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blairbeckwith
February 28th, 2007, 02:57 AM
Hello,

I am currently 14 years of age (almost 15). After much thought and consideration, I have decided that the job for me is a System Administrator. I have always been interested i computers, and I feel that I am quite adept at using them considering my age.

I have been using HTML for 6 years, and have made a number of different sites, as well as done some graphic designing. I have also dabbled in some programming, mainly Java and Python.

Anyways, enough babbling. With my job choice already made, I truly need your help.

What do I need to learn? Which programming languages? Which skills? In short, what steps do I need to take to reach my goal? Long term, what would be a good program to take in College/University?

Thank you in advance for your answers. I hope to become quite active on this forum.

EDIT: When originally making this post, it was mostly going to be about which languages I needed to learn, but it has since evolved into quite a number of different questions. Please move this topic as you see fit.

pmasiar
February 28th, 2007, 04:39 PM
I have decided that the job for me is a System Administrator.
(...)
I have been using HTML for 6 years, and have made a number of different sites, as well as done some graphic designing. I have also dabbled in some programming, mainly Java and Python.
(...)
What do I need to learn? Which programming languages? Which skills? In short, what steps do I need to take to reach my goal? Long term, what would be a good program to take in College/University?.

IMHO you restricted your choices too early. If current trend in outsourcing will continue, and broadband will becoame cheaper , when you graduate in 10 years, one of the requirements for sysadmin might be to live in India or China :-)

Seriously now. As they say, is is hard to make predictions - especially predictions about the future. Learn whatever you feel is relevant. Python might be good choice (read http://www.paulgraham.com/hundred.html why - and how languages evolve) but in no way Python is THE definitive universal language. You said you are interested in websites - AJAX is becoming very popular, so Javascript is good to know too. SQL for databases - no way around it for most applications.

But don't restrict yourself to being geek living on pizza and coke in the basement - good interpersonal communication skills are *extremely* important. It means writing, but also public speaking - why not to try drama? Leadership skills are important too - why not help to start your local ubuntu team? And also try to learn at least one foreign language, and be well-rounded person which has interests beyond computers. Volunteer for some local organization, and you will learn solving real-life problems beyond MMORPG :-)

Learn all you can, but be prepared to change course - in your lifetime computing *will* change again.

Tomosaur
February 28th, 2007, 05:44 PM
You picked the wrong field to make your mind up early in :P

Computers are always changing. The skills you learn now may well be irrelevant in a few short years time. The only way you can ensure you'll get to where you want to be is to keep on top of new developments. The skills required today will almost certainly be outdates - if not irrelevant, by the time you get hired.

For languages - learn as many as you can. Some languages stand the test of time, others slip away after a few years. It's not so much about learning languages as it is learning programming. After all - you can always pick up any new languages that come along. It's far more important to know how to solve problems - the theory behind programming, and the various approaches you can take to solve problems. Learn about why things work, rather than how to make them work.

It's probably safe to say that networked systems are around to stay - but in what form it's difficult to speculate. You should learn about interoperability and server/client relationships, aswell as network models and communication. Networking right now is based more on nodes - individual machines talking to each other, but there's an ever increasing focus on distributed systems - ie, lots of machines acting as one monolithic machine. You should find out how this kind of thing works, and the reasons why distributed systems are beneficial (computing power, distribution of workload, redundancy etc etc).

It's pretty pointless to say 'learn Bash scripting' or something like that - the time scale we're talking about is just too large, and there's a good chance that what you learn now won't be relevant later. The best idea by far is to just dive into everything, and keep up to date on it all. Don't restrict yourself to any one language, or any one platform, because they're almost certain to change and evolve very quickly.

That's not to say you shouldn't bother learning anything - far from it. It's just very difficult to say what's going to happen 5 years down the line. You should start learning different languages and practices now, and just follow them throughout your studies.

jvc26
February 28th, 2007, 08:15 PM
Experience is another really valuable thing - you need to get yourself involved in some projects on sourceforge for example, get your language skills better - a wide base of knowledge will help as always aiming for one thing in computing is risky due to the sheer speed of development.

As also mentioned above having good interpersonal skills are vital - stuff beyond your computing as to go far you have to be able to make presentations, discuss with other members of teams, debate the pros and cons of an action - leadership, interpersonal skills and having a wide and varied interest across many areas of computing are important, as is experience which means you have actually used the skills you've picked up beyond just a simple 'hello world' type exercise (Just for clarification I dont mean that you've only done the 'hello world', but that you need some real-world application of the languages you've picked up.

Il

blairbeckwith
February 28th, 2007, 09:08 PM
You guys have mentioned public speaking skills, etc. I have quite a severe speech disfluency, in which sometimes I can hardly speak at all. Will this be a great problem for me down this career path?

Praill
February 28th, 2007, 09:17 PM
You dont have to be superman, and I dont see why public speaking and community group orginization is essential. Do what you like.
You sound like an energetic, ambitious kid, so the best fit for you might be to break out and start your own path. Perhaps your own company. Just keep progressing with YOUR ideals in mind so that you can end up out the end of the tunnel doing something you enjoy.

As for the languages. Currently, C is a must. C HAS stood the test of time and any new languages in the last decade (that are worth mentioning) are at least partly based on its syntax. If you know C, you know em all ;)

blairbeckwith
February 28th, 2007, 09:23 PM
Your idea of starting a company is an interesting one which I have thought about before. Ultimately, I love computers. If I started a company, I'm not sure if I'd really get to do what I wanted to do. I would muchrather be programming then balancing a checkbook or managing people. And, I expect the owner of the company would have to do quite a bit more talking then I'd like.

mitchbones
March 1st, 2007, 02:03 AM
If your highschool has them take Computer Science and CISCO. Both college level classes, but very helpful at least to me. I am currently in CISCO2, trust me, this field isn't easy but I think it is an excellent one to go into.

moberry
March 1st, 2007, 03:56 AM
I am 21 years old, I work as a data analyst for a mid-size ~35million/year telemarketing company. I am good friends with both our network, and systems administrator. What I do is complete different types of requests from different departments and interact directly with our SQL database. I am working this job to work through university. My end goal is a masters in computer science. My advice to you is simple; your are 15 and programming, you are gouing to quickly especially with the correct mentors out skill a systems admin job. If you are php programming at 14 imagine where you will be after college when you are ~25? I would suggest you continue with your studies and reevaluate what you want to do when you are graduating high school. Good luck!

cheers.

fritz_monroe
April 29th, 2007, 08:04 PM
Hope this thread isn't too old, but I just came across it.

I disagree with the folks saying that what you learn now could be irrelevant in a couple years. It is true that if you just go out and try to learn the latest and greatest that it could be useless in a short time, but there are many things that build a good base of knowlege. One thing that I feel would really benefit me is to have the time to build Linux From Scratch (http://www.linuxfromscratch.org/). I feel it would really teach how linux works at the lowest levels, and since Linux seems to be finally headed towards the main stream, learning the nuts and bolts of Linux would probably be a worthwile indevor. Also, scripting languages would be useful to learn, and while they will change over the years, keeping up to date on these would be easier to do than learning them once you are on a job.

As for public speaking, that is something that can help you out in virtually any career path you choose. I wish that I would have taken an interest in public speaking when I was young. No matter what you end up doing, there will be times when you are asked to give a presentation or briefing. Once you get used to speaking, it opens other opportunities, like training.

And the folks that said that your career will change are definately telling the truth. I've gone from coding to hardware to sys admin and now I'm attempting to move back into software development.