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What Do You Do When CS Isn't Fun Any More? 1177

Posted by Cliff
from the recapturing-the-wonder dept.
wonderless asks: "Long ago and far away, I thought that I was going to be a Great Geek, and that I was going to provoke a revolution in the computer industry--and indeed, the world--with my mastery of technology. I could hardly wait to throw myself into an intense, highly technical curriculum and shine. But as I said, that was long ago and far away. Now I'm one semester away from graduation, with a 3.5 average overall and a lackluster 3.0 in CS, and I'm liking it less and less every day. I used to be able to say that at least it pays well, but now I can't even take solace in that. I drag myself to classes and through projects, and it all seems really pointless--I'm just implementing what's written in the book, and eradicating the countless off-by-one bugs is nothing short of mind-numbing. I'd like nothing better than to recapture the feeling of joy I used to get out of doing this, and to once again be able to say I'm doing what I love. What do you do when it isn't fun any more, but you'd like it to be?"
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What Do You Do When CS Isn't Fun Any More?

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  • ...or better yet, who you wanted to be.
  • see how long it takes you to appreciate love and adore the wonderfull joys of CS. I am guessing one day tops!
  • by Sam Jooky (54205) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:26PM (#2527941)
    You do something else. If you're about to graduate with a Bachelor's degree in one subject, then you're not very far from having another Bachelor's degree in something else. Have you thought about sticking around a couple years and getting a second major?

    I have two degrees, one in CS and one in Archaeology. CS isn't what I want my career to be in, but I can take my computer skills and development knowledge and apply it to archaeology problems.

    I like computers and archaeology a lot, though like I said, I don't want to be stuck in the computer industry for the rest of my life (can you say: Middle management, and other un-fun things when you get old?). But I like it enough that I can take it and mix it with something else I like and come up with a winning combination.

    Talk to your advisors, too. That's what they get paid for. Mostly, though, you just have to go out there and do what you want to do, money be damned.

    Good luck!

    Sam Jooky

    • by ekrout (139379) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:30PM (#2527986) Journal
      I have two degrees, one in CS and one in Archaeology. CS isn't what I want my career to be in, but I can take my computer skills and development knowledge and apply it to archaeology problems.

      Yeah, and I can take my engineering degree and apply it to 18th-century western European literature.
    • by epsalon (518482) <slash@alon.wox.org> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:43PM (#2528142) Homepage Journal
      CS + Archeology!
      You can then get a job studying old XT, DRAGON-32 and COMMODORE-64 machines...
    • by mstyne (133363) <<gro.yeknomahpla> <ta> <ekim>> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:53PM (#2528223) Homepage Journal
      You do college radio [whrwfm.org]. I honestly think that I'd have dropped out of school a while ago if I didn't have something to occupy my free time other than learning about old technology and studying automata. Automata!!

      Yeah, I can really see a potential employer asking me about Turing machines... or to code them a little application in Prolog. Another misconception my CS program makes is that all CS majors want to be programmers. I *hate* programming. I'm much more interested in the hardware/network/administration aspects of computer systems. Coding up a Java application to simulate an ATM is like pulling teeth.

      Maybe that's just the CS program here at SUNY Binghamton [binghamton.edu]. What's it like elsewhere?

      I can honestly say I've garnered myself more experience / knowledge setting up and administering the network in my *house* than I've learned in any classroom.

      Right now the objective is to finish up my degree and get out. Like a co-worker suggested to me a couple summers back (I should have listened) -- your degree -- and 75 cents -- will buy you a cup of coffee at 7-Eleven. And as was mentioned earlier, the declining job market/salaries isn't much of a motivator either. That's why I have a job at one of the local commercial radio stations here (in addition to working at the campus station), -- it NEVER hurts to have a backup plan.

      Solidarity, my brothers and sisters in CS suckiness...

      Mike
    • by BLAMM! (301082) <ralammNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:53PM (#2528231)
      CS and Archaeology. It's interesting that you combine those interests. A few years ago I was going though the process of leaving the USAF. I was attending a transition assistance class designed to ease the change from military to civilian life. They gave a test to help you discover your interests and what careers would be good for you. It was based on selecting a series of skills and activites that gave you satisfaction. After doing this a number of times and refining the list, a computer used the results to generate a satisfaction rating for different career possibilities. My high ratings were in computers(big surprise), electronics, and archaeology. Apparently they use similar skill sets. What was really funny was my dead last, bottom-rung, bore-me-to-tears career. The military.

      Anyway, here's my last ditch effort to make this on topic. I left the military after 14 years because it simply wasn't what I wanted to do anymore. The path I was taking was crystal clear and I wanted nothing to do with it, so I left and I am doing well in my new compu-centric career. It's never too late to change your mind. If you don't like it, leave and find something you do.

    • by nick this (22998) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:54PM (#2528243) Journal
      A long time ago I learned that its better to get less money doing a job that you love than to get lots of money doing a job that you hate.

      The whole reason to get a degree, IMHO, is to widen the possible jobs that you are employable in. You should pick a field that you enjoy, then pick from the choices you have in that field based on money or job satisfaction.

      If the only thing you are in the field for is money, then you will be stuck with a job you hate, and money is no compensation. I guarantee you will be going back to school for another degree, or working in a different field without a degree.

      Life is *way* too short to do something for a living that you don't want to do. Figure out what it is you *want* to do, and get the degree that fits into that.

      For me, I like coding. But only on my own terms. I don't like working in a cube, I don't like hunting for bugs in someone elses code. So I won't do it. I code for myself, on my own time, and use my CS background to get me a job in a field tangential to CS.

      This works for me. It might work for you, too. Course, the job I have (and enjoy) pays me less than I could make, but I never wake up wishing I didn't have to go to work.

      Thats me.
    • by kannen (98813) <jkannenNO@SPAMhotmail.com> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:55PM (#2528248) Homepage
      This is awesome advice. You have a chance right now to use student loans to finance your education without worrying about paying off the mortgage or making the payments on your year old car. You should take it.

      I ended up with a minor in English in addition to my degree in CS. I really love studying texts and critically analyzing them, and it turns out, I'm really good at it - as good as, if not better than, I am at being a computer geek. There was just one problem: as I thought about going to grad school and doing work in English, I realized that although I am interested in the English Renaissance, as well as modern American literature, I don't have a deep interest in studying it. Sooo I scrapped the idea of grad school in English and opted for a position doing computer programming, because I knew how to program and it would pay the bills.

      But life has many twists and turns, and I really love the studies I am now doing in the Bible, and I love it so much, that I wish my job didn't get in the way of my ability to continue intensively study it. And, as it turns out, a really great seminary has just added a branch campus in my city. So, next year, I'm planning on starting work on my seminary degree part time. It combines my love of analyzing texts with my burden to understand the Bible and the critical thinking skills that I have picked up through computer science. And it turns out I'm really great at teaching, and I think that this seminary degree will be a valuable way to augment my teaching skills and the knowledge teaching draws upon.

      Now, I'm not saying that you should enroll in seminary. *grin* What I am saying is that you should look at your interests and look at ways to pursue them. Don't go for the whole enchilada, but take small bites. If your interest continues to be held, be willing to take the next step. I didn't know when I started taking literature classes for the hell of it that this would allign me for Biblical work, but it did provide a critical foundation for me. Taking the literature classes gave me an awareness of where my real interests lay. Go feed your interests.

      • BTW, another option (Score:3, Interesting)

        by kannen (98813)
        There's also always Teach For America [teachforamerica.org] which is a program that takes students who have just graduated from college and pays them to teach in urban schools for 2 years. AND, you don't need a teaching certificate.

