The value of MCSD: added value to a degree?

Discussion in 'MCSD' started by uv2003, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. uv2003

    uv2003 Guest

    Greetings all,

    I would like to get some opinions on what you think the value of an
    MCSD would be in my situation.

    Goal:

    I want to work with a team that follows an artifact-driven approach to
    analysis and design, and uses code generation and design patterns as
    appropriate to implement systems. I'd prefer to use .NET as the target
    platform.

    What I hope to get out of the MCSD:

    I currently have a bachelor's degree in computer information systems
    and a C/C++ programming certificate. I have experience with a range of
    web application development techniques, including object-oriented Perl
    5 coupled with CGI.PM long ago, and now ASP and ASP.NET. I'm hoping
    that if I do the MCSD, I will reinforce a lot of what I learned in
    school, but for a specific development platform. In doing so, I'm
    hoping it will add value to my degree to show that I have the broad
    knowledge of system development gained through the degree, and the
    specific platform knowledge gained through both hands on experience and
    the certification. I also would like to learn more about ORM, as
    opposed to ERD that I'm currently familiar with from school. I have
    Terry Halpin's book about it, but it's so large and I have not had
    time, but it looks like the Solution exam has some parts about using
    ORM.

    Some people on these boards are saying that the certificate is
    worthless compared to a degree, while others are saying it's a good
    addition to the degree or in some cases better. I feel like .NET is
    here to stay for a while, as a platform, with both Microsoft and Mono
    behind it, and that the skills gained learning it in depth can only
    help in the long run.

    What are your opinions and experiences with this?

    Thank you,
    Josh

    That is my question and the basics of my situation, but for additional
    background here is some more info:

    Education Background:
    I have a bachelor's degree in computer information systems from a good
    public university (GSU in Atlanta). I took all the most difficult
    programming courses in the degree track because I really enjoy the
    challenge of programming, choosing courses to focus on object-oriented
    development. I followed the C++ track that culminated in a C++
    certificate in addition to my degree. Other key courses taken included:

    Math courses: learned set theory and equations, etc...

    Decision Sciences: learned about making business decisions and
    analyzing data.

    System Analysis (Learned about business processes, case studies,
    writing requirements specifications, UML Use Case modeling, Conceptual
    Diagrams, etc etc, the life-cycle process, CASE tools introduction)

    System Design (Learned about using object-oriented approaches to
    solving the business needs using both hand-written code and CASE tools
    and about the Gang of Four design patterns, database modeling with ERD
    created from the conceptual diagram, logical and physical
    implementations, component-based software, etc)

    Database Management Systems (Learned all about data normalization, SQL
    syntax, triggers, stored procs, etc -- We used Sybase if I recall
    correctly)

    Goal:
    As stated above, I want to work with a team that follows an
    artifact-driven approach to analysis and design, and uses code
    generation and design patterns as appropriate to implement systems. I'd
    prefer to use .NET as the target platform.

    Work history:
    While in the degree program, I worked as a developer at the university,
    and implemented one of the university college's web-based document
    collection systems using Perl, CGI.PM and Oracle for Linux. This was
    before .NET came out. I wrote all my Perl in modular, object oriented
    style and really enjoyed writing and learning about object-oriented
    principles. I gained a lot of respect for the thousands of Perl
    libraries and the LWP package in particular. When .NET came out, I
    liked compiled languages better now that I had C++ experience and
    wanted to get more experience with using compiled languages for web
    development. ASP.NET had a good WebForms namespace and implementation
    that differentiated it from the various JSP tag libraries available at
    that time, so we chose to use ASP.NET instead of Struts.

    So, I and my coworker implemented the college web site using C#,
    ASP.NET, Custom Controls, XML, XSLT, XHTML, CSS. We didn't need a
    full-blown database, so we used XML files to allow content editors to
    submit stories about events happening in departments. We used some gang
    of four design patterns in the application. We used the GotDotNet
    Thumbnail generator Web Service to query all the department-level web
    sites home pages every morning and generate new thumbnail images for
    the links to them. That was a lot of fun to make all of that. There was
    no politics, no games, just a job to accomplish and a timeframe within
    which to do it. I felt like I was applying what I learned in school.
    That site has been running for over 3 years now.

    After that, I took a permanent position with a large government
    contractor and am currently working on a very interesting, but aging
    scientific data collection application implemented primarily in ASP
    3.0, VB 6, COM, and SQL Server 2000. We have made some advances with
    ..NET, like using the SQL Reporting Services tool, but have not done a
    lot of heavy .NET development yet. I feel like there is too much
    political shuffling right now and that the prospect of doing exciting,
    new .NET development, or any object-oriented development for that
    matter, is slim right now, so I feel like I'm losing time that could be
    spent gaining deeper .NET development skills. There is also a portion
    of the organization that wants to go with J2EE for everything, but the
    recently hired enterprise architect takes a heterogenous view, but I
    still think common sense is going to take time to catch up with the
    politics.

    Side Projects:
    I started to learn the architecture of DNN. I started creating a module
    for DNN for pulling in content from disparate web sites and extracting
    patterns of text using regex or xslt. This is fun and keeps my
    knowledge up, but I'm thinking now about doing an MCSD.

    I've read a lot of commentary on this board that differs in opinion as
    to the value of the certification. In my current position, I work with
    a small team that is not using a formal methodology and is not using
    exclusively object-oriented principles or design patterns and
    code-generation. I want to work with these technologies again. I am
    very interested in applying tools and patterns to reduce development
    time where appropriate, and to automate tasks. There are some
    interesting approaches out there now with Hibernate/NHibernate and
    tools like IronSpeed. I'm having no luck really learning about these
    things in depth in my current position though.

