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Training and Career

 
 
confused@orlacchio.com
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      05-27-2004
I am mainframe COBOL/CICS/VSAM programmer with no college
degree, only certifications in mainframe Computer
Operations ('82') and Computer Programming ('89'). Seven
years experience in operations, 12 years in programming,
with the last six as a consultant. In both operations and
programming I caught on fast and rose quickly, was very
good technically but never had aspirations for management
(could manage projects, couldn't deal with micro
management by upper management with political agendas
related to cross and/or interdepartmental squabbling). My
last contract ended in September of 2001, although I have
good references, I have not found a job since then.

Currently working with Voc-Rehab and starting CBT courses
to get certified in Network+, Security+, MCSE (70-210, 70-
215, 70-216, 70-217, 70-219, 70-220, 70-221, 70-292 and
70-296) and Cisco CCNA.

Upon successful certification they would be will to
sponsor .NET CBT to earn training to pass MCSD as well as
training for MCDBA, J2SE, JSEE. The CBT vendor we are
starting with is LearnKey.

I have dabbled with VB 6.0, making only small basic stand
alone programs and some forms interfacing with ACCESS (XP
version) (over a year ago). I have written basic PERL and
PHP applications that interface with MySQL. I have NO
budget for books and lost access to the net for over a
year. I have only done scribble with Visual C++ 6.0.

In short, no business production environment experience
at all with these products, is it realistic to expect to
achieve MCSD certification with a CBT with this
background?

And after getting all of these certifications, just how
helpful will they be without any prior experience or a
college degree given my background?

And lastly opinions on CBT's, and the quality of CBT
vendors.

 
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Eric
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      05-28-2004
http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed) wrote:

> I am mainframe COBOL/CICS/VSAM programmer with no college
> degree,


I started this way, too.

The biggest challenge for you is to learn about OOP. It's critical that
you understand the "whys" and the big picture of it. Simply
understanding how to code a class and use it isn't enough.

> My last contract ended in September of 2001, although I have
> good references, I have not found a job since then.


I understand. What city do you live in? It seems to me like many of the
job problems are regional. People who are willing to relocate have the
most job possibilities.

> Currently working with Voc-Rehab and starting CBT courses
> to get certified in Network+, Security+, MCSE (70-210, 70-
> 215, 70-216, 70-217, 70-219, 70-220, 70-221, 70-292 and
> 70-296) and Cisco CCNA.


Wow - This is not a programming track. Do you think it's wise to mix
this kind of thing with programming?

> Upon successful certification they would be will to
> sponsor .NET CBT to earn training to pass MCSD as well as
> training for MCDBA, J2SE, JSEE. The CBT vendor we are
> starting with is LearnKey.


LearnKey is probably the best company of this type. However, it sounds
like they're trying to sell you a "bill of goods". It doesn't make
sense for you to try to learn a dozen largely-unrelated computer
subjects! This is fine over a period of many years, but I think you
should learn one area well, and then get a real job. Don't try to
master a dozen subjects before getting a job.

> I have dabbled with VB 6.0, making only small basic stand
> alone programs and some forms interfacing with ACCESS (XP
> version) (over a year ago). I have written basic PERL and
> PHP applications that interface with MySQL. I have NO
> budget for books and lost access to the net for over a
> year. I have only done scribble with Visual C++ 6.0.


I don't understand. A good certification book is usually around $35 at
amazon (a single tank of gas costs me around $17 - 2 tanks of gas and I
can buy a cert book). And dial-up internet access is cheap - I pay $11
per month. Are you in the US? Most libraries have computers and
internet connections for use by the public.

I do understand financial hardship, but the term "investing in your
future" might be something to consider. Is it smart to let someone else
determine your future?

> In short, no business production environment experience
> at all with these products, is it realistic to expect to
> achieve MCSD certification with a CBT with this
> background?


This is where you are seeing the light, but you're too close to
understand what you're looking at. It's just plain wrong to invest
multiple manhours trying to learn a dozen subjects. You should focus
more on a subset, and learn it well. But, you might also need to
relocate to get a job. And you will have to accept a low salary at
first.

Also important: learn how to do well in an interview. Tell a company
why they should hire you, and tell them you'll work cheap just to have
the right to prove yourself.

> And after getting all of these certifications, just how
> helpful will they be without any prior experience or a
> college degree given my background?


Too many certs and no experience makes you look bad. You can't possibly
master all these subjects without practical work experience. People
will think there's a disconnect when they view your resume, and it will
go in the garbage. That's what I would do with it (please don't
consider this to be a personal slam - I'm trying to help you).

> And lastly opinions on CBT's, and the quality of CBT
> vendors.


LearnKey is great.

Eric
 
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The Poster Formerly Known as Kline Sphere
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      05-28-2004
>> I am mainframe COBOL/CICS/VSAM programmer with no college
>> degree,


>I started this way, too.


A degree, helps get you started after that, it mean very little. Proof
can be seen with you two (and others)

I used Cobol as well... a lot of Cobol!

