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To consider a MSc Computer Science conversion course

(58 Posts)
Rubbermaid Tue 14-Nov-17 20:22:44

I’ve worked in the NHS for ten years but there is no possibility of progression for me unless I gain some additional qualifications.

I’m interested in computer programming and have enrolled on an online web development course that seems very good and should take me about a year to complete, at which point I’d then start the MSc.

Does this sound like a good idea to those of you who know about this stuff? On the course info they say their students go on to be software/web developers, IT consultants, systems analysts, operations researchers to name a few. Does this mean they are ready to go into these careers straight from the course or would they need to undertake further specific training?

I really want to learn new skills (and believe I’m capable of doing so) and go on to a completely new career in IT - does this seem like a good way to do it?

And finally, I’m a single parent and my child will be three when I finish the MSc. I would prefer to work part-time until she starts school a year later - is this a realistic possibility or are most jobs in this field (especially for someone junior) full-time?

Would be really grateful for any advice, thank you

Rubbermaid Tue 14-Nov-17 20:39:47

Anyone? Please?

YouTheCat Tue 14-Nov-17 20:42:34

My dd is in her final year of a degree in cyber security. From what I've heard, she's pretty much assured of getting a job with a decent starting salary at the end. She's the only woman on her course.

Rubbermaid Tue 14-Nov-17 20:45:00

Thank you - I assume that’s an undergraduate degree she’s doing? Glad to hear she’ll probably get a good job smile

hotbutteredcrumpetsandtea Tue 14-Nov-17 20:45:50

The problem with some of the conversion courses is that they are a hodgepodge of different disciplines without covering any of them enough. Some programming, some comp architecture, some networking, some design, but not enough of any of them to be trained fully for anything. Still others are good but you need a computing or engineering or related background to start at the right level.

It depends on the quality of the specific course and what it covers.

chronicallylate38 Tue 14-Nov-17 20:49:17

i'm not a coder (tester/systems analyst) but IT is a well paying field with plenty of career options (I've been in IT since I graduated about 17 years ago now - eek) - I'd make sure you develop good SQL skills on your course - comes in handy for building reports in lots of jobs. I've personally found less than ft roles hard to get without being in situ when you have a baby but I've found firms very forward thinking about letting you WFH and flexitime, so it's not been that big of a deal.

IT consultancies can often want you to travel - not all of them, but part of the deal of the higher salaries for those is that they want travel. That said, I've a few female colleagues still in consulting that work part-time and travel and they make it work but you'd need to have back-up to be able to do any travelling.

Do you live in a large city with a diverse range of IT jobs? Have you looked at what the job adverts for IT in your area say? If they are plentiful and few require travel, I'd say you're on to a good idea. Plenty of people move into IT from other things and lots of the senior people don't come from IT backgrounds as it's a relatively young industry.

Rubbermaid Tue 14-Nov-17 20:51:03

Thank you - that’s what concerns me. They want people with no previous computing degree yet I don’t understand how you can be inexperienced, do a year’s course and then be ready to go into one of the jobs listed above. That’s why I’m doing the web development course beforehand. But then could I just carry on learning online until I’ve got the necessary skills, or would the MSc qualification make a huge difference to my employment prospects? I know you get the option of an industry placement in the second semester so undoubtedly would gain contacts from that at least. I’m really unsure as to what to do for the best. The course leaders will obviously be trying to sell the course so not sure if the advice they give me will be impartial if I ask them.

Rubbermaid Tue 14-Nov-17 20:53:11

Sorry cross-posted with chronicallylate

Yes I do live near three large cities and there seem to be plenty of jobs. Thank you for your reply, that’s quite encouraging

chronicallylate38 Tue 14-Nov-17 20:53:14

i do agree that most degrees (IT ones are no different) don't perfectly qualify you for any exact job, but we've taken a few helpdesk analysts on with general computer science qualifications, it's a pretty standard way in - of course you'd likely need to pick up more specific skills on the job, the qualifications show you have aptitude, your past work history shows you have reliability.

one more idea: mock up a CV you'll have when you qualify, send to a couple of the big IT recruitment agencies (most recruiting done through agencies for IT in the city i'm in), set yourself up a linkedin profile too (they all check you out on linkedin) and see what kind of opportunities they try and match you with and see if that'd work for you. Devious eh?

PixelLady42 Tue 14-Nov-17 20:54:57

I did a computer science degree and have worked as a software engineer for the last 8 years. I find it really interesting - it's essentially solving logic puzzles every day which I enjoy as it's a great mental challenge to do as a job.

My areas of interest and experience are application support, datasets and scripting on databases and DevOps work. When studying I found the theory side interesting to learn about.

I work with a lot of men, though a few women too. I quite like it as there's no bitching and everyone is straight with you and respects you for the quality and ability of your work - at least where I work anyway smile

If you are interested I'd say go for it. It's a developing industry and women are under represented. Good luck!

chronicallylate38 Tue 14-Nov-17 20:56:05

just my opinion - if I had to cut something, I'd cut the web development stuff because it's perhaps too specific - you could go into testing, support, systems or business analysis from an MSc in Computer Science, unless you really want to do web development i don't quite see how they tie in but I also don't think it's necessarily wrong, just a longer way to get into IT than perhaps is needed.

ringle Tue 14-Nov-17 20:57:00

Not my field but I'd take what they say with a pinch of salt.

