Programming and Training

When I was working on my programming degree (or computer science, whatever), obviously I had to take quite a few programming classes.  Some of them focused on obscure programming languages that I’ll probably never again use (in fact most of them) and some of them were all about methodologies and databases that my 20 something mind thought I’d never need.  Alas, I now wished I’d put more effort into some of them.  It wasn’t exactly easy, trying to juggle a full-time job and full-time college, and still be a college kid, so I did have to cut my corners where I could.  There are quite a few things I probably would have learned from the wisdom of professors and former IT professionals, but I find that most of what I learned 10-15 years ago was a great foundation. So many things have changed that I use very little of the actual skills today.

Why is this?  Why did we teach antiquated languages to students in preparation for the real world?  When I was first going to college in the early 90′s, programming and computer science was still full of math geeks plugging away at big mainframes.  That didn’t change for much of the 90′s, especially since most trade schools were looking to fill Y2K positions (mmm COBOL).  It was the lucky few that actually got to learn useful programming languages that are widely used today.  With the popularity of the Internet, it seemed that programming changed direction again.  There are designers and there are programmers, usually with very little crossover, as there are at DDA today.  Designers are great at design, but not so great at programming, and I’m certainly no designer, I can barely make my projects look plain and nice.  So then, what of the web programmers that we so desperately needed.  They were off being taught actionscript and javascript and maybe a little about MySql, but again, nothing useful.

So, here we are then, left to our own devices because technology moves faster than education.  We learn on the job as our clients tell us ‘hey we want this custom system that looks this cool’.  We got our theories and methodologies and knowledge base from BASIC and PASCAL, but we stepped ahead into new technologies, took our hits and continued on.  This is why we’re not perfect as programmers, because we’re always learning as we work.  We are finding better ways to do things daily, and finding that even the things we programmed 3 months ago there’s already been a new development.  So if anyone ever says that we do not have time to learn on the job, those are people that don’t understand that as programmers in the modern world, that is the only way we can continue to be innovative.  We must continue learning all the new tools and apply them or we will not be able to provide our clients with the best possible custom programs.  So we do… and I think we’ve done one heck of a job coming up with some really cool stuff.