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Ask Slashdot: What To Do Before College? 335

First time accepted submitter MtownNaylor writes "I graduated high school two days ago and am currently enrolled to attend college for studying Computer Science. I spent last summer working as a contractor, programming in Java doing work for a single company. I am looking to further either my career, my education, or both this summer. The problem is that I have found it difficult to find summer employment or internships programming for a multitude of reasons (lack of opportunities, lack of experience, lack of degree.) So what is a high school graduate who wants to work as a programmer to do?"
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Ask Slashdot: What To Do Before College?

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  • Open Source (Score:5, Informative)

    by mrtwice99 ( 1435899 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:45PM (#40400933)
    Pick an open source project that you find interesting and get involved in it. It will give you experience in coding, working with people, and look good to the type of employers you would probably want to get hired by.
    • Other option (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:06PM (#40401385)

      Enjoy your summer, it will be one of your last. Travel, go camping, toss back a few beers, anything but work.

      • I second that.
      • Re:Other option (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:26PM (#40401745) Homepage Journal

        Enjoy your summer, it will be one of your last. Travel, go camping, toss back a few beers, anything but work.

        Yep..go out, have fun with friends...get laid.

        It won't be long before you won't be able to screw highschool girls anymore...get'em while they're still tight!


        • Re:Other option (Score:5, Informative)

          by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:42PM (#40402003)

          >>>It won't be long before you won't be able to screw highschool girls anymore...get'em while they're still tight!

          As my highschool friend says: "Wow..... creeper." Ooops I've said too much.

        • Re:Other option (Score:5, Insightful)

          by ffflala ( 793437 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @04:30PM (#40403431)

          Yep..go out, have fun with friends...get laid.

          Don't just think of this as advice to screw around, either. Socializing is an important skill, and as a skill it is something that will improve with practice. Being able to socialize successfully and with ease will serve you well in your future career; it might be the very thing that land you a job. It's a skill that is often lacking in CS students. So go out, have fun with people, and don't think of it as being irresponsible or lazy; think of it as spending your summer "working" on an important skill.

          And enjoy it.

      • Re:Other option (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:30PM (#40401815)

        >>>Enjoy your summer, it will be one of your last.

        Not likely. He can expect to be laid-off at least once in his career. I've experienced two summer (and three winter) vacations since I graduated college.

        • Re:Other option (Score:5, Insightful)

          by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:46PM (#40402065) Homepage

          I've had those "vacations" too, but they aren't the same. A high school grad who's been accepted at a college knows how long he has for it, and what he'll be doing when it's over. He doesn't have to spend time every day looking for work, not knowing if he has a week or a year left, fearing what will become of him, etc.

        • Re:Other option (Score:5, Insightful)

          by chrismcb ( 983081 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:07PM (#40402349) Homepage
          There is a difference between a summer vacation after high school with little or no responsibilities, and being laid off with a mortgage payment and possibly a wife and children.
          Enjoy your summer. You will have more than enough time to further your education and career as you grow older. But you won't have too many carefree summers in your lifetime.
          If you don't want to enjoy your summer, then open source, or your own project is your best bet. Get some experience coding.
      • by Gilmoure ( 18428 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:32PM (#40402661) Journal

        Work on a really cool Sailor Moon or Wonder Woman cosplay outfit. It could come in handy in college.

    • Re:Open Source (Score:4, Insightful)

      by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:20PM (#40401633)

      This. ----- And also there's more to learning than just your programming career. That's why colleges make you take "core" courses in history, language, et cetera. I'd spend the summer downloading some Teaching Company audios and educating yourself.

      Also, for me, the most challenging course was Physics 101, 102, and 201. It might be worthwhile to get your college's textbook, or download one, and read through it one time. You don't have to understand everything... just give yourself a general overview of what you'll be learning over the next 2 years.

      Oh and since you'll be meeting lots of girls, maybe a copy of "Mars and Venus on a Date" so you don't accidentally insult your potential future wife. ;-)

  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:45PM (#40400939) Journal
    Well, I can remember that summer and I spent it working in the fields, bailing hay, framing houses and working as a busboy/waiter/bartender at night. But that was just because that was the best way for me to earn extra cash before college. It was made clear to me that I was expected to pay for all of my schooling just like everyone else in my family and, growing up under the poverty line, that made sense. So if you have any legal way to acquire extra capital then that's what I would do. Bagging groceries isn't going to help your coding abilities but if it gives you enough breathing room to prevent a loan shark from taking advantage of you in college, I'd take that option.