        I always thought it would be really cool to do something like that. Especially if you could get a computer science class going, or an after school club. There are lots of free tools that you can use to create really great lab projects. (Even Microsoft has free development packages - check out the development environment they provide for FREE for WindowsCE. It even comes with neat emulators.)

        So, you could get a chance to be THE COOL TEACHER and you could really paint a vision for kids of their own futures that they might not otherwise get. And, you would get some time to wind down and think about what you really want to do for your life.

    • Second that (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nanojath (265940)
      You remind me a lot of myself many many moons ago. I was so busy getting a degree in the physical sciences that I ignored my dissatisfaction with the topic. My lowest grades were in my major. Like you, I told myself that I'd stick it out for the job and the money.


      It took me a long time to learn a simple fact: you can find a subject really interesting and enjoyable but not want to do it as a career. If your decisions are rooted in what is most marketable and some now years-old idea of yor adult identity as an uber-geek, then you better kiss happiness in your working life goodbye because you can't start with pragmatism and try to force your happiness into what's left. You have to start with your happiness and then find a way to make it pragmatic.


      No matter what you do there will be drudge work - if you're doing what you really love it won't bother you as much as the drudge of computer science obviously does. When you're excited enough about the outcome, the necessary toil becomes a mere obstacle, something to be overcome.


      You are so close to graduating it probably makes little sense to try to change your major, unless you're close to a second in something you really like (you must be getting 4:0s in something to bring that GPA up). Have you considered graduate school? If you find something that suits you better (hint: you enjoy doing it), it doesn't really matter that much what your undergrad degree was. You might even be able to design something that combines the aspects of CS you love with a topic that will sustain you through the unavoidable drudgery component. If you have the time and opportunity, one possibility is to try to design a directed study as an experiment to finish out your CS degree. Combine a programming project with some sort of back-up area of study that you might consider as a career alternative. Maybe being in the drivers seat, coding for something you really have an interest in will reawaken your interest in CS - or else it might provide a bridge to a new focus of study. But take it from someone who's been there - don't ignore your dissatisfaction, because it won't go away and you won't get used to it. These people that say "welcome to the real world" have just settled. That's a choice we all have to make. It's never too late to change, but the sooner you decide to stick to your guns and choose to follow your heart, the sooner you will start working towards being happy instead of being miserable but addicted to an illusion of security.

    • Keep in mind that what you do in your classes is simply to develop the skills you will need when you get a real job. Most school work hardly reflects what you will be doing in the real world. If you do end up being a software engineer, writing software will at least have some other point than simply getting an A. You will have a clear objective, and using your creativity you'll be free to pretty much implement it the way you like, which is completely unlike any classes I had.

      I grew to hate my CS classes at the U of MN, but now that I have a real job, I really enjoy what I do. I'm not a software engineer, I'm a Unix and network security guy, but I use the skills I learned in college to get and keep my job. I can safely say that my classes did not even come close to reflecting what I do in the real world, but they helped.
  • Hit the networks. See what Oprah recommends. Maybe Maury can help you out. Find someone to scream at(maybe a professor - pick a feisty one) and duke it out on Springer.
  • Hear my violin? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AdventureExtreme (236773) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:27PM (#2527948)
    Welcome to the real world my friend.
    Unless you go to work for a company doing research in CompSci you are going to be doing pretty much the same thing say-in and day-out when you get a job.
    All I can say is don't lose your appreciation of computers but realize that not all computer related activity is going to be cutting edge and challenging. Keep working and eventually you will get the chance to do what you want.
    • Re:Hear my violin? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jmccay (70985) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:53PM (#2528219) Journal
      You can also find a project to work on during your spare time. Remember Work to live and not live to work. Find something that iterests you and play around with it outside of work. This could be somethign as complex as the Linux Kernel, or simply wirting computer games as a hobby. The point is remember to work to live and not live to work.
      You say you are approaching the end of your college years. NOW is the time to pick somehting to make a hobby while you have a lot more time. You can even have a lot of hobbies. Facts of life are you go to your job to get paid and pay the bills, but your hobbies are what you love (and live for).
  • Obviously... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by FFFish (7567)
    ...you find something else to do. Life is way too short to waste it doing stuff you don't enjoy. Go seek out something new and exciting. Stay alive!
  • If you can't even get through school, then IT isn't for you. Work makes school seem very, very fun in comparison. Once you're doing at work for a few years, you'll realize that it's not nearly as fun or interesting as you thought it was going to be. It's deadlines, crappy legacy code, stuipd managers, bad decisions that you have to live with, etc. It's a royal grind. If you're already burned out, you may want to save yourself the headache and consider a new line of work.

    - A burned out 28-year old developer.
    • by Xerithane (13482) <xerithaneNO@SPAMnerdfarm.org> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:41PM (#2528136) Homepage Journal
      I hear that same sentiment a lot, and quite frankly I think it's bunk. I have never put myself in a job that I would call mundane or boring.


      It's called being selective of the job you want, and not taking the first job you get an offer letter for. Everyone that I know that goes, "Man.. IT sucks! Coding sucks!" took a job too quickly. Any developer who has been in the field for more than 2 years can be selective, and take a job that is fun.


      If you are burned out, I would say it is definitely a "bad decision that you have to live with" because it was your decision to take that job. You're 28, so you have probably been in the field for a while. Even the way the economy is going, I managed to find a great contract (I prefer consultancy, get to work on a new project every 6 months is even better) at a great environment, with great people. My previous contract was quite similar, but a bit absurd.


      My advice to anyone who claims burnout without being in the field: Go work on an open source project and write real code. Not silly book examples, not fixing stupid bugs (And I'm sorry, if you are a senior an getting off-by-one bugs then you should either pay more attention or should choose a career and make other developers lives easier).

    • Maybe for you.. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Slynkie (18861) <jsalit@slu[ ]net ['nk.' in gap]> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:41PM (#2528137) Homepage
      Jeez, how negative can you get?
      I got my CS degree in may, although I've been working "in the real world" through a co-op since january. And compared to school, I -love- it. Yes, of course the projects aren't going to be as interesting as you want, and there's the beaurocrats, and all the other stuff you mentioned.

      But compared to boring classes where a good percentage of the professors are even dumber than PHB's, or at the least, even MORE close-minded, working for a real company, with real goals, and real projects, is amazing.

      And no, I don't work for some new-wave dotcom...I work for IBM, one of the oldest dinosaurs out there. So if I can deal with it, and still love it, even after struggling to stay awake through college (and only come out with a 2.7GPA), then others can too.

      It ain't easy to kill a geek :P
    • It does get better (Score:3, Informative)

      by staplin (78853)
      I didn't have too many problems getting through school, but I will encourage you to stick it out and try working for a while afterward. School and work are completely different environments. Here's some points to consider:

      Not all jobs are mindless, boring, and riddled with bad middle management. CS people in the real world aren't doing the same things as CS people in academia. They apply what they know to widely varying domains of problems. Look for a job in an intersting domain, and check it out.

      If you have a liking for aerospace, look at defense contracting companies, or satellite imaging companies. Lots of potential for interesting work there! Some people have a knack for telecom and working with low level hardware. If you've got a background in other sciences, there's a wealth of possibilities there... biotech, computational chemistry, genome work, all of these are highly dependant on specialized software.

      Avoid things like "Enterprise Application Integration" unless you really are in to middleware and writing glue code. Some people like this, but I find it gets very repetitious and boring quickly.

      If you don't know what you want to work with, a consulting company can get you exposure to a lot of domains and technologies. But they can also wear you down with mind numbing projects that you don't care about.

