Career Development Advice

I’m at a crossroads atm and I need to get my next decisions right to secure a better future for the family and enable us to moveacross the atlantic back to my wife’s home country of the states.
I’m currently working for an oil companies logistics division and have been given the opportunity to almost carve a role for myselfif I can develop the skills needed in application development.

I did a city & guilds vb programming courses about a decade ago and worked as a hardware and config engineer for pcworld and a network company for 4 years (hardly great accolades I know!). I did 2 years of a bsc computer science but left the course to pursue the aforementioned pcworld job opportunity that came up.
After that I moved into logistics and have stayed there ever since, IT competent and with some intermediate / advanced skills but that’s all.

I developed an excel spreadsheet for the company to log delivery events / failures and learn’t how to use operators, formula’s to create an interface then created a primitive database in a worksheet with tables for vlookup’s and a macro to run a report download into a separate template. All magic to my management and collegues but I know that at heart it’s just smoke and mirrors.

But it got me interested in application development and creating software solutions to problems and I’m hooked!

They have also given me access to the oracle 9.2 db they run out companies systems on and I started trying to move my spreadsheet to access but it is so limited and I want better.

I’m now seriously thinking this type of thing would be a dream career but at 32 with a family I need to make some good choices.

Broadly I have two problems.

  1. Education and development - I’m looking at starting a foundation degree from the UO in computing and IT practice which seems to use Java at the level 2 stage but would give me a degree which I think would give me a fighting chance in the US and lay down something tangible for employers.

  2. Work Development - I have this opportunity in work as I say and it’d be the perfect springboard to build a practical portfolio of enterprise level work. To this effect I bought a stack of books:

  • Creating websites: The missing Manual
  • C# 2010 All-In-One Dummies Guide
  • Build your own asp.net 4 website
  • Wrox programmer to programmer beginners asp.net

My feeling to both do my project and build a solid foundation in this field was to learn HTML > CSS > Javascript > VS.NET IDE > C# > ASP.NET > SQL

The work opportunity will only exists as long as I can produce tangible results so I need to learn fast and start showing results which for me would be a asp.net intranet site using a form to enter the events then display the log, allow import / export of excel and pdf format files then permit the management to review and anaylse data using crystal reports.

But I also want to make sure I learn this properly so I can develop on my own.

So I know this is a beast of a post but I really would value anyone’s help on making the right decisions here.

First of all, welcome to SitePoint!

First things first, you state that you want to be an applications developer, but it would seem that you want to learn Web Development skills. Do you want to build websites or desktop applications, because both worlds are entirely different.

It is my opinion that it is never too late to move into development, and I think that there are few places that would ever consider it a problem for you to work with them. However, as rightly said, a degree is a must for many jobs out there and if you plan to move to America (which can be difficult) you’ll want to prove some sort of skilled labour, which a degree will help with. A foundation degree will do very little for you in the eyes of employers, so if I were you I’d possibly look at studying for a full CS degree part-time (your employer may even let you work 4 days a week and study for this degree one day a week). If you got onto a degree programme in the past then I see no problem with you doing so now. The cost is high, but it’ll be worth it in the end if you have a degree to your name.

I’m glad that you’ve decided to choose C# and ASP.NET, as I feel that they’re currently the most defined tools in Web Development, and C# will give you an edge to get into both Web and Desktop programming, should you wish. If you’re looking to teach yourself then once you’ve got the basics down from those books I would highly recommend joining Stack Overflow and reading C# in Depth by Jon Skeet. It’s a great book, even for someone starting out, and after a few reads through it’s improved my view of C# and how to go about things immensely. Armed with this and Stack Overflow you’ll be in a good place to ask any questions and refer to any answers when building your solution. Don’t be afraid to post on SO or on here to get help if you’re stuck with things at work. The Internet is a resource, and it’s not cheating to ask for help if it’ll get things moving again.

HTML and CSS shouldn’t be too hard for you to learn, and I would always recommend that anyone use the Opera Web Standards Curriculum and [url=http://reference.sitepoint.com/html]SitePoint’s reference to get up to speed. ASP.NET and C# will be a bit harder, but if you’ve got some programming experience you’ll love working with .NET. Visual Studio will come to you as you use it, and it’s a fantastic IDE. For SQL I would probably recommend downloading a copy of SQL Server Express and playing with that, as its integration with .NET is obviously best. On top of this, I would highly recommend looking at starting out with best practices. Look into unit testing using NUnit, source control with Mercurial and Continuous Integration with TeamCity. Simply by using the three of those you’ll already be ahead of many professional developers out there…

Good luck, and don’t be afraid to post any follow-up questions or to look for advice on here!

Sorry I should’ve been more careful in phrasing what I’m aiming for :slight_smile: I’ve settled on web development though I keep saying applications because of the web application development aspects of .net.
I had another look at the degree course from open university which would suit my study style and working hours and it’s actually the computing and IT bsc degree I was looking at which the software development specialism in Java.
Due to my working hours distance study is the only feasable option as I work 12hrs on and 12hrs off with 4 night shifts 6pm to 6am then 4 days off then the same then 4 day shifts 6am to 6pm and repeat. So I’m neveer available on the same days every week as the rotation simply increments a day every shift cycle.

Thank you very much for the links as well, I’m currently going through each steadily but they are superb :slight_smile:

In all people’s life career is the main thing because without that they cant do anything in life. Make career in that field in which we are interested and growth are there. Many options are available like IT,MBA,MCA and many other.