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See the potential of C

A would-be programmer’s fears that C is dead are unfounded, Molly says. Here are a couple of very promising C-related links and portfolio-building tips. May 10, 2001 See the potential of C A would-be programmer’s fears that C is dead are unfounded, Molly says. Here are a couple of very promising C-related links and portfolio-building tips.

Dear Molly: I have joined a private computer school in New York to learn the C programming language. I have taken about 12 classes and I find it very interesting. My friends, however, tell me that in today’s world, C is considered obsolete, and that even if I complete the course I will have trouble finding a job. What do you think? Shall I go for it? If not, is there another computer course that is close to C that I can do? Please help.

Molly says: I think your friends need to get a life and leave yours alone. You need to spend some time learning about what C programmers do, so visit the Web site of the Association of C and C++ Users and talk with those people who are making a living working with this language.

There is also a Silicon Valley chapter of this organization, and its Web site has lots of good information about programming, what it is like to work as a programmer, and interesting links to other programming sites. You should contact these folks even if you do not live in the area and ask them your question about the longevity of C. When they stop laughing, they will tell you how vibrant and alive the language is.

That said, you should also know that rarely are programmers dedicated to just one language. Knowing more than one language well is becoming the standard rather than focusing on just one. So, once you finish learning C, you should think about learning another. Java or Linux would be a good choice, but ask other programmers what they recommend.

When it’s time to start looking for a job, you’ll need lots of practice in working with C under your belt. Practice is what potential employers call experience. They will look for you to be able to prove that you have done several projects start to finish in C. In other words, you heard the user when they told you what they wanted, you wrote the code, and the code ran.

To get this experience, ask on the sites you visit for any small jobs that the programmers want to spin off to you, or for other suggestions about gaining experience. While you are in school, ask the teachers for work you can do for them. Perhaps they need some example code written; perhaps they know someone who needs some work done. Do what you need to do to build up a programming portfolio.

Molly Joss also writes the monthly Career Advisor column for ComputerUser magazine. Ask a career-related question at [email protected]

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