which I class as a skill), but one with a degree and one without - i know which one would get the job time after time.

    What happens with certifications - who is better - someone with a MCSD or CS Degree ??  I don't have my MSCD (yet) but I know people who have - and I have to admit they have no clue at all except for how to start the ide - type code - compile and run.  If a ocx file isn't registered or they get a out of stack space error - they would have NO CLUE. 

    Your best bet would to decide what you want to do with your career - and if you really like software development, then i would suggest a degree.


    How can people get an MSCD if they don't know these things? Is it just enough to read the books to pass? There should be more hands-on courses - rather than (or as well as) do a written exam, you actually use the software and do the tasks that the course is targetted at.

  • User profile image
    Buzza

    Sorry I forgot to mention - that some guys that I graduated with (in my CS degree) still had no clue - they just passed and they are out there - therefore it show you that degress to come in handy Wink

    I think it comes down to the individal, how passionate they are with technology.

    I love my techonology - and always wanting to enhance my skill set - thats why I am here on Channel 9.

    No number of tests will ever make a developer of someone, I personally think its some type of art / problem solving skill, and some have it - others don't.

  • User profile image
    KosherCoder

    All a degree shows is that the candidate knows how to take tests. When I'm hiring for developers, I look for self-motivated people that continually study and improve their skills. I never look at education.

  • User profile image
    Manip

    I'm currently studying a degree, and I can tell you first hand that it is useless. It is a to prove that I know the stuff I already know. I haven't learnt anything yet... I'll let you know when I do...

  • User profile image
    coccyx

    I'm planning to go back to school, just to have the sheet of paper.  For a development job, a degree would certainly help, but it's definitely not required.  The problem with not having a degree is the areas to which it limits you.  Most people in management have a degree, if that's something you're interested in.  However, don't think you can't have a successful career without one, as long as you want to be a developer or a technical person (or work for a smaller company).  Microsoft, for a large company though, seems to care the least about formal education.  No one can take the degree away from you though, so it's always something you'll have to carry around for you when looking for any job.  No telling what'll happen in the future, and you've at least got the sheet of paper saying that you committed to something for at least 4 years Smiley.

  • User profile image
    cooler

    "The only source of knowledge is experience"
                                      -Albert Einstein

  • User profile image
    ScanIAm

    Shaded wrote:
    jsrfc58 wrote:

    Have any "self-taught" programmers ever made it into Microsoft's ranks?  I don't mean completely self-taught...because real-world work experience is very important also...but I mean software developers without "degrees".

    Just curious.



    Degrees are over-rated, this is not a new thing.  Look at the Wright Brothers.



    They're a bit decomposed at the moment...

  • User profile image
    irascian

    sbc wrote:

    How can people get an MSCD if they don't know these things? Is it just enough to read the books to pass? There should be more hands-on courses - rather than (or as well as) do a written exam, you actually use the software and do the tasks that the course is targetted at.


    Like most things in life it's possible to cheat. One can cram for MCSD by reading a book and 'learning by rote'. In the early days of the MCSE there used to even we web sites news groups where those who'd sat the exam posted what they remembered of the questions. At the end of the day an MCSD is like a degree (funny how all degrees seem to be deemed equal!) - on their own they're meaningless, but they CAN, when mixed with experience, show a willingness to 'go the extra mile'.

    Some of the best people I've worked with didn't have a degree, although alarmingly most of them talked about wanting to do an Open University or part-time degree to make up. Personally I found my degree (in Computer Studies) useful for learning about self and life, but not particularly relevant to anything I do in my job. At the end of the day enthusiasm and ability to do the job are far more important than a degree (or an MCSD).

  • User profile image
    kriskdf

    I think I'm going to try to get into this degree program next year.

    I personally think that having a degree helps.  I know without the degree that I have it would have taken a lot longer to get into MS. I am 24 now and to gain the knowledge I have now through industry experience alone is possible, but I am pretty certain that I couldn't have done it by now.

    I have talked with several hiring managers here that say a degree isn't a requirement but it certainly doesn't hurt.

  • User profile image
    mikekol

    I'm a self-taught dev who just started as an SDE/T on the Virtual Server team. 

    I've been programming since I was 13 - started with QBASIC and worked my way up.  Others have mentioned that a degree is overrated, and that's absolutely true.  I don't have a degree and question whether I'll ever need one.  I went to college for 2.5 years and didn't learn much of anything.  My experience has been that Microsoft doesn't care about your educational history - they care about what you can do.

    That said, it's certainly not my advise that anyone and everyone should try to go through life without a degree, since other places *do* care.

    But, yes.  Self-taught devs are here.

  • User profile image
    rhm

    KosherCoder wrote:
    All a degree shows is that the candidate knows how to take tests.


    It also shows they have the ability to stick at something for a few years.

    KosherCoder wrote:
    When I'm hiring for developers, I look for self-motivated people that continually study and improve their skills.


    Everyone (well most) looks for those thing as well, but the univeristy degree is regarded by most recruiters as a basic minimum as it filters out the dreamers and workshy. Sure, you might miss out on that rare person who has extreme tallent and original thinking but some reason better known to themselves they can't be bothered to get a degree, but realistically are you going to carefully examine *every* CV that comes across your desk just in case? Of course not.

    KosherCoder wrote:
    I never look at education.


    Then you must either put a huge amount of effort into recruiting to check out every single applicant or you have a hit-and-miss approach to recruiting.

  • User profile image
    Lazycoder2

    A buddy of mine was hired at Microsoft back before all the big buildings were finished, back before the dot-com 'we'll take anyone who seems smart' hiring bonanza at MS. He was in the VB building, building 4 I believe.  He's completely self-taught and doesn't have a college degree of any sort. Now he's charging $185/hour as a consultant. I think he was originally an SDET, but when he left he was a PM. He wasn't unique at the time. Dunno what it's like there now.

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