      I guess my big point is that academic projects bear little relation to projects in the real world. It's completely different. Beyond your basic skills, and knowledge of design/development process, everything you learn at a job will be new. And very little of it falls into that "grading bucket" where someone looks at it once and puts it in a filing cabinet.

      Right now, you should just look at school as a stepping stone... something to be passed through on the way to a more interesting application of what you've learned.
    • WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Christopher Bibbs (14) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @02:15PM (#2528445) Homepage Journal
      Maybe next year will be a royal pain, but up till now this 27-year old developer has been having a blast. Working for a profitable company (that makes a difference), getting more and more say in the direction of the code base, exploring new ideas, being able to look at my own work from just 6 months back and realize how much I've learned....

      What a great time!

      Now, I'll admit, I didn't get a CS degree. No, Anthropolgy major with CS minor for me, thank you. Of course, I had figured out in my sophmore year that Physics just wasn't going to pan out for me. Maybe all students should change majors after the first year or two. I dunno

    • Depends on yourself (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Baki (72515)
      Not all people are alike, some may like IT jobs, some won't. I can only hope that those not really interested (but only in the money) drop out soon in these times.

      As for myself, I studied physics and gradually moved into IT. I am a fanatic and never get enough of it. I consider myself lucky that I can have work that I really like, and I intend to stay into technically challenging jobs, i.e. not go into management, until I'm 60 (hope to retire then, I'm 35 now).

      I keep being fascinated by all new developments and things that come along, in a faster pace than in most other professions; I guess that in the end there is a boring element in all jobs, but those that really love their profession will always see interesting things and be able to cope with the negative things that occur everywhere.

      The problem is: there are lots of people into IT that don't have that drive/fascination for technology, but mainly for the money that is/was in it. They are bored by the job since they don't have the capacity or will to research things for themselves, which means that those shall get more routine jobs where less initiative is asked or desired.

      If I had to choose between money and what I like, it would definately not be money. You can't be good at a job that you do mainly for money, and if you're not good in your job, your job won't be fun.
  • find something that you would like to see made or that you are interested in... then start coding. it will be much more fun if you are doing something for yourself rather than yet another linked list to solve the sums of 5 numbers ;)
  • Study somemore. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ck_kid (88667) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:28PM (#2527963) Homepage
    Study geology or astronomy or (insert interest here) and apply your CS knowledge to something that would be rewarding to you.

    CS is an enabler for most of us not an end.

    You do not even really need to go back to school for this.

    Hans

    Two long, one short. I am lost.
  • I had that problem (Score:2, Informative)

    by davovad (241692)
    I found that when I got into the industry and started doing different projects than you do in class (ie writing functional web applications vs writing bubble sorts) that I started having a *lot* more fun than I did in college.

    Plus it is a completely different environment - you get paid - you get to work on something all day vs having to juggle a ton of classwork.
  • by Christopher Thomas (11717) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:29PM (#2527966)
    First of all, if you're one semester from graduation - finish your year. The piece of paper will still be worth something, especially when the economy rebounds.

    As for finding the fun again... Take a break. Explore hobbies other than coding. Let your coding skills sit quietly in the back of your mind, and some time later, you'll feel the itch again - the need to code a little widget that's Really Cool. It mainly sounds like you're getting burned out to me.

    OTOH, coding may or may not be what you really want to do. If your primary goal was to awe the world with your m4d sk1llz, you may simply not have noticed that you weren't having fun doing it. That will reveal itself during your sabbatical. If coding ever was fun for you, the desire to code will come back.

    YMMV :). Good luck.
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:48PM (#2529534)

      Listen to this guy; he's smart.

      I have been involved in recruitment for companies in the past, and I have seen the total disregard for being reasonable often exhibited by managers (even good ones, if they are just being hassled about interviews when they have better things to do -- like their job). Amongst other things, I have spoken to a number of people who had dropped out part-way through a CS degree that was "boring them" or "not teaching them anything". There were some prima donnas who had a rude awakening coming to them, but several of them were obviously quite bright and just genuinely not finding much to keep them interested. None of them ever got an interview, even with my recommendation, because the view of others higher up the tree was that if they were really that bright, they'd have stayed on and finished the course.

      As for taking a break, I agree it can be useful, but be careful not to stray too far from the CS path. If you do, it's going to be hard to get back in if you ever want to; knowledge dates faster in our industry than just about everywhere else. Time out of the loop could seriously count against you when you come to applying for jobs.

      I know how depressing academic courses can be; I used to love maths, but by the end of three years studying nothing else, I was getting seriously depressed. Now that I've finished my formal studies, and a CS diploma afterwards that gave me much the same feeling at the end, I actually find myself interested in the subjects again. Without the pressure -- "you must do everything on this syllabus, and you haven't got time to do much else" -- it's a different world. I've actually found myself going back to read notes on some of the more interesting courses I did -- things I barely looked at way back then, and never did exams on -- and I do it purely out of interest. Now I'm not studying it just to answer the next problem sheet, it's a totally different feeling. Keep the faith.

  • Get a job (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cmorriss (471077)
    That's what helped me. Seeing my work help others gave me a sense of accomplishment that I just didn't have in college. Coding is still somewhat fun, but the goal is more real in business. You don't just get a grade, someone tells you that your product has helped them.
  • by Lovepump (58591) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:30PM (#2527978)
    Sounds like you need to clear off for a few weeks, take in some sun, drink some wine, eat some good food and don't go anywhere near a keyboard.

    It works for me as an mainframe contractor - take some time out, recharge your batteries keep doing it until you're bored. Then come back to the keyboard...
  • by asv108 (141455)
    This isn't something that's exclusive to CS but rather all fields, burnout. Take some time off, go outside, take a trip. After a couple of weeks or months you may find yourself itching for the keyboard. If not, do whatever makes you happy. If you don't know what that is, find it and do it.
  • Oh no! (Score:3, Funny)

    by Jack William Bell (84469) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:30PM (#2527983) Homepage Journal
    Dude, like you gotta go into Management or something. Quick, look in the mirror and see if your hair is starting to get pointy.

    Jack
  • by mr.ska (208224) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:30PM (#2527984) Homepage Journal
    You want to break down technological barriers? You want to implement the future? You want to compile boldy what none have compiled before? Don't get a job.

    You're right... your job will more than likely be doing what everyone else is doing - implementing the well-known. Whee-hah. Sounds like that is exactly what you want to avoid.

    I'm not usually one to advocate this, but go to grad school. You'll hook up with the people who are developing what will be the standard years from now, and are researching the bleeding edge. A Master's degree will be a good start.. if you want to really push the envelope, you gotta go all the way to Ph.D.

    Grad school will break you out of the its-been-done rut you seem to be in. The only problem might be the cost (it's never cheap), and your grades. Check with some of your professors, see what it takes to get in. You may need to take another year and polish yourself up.

    Failing that, start a pr0n website. Pr0n always seems to be on the cutting edge...

    • by sacremon (244448) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @02:03PM (#2528337)
      The problem then becomes what to do after grad school. I've known a fair number of Ph.D.'s in CS, and they had a hard time getting jobs after graduation, even during the recent boom years, unless they went into academia. Why? Because the perception of the business world is that CS Ph.D.'s have studied obscure topics that have no bearing on the real world, as they know it. They want someone who has experience with the systems that they use, not someone who will try to revamp their whole world.
    • I'm not usually one to advocate this, but go to grad school. You'll hook up with the people who are developing what will be the standard years from now, and are researching the bleeding edge.

      Grad school will break you out of the its-been-done rut you seem to be in.

      Delusions. In grad school, you'll start out covering the same old "core" material. When you start working on research, you'll have to get lucky enough to find an advisor doing something related to your interests. Oh, and you'll need to get interested in something.

