Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Friday, January 16, 2009

It's been another one of those days. You know how it is when you're wearing something that's starting to get dirty, but you don't want to throw it in the laundry because you might need to wear it again before you get a chance to wash your clothes? Well, I had planned to do my laundry yesterday when the cleaning lady was here, so I had thrown everything I could think of in the bin. But she came at noon when the floor lady was gone for lunch. So this morning, I had to pull a pair of pants out of the laundry basket and put it on. It's a little wrinkled, but it will straighten out. I've found that clothes have a way of ironing themselves on your body while your wearing them, if you can be a little patient.

Last night I had dinner with my TA for the graduate DBA class so that we could go over the tests. I invited Michael, one of my former students, to join us, because he has just recently completed all the tests for his Oracle DBA certification. He brought his certificate along to show me. He also brought a very nice gift--a book of uncirculated Olympic postage stamps. He wanted to thank me for guiding him into a career he hadn't known existed before he came to the Software College. I told him he should look in the mirror and thank himself--he has done a lot of hard work to get where he is today. To be sure, he is just beginning. But it's a very good beginning. If he continues to work hard, he will have a successful career.

The Software College here has many unique programs for software engineers. At my previous university in Arizona, I would sometimes listen to budding software engineers talk about how they were going to go to Japan and write video games. I was skeptical. A group of them even persuaded the administration to hire a Japanese teacher to teach them Japanese. But as far as I know, none of them ever ended up going to Japan. There was simply no program. Here, the students in the Japanese Software Program are given language training, and then lined up with an internship in Tokyo. After they spend a year interning with a company, they can either continue their contract there, or find another job with another company. So kids who like to write code have their introduction into the work world set out for them.

But every once in awhile, I meet students who tell me they don't really like programming. Tough to be at a Software College if you don't like programming. Students like this are generally of two types. One type is exemplified by the young lady who told me recently that she did not like writing code. I asked her why she chose to come to the Software College if she didn't like to program. She told me that he father had told her to go to the Software College, because it would lead to a better salary than what she wanted to do. Students like this have a real problem, because they are not natural programmers, so they have a tough time excelling as software engineers, but they aren't really trained for anything else, either. The other type, of course, is the student like Michael, who is very technically savvy, but doesn't see himself as a code monkey. When students first come to the DBA class, they see it as sort of an enrichment course. But every time I teach it, there is at least one student who really gets his or her eyes opened. "Wow, I really want to do this!" I tell them, "You can do this," and I give them the steps to certification. Michael took the ball and ran with it. He is now the sole Oracle DBA in a small company.

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