[thelist] Interview question: No CS degree?

Barney Carroll barney.carroll at gmail.com
Thu Nov 1 12:46:52 CDT 2012

I compensated by throwing myself in at the deep end and working in IT
instead. I'm 27 now, and I think I've done better than most people I meet
with CS degrees my age. I base this on the range and depth of CS-related
conversations I can participate in, earning power and the simple fact I've
done more real work than them ;)

Your point about terminology is interesting. A trait shared by a lot of
institutionally-educated developers is inflexible definitions. You're
right, as self-taught people we have to be naturally more flexible with our
learning process and must keep elastic concepts floating to avoid premature
conclusions (something institutional education really does badly at —
people think learning stuff is a goal-based achievement with a definite

All this might sound a tad arrogant or dismissive of CS grads, but I think
it's fair. In the circles I respect, a CS degree doesn't indicate anything
note-worthy. But if you're after third party back-up, the industry speaks
for itself. England in particular (where I am) is renowned for the poverty
of its CS degrees, which is why there is a tendency for big IT business in
London to subsidise visas for foreign applicants in generic development

In any case, I've rarely felt defensive about it.


PS: All the above is even more applicable to the web. I've never heard any
positive feedback on institutional education on web technologies and in
this particular field, I'm suspicious of anybody who prides themselves on a
qualification. How can you expect an old degree to be of any relevance to
something that changes as fast as this does? Beware especially of
Microsoft-certified developers.

Barney Carroll

barney.carroll at gmail.com
+44 7429 177278


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