    I feel like my degree taught me a lot because I put a lot into it. I
    feel like my work experience after college has so far (4 years) taught
    me about some specific technologies (SQL Server 2000, ASP, Source Code
    Control tools, Versioning tools, deployment packaging, etc), and more
    about the general process of development and a wholllllle lot about the
    value of documentation and well-tested systems and test cases data
    sets.

    But, I don't feel like I'm learning anything new about .NET in my day
    to day duties.
     
    uv2003, Jun 21, 2005
    #1
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  2. uv2003

    KMA Guest

    But, I don't feel like I'm learning anything new about .NET in my day
    to day duties.

    Then for this reason alone it's worth doing the exams. Let's face it,
    they're not expensive so the financial "loss" is not significant. From your
    post it's clear that you have a thirst for knowledge. You already have an
    academic qualification, some paid experience and from what I can gather some
    projects on the side. These count for far more than MCSD. Perhaps the only
    other reason to get it is if there is a position that requires it, but such
    vacancies are rare in my experience.
     
    KMA, Jun 21, 2005
    #2
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  3. uv2003

    Guest Guest

    A MCSD certification will get your resume noticed, and you will receive
    about twice as many cold calls from recruiters as someone with the same
    background but no certification. Once you are contacted by a recruiter or
    prospective employer, it's up to you to sell yourself and take it the rest
    of the way. At some point, there will be a panel interview consisting of
    senior level developers, and you will be expected to prove to them that you
    know your stuff. The interview will revolve around your actual work
    experience, not your certification. Based on what I've read here, I don't
    think you will have a problem.
    The real problem you will face is actually finding an IT shop that use
    good software development methodology. I can assure you that 9 out of 10 job
    opportunities will provide an experience that is no different than the one
    you have now.
     
    Guest, Jun 21, 2005
    #3
  4. uv2003

    uv2003 Guest

    Thanks for the responses! I think it will be worth it to get the in
    depth knowledge and coverage of the framework. I've read through the
    first chapter of Amit Kalani's web applications book and thought it was
    very good. It shows a lot about the actual life cycle of the pages and
    the compilation, etc. I found him answering a lot of my questions
    almost immediately as they arose in my mind.

    It's just frustrating to not be getting day-by-day experience in the
    framework now when I was getting that three years ago. That's
    unfortunate about the 9 out of 10 experience. But, it makes sense that
    the number of quality shops should not be that much different from the
    number of quality candidates. The challenge is to then find places that
    have the right requirements for hiring and the right technical
    expertise.

    I'm also considering doing a master's, but I'm not completely sold on
    the curriculums I've seen yet. A lot of them for CIS/MIS are more
    managerial, though there are technical tracks as well, but I've seen
    some course descriptions describe things like "XML, XSLT, and CSS" as
    "advanced topics". But, if they provide a good foundation for how
    things _should_ be it may serve as a way to help identify exactly what
    a good shop is. Plus, it would put me in contact with professional
    people again and their contacts. I'm interested in enterprise
    architecture, network programming, and component software.

    The GSU curriculum has been redesigned though now and looks more
    promising: http://www2.cis.gsu.edu/CompleteMastersProgram.pdf

    I may decide to do the MCSD first and then opt for the master's next
    spring.

    Most of the courses below from the GSU curriculum and degree tracks
    looks pretty interesting. I graduated before they started teaching
    object-oriented approaches to web application development. When I did
    my C++ track, in the final course we learned the Win32 API and MFC on
    top of that so we created an MFC application. Plus, I think it would be
    good to take courses specifically about project management, innovation,
    and requirements. All of those were aspects of my previous courses, but
    not a topic unto themselves.

    Course Offerings
    CIS 8000 - Information Technology Project Management
    CIS 8010 - Process Innovation
    CIS 8020 - Systems Integration
    CIS 8030 - Software Requirements Management
    CIS 8040 - Fundamentals of Database Management Systems
    CIS 8050 - Telecommunications Design
    CIS 8060 - Supply Chain Management
    CIS 8070 - Mobile and Wireless Information Systems
    CIS 8080 - Security and Privacy of Information and Information Systems
    CIS 8090 - Enterprise Architecture
    CIS 8100 - Management of Information Services
    CIS 8200 - Information Systems Strategy
    CIS 8210 - Global Systems Sourcing
    CIS 8220 - International Information Technology Issues and Policies
    CIS 8260 - Knowledge Management
    CIS 8299 - Topics in Information Systems Management
    CIS 8300 - Software Quality Management
    CIS 8310 - Systems Development
    CIS 8389 - Directed Readings
    CIS 8391 - Field Study in Computer Information Systems
    CIS 8399 - Topics in Information Systems Development
    CIS 8401 - Mobile Applications Development
    CIS 8411 - Wireless Networks
    CIS 8499 - Topics in Telecommunications
    CIS 8500 - Human Computer Interfaces, Usability and Assistive
    Technologies
    CIS 8599 - Topics in Medical Informatics
    CIS 8699 - Topics in Business Process Innovation
    CIS 8700 - Business Process Analysis and Modeling
    CIS 8710 - Process Innovation Technology
    CIS 8850 - Web Applications Development
    CIS 8900 - Knowledge Systems
    CIS 8990 - MS Thesis
     
    uv2003, Jun 21, 2005
    #4
  5. uv2003

    Guest Guest

    Our college has a very good IT masters program in Network security and has
    gotten some award if I am not mistaken. The real irony is that the BS degree
    plan on the same track is a full blown disaster zone. Its an IST degree plan
    that walks and talks like a MIS degree plan gone horribly wrong, which is why
    I have been very aggressive about getting certified before I graduate becuase
    my college is teaching me nothing.

    That all said, the Network Masters program is very good and I would do it if
    I had the money.
    Univeristy of Houston
     
    Guest, Jun 23, 2005
    #5
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