      Sounds like the problem is you want to be a superstar, but you don't have any motivation. Things don't really work like that. If you were motivated, you would be doing interesting things already, and maybe one of those things would be a "big deal." You need to motivate yourself.

      What do you do when it isn't fun any more, but you'd like it to be?

      Take a long break from it. Read books, get away for awhile. Think about what made it fun in the first place and try to find out where your interests lie. If your stuck, go back and really read your CS books from upper-level courses. See if any of the topics seems interesting at all. If so, do that. If not, explore topics that either weren't offered by your school or that you didn't take.

      If none of that works, get a random job in the industry. There's nothing like 8+ mind-numbing, stress-filled hours a day doing exactly what you hate to get you thinking about what you REALLY want to do.

      When I was balked finding a research topic, I took the big, insurmountable idea that got me started in computers and wittled it down until I had a manageable piece. That became my starting point. It took forever, and it required a little work researching the subfield, but it got me there.

      If you don't want an advanced degree, then once you figure out what sort of programs interest you, or what about programming interests you, get hired by company that does that. Most software houses have enough divisions that you can float around for a bit working in different areas. Hell, try QA.
    • The only problem might be the cost (it's never cheap)

      Actually, going to grad school can be done pretty reasonably. Find a program that pays a stipend and gives a tuition waver. Granted, your contemporaries will be working in jobs and making more money than you will be as a student, but eventually this will change either in academia or industry and financially, you might always be behind the earning curve for retirement (although lots of comp sci folks have made quite a good living after grad school), but you might find it personally rewarding pushing the envelope.

      Just look at some of the alumni of our CS department and what they have done: David Evans and Ivan Sutherland of Evans and Sutherland fame, Robert Barton who was the principal architect of all Burroughs computer systems, Tom Stockham who essentially pioneered the field of digital audio processing, Alan Kay who I am sure you know as one of the creators of the GUI, inventor of Smalltalk and now an Apple fellow, John Warnock founder of Adobe, Alan Ashton founder of Word Perfect, Henri Gouraud who created the gouraud shading system for polygons, Ed Catmull who is a visionary in animation and currently at Pixar, Jim Clark Founder of Silicon Graphics Inc. founder of Netscape Communications Corporation and founder of Healtheon/WebMD, Bui Tuong-Phong creator of the Phong shading method that was talked up so much at Siggraph this year, Martin Newell founder of founder of Ashlar, Inc which pioneered much of the CAD industry, Frank Crow who developed anti-aliasing methods for edge smoothing. I could continue to go on, but you get the idea.

      Check out the CS dept. here: http://www.cs.utah.edu
  • I guess you didn't get the errata sheet for the secret geek manual:

    On page 844, in the paragraph that ends

    "...being a geek is the worst thing ever, a meaningless existence full of drudgery and pain."

    substitute "isn't" for "is", "meaningful" for "meaningless" and "with no" for "full of"

    Also, at the bottom of page 1299 (this is a Peachpit Press book after all), replace the sentence "Never ever have a good time -- just keep staring at the monitor no matter what" with "Be sure to get out more -- staring at a monitor all the time is bad for your eyes."

    ;)
  • Get as far away from CS, once you graduate, as possible. Move somewhere where there is no computer industry and get it out of your head. If it no longer seems like you want to pursue a career in CS, then maybe you are better off not trying to, but you will only know how much you would miss it by getting some distance for a while.
  • by 13Echo (209846)
    Unlike most people who get involved in "higher learning," I go to school to learn, and not to just "find a job." I got fet up with CS a few years ago and opted to get involved in electronics engineering after a short break. I have loved it ever since and still learn new things all the time. I suggest that you look into it if CS isn't really for you. Maybe you can still recolutionize the technical world.
  • The last thing in the world you want to is stick with tech even though you dislike it, or it bores you.

    Keeping current on your technology skills requires constant maintenance and efforyt. If you dont have the desire, your skills are going to suffer. It will only get worse with time.

    My suggestion would be to experiment and explore other areas of interest that you enjoy.

    Tech is used in just about every field of study nowadays, and perhaps applying technology to a different domain, like sociology, archeology, etc, would be a usefull application of your skills, as well as something that you look forward to.

    Don't sell yourself short. 'Settling' on a tech career because of the money won't bring any satisfaction, and probably won't bring the money you thought it would either.
  • Don't Major in CS! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Azghoul (25786)
    IMO, CS should probably only be studied by those who want to create new /SCIENCE/ in the field. Too many people want to use computers to do their jobs, or program for a living, and think CS is the way to go. Nah.

    Far better idea: Get a degree (or 3) in something you're truly interested in. Like History, or Geography (or GIS, like me :)). Learn your computer skills while working on another degree, and that will create some serious demand for your abilities...... in the field you majored in!

    You major in what you love to do, and use computers to make what you love that much better.

    Like.... be a programmer who happens to be a genius in Physics! You think that wouldn't be in demand?
  • What to do... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TBone (5692) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:31PM (#2528002) Homepage
    Realize that having a CS degree will at least get you in the door at places for more than just programming. I burnt out while I was in school, too, and dropped out in my last year, because I was tired of all the FSCKING programming. I mean, if I wanted to be a programmer, that's all fine and good, but I wanted to be, at the time, a systems analyst, and later changed my mind, and now I'm a systems admin.

    Finish it out. I wish I had - but I got into the job market before the dot-com bubble started or burst, so I was lucky enough to not have to depend on my degree to get me just in the door. Now I'm going the night school here at an in-town unoiversity.

    You're going to need the degree, coming in with minimal experience. I know, it sucks, but finish it out, then get out of the programming. I still go back to it for fun when I wanna do something, but hell, it's surely not what I want to do for the rest of my life.
    • Definately (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Skip666Kent (4128) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @02:18PM (#2528473)
      Don't let either a self-destructively cynical worldview or a fear of success/failure let you drop what you've done so far.

      FINISH. No if's / and's / nand's / xor's or 'well...I don't know man...the world is going to shit anyways so I might as well just blah blah blah...'s about it. Tell yourself whatever lies it takes to finish up your degree. Just do it. Trust us on this one!

      You never have to touch another computer again for the rest of your life if you don't want to, but a degree - in ANYTHING - shows that, to some substantial degree, you can get your work done and see a difficult job through to the end. THIS is what employers of all kinds really like, and will also give you the self-assurance you will need if you choose to go it on your own and start a business or something.

      Bottom line:

      Shut the fsck up and do your damn homework.

      ; )
  • Do what I do (Score:2, Interesting)

    by niekze (96793)
    I get tired of CS too. I'm about 2 semesters away. Some classes have great professors where you enjoy the classes and the projects because they are challenging. Other times (Tue-Thur @5:30) I'll have a professor that just reads power point slides and has midterms that are closer to DB vocabulary tests than DB process and design. In any event, I started learning stuff I wanted to learn on my own. Messing with sockets and gtk+ and other stuff. The reason CS gets boring is that a lot of the problems you solve in classes are miles from fun. Take the Travelling Salesmen problem. I'm sure almost everyone in CS has to do it at sometime or another. It's an interesting problem, but coding it isn't. So, long story short: my advice is to look into areas of programming you havn't tried and give them a shot. It could just be that the stuff you're doing isn't for you.
  • In my experience, most people hate their first job after graduation. Accept it - go for the 'best' job you can even if you know you may not enjoy it. Try to stick with it for two years and get as much experience and training as you can. Then make a career change to what you really want to do.

    Just because you studied CS, doesn't mean that you have to base your career around it. However, you should use it as leverage to get a good first job, because without work experience it's difficult to change tack. Once you've got a bit of experience, then you'll have a lot more freedom to change and move to what you really want to do.

