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Out of work? Don't take CS courses

I was just thinking about this, and thought I'd offer it up as food for thought...

If you have significant work experience, but you're currently out of work and thinking about going back to school for some kind of CS stuff, don't.

Get an MBA. At night school, if you can.

There are two reasons I suggest this, and neither one is what you're thinking:
1) Understanding business makes you a more valuable programmer. Not from a ticket-punching standpoint ("Oh, he has an MBA, we'll hire him") but that the education in economics and business processes will help you in analysis and project management.

2) Networking. Who will be your classmates? The people helping to make hiring and business decisions in their day jobs.

Anyway, food for thought.


Philip Janus
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Except that in the USA at least, the MBA job market is considered as saturated as the IT job market.

Nevertheless, an interesting idea that is far more worthwhile if you have some management experience on your resume in addition to traditional IT experience.

My 0.02.  Your mileage may differ.  Void where prohibited.

Mitch & Murray (from downtown)
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

[nod] Absolutely. That's why I didn't suggest this as a ticket-punching exercise, a la "Hey, I have my MBA!" but rather for the actual education itself.

Another option would be some project management courses from respected instructors.


Philip Janus
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

>>> I was just thinking about this, and thought I'd offer it up as food for thought... <<<

Are these comments based on any real life experiences of yours?  If so, can you give examples?  In particular concerning the networking advantages.

I can't tell from your posting if you have had experience with this or if it is idle speculation.  It all sounds reasonable.  How does it work out in real life?

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I went to law school at night, and still use those connections in my business life. I had a coworker who did the MBA at night thing and a) generally taught me something cool at least once a week, and b) got a job from a classmate.

Anecdotal, and YMMV. :-)


Philip Janus
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

What is the Opinion on Engineering Management degrees (Several Universities offer Masters in this)


A Software Build Guy
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I'd go with the MBA if that is what you really want.  Several years of software experience (hopefully succeessful), plus an MBA - that would stand out from the crowd of MBA only.  And, the MBA is a keyword requierment for what you really want (money).


Nat Ersoz
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I agree, in principle, with what you're saying here. But I don't think that the education you can get from an MBA is any more applicable that the education you'd get from any other advanced degree (or many undergrad degrees), especially in the hard sciences.

Persuing an MBA assumes that the student is interested in either moving into management in the very near future or writing code for statistical/financial business software of some sort.

On the flip side, though, going back and getting a second bachelor's degree in biochemistry (for example) accomplishes the same thing. A degree in biochem would give a programmer advanced knowledge in a biology problem domain, rather than a business problem domain.

And any time you've got advanced knowledge like that, you're worth more money. The guy with the MBA might end up earning more than you do, especially if he ends up in an upper-management role, but I, for one, would much rather do some cool new development with biotech simulations than write yet-another-financial-modelling-app.

Benji Smith
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I do agree that getting any advanced degree is generally a good idea and should help; however, I believe an MBA is a bit more applicable to all type of businesses while a biochem degree would simply put you in one category only. Getting an MBA will provide you insight on making business decisions on your software product rather than making engineering decisions.
On many levels Unix/Linux can be seen as a better OS than Windows but Windows is the more popular OS because Microsoft understood the business side of things better.
Same goes for Beta vs VHS, Tucker vs Ford, the list goes on and on.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

I think the most valuable aspect of an advanced degree is the networking with other people. I got an MS CS degree taking night classes. The classes were technically interesting, but I don't think they were that useful in the field.

However, one of the classes was co-taught by the MBA program, getting MBAs and CS grads "rubbing elbows" in a software entrepreneurship class. From those connections with some MBA students, I helped found a software startup that got over $2M in venture funding. So overall, it was a worthwhile experience.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Note what the MBA usually teaches:

Management Information Systems

Those are the main fields they somehow shoehorn - each to a limited extent - into an MBA degree, and it just so happens that in most/all MBA programs you do not need a previous Business degree, just - I think - a BA/BS/BSBA in some field, though according to my local university a BSBA in Economics (what I plan on taking) is considered one of the best programs in terms of preparing you for an MBA. Makes sense.

If nothing else, at least judging from my own personal preferences, it is generally greatly desirable to have employees that actually know something tangible about business and economics - even if that doesn't have anything directly to do with their job performance, one would think that it would make your job as an administrator/manager/executive that much easier as they are more likely to understand where you're coming from.

Personally I study Business and am planning on studying for a BSBA in Economics with a Comprehensive Economics Specialization, with a Minors in Management and Psychology - so that's where I'm coming from. :)

(I'm here because I'm rather a computer geek and I like programming :D )

Naturally one would need to do their own personal cost-benefit and risk analysis to determine what course of action(s) would give them the greatest marginal utility.

Which reminds me: You need to study Economics to figure out whether or not it would be worth your while to study Economics. ;)

Brian Hall
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

So does Joel have MBA?

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

In case you didn't know, Joel's got a job:-)

Prakash S
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Ask yourself if its a DEGREE you're after, or the knowledge itself.  If it's the latter, think 'Good Will Hunting"  "

You wasted $150,000 on an education you coulda got for $1.50 in late charges at the public library. "

Wednesday, February 12, 2003

How do you like them apples:-),,,,
, yeah Good WIll.. is an awesome, inspiring movie

Prakash S
Wednesday, February 12, 2003

Some degrees are suited to individual study - engineering, software, etc.

But some, such as business, law, philosophy, should be taken in a classroom where you can have open discussion.

This is one of the reasons I specifically suggested night school - so you can learn from the experiences of other working people, instead of being surrounded by the blank slates of the career students.


Philip Janus
Thursday, February 13, 2003

MBA ~ More Bollocks Anticipated

Simon Lucy
Thursday, February 13, 2003

I attended a few of MBA roadshows by some of the top US and European universities towards the end of last year.

MBA really is not about the knowledge. It is about the community. Which is why *all* the top MBA school require you to have at least three years professional experience before you can join.

You can buy a couple of books, and soak up the knowledge. What you will not have is a community of fairly intelligent individuals to bounce ideas off, and share experiences with.

At a good school, studying for an MBA also gives you access to the alumni network. All the schools were keen to stress this point, and all of them had alumni who attended the roadshows so potential candidates could talk to them.

One of them, (I think it is INSEAD), says that if you ever call a fellow alumni, they will (should?) always return your call.

On a more cynical level though, MBA is a passport (a) into the right companies or (b)into a fast-track career path. Having said that, not all MBAs are equal. A lot of firms will only recruit from certain schools.

Business Week publishes a B school edition (in October) . One of the metrics they measure is the change in salary Pre vs Post MBA. The average increase seems to be in the 75% region.

The question to ask yourself is why an MBA and why now?

Thursday, February 13, 2003

The BW site seems to have added a dedicated B school area.

Cursory glance reveals rankings and profiles (both full and part time), ROI calculator, forums etc.

Worth looking at if you are considering B School

Thursday, February 13, 2003

I would recommend reading the Journals on Business week. They offer tremendous insight into a lot of things.

Prakash S
Thursday, February 13, 2003

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