>The biggest challenge for you is to learn about OOP. It's critical that
>you understand the "whys" and the big picture of it. Simply
>understanding how to code a class and use it isn't enough.


I can't see how learning oo concepts can be seen as a 'challenge'.
People deal with objects every minute of their lives, it should real,
why it's not is beyond me. Procedural concepts, now that's hard in
today's IT world!!!

Kline Sphere (Chalk) MCNGP #3
 
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UAError
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      05-28-2004
The Poster Formerly Known as Kline Sphere <.> wrote:

<snip>
>I can't see how learning oo concepts can be seen as a 'challenge'.
>People deal with objects every minute of their lives, it should real,
>why it's not is beyond me.


Dealing with objects is not the same as designing them -
very few people actually create anything - if they create
anything it usually just a variation of something they have
already create before and usually based on instruction left
by someone else. Creating new objects (classes in our lingo)
was usually left to "inventors".

Currently fledgeling developers experience OO through OO
languages and OO frameworks - artefacts that (most of the
time) model the computer domain not the business/problem
domain. Often they will then come to the conclusion that any
OO-model should more closely reflect the solution domain and
not the problem domain - which tends to create systems that
do not tolerate change in the business/problem domain very
well.

Many of their mentors may be prone to the view that objects
are just records/data structures with associated functions
which is a common (mis)conception among individuals educated
during the structured design era - which doesn't help.

And look at the impact that ADO.NET (an OO framework) can
have on some designs, especially because of the "seamless"
integration of the dataset with the data grid, repeater
control and data list.

ADO.NET "objectifies" the concepts of dealing with an RDBMS
or any other data source! This is useful in the data access
layer - but strictly speaking no data set should ever leave
this layer. Above the DAL you should only see collections of
business objects as it is the responsibility of the DAL to
bridge the RDBMS to OO chasm and realize (and later
serialize) the business objects. No visible RDBMS concept
should be promoted into the business logic, let alone the
user services layer.

But that is exactly what happens because of the data
set/data grid integration. Yes, you can integrate your own
business object collections but few go through the extra
effort.

Now strictly typed datasets are fine - but they cannot
contain business logic - and therefore they cannot act as
collections of real business objects.

Meanwhile developers using VB.NET/C#, and the .NET framework
happily use the dataset (an RDBMS concept) in every layer
(data access, business logic, and user services layer) and
declare that they are creating object-oriented applications!

So it seems to me there are plenty of places to get lost...

>Procedural concepts, now that's hard in
>today's IT world!!!
>
>Kline Sphere (Chalk) MCNGP #3


 
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Moe
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      05-29-2004
Hey buddy...

Your post caught my eye 'cause I used to do a lot of
COBOL/CICS/VSAM stuff myself. I'm happy to say that I've
managed to make the transition to .NET - 4 for 5 on my
MCSD right now and I'm also doing .NET work on the job.

While some of the responses you've gotten seem pretty
tangental to your concerns, I gotta agree with a lot of
the things Eric says. First, I can't quite see why
you're devoting a lot of time to network admin certs and
all that - unless that's what you want. If doing .NET
development is really what you want to do, then you
oughta get on with it.

I think you're telling us that these Voc-rehab people
won't get you MCSD training unless you do a lot of
network and security stuff first. Do you really think
getting a few CBT courses from these people is going to
be worth paying all those dues? If you want to get
certified in LAN administration and all that - and get
work in that area, that's cool - you should do that. But
if you want to do development, don't let these people get
you off course.

It's true - getting certified doesn't have to cost a lot
of money. Whether you do CBT courses - or classes - or
you just sit your butt down and learn what the stuff,
it's going to cost you a lot more TIME than money. It's
about understanding these technologies they call .NET and
not just regurgitating a bunch of facts you learn in a
classroom. You'll need a decent PC, internet access
(gotta read MSDN!), and a few books. But the big
investment you make will be the time it takes to get a
conceptual understanding of things - and then fill in
some details.

Is a certification really going to help you get work?
That's a tough question. Given your level of experience,
the fact that you've been unable to find work in 2 1/2
years raises makes me wonder. Possibly you live in an
area where there aren't a lot of tech jobs...maybe you're
just not marketing yourself effectively...I don't know.
Seems like there's other things to figure out before you
even begin to worry about getting certified.

I can guarantee one thing: A glossy piece of paper with
a fake Bill Gates signature on it is not going to change
everything.





>-----Original Message-----
>I am mainframe COBOL/CICS/VSAM programmer with no

college
>degree, only certifications in mainframe Computer
>Operations ('82') and Computer Programming ('89'). Seven
>years experience in operations, 12 years in programming,
>with the last six as a consultant. In both operations

and
>programming I caught on fast and rose quickly, was very
>good technically but never had aspirations for

management
>(could manage projects, couldn't deal with micro
>management by upper management with political agendas
>related to cross and/or interdepartmental squabbling).