    The real sad cases are those people who get a 'good' job which they really hate, but then don't have the courage to change to something different.
  • What do you do? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by uslinux.net (152591)
    Simple answer: Find something non computer science related to do.

    What aspect of CS do you dislike? Programming? There are tons of non-programming jobs out there. As a sysadmin, other than the occasional Perl script, I don't write any code.

    Really, just because you graduate with a CS degree does NOT mean that you need to go out and become a programmer, or even need to find a CS-related job. Ironically, I know a few English majors who are now brilliant sysadmins.

    I don't mean to sound like a Troll, but if you're that close to graduation, then finish college and look for something which you like. A college degree is just proof that you can learn.
  • Maybe this [bbspot.com] is your way back to happiness.
  • Wrong Motivations (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Courageous (228506) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:32PM (#2528014)
    "...at least it pays well..."

    That's not a good reason for going into C.S. It reminds me of a trend in medicine, where folks want to become doctors because of the money. Only, somewhere along the line they figure out that they really don't like medicine; this is often after a substantial investment in medschool, which can leave crushing, mortgage-sized debts. Careers should be selected for love of the art, not love of money.

    All that said, you're making a decision too early. You're in SCHOOL; the challenges you're facing there are nothing like what you'll be facing on the job. You'll learn more in your first year on the job than you did during the entire time you were in school. You'll face programming efforts with 50,000 lines of code or more in some cases. College C.S. is a good theoretical basis, but it really doesn't show you what you're going to face at work.

    You don't have enough experience yet to be jaded, so stop puttin' on those jaded airs. :)

    C//
  • About 2 years into my CS education, I realized that I had an active dislike for mathmatics, and only limited patience for the rigors involved in logic design and the debugging headaches that go along with any programming project.

    The thing that saved me, however, was the fact that the field of computer science is so varied and vast that I didn't really have to specialize in programming to do what I really wanted to.

    Look at all aspects of CS, and not just coding. That means networking, graphics, engineering, etc...

    When I realized that I really wasn't cut out to be a coder, I started taking art classes and registerd a minor specilization in computer generated art. Now I'm a webmaster/graphics guru for a mid-sized financial company in texas. Part of my duties include administering servers and writing the occasional script, but most of what I get to do is purely creative. I take photos, paint, draw, and even write occasionally, being paid like a server administrator the entire time.

    I know guys who hate coding, but love to build hardware. I know of guys who have gone into the electronics aspect of CS, actually engineering and building computer components.

    It may be difficult to find a CS field you like, but there is almost certainly one out there for you.
  • A CS degree is not just a way into *yawn* programming for some company or sysadmining looking after morons and their computers. It is knowlege that can be applied across the board to a myriad of fields of research, either academic or commercial.

    The same applies to non CS degrees in the CS field - my (postgrad) degree is in Medieval French, but I'm working with computers in order to create electronic editions of medieval manuscripts; using XML with a search engine to enable people to search texts, descriptions of archives, descriptions of museum items, libraries etc. Find something else that interests you and you can say that you love, and apply your IT knowledge and skills to it.

    -- Azaroth

  • by duffbeer703 (177751)
    Once you get out in the real working world, you'll come to appreciate your degree more. I started working on the Sysadmin/DBA side and have made the transition to a software/network engineer and am starting to appreciate the time I spent in school.

    So don't do anything stupid until you are out of school and employed (ie. don't drop out) Just get a job and see what happens. If you hate your job, look for another one.

    If you are reasonably intelligent and interested in doing stuff, you won't have too much trouble getting a job. One of the positive things about a recession is that it will shake the idiots and dotcom losers out of the industry.
  • How to cure boredom (Score:2, Interesting)

    by banda (206438)
    Join the military.

    Seriously, I got way more out of the practical Computer Programming Specialist courses at Keesler AFB than I did from Washington University's engineering curriculum. Once I was trained, they shipped me off to an honest-to-god Air Force squadron where I wrote code for embedded systems, designed databases, repaired hardware, and got to run around with a gun.

    The money was terrible. The hours were tough. It was the best work experience of my life. And, as an experience I can put on my resume, it was spectacularly effective at keeping me employed after I was discharged.

  • You have to ask yourself: Is it software development that you're tired of, or is it academia?

    You might want to try working outside college, either at a part-time job, or on an open-source project.
  • I know it sucks right now, but you've invested plenty of time in it, and its a bad idea to quit. Its only a semester, a fantastically short period of time in the grand scheme of things.

    Then go and do something completely unrelated for as long as you want to, and gain a bit of perspective. You may find that, with the daily grind removed, you remember what you liked about CS, or you may never touch a keyboard again. Either way, you'll be a college graduate, which does help in getting jobs, whatever your major is.

    Besides sticking at something you hate for a short while is character building :)
  • by butocabra (118007) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:34PM (#2528040)
    It'd be a shame to call it quits before you've really begun the game. The complexities you'll encounter once you really start working will make whatever you've done in school look like a two line gw-basic program written on an ibm pc-at. The joy of working in cs projects transitions from the drugery of fixing minutae to solving larger, systemic problems. I urge you to take your good gpa, get a job, and really give it a chance.
  • Listen, everything you do will eventually become boring. If you switch to another field you think will be more interesting, that will become boring too. The smart thing to do is to go into a career where you can become independently wealthy when you're young, after that you can do whatever you want, when you want. The only career like that is business, particularly finance. If I had to do it all over again, I would go to Wall Street for sure, and I'd be retired by now.
  • by under_score (65824) <mishkin-slashdot.berteig@com> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:34PM (#2528046) Homepage
    Honestly, I was starting to feel the same way in the work world. I've been a software engineer professionally for about 10 years. Extreme Programming (XP) is the twitch in your fingers when the meetings get long, it is the surge of pride when software works first time round. Check it out: http://www.extremeprogramming.org [extremeprogramming.org] or for a business-level summary: executive summary of XP [oomind.com]. Good luck! Don't give up just yet. School can be stultifying, and so can work. But if you are talented, there will always be good opportunities. Also consider starting your own business. There are lots of programs for supporting small business in most countries - it is very exciting and great experience. Or work for a startup doing cool stuff (not many of those around anymore, but still).
  • Try working... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by feldkamp (146657)
    If you haven't tried finding an internship in CS/CE, I suggest trying to find one.

    Real-world CS is a lot different than academia. I'm a junior (CE @ UM Ann Arbor) in college, and while I've liked some of my classes, most of them are merely there to teach the rigor of heavy computer science, so that we have the faculties to tackle the really cool problems in computing. Some people actually like the academia-side more... but those people are crazy (j/k).

    The real place where I have fun is my job - not as theoretical as class, and you see real results. The most fun is when you get to actually *use* the stuff that they teach you in class.

    Give it a while - and if you can't find an internship in your area, often CS departments have programming clubs, in which the members work on a large computer project together. Personally, I'm not involved with one of these, but it seems everyone involved has a lot of fun.

    Good Luck, and remember - when all else fails, stay for a master's degree.

    -Mike
  • College Blues? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Baba Abhui (246789)
    You're not too specific about:

    - Which part of this large and growing field used to thrill you
    - Which part of this large and growing field has burnt you out

    Which would probably help you get better advice from everyone.

    But it may just be a case of getting bored with the tiny, unrealistic projects that are typically used to teach computer science. Maybe it's not CS that has you down, maybe it's just college burnout. Applications in the real world tend to be more interesting in the sense that they're much, much larger, but less interesting algorithmically (is that a word?) speaking. You may find the real world to be a breath of fresh air, or you may find it even more oppressive.

