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My question involves what kind of computer professional to I want to be. The school I'm going to offers 3 main CIS disciplines to study, and I'm trying to decide between 2 of those: either Programming or Network Engineering.

Hi Gray..

Hate to say it, but really only you can answer this question.

I am a "REAL" programmer and have been for going on 17 years now. What I mean by real programmer is I write code for financial applications, utilities, user interface systems, you just about name it (always did want to learn how to code those games)**smile**.
I know and work with a number of compter languages from Cobol, RPG, Assembler, C++, Unix Scrips bla bla bla..
I'm not trying to impress anyone, only to insure you that I am in one of the professions you are inquiring about.

Programming takes a special kind of person, and weather you can actually do the job or not depends on you. When I first went to school for programming Cobol 101, almost 20 years ago, I started in a class of 43 students. By the end of the semester when it came time to go onto the next level of cobol, there were only 2 of us left. Within the first 3 weeks we had about 50 percent quit because they relized that programming wasn't for them, some tried to hang in there, but just couldn't get it. Some really wanted to get it and failed, took the class again, then went on to the second level of Cobol and finally quit. The rest hung in there till the end of the semester, and we never saw them return again to computers, but had moved into other interest, some electrical, some carpentry, etc..

I am in no way stating that you couldn't do the job. Progamming has changed alot over the years. Punch Cards, removable disk, mag tape are leaving the main strem as alot of companies have "downsized" their systems to NT boxes, Unix, running Oracle, or Informix databases etc.

In my experience, Programming is a lonely business. I don't mind that, but people don't understand alot of times when you do something really great that may have taken you days to figure out how to have a program react exactly like you wanted it to, you get so excited, turn around to "brag" (laughing) and no ones there..

But then there's the passion of what I do.. I love mind games. I love to solve problems, and find ways around things, or ways to improve the way things are done. I enjoy making the users job more efficient. Programming allows me to think ... constantly and another benefit of programming is you don't have spell.. LOL... Cause I'm terriable at it..

I was sold on progamming the very first day of class based on what my instructor (who worked and still works in the real world and didn't only teach) **nothing against teachers BTW** . But he was able to show programming to me in a different way, other insturctors who hadn't actually been in a "shop" could do.

Ultimatly, only you can answer that question. I personally wouldn't enjoy the networking or enginering part, but thats just me, I know 100's of network admins, and enginering people who have as much passion for what they do as I do for my job. But I also know alot of people in this business that are burnt out, mainly because it wasn't their passion, in which case these people do poorly in their jobs, and constantly complain about the smallest program change they may get.

Well, that's my 2 cents worth. I do wish you the best of luck..

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