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Comment Re:First programming course? At Stanford?? (Score 1) 255

I did, as did many of my classmates in the CS department. The important bit is that Stanford does their admissions for the school as a whole. Not the School of Engineering, and certainly not individual departments. Everyone shows up undeclared and has to figure out where they want to be.

Predictably, many people know right away or after freshman year. But there isn't actually a requirement to declare a major until it's time to get a degree. Personally, I was taking classes like an Econ major for two years, and then switched to Computer Science. It took me another year to declare CS as my major, and even then only did so because I was applying to the Masters program (which I never finished).

It's not strictly relevant given that this isn't a class for CS majors, but the answer to your question is that there are many, many CS majors who go on to careers in software who write their first code in their second or third year.

Comment Figure out what's important (Score 3, Interesting) 174

I struggled with the same questions, both when I was in school getting my Bachelor's and later while working (I'm 26 now, and still haven't come to a conclusion). I was doing my Bachelors in CS at Stanford, and having a great time of it. I didn't see a reason to stop, so I applied for the coterminal Masters program, in which you just keep right on taking classes. I started being a TA for CS classes, and enjoyed teaching. During the summers, I did internships all over the place, and had a good time doing it.

After a couple of years, though, I started thinking about what the goal was. I didn't actually have a reason to want the Masters: it was just a way to keep taking classes. So after five years I had my Bachelors and was partway to the Masters, but I'd had enough. I took a job at Microsoft as a developer, and have been having a great time at that, too.

But lately I've started to think again about what the goal is. Do I want to be a dev forever? I have friends here where that is absolutely their goal. Do I want to run the company? If so, I can either get an MBA, or try to start working my way up through the management chain (there are a bunch of VPs at Microsoft without MBAs). Do I want to do something completely different? I've thought about joining a start-up or working for a consulting house. Maybe I could swing working in another country for a while. The good news is that there's no deadline... I don't need to have this all decided by the time I'm 30.

So look around and figure out where you want to be in five years, and then figure out where that points you for twenty years out. If you're unhappy with that, start thinking with longer horizons in mind. I'll be honest: I've never missed my CS Masters. If I go back to school, it'll be for an MBA.

If your only goal is employability, you're barking up the wrong tree anyway: lawyers are basically always employed, and make more than I do as well. So start figuring out what's important to you besides being employed... I'm guessing it's a longer list than that.

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