    In either case, finish your degree. You're too close to the end to give up on it. If you try some real-world CS and still hate it, you can try something else.
  • by Malc (1751)
    "eradicating the countless off-by-one bugs is nothing short of mind-numbing. I'd like nothing better than to recapture the feeling of joy I used to get out of doing this, and to once again be able to say I'm doing what I love. What do you do when it isn't fun any more, but you'd like it to be?" "

    It sounds like you enjoyed it more as a hobby than as a serious career. If so, keep it that way and a find an alternative career that you can enjoy and use to pay for that hobby.

    Things like the off-by-one bugs decrease significantly with experience. But, you also have to be disciplined and serious about your programming. I'm happy with this as I get great satisfaction out of having things just fall together and work well the first time. The initial effort might seem dry, tedious and unnecessary (design!), but I find it pays off in the long-run.

    There's nothing more frustrating than having to deal with somebody else's sloppy code and basic bugs. Ultimately, I've found working with a team of senior and/or good software engineers results in better code to work with, so there are fewer of those off-by-one and bad pointer bugs to deal with in the first place. Unfortunately, you might have to "do your time" to get there.
  • If you can't do what you love, then you might as well work doing something you're good at. If you're still a good programmer you might as well keep at it, really you're not going to find too much better in the way of a job. Programming is still one of the better paid professions out there.

    What you may have to do is give up on the idea that what you want to do, what you have to do, and what you are good at are all the same thing. The vast majority of people don't have the luxury of doing what they love and getting paid for it; they grow up, get a job, and learn to deal. After all, the purpose of a job is to provide you with a means to do what you want, not and end in itself.

  • Coursework got you down? Do a random coding project. The best way to keep interested in CS is be active in doing stuff that you find fun. Coursework definitely brodens your horizons, but if you want to do something interesting many times you have to take the initive. Here are some random projects that my roomate and/or I did to keep ourselves interested while at college.

    -Teach yourself some Computer graphics and build a paralell ray-tracer.

    -Get a book on Lex/Yacc and write your own programming language.

    -Mess around with X-screensaver code and write a new screensaver.

    -Teach yourself some about evolutionary computation and teach your computer to play blackjack.

    -Learn about image filters and write yourself an image filter library.

    -Pick up a book on neural nets and write one that does vowel recognition.

    -Teach your self about kernel hacking and implement a new feature like process statistics.
  • Maybe CS just isn't for you. Not to be rude, but you get all psycked up about something and your enthusiasm dies after a short period, then maybe it just isn't for you. I've been doing CS stuff for 10 years and it's just as exciting or more so now than it was when I started. Maybe I'm just weak minded and easily amused, or maybe it's just what I was Meant To Do(tm). Some projects are more exciting than others, and some projects I get really excited about early on, but after a few weeks/months of it, I get bored and move on. The key for me seems to be change, I can't do the same thing for too long (more than 2 or 3 months straight).

    If you're already bored after a few years, then maybe you should look at something else, because if it's what you were really meant to do, then it would be exciting forever.
  • by Anthracene (126183) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:36PM (#2528080) Homepage
    I'm probably going to get an offtopic for this, but...

    Is it just CS and programming that you're finding yourself disillusioned with, or is it kind of everything in life right now? I ask this because it sounds to me like you may be depressed, and attributing the symptoms of that depression to loss of interest in what is currently one of the biggest parts of your life (getting through your CS degree).

    If you feel like everything else in your life is just great, then feel free to ignore this post.

    On the other hand, if you've been feeling a general sense of purposelessness, lack of motivation about other areas of life, experiencing sleep disturbance (either trouble sleeping or sleeping all the time), or been down about life in general, you might want to consider getting some professional counseling. If you are depressed, it's likely that when you get some help for the depression, you will rediscover your passion for technology.

    BTW, IANAP (I am not a Psychiatrist/Psychologist) so standard disclaimers apply.
  • Teach (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmhowell (26755) <gmhowell@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:37PM (#2528084) Homepage Journal
    All of this commentary about more education and other BS. Go out and teach. There are hundreds of school districts across the country that want math teachers (and probably some who want computer teachers). Take the opportunity to travel some.

    The pay is not great, and if you decide to stick it out, you'll have to take a fair amount of courses. But if you are only into it for a couple of years, it will be a good break, and possibly very rewarding.

    (I almost went this route after deciding that chemistry sucks. Got my MBA instead. While the toys are nice, I would have preferred teaching. But I wasn't going to take the teaching courses.)
  • by dead_penguin (31325) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:40PM (#2528120)
    I think the problem isn't that you're losing interest in CS, but that it has taken over your life. If you spend almost all of your time doing a single thing, you *will* get bored and frustrated with it, and eventually lose all motivation. You need to "diversify your portfolio" a bit. There's a bunch of things you can do to do this:

    Academics: Take an extra year and do a minor. Chances are you've already got most of the prerequisites for something way off your field, like biology or english. You'll learn something new and interesting, and possibly even pick up a new skillset. Besides, it sounds cool to say that you've mastered two completely unrelated fields.

    Time Off: Take a weekend, week, month or year off; whatever you can afford to get away for. In that time *DON'T TOUCH A COMPUTER*. Don't even bother with email. It also helps to get away from where you're doing most of your work. This could be a trip to another continent, or just to the next town over.

    Hobbies: Non-geeky hobbies are great for "fixing your head", I've found, especially if they're somewhat physical. Get a bike-- mountain biking is a brilliant quick fix if there are trails near where you live, or since winter is coming, go skiing. Hell, even a quick run (as much as I hate running) will put things into perspective sometimes, especially if done on a cool, crisp fall evening.

    Of course there's always the weeklong bender of booze and drugs, but that's just not that healthy...

    Now go! Turn of the computer and get away from Slashdot! There's hope for ya yet!
  • by edremy (36408) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:44PM (#2528151) Journal
    except in my case it was after a PhD in Chemistry. I just didn't like going to work.

    My advice. Sit back and ask yourself what's really important to you and what you enjoy. In my case, I liked teaching and programming, but not the rest of the baggage that came with being a faculty member. I got into instructional technology, and it's been a much better fit. I'm not rich, but I don't wake up in the morning dreading work.

    Do you like to write? Check out technical journalism or documentation. Would you rather just nail boards together? No shame in being a carpenter.

    Perhaps no job sounds like fun. In that case, go get an MBA and head for the money. You can enjoy yourself in your time off.

    The decision can be wrenching-after all that work, why would you just throw it away? I get asked that all the time. The short answer is that I'm happy now.

    Eric

  • excavating the fun (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i0lanthe (198512) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:48PM (#2528187) Homepage Journal
    This reminds me of a friend who (after working too many long hours) once he had some free time again, had forgotten what he used to do for fun. Sometimes it's hard to think back to that after it's been buried under a lot of mindless grinding and sleep deprivation. You gotta try to think back to "things that you did even though no one told you that you had to do them".

    I think a lot of non-adrenaline-based non-social fun has this in common: a challenge, that is not too hard to meet, but that gives a sense of accomplishment afterwards. Ideally it should be silly and/or have no useful impact on the world (like a cross-stitch project or a hike - not like cleaning the basement or a class assignment). Once you remember what fun is like, then you can get back to considering making an impact, because any piece of code that makes an impact requires support and maintenance and stability and responsibility, which, if you're already in a black mood and drowning in tedium, will probably not help matters.

    [This advice is unspecific because I discovered that my friend and I do not do any of the same things for fun (I like write-only perl, he likes contemplating algorithms and theory?), so I do not think a list of "stuff I hacked up on a lark" will help jog anyone's memory of what part of CS they used to like.]

