So Chuck, you own Programming Solutions, Inc. And at one time you started as a computer programmer yourself. What kind of education should a programmer have? I would say, at least an Associates Degree and or technical school certificate. But ideally a Computer Science degree and or Information Systems degree. Those would be ideal. How well did your college experience prepare you for this career? Well, my education was about 30 years ago and things have changed a lot since then. But I do have to admit that it did help quite a bit. Most of the information that I received in college was more related to the language itself and then also helping me with interpersonal skills. But, I would say, that as far as the types of coursework that was the most beneficial were things that covered data structures and schemas.. more of the system analysis and design types of courses but especially the courses that dealt specifically with the syntax of the language and how to actually code. Those were the most helpful for me. What other kinds of experiences are important for someone pursuing a career in this field? Well I think, when you’re first starting out, it’s all about building your resume. And so, what you’re trying to do is to use every opportunity that you can to add to that resume. If it means voluteering for various associations or maybe your church and developing a website or developing some type of a database application. Anything that you can add to your resume would really benefit you quite a bit. I think that some of the other things are that making sure as you learn new techniques you try them out in the real world. So, if you’re taking a course and you’re learning a particular language try to use that language to development of something that maybe you’ve done for a volunteer or like I said for an association or a church. Those kinds of things are really beneficial. And at this point what you’re trying to do is build that resume so that you can better market yourself in the future. If you were entering this career today, would you change how you prepared for it? Well again, I think it’s important to learn the language. And to practice it immediately upon learning it. But I also think that it’s important to develop interpersonal and communication skills as well, so if I were to do it again I would focus and take courses that related to those kinds of things; speech classes … more of the courses that are in addition to learning the technical side. The people side is just important. What I’ve found in my experience is the people that can communicate effictively are the people that progress quicker through our … through the organization and or in their field. So um… you just can’t … it’s very, very critical that you have some type of good communication skills. Um, I think the other thing is I probably would join more associations. Associations that are outside of school. Different ways to meet people that are in the same field. Establishing mentorships, establishing relationships with other people in the same field. I think those are some of the things I would do differently. So Chuck, what are some typical job titles and maybe functions within the realm of computer programming? I think the titles that I see most often are titles like Software Developer, as an example. And software could be interchanged with the particular specialty that that person has. As an example, if you’re a .NET developer whether it’s VB or C# you would prefix or replace the word Software Developer – ‘Software’ with that specific skill. So, .NET Developer or VB .NET Developer, might be Java Developer, VOE Developer. That’s one type of title. I think another one that you see often are Database Administrators. And sometimes you could get very specific in those as well. SQL Server Database Administrator or maybe Oracle DBA or Database Administrator. Um, I think, obviously Project Manager. Those are the people that run the project and usually provide direction for multiple developers and potentially even multiple staff of different types of titles. We often see Business Analysts or Functional Analyst. Those are people that know the business, can analyze it and develop specifications, can develop requirements that can be passed on to developers. You might hear of System Architect or Lead Developer. Those are people who typically develop the overall structure of the project in advance or can lead the developers in the approach that’s going to be taken to achieve the technical requirements. You may see Systems Administrator. Those often may be prefixed with specific … software. Such as Unix Systems Administrator or Windows System Administrator. And so … those are typically the titles that I see most often. Now can someone take an entry-level job in computer programming or do they need to take another position somewhere to prepare them for computer programming. It is definitely possible to get a position as a entry level programmer. I think again it takes kind of a combination of both the education – So you have to have some type of either a certificate or a degree. And have taken some type of formal training But in addition it’s real important to have some type of a body of work that you can add to your resume. So that you look more attractive. Um, if there are a number of people that are looking for the same position you’re going to stand out a lot more if on a resume you can put that you’ve developed something or that you were part of a system development effort whether it’s a volunteer assignment or not. So again, you can get a job as an entry level developer. But it takes a combination of education and a good looking resume. Now what parts of the job do you find most rewarding, most enjoyable. I would say the think that I like the most is interaction with people. To help them solve a problem by using the computer. In our line of work we do work for the State Government. And so I feel that it’s very rewarding to be able to help the state, staff at the states be able to do their jobs more efficiently by incorporating some computer and it’s nice for me because I feel that we’re giving back to society by doing it. Now contrary to what’s enjoyable about the job what are some frustrations you might share concerning programming. Ha Ha. I think frustrating things are users that change their mind at the very last minute. You can do an excellent job of gathering requirements and analyzing and designing what their needs are but then they still at the last minute will make a change. And I heard one saying that users … or systems would be great if it wasn’t for the users. And I think that that’s really true. But on the other hand it’s an opportunity for improvement. So if … let’s say the last minute they change their mind it’s probably for a pretty good reason … So. For my last question, do you have any special advise for somebody interested in Computer Programming? Yeah, there’s a couple of things I would recommend. I think one real key point is that as you learn a new technique or a new skill practice it immediately. Because if you could put it into effect and into real world it’s just a lot easier to retain and to know how to best use it. I think another real key point is to establish mentors in our business. Resources that, if a question comes up later down the road when you get into a job or an assignment or even while you’re at school that you can ask a question of and those people will be able to give you a good answer. I think it’s also real important to learn the terminology. In our field there are all kinds of buzz words and acronyms. And so it’s real important to know those and to understand what they are. And to be able to use them and communicate in your day-to-day life. And then I think finally no matter what assignment you get or what type of job you get always be in the mode that you’re going to try to learn new things. Because it’s very important to stay current with technology. And one way to do that is to maybe take a course on your own or learn things off of the internet or even go back to school and learn some additional skills and techniques. So – those are some of the recommendations I’d give you. O.K. Thank you again so much for your time Chuck. This information is very valuable to me. Oh, it’s been my pleasure. I’m sure it will help. Good I hope it helps. Great.