By October 5, 2018

Programming Degree Or Work Experience?

Programming Degree Or Work Experience?

There comes a time in every developer's career that we need to make choices regarding which path to follow.

There comes a time when people start to ask themselves: what is more valuable and what will give me more decision power when it comes to career, getting a high paying job and becoming a well-known developer?

Transcript Of The Video

John Sonmez: Hey, what's up? John Sonmez here from

I got a question about an extra degree or work experience. I think you guys know what I'm going to answer here, but I'll read the question here. This is from Jason and Jason says, “I have a job opportunity from Amazon as a software development engineer and a bursary opportunity.” Actually, I had to look up the word bursary. I didn’t know what it was. “To do an electrical engineering degree which will benefit my career. Which will benefit my career more?”

Bursary, just for you guys that are also uneducated like me, means that someone is basically giving you a paid scholarship to go to school. Apparently, some companies are offering to pay for his degree to get an electrical engineering degree, but he's already got a degree or he's graduating. He says some additional info. He says, “I'm 19 and I'm graduating from an engineering degree majoring in game design,” man, that's cool, “This year. I know this is a very niche degree.” Yeah, but it's pretty freaking cool! “The bursary is from a company which also does software development, but isn't as well-known as Amazon. My hesitation with taking the degree is that I then have to work for this company afterwards which means the opportunity from Amazon will have to be postponed at least another four years.”

When you say postponed at least another four years, it means it may not exist. Let's be honest here. “As an important note, the degree I'm graduating from this year allows me to complete electrical engineering in only an additional two years. This means I'll have two degrees at the end of my five years. My current degree has taken me three years. Thanks for all the help. John, PS, I'm from South Africa, if that's of any use to you.”

No, but I'd like to visit someday and I'll get all the emails saying, “Come visit in South Africa.” Here's what I would say about this. The bursary thing is interesting, but you don’t want to have a bunch of degrees on your wall. What you want to have is money. What I mean by this is like these degrees are not going to matter. You got a degree. Great, that's fine. You really don't even need a degree to be a software developer at this point. If you got a degree in game design, that's pretty good. That is a pretty niche degree, but you probably—I think, I mean like my perception is if you got a degree in game design, you're probably a good developer. Like someone who just has a CS degree, okay, that's great, but game design that says, “I will hire you for anything.” One, because you probably had to do a lot more complex mathematics because game development is harder than regular development for the most part, and two, because it's cool. I like to hire people that are cool. No.

I mean people are actually going to be interested in that. It's kind of a nice thing to have actually because people will literally hire you. I have gotten hired for a job before. One of my first jobs I got hired for was because the guy that was interviewing with the job, he said, “Have you ever played EverQuest?” I said, “No, but I'm really interested in playing a request.” He's like, “So you think you'd play EverQuest? We play EverQuest.” I was like, “I will build my own PC and play EverQuest,” and he's like, “You're hired for the fucking job.” It didn’t go exactly like that, but it was pretty damn close, like I basically got hired because I was willing to play EverQuest. Possibly a bad decision in my life playing a EverQuest, although I did have fun. Hours gone of my life that I'll never get back into the black hole. Yeah. It was an interesting experience, but yeah. People will just hire you for that.

I'm going way off topic, but here's the thing. Let's talk about what this opportunity is. You've got your degree. It's game design. You have an opportunity to work for Amazon. Jeff Bezos is kind of a slave driver. You can check out the book review I did on The Everything Store. You might actually want to check that up before you go and work for Amazon because it's definitely a harsh work environment from what I understand and everyone I've talked to there. I could be wrong but, that's what I've heard. I've never been to Amazon and been whipped by anyone there. If I do visit, if you guys want to give me a tour of Amazon and whip me, just send me an email. I'll be glad to zoom on over there and you can do whatever you want.

In all seriousness though, I don’t really see any benefit to you having your degree paid for, missing the Amazon opportunity when you already a degree and then having to go to work this other company that's not as good, and they're probably not going to pay you as much because they don't have to pay you as much because you're obligated to work for them, right? I will total just take the Amazon job. I mean check on Amazon, like said, and make sure you're willing to get involved in that work environment. If you are, then take that job.

Don't worry like having multiple degrees hanging on your wall is going to be cool. I mean when you have people over everything like, “Look, I have a game design degree and here's my electrical engineering degree.” Then they're like, “Oh, that's great,” but it is not going to really help you in your career. Not really. I mean who cares? They're going to look at your resume and be like, “Oh, well, he's got two degrees. I guess we should pay him twice as much.” It doesn’t happen, right? It's going to be your skill. It's going to be what you actually can do. If you've already got this opportunity, you're 19, you got a chance to work in Amazon, that's a good resume builder. Put that freaking thing on your resume and call it done. I don’t think there's really a decision to make here in my mind.

All right. Hopefully, that is helpful to you and I haven't totally screwed you up. If you do get to work for Amazon and get whipped by Jeff Bezos, obviously send me a picture. I wish you the best. I'll talk to you next time. Oh, and don't forget, just click the Subscribe, click the bell if you haven't already. See you later.

About the author

John Sonmez

John Sonmez is the founder of Simple Programmer and a life coach for software developers. He is the best selling author of the book "Soft Skills: The Software Developer's Life Manual."