  • by MarkusQ (450076) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:53PM (#2528229) Journal
    Now I'm one semester away from graduation [...] in CS, and I'm liking it less and less every day[...]I drag myself to classes and through projects, and it all seems really pointless--I'm just implementing what's written in the book, and eradicating the countless off-by-one bugs is nothing short of mind-numbing. I'd like nothing better than to recapture the feeling of joy I used to get out of doing this, and to once again be able to say I'm doing what I love. What do you do when it isn't fun any more, but you'd like it to be?

    The big thing that is missing in school is users. It's like saying that being a pilot isn't fun anymore because you have gotten sick of flight simulators. In the real world it isn't clean "just implementing things out of the book" anymore. You have real people counting on you (and often, other real people counting on you to fail). The stakes (and the pressure, and the thrill) go up accordingly.

    Yes, batting practice gets dull. So does field stripping a gun. But we do these things, not as an end in themselves, but so we'll be ready when it's for real. That's when the fun starts.

    -- MarkusQ

  • by wiredog (43288) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:54PM (#2528236) Journal
    You'll get money for grad school. Learn how to fire cool weapons like the M-16 and Stinger! If you become an Airborne Ranger, you will probably get a chance to get shot at! ("There is nothing quite so exhilarating as to be shot at, without result." Churchill) Even if you don't see combat, you will get the chance to spend weeks living and working in the mud!

    I spent three years in the Army and I love my nice indoor programming job. Even if I am having to spend time this week debugging three year old uncommented VBA programs when I don't know VB Script.

  • by crazymadness (311343) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:56PM (#2528264) Homepage Journal
    Just get a girlfriend, marry her, knock her up and wait 9 months. CS will look pretty darn good then.
  • Hack (Score:3, Insightful)

    by SilentChris (452960) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @01:59PM (#2528290) Homepage
    "What do you do when it isn't fun any more, but you'd like it to be?"

    I felt the same way recently (I graduated in May). The job market is absolutely awful: it's nearly impossible to get an entry-level job at any good technology companies.

    However, what gave me some fun was to hack again. I used to do it when I was a teenager. I bought a Dell laptop in my junior year of college, and recently took it apart from top to bottom. There was something like 100 screws in the end (20 of which didn't go back into the machine -- oops), but I was able to rebuild it "from scratch".

    That gave me joy. It's an ability that very few people have, and I share with only those people. Friends were like "what are you doing?" when they saw the $3000 laptop in a million pieces, but I was able to get it back together in one night, in the process beefing up the speakers and rerouting some wires to decrease EMI (so I wouldn't hear the touchpad buzzing everytime I touched it).

    When you actually enjoy what you're doing, everything else becomes secondary.

  • Get an internship (Score:3, Insightful)

    by StaticLimit (26017) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @02:00PM (#2528309) Homepage
    You're only one semester from being done, but my best advice is:

    Get an internship 3 semesters ago.

    I think it's very important to get an idea of what you'll be doing when you get out of school. The type of programming you're doing now isn't necessarily representative of the type of projects and problems you'll find in the real world. Projects especially may be more rewarding when you're not working in groups that only have people at or below your own skill level. I found that the type of work I was doing and the people I was working with during my internships and the amount that I was able to learn "on the job" made me feel like college might just have been a waste of time.

    Now I know better. The CS degree gave me the foundation that I use to solve problems and learn new technologies and I've found that people who didn't get a CS degree (or didn't put in several years of work towards one) just weren't able to think about problems on quite the same level.

    So my advice to you requires a time machine, but maybe some other folks in their sophomore-junior year can take it and get summer internships or co-ops in the field. It pays better than McDonald's (I know, I did that too) and it's going to be more useful later in your career (unless you're desperately in need of "character building")

    - StaticLimit
  • Fall in love! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by T1girl (213375) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @02:11PM (#2528405) Homepage
    Rolling in the leaves and sin and ecstasy will take your mind off all your other problems, and the resulting emotional cross-currents will create new ones that will absorb much of your attention. Yessirree, a mad, passionate affair right about now is guaranteed to give you a new lease on life, take up all your spare time, fill your head with new ideas and add new complications to your existence. You'll still be dragging yourself to class all right, but only because you'll be so worn out from rockin' the night before. You'e a senior now, for crying out loud, you should be at the top of the social pecking order. Try to hook up with senior girls; the same ones who wouldn't spit on you when you were both freshmen may be a lot friendlier now that they've been upstaged by new waves of younger, cuter freshmen.

    Stick your head outside the computer lab. English lit. and anthropology majors are a good bet. They spend their whole academic careers focusing on stuff like "Psychosexual imagery in the religious poems of Robert Herrick" and "mating rituals in Samoa." This may be your last sojourn among thousands of unattached young ladies in a carefree, party-centric college environment. Gather ye rosebuds while ye may. (And if you knock one of them up, boy, will you ever have a motivation to get a job and start making money.)
  • Take a risk (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kaypro (35263) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @02:16PM (#2528457)
    First of all I think youre smart enough to finish up your degree. After my last full semester I worked at a networking company with good pay but boring drab days. Knowing the economy was the way it was I kept applying for other IT related jobs anyway. I got some offers and took a leap of faith. It became the best decision I ever made. I am now working at a great company doing something that I truly believe in. I can directly see my efforts effects and have a great time all day. A dream? No. You MUST be willing to take chances and risks. Everyone thought I was crazy for switching jobs with a great salary during these times. But stick to your guns. The key is to believe in what youre doing. Only then will what you consider mundane now be exciting later. Good luck!
  • by rdmiller3 (29465) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @02:17PM (#2528459) Journal
    One of the things that keeps me "fresh" to the trade is remembering to keep up my hobby interest in the fields which also happen to bring me income.

    If you're always doing what other people want, you'll lose interest and the whole experience becomes a mix of drudgery and frustration. You need to take some time following a few rabbit trails of your own interests:

    • Learn something new, just for fun, something that tickled your funny bone or made you say, "Cool! I wonder how they do that?" Or something you were just curious about or that you've heard someone else say is the best thing since sliced bread. Learn it and play with it, with no pre-determined goals other than to see what it's all about.
    • Fix a bug or add a feature in that open source app that's been irking you... just because you want it that way. Who cares whether the developer even accepts your patch? (Wanna see a really neat boot-logo patch for Linux?)
    • Write something useless, just to show off. It may surprise you, or it may really be useless... but who cares?

    Just keep in mind that it's not the "CS" trade that has you bummed... it's the fact that you haven't had time to do it just for the fun of it lately.

    A carpenter can put up framing for houses for a living but he doesn't loathe his tools when he gets home. He might even pick them up to make some patio furniture, a bookcase or something for himself now and then, and his professional skill will show in the quality of his casual project. And the unrelated projects may lead him to find or invent techniques that will enhance his work performance as well.

    Same with us, only more. Because CS deals so much with information we can find correlations between the skills we know and nearly everything! Lots of people have what seem to be ultra-low-tech hobbies and then they end up writing software to help out. (I haven't seen any flint-knappers' applications yet though.)

  • by mindstrm (20013) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @02:19PM (#2528485)
    Finish your degree. You are so close. Whether you enjoy it or not, you want that piece of paper for down the road, trust me.

    Now.. as for jobs. There certainly are jobs out there for CS grads. They just might not pay someone with a degree and no experience $100,000 a year like they would have a couple years ago.. that's the difference. Things are more realistic now.

    You can expect to find a job somewhere, programming, or whatever, and gain some experience. If you are good, in a few years, you will have that big salary.

    It's a mistake to think that the university degree is what gives you your big salary... University is just one way to open the door to a particular field for you. (In some fields, it's practically the only way). Your experience and abilities are what really count.

