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Best Language for Employability?

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This is good timing, the author of Code Complete (Steve McConnel) has a blog, and his latest entry is:

"How to Self-Study for a Computer Programming Job"

One of our biggest sources for entry-level applicants is Rutgers University, as they're just 10 minutes from here. I was surprised to learn that the only language that a CompSci student there must learn is Java.
-CWuestefeld (August 15, 2007, 04:31 PM)
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It's the same in the UK nowadays - people can get a computer science degree having learned just one language and UML and side, easy subjects (multimedia???). And when you talk to them they haven't ever learned anything on their own. These people might be useful in a large corporate machine, but they certainly are no use to someone with a team of a dozen where all need to pull some of their weight)
-iphigenie (August 15, 2007, 04:45 PM)
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What the... Where are those universities? I want to finish my degree there! UML, Java and multimedia... easy! </sarcasm>

IMO UML and multimedia sure are easy, and just one language is just not enough to be a software professional at degree level. People in all sorts of other majors learn one programming language and a bit of software development! You need multiple languages, architecture, modeling (and not just the use of UML), problem solving, algorithms, etc. You need to learn all the basics, solve certain problems several times in different languages, pick up algorithms and data structures, so you understand how it all fits together and why some of the current patterns and practices are good (and where they might be weak)... You need to pick up knowledge, but also experience and craftsmanship...

Well when we interviewed students for their year out, I wasnt impressed. These were students from places like Leeds and DeMontfort, so not totally lame unis from what I hear. To me, there was far to much application and product specific courses, and many superficial topics (and not just in the 1st year, where they are justified).

Or maybe I have the wrong expectations of a "computer science" or "software engineering" degree. But to me it does imply a strong base and a lot of craftsmanship, not having spent maybe 10% of the whole 3 years actually writing software...

I think it is a necessary result of policies that say that x% of people must get to go to university and we need x% more technical graduates... The only way to achieve this kind of stuff quickly (considering that you would have to wait 20-30 years if you did it by improving the school system and make sure more people end school capable for university) is to create more subjects and make things easier.

The side effect is that you used to be able to assume that about 60% of people with a certain degree actually had acquired a pretty good understanding of the subject field. Now I fear it's more like 30%.

Nah, i'm not a cynic  ;)

I'm afraid i can't disagree on anything you've said iphigenie, except for one point. When you suggested creating *more* subjects i almost yelled at my monitor. It is my belief that this is precisely our problem. When i went for my Software Design diploma last year, it infuriated me that out of an entire week, *TWO* periods only were spent in actual software design. Now i understand that there is much material to cover in addition to the software design itself, but to have only a fifth of the course dedicated to the design of software is absolutely outrageous. In my opinion the number of subjects should be cut in half at least with more consolidation and less redundancy in the content of the off-topic (for lack of a better word) subjects and a firmer focus on the core subject of a course.
Aaaaaanyway, getting on to what i intended this post to be...I wish to announce i have officially found my portable C# IDE.
SharpDevelop appears to have covered every single one of my requirements (we can forgive them for coding it in C# :P) and then some. It is an open source IDE aimed specifically at C#, but does support various other languages (VB.NET, Boo etc). It has full support for WinForms and the soon to be released version 3 will have full support for dotnet 3.5, though version 2 does support 3.0 in a far lesser capacity. It is fully portable after a couple of modifications to the source and a recompile (by default it saves to %appdata% and %temp%). You may find a list of its features here.



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