Ask which graduates are now working where. Then ask for six introductions. Then ask for the truth!

Rubbermaid Tue 14-Nov-17 20:57:51

Oh chronically that’s a brilliant idea!! grin

PixelLady that’s really interesting and helpful, thank you

chronicallylate38 Tue 14-Nov-17 20:57:51

Pixel agree, my colleagues are mostly men too and it's been a good climate to work in, I've never been discriminated against and had plenty of opportunities chucked my way.

WhatWot Tue 14-Nov-17 20:58:58

Hello, I'm a recruiting manager. MSc doesnt make a difference to me tbh with you unless it gives you opportunities to be exposed to different technologies. First thing I notice in a CV would be languages, frameworks, tech skills and projects you work on especially personal project you start yourself to learn new tech always impresses me. Its what got me my first professional job as well! Do as many coding as you can, with highly desired tech stack. SQL, c#/java/c++, angular, etc. Learn design patterns, SOLID, etc. Good luck, its an exciting field and yes jobs are easy to find. Unfortunately for me decent developers are hard to find!

RedSkyAtNight Tue 14-Nov-17 21:01:07

I don't think the MSc will make the remotest difference to your career prospects. You'd be better off spending the time improving your skills and getting experience.

ringle Tue 14-Nov-17 21:01:24

" The course leaders will obviously be trying to sell the course so not sure if the advice they give me will be impartial if I ask them."

It won't be.

You have to take responsibility for this.

Not easy from an NHS background, but I think you owe it to yourself.

DrDreReturns Tue 14-Nov-17 21:02:36

What's your first degree in? I'm a programmer but I have no IT qualifications - I trained as a life scientist and my employer (in the life sciences field) moved me sideways into a programming role and I have learnt my skills on the job. You have to be in the right place at the right time for this to happen though.
If you want to do programming, aside from being proficient in a language like C# / Java, SQL (database access / manipulation) and web design are very in demand skills. Most jobs I see ask for them.

Rubbermaid Tue 14-Nov-17 21:03:35

chronically my thought process with the web developer course was that it might teach me something that was useful, and if it didn’t, that it wouldn’t hurt, and also to get me into the studying frame of mind as it’s been ten years since my undergrad degree. Also, from a perspective of not knowing not much about the various different roles that exist, I like the idea of being a web developer at the moment, purely because it’s one of the only things I know about! So I agree it could be irrelevant to what I actually end up doing, but it’s not expensive and I’d quite like to start doing something, anything that gets my brain working before the course if I do it, or that might lead me to become aware of, and pursue something else if not, if that makes sense?

chronicallylate38 Tue 14-Nov-17 21:04:18

i do think it's interesting the MSc people are saying that their students go into a variety of things - there is programming, and then there is the huge raft of 'other' IT jobs (testing, business analysis, project management, systems analyst) etc.

I do think MScs in computing are a reasonable way in for general IT - I'd test it on the recruiters, that'd be more concrete than advice from the university as recruiters won't waste their time if they don't think they can place you.

Rubbermaid Tue 14-Nov-17 21:05:41

My degree is in something healthcare-related

chronicallylate38 Tue 14-Nov-17 21:08:28

it does make sense Rubbermaid, i'd do something like that too before launching onto full scale courses too. I do agree you may want to look around as it could be that you could do a cheaper course after the web development course in a specific set of hot languages and achieve the same outcome as the MSc.

I don't have any IT qualifications either - but most of the people we take on these days DO have some british computer society certs or computer science degrees.

Rubbermaid Tue 14-Nov-17 21:14:00

Thank you chronically that’s good advice, I appreciate it! It would be silly to spend 10k unnecessarily!

So to the pp in recruitment who’ve responded - the general consensus seems to be that the MSc is not necessary? But possibly beneficial? If I went off and learnt some useful languages independently, and did some projects myself you think that would serve me just as well?

slightlyglittermaned Tue 14-Nov-17 21:22:33

I find that advice on threads like this is often wildly contradictory (for example I thought doing the web dev course before starting the MSc sounded like good prep - more coding experience before starting and will help you put stuff in context. But I can also kinda see where chronically is coming from - if you don't think you want a dev job. But you are interested in programming so - maybe you do?).

The fact is that IT is a massively broad field and what a small web agency will look for is going to be worlds apart from a firm doing embedded systems development and different again from a big consultancy or a big multinational or.... An MSc will open some of those doors, and make no difference at all to others.

Anything that helps you find an industry placement is good because getting that first role in IT is often the hardest, and having some experience under your belt helps, even if you apply to somewhere else.

I guess the other thing: do you want to try to leverage your NHS experience in any way? Building stuff is hard, and developers/testers/analysts with deep domain experience can be very attractive.

RobberOfCatan Tue 14-Nov-17 21:25:01

Marking my place as I'd like to work in a stem subject, just not entirely sure which yet! (doing A levels at the moment to help decide what to do).

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