    No degree is going to automatically finish your career for you. A degree is a beginning, not an end.
  • Refresher (Score:3, Insightful)

    by saider (177166) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @02:21PM (#2528497)
    I drag myself to classes and through projects, and it all seems really pointless--I'm just implementing what's written in the book, and eradicating the countless off-by-one bugs is nothing short of mind-numbing

    Try getting involved in some research projects. It probably should not be in the CS department, but rather one of the other departments. Lend you CS expertise to a different kind of undertaking. You will also get a chance to learn about something outside of CS as well as picking up some usefull experience.

    If you can't find a school project to work on, make one of your own. Again try to go outside of a pure CS project and delve into something new. Think about ways your CS experience could improve something else and then do it.

    For example, when I was in school, I worked on projects for the physics department and the business department. The former needed some automated data collection and the latter needed some statistical modelling. Both provided me a well needed break from the ordinary as well as intoducing me to some real world problems.

    Although I have been in the field for about 6 years now (working for a major telecom mfgr), and I still take on "outside" projects from time to time. Be it setting up a webserver for a local charity or building a remote control boat from scratch, both provide me the relief from the monotony of always working on someone else's dream. It is refreshing and rewarding and helps you out back in "the world".

    In summary - diversify your skills.

  • Meta Education (Score:3, Insightful)

    by swagr (244747) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @03:09PM (#2528867) Homepage
    is what Univarsity and College are all about. And one of the things you learn, is what you like and don't like.
  • by scruffy (29773) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:29PM (#2529393)
    The last year of CS is often brutal with loads of senior-level courses with major programming projects. This is especially true for those who switch to CS halfway through college. It is easy to get tired and depressed because you are doing little else other than programming and looking for obscure bugs. The question at this point is whether you are disciplined enough to finish things off without the immediate self-gratification that you (and all of us) desire.

    Finish the semester and take a break.

    Finish the degree and take a break.

    Decide what you would like to do that would be enjoyable, make money, and use your skills at the same time. Do open source programming on the side just for the hell of it.

    Formulate a long-term plan for getting there. You are not going to start off in a perfect position, but once you set you goals, you should be able to better see how to get there.

  • by MemeRot (80975) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @04:38PM (#2529458) Homepage Journal
    I went to school for 4 years studying architecture. I only realized in the last year that it wasn't for me. That though I often liked doing it, I simply was NOT talented at it. It was humbling to realize that many people that were less intelligent than me in a general sense were much more talented at architecture. And truthfully the idea of a lifetime spent in charette (an extended period of time spent in the studio cramming in all the final presentation work) filled me with dread.

    I got so depressed I almost dropped out of school. Came pretty close, but it was my last year so I finished up. Spent two years after that partying, relaxing, getting fed up with pizza delivery and waiting tables, and trying to figure out how I would be happy spending the rest of my life. C'mon, you don't know yourself when you're 17 or 18 and go to college. You don't know what you'll like. Don't think you have to justify the money spent on school by throwing the whole rest of your life away on something you don't like.

    You don't have to lose your love of the subject. I'm still transfixed by beautiful buildings and spaces. But you may not be cut out for a life working in what you love. Sucks.... but it's very possible. I decided on programming (always been interested in computers but never really followed up on it) went to CLC for a bit and discovered that I had a strong natural talent for coding. My mind's just good at it. I don't love it per se, but I like being good at what I do.

    So..... take some of those silly aptitude tests. Be open to other possibilities. A CS background is very helpful in a ton of areas.
  • Switch majors! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by MWoody (222806) on Tuesday November 06, 2001 @08:05PM (#2530539)
    Simple. Switch majors.

    About 3 years into my computer science major at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, I realized I just wasn't having any fun any more. The coding was allright, but the ridiculous and unnecessary support courses like chemistry and advanced calculus were killing me. What's more, having spent several summers in IT work, I knew that the job awaiting my graduation wasn't likely to be much better.

    So, I talked to some professors and my CSC advisor. They asked what else I enjoyed doing, and after a bit of thought, I related that I'd always really enjoyed reading. "Why not try for an English major?"

    A short struggle with the administration later (side note: Cal Poly's policy of "you damn well better know what you want to do with the rest of your life WHEN YOU ARRIVE!" sucks major ass), I was an English major. I show up to my first class, and our first assignment is to read Beroul's version of the Tristan and Isolde legend.

    I couldn't believe it. No advanced calculations, no hyper-complex snippets of useless code, no lengthy excersizes to learn environment-specific skills that I'd likely never use. Just curl up with a good book, and enjoy. I was in heaven; it took all of one week to figure if I'd made the wrong choice. Smooth sailing from there.

    Now, I know this isn't the choice for everyone. But even those with computers on the brain headed for a career in Silicon Valley might consider my path. Having spoken with many people, both at the college and in the industry, an English major is actually a plus with technical jobs. Anyone with a reasonable level of intelligence can learn how to use a program or language on their own in a matter of weeks, really. But the ability to communicate intelligently on paper is a truly unique skill among engineers, and one that will make your application stand out.

    Anyway, I'll stop this post here, as I'm about to sit back and relax with several choice selections from Chaucer's earlier works in Middle English. Good luck with your dilemna, and remember: your major doesn't always have to coincide directly with your career to be useful.
  • See Shrink... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by stonewolf (234392) on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @12:47AM (#2531297) Homepage
    Seriously,

    IANAP But, you sound like you are suffering from depression. You MUST talk to someone about that. You also have to ask your self WHY you
    rate yourself so much on grades? A 3.0 (out of 4.0) undergraduate GPA in CS is pretty damn good. Also, grades in CS don't have anything to do with how good a developer you can be. (Oh, yeah, all those off by one errors? You have those because as a senior in CS you are a stone cold newby at programming. You'll get past those pretty soon.)

    On the other hand, I understand what you are saying. I started college as a history major (planning to be a Lawyer) that got boring, so I changed to English (creative writing), and then to CS.... Well written code is a lot like well written poetry. Doing what you like is the most important thing.

    On the third hand, you might just not be cut out
    for a life as a developer. A LOT of talented people went into CS in the late '60s, the early '80s, and the late '90s because that was where
    they could make the most money. Then they found
    out that developing code was like doing home work
    all day long and they hated it. Most of those people stay in the field for less than 5 years
    and nobody misses them. And, they are a lot happier doing whatever it is they wind up doing.

    So, First, talk to a shrink. Get some perspective.
    Then think about where you are headed.

    Stonewolf

    P.S.

    My salary history looks like a saw tooth wave. It goes up for about 10 years, then goes backwards in a short sharp hop, and repeat. Right now my income has dropped to zero. Looks like I have a good chance of geting up to 50% of what I was making last month.
  • by rew (6140) <r.e.wolff@BitWizard.nl> on Wednesday November 07, 2001 @08:50AM (#2532105) Homepage
    Part of getting an academic degree is proving to potential employers that you can do the grunge work. You won't bail out if you have to do some stupid stuff along the way.

    So: Go ahead and graduate. Find yourself a job.

    You might end up at someplace where you end up writing stupid HTML for the rest of your time there. That's fun for a while. Learn HTML & JavaScript, and look for a new job.

    You might end up in a challenging job. Enjoy, make the most of it, stay put.

    Actually, if you end up with a poor job first, that's GOOD for you: You always have a MUCH better chance of getting a good salary if you've been through the negotiations once before, and if you're applying while you already have another job.

    You're eager to start to work for them, the job looks fine, but .... . Fill in something that is better at your old job. "closer to my home", "nice trees around the office building" anything. That indicates that you need a good compensation for them to "buy you out" of your old job.

    Roger.

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