[racket] Math Guidance

From: wooks . (wookiz at hotmail.com)
Date: Sat Nov 6 19:22:39 EDT 2010

> I guess I could spend time on rent-a-coder or something but
> practically speaking, it seems to me like everyone cares about a CS
> *degree*, even if they then summarily ignore what was ostensibly
> taught for the degree.
> Deren

Paul  is absolutely right,  the key is getting a chance to prove yourself.

You do not have to search very hard to find IT people who don't believe in hiring CS grads.
A relation of mine who runs an IT company complained to me that  none of interns he got from the local university (one of the better known ones in the DC/metro area) could program.
Looking beyond the rights and wrongs of those views, it is worth considering how they came to be held and I think the Peter Principle gives us an explanation. Not the one about rising to levels of incompetence. No the principle that says that in an organisation, preservation of the hierarchy is of paramount importance. Therefore, those who threaten the hierarchy (the incompetent and the super competent) are most vulnerable to dismissal. I cannot think of a good reason why this industry should be an exception to it.

Now before anybody comes down on me for being off-topic let me ask whether there is any prof on the list who is not strongly motivated by the idea of training and sending off super competent programmers into the workplace. Good. Thank you.

If your level of competence is way below those of your peers clearly you are going to suck.
However if your level of competence is way above that of your peers, you are also going to suck.

I remember solving HTDP 9.5.5 with my class in the presence of my assistant (Masters degree, typical background C Java etc). I claimed it could be written in one if statement, he said he didn't see how, so I wrote it up and he looked at me like I'd just performed a Jedi Mind Trick and said "but where did you write the program".

Now of course this is nothing new or profound to anybody on this list, but the point is, he is typical of what an HTDP grad will encounter in the workplace. That guy and several like him are the people who are going to be on your code review!

Consider the type of work that gets done at some of the of the larger consumers of IT personnel - banks and insurance companies. They almost always buy package solutions. Then they  use their developers to perform customisations, produce extracts or develop interfaces. Often the tasks are at heart conceptually trivial.  The ideal worker for them is somebody who can gain a masterful understanding of how the package and other departmental infrastructure works and can deploy that knowledge to accurately impact analyse and achieve and roll out the requisite changes quickly. Does that ideal worker necessarily sound like a CS grad?

This is true despite the fact that the very same places will often have a rigourous selection process. Then you start work and often find that you are being given tasks that are within the capability of an average but mature high school student. 

Of course there are exceptions but as an HTDP grad you are in a minority, most of your peers do not code nor think like you. Unless you are fortunate to work in an organisation where they do your best chance of being allowed to be a good programmer is either by working for yourself or working outside an IT department.

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