My
>last contract ended in September of 2001, although I

have
>good references, I have not found a job since then.
>
>Currently working with Voc-Rehab and starting CBT

courses
>to get certified in Network+, Security+, MCSE (70-210,

70-
>215, 70-216, 70-217, 70-219, 70-220, 70-221, 70-292 and
>70-296) and Cisco CCNA.
>
>Upon successful certification they would be will to
>sponsor .NET CBT to earn training to pass MCSD as well

as
>training for MCDBA, J2SE, JSEE. The CBT vendor we are
>starting with is LearnKey.
>
>I have dabbled with VB 6.0, making only small basic

stand
>alone programs and some forms interfacing with ACCESS

(XP
>version) (over a year ago). I have written basic PERL

and
>PHP applications that interface with MySQL. I have NO
>budget for books and lost access to the net for over a
>year. I have only done scribble with Visual C++ 6.0.
>
>In short, no business production environment experience
>at all with these products, is it realistic to expect to
>achieve MCSD certification with a CBT with this
>background?
>
>And after getting all of these certifications, just how
>helpful will they be without any prior experience or a
>college degree given my background?
>
>And lastly opinions on CBT's, and the quality of CBT
>vendors.
>
>.
>

 
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The Poster Formerly Known as Kline Sphere
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Posts: n/a
 
      05-29-2004
>artefacts that (most of the
>time) model the computer domain not the business/problem
>domain. Often they will then come to the conclusion that any
>OO-model should more closely reflect the solution domain and
>not the problem domain - which tends to create systems that
>do not tolerate change in the business/problem domain very
>well.


Which wrong, plain and simple.

Software should model the business, and like the business, be able to
react quickly and efficiently to change.

The beauty of the object oriented development process is that the
transitions through the various stages of the process, are simple and
well defined. Errors are more easily identified and more quickly
resolved. The end result is a solution which represents the business
problem in the computer world, which as far as a user/customer is
concerned, are the same.

>Many of their mentors may be prone to the view that objects
>are just records/data structures with associated functions
>which is a common (mis)conception among individuals educated
>during the structured design era - which doesn't help.


Which again is wrong, plain and simple.

Yet it is very easy to talk to users/customers in oo speak, because
objects ultimately represent real world things which people can relate
too, which was the point of my earlier remark.

>No visible RDBMS concept
>should be promoted into the business logic, let alone the
>user services layer.


As it should be.

BTW, it's good to read your comment's and view's which people should
take notice of.

Kline Sphere (Chalk) MCNGP #3
 
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The Poster Formerly Known as Kline Sphere
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      05-29-2004
>And after getting all of these certifications, just how
>helpful will they be without any prior experience or a
>college degree given my background?


Much could also depend on your business knowledge, which is far harder
to obtain than learning a computer language. I would assume you have
picked up quite a bit in your years in the profession.

Kline Sphere (Chalk) MCNGP #3
 
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The Poster Formerly Known as Kline Sphere
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      05-29-2004
>First, I can't quite see why
>you're devoting a lot of time to network admin certs and
>all that - unless that's what you want. If doing .NET
>development is really what you want to do, then you
>oughta get on with it.


I could not do my job without having a good understanding of
networking concepts which include security, transport infrastructure,
performance issues, geographical issues, etc, etc. Software engineers
have always needed to understand more than simply how to churn out
code, this is even more so in today's IT world.

Kline Sphere (Chalk) MCNGP #3
 
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Moe
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      05-29-2004
Very true. But I still question the value in taking the
time to get certified in those areas if the ultimate
objective is getting work in development.

Let's face it. There's sort of an "overhead" involved in
taking and passing the tests that's somewhat incidental
to any real learning process. You have to try to get hip
to what the exam is going to focus on - probably run
through some practice tests, etc. (I know you don't
approve, Kline - spare us - OK?). That's all time that
could be spent learning something important.


>-----Original Message-----
>>First, I can't quite see why
>>you're devoting a lot of time to network admin certs

and
>>all that - unless that's what you want. If doing .NET
>>development is really what you want to do, then you
>>oughta get on with it.

>
>I could not do my job without having a good

understanding of
>networking concepts which include security, transport

infrastructure,
>performance issues, geographical issues, etc, etc.

Software engineers
>have always needed to understand more than simply how to

churn out
>code, this is even more so in today's IT world.
>
>Kline Sphere (Chalk) MCNGP #3
>.
>

 
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The Poster Formerly Known as Kline Sphere
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      05-29-2004
>Very true. But I still question the value in taking the
>time to get certified in those areas if the ultimate
>objective is getting work in development.


The value is in gaining knowledge and understanding. In the case of
the ms certification, it may well be incidental, but the knowledge
gained will be of benefit on a number of occasions within the working
environment.

>Let's face it. There's sort of an "overhead" involved in
>taking and passing the tests that's somewhat incidental
>to any real learning process. You have to try to get hip
>to what the exam is going to focus on - probably run
>through some practice tests, etc.


I can't see too much of an overhead, expect remembering to turn up for
the exam!

However, when people are preparing to take an exam, they seem to lack
confidence in their ability, which is something that does not tend
arise if the goal is simply to understand a new area of knowledge.

>That's all time that
>could be spent learning something important.


Yes you do need focus on what you wish to achieve.

Kline Sphere (Chalk) MCNGP #3
 
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