    Now had my family been able to pay my way through and acquiring capital was not an urgent necessity, there still wouldn't have been any internships or jobs available for a programmer at my location. In this situation and knowing what I know now, I would have opted for other paths:

    1. Approach an entity that doesn't have a lot of money (e.g. school, library, city council, county park, church, whatever) and ask them if they need anything improved or fixed IT-wise. You can take an off-the-shelf route like just reskinning phpBB for a library forum or implement a server for voting on new books to acquire or an announcement system for school closings or even a static calendar page for events. Maybe you build it from the ground up like new reservation system for people who want to reserve a book at the library before they drive 40 minutes to pick it up. If the facility likes it, they'll use it. If they don't, well at least you learned something. The thing is, you'll build experience working with real-ish requirements and even if it amounts to nothing you'll learn why. Aim for something simple to ensure success and try not to reinvent the wheel. Now-a-days with Rails' scaffold system, you can stand up CRUD apps in no time. I remember a lot of broken processes as a kid that I saw at Boy Scouts, parks, libraries, etc where a simple registration form would have saved a couple people a lot of work.

    2. Contribute to open source. I'd shy away from starting your own open source project. That is actually difficult to do unless you know someone demanding it and then you're kind of being held to get it done. Anyone can check in a project to sourceforge or github (and they often do) but without users it quickly withers and dies. I'd suggest looking into an active project and seeing if you can understand the source code. If you can contribute, that's great. That's experience and that's something you can put on your resume -- even if it goes defunct by the time you graduate.

    3. Copy last year's course pages for the beginning CS and Math classes you intend to take and start working through them. Seriously, I wish I had thought of this way back then and if they're still up for your college, grab them and start looking at the problems so you don't get a wake up call. My college required me to take four semesters of calc as a CS major and that was a harsh reality indeed. If you start working on a project now and it's great by the time you get to the course, your professor might ask you to become a TA for some extra cash. Sure, it's brown nosing but it also feels really good to be prepared.

    Those two suggestions are assuming you don't need capital and there's no paying gig. If you don't like them, hell, just enjoy your summer -- when you succeed you'll be working 9 to 5 and I sorta wish I had spent more time at the pool, hanging out with friends, playing music with crappy bands, playing baseball with pickup groups, etc. Don't forget to live a little.
    • by j-pimp ( 177072 ) <> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:31PM (#40401835) Homepage Journal

      2. Contribute to open source. I'd shy away from starting your own open source project. That is actually difficult to do unless you know someone demanding it and then you're kind of being held to get it done.

      Well it depends on what your intention is. As the author of an open source project I got little feedback on [], I'm still glad I wrote the project because I needed it for my own purposes, and I was still able to treat it like a "real project." I wrote an installer for it. I had version numbers. I shipped it out on laptops I setup for my employer, because I might need to use it to diagnose problems. If the author has a real problem to solve for themselves, even if its for their weekly D&D game or for a fantasy sports league, they can still teach themselves about version control, installer software, unit testing, or other things.

      I learned about version control when I was writing VB6 programs as a clerk in a security guard company. No one told me to. I decided on my own. Later when I was a programmer there I taught myself to make an MSI installer and how to use NUint. No market pressures from my boss or a client made me do this. Just a desire to be more professional and disciplined.

    • by ArundelCastle ( 1581543 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:22PM (#40402533)

      Yep, I worked for 5 years after high school, mainly in a grocery store. Best decision I ever made, before going to college.
      There just aren't a lot of employers who want to hire a high school grad for anything approaching a complex task. Ten years from now OP will probably understand why... nah, he's a smart kid.. probably 5 years. :-) Need to see your current self in the rear view mirror first.

      Something to be said for knowing what you want to do with your life, there's also something to be said for letting yourself change minds. If you're still a programmer in 20 years, good on ya. Probably set for bigger and better things though.

    • by SirGarlon ( 845873 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:23PM (#40402551)

      As difficult as it may be to believe this, if you're poor and expecting to finance your education through a combination of grants, scholarships, and loans, working a summer job may be the worst decision you can make.

      Things may have changed since my college days, and they may differ from state to state, but here is how my financial aid worked out.

      New York State calculated financial aid eligibility taking the minimum income of the past 3 years. My sophomore year in high school I only got a part-time job and made about $800 all summer. I managed to save about half of it. My junior and senior years I worked almost full time in the summer and part-time during the year, and made about $3000-$4000 (this was at a time when minimum wage was $3.50/hr).

      Freshman year in college, my aid paid for everything except books and activity fees (yes aid was more generous and costs were lower back then).

      Sophomore year, my aid was reduced by $800 because of the earnings I'd made 3 years previously years and I had to take a student loan for that amount.

      Junior year, my aid was reduced by about another $2200. I caught on to the pattern at that point. I was faced with the choice of quitting my part-time job right away and taking out a loan to pay expenses, or having to take an even bigger loan the next year. Remember, if I had not earned any money at all and just leeched off my parents, I would have come out of college debt-free.

      So, my advice is, understand what your financial aid picture is going to be and how your earnings will affect it, before you rush out and get a job.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by bughunter ( 10093 )

        So the moral is, if you work, work only for cash. Landscaping, Construction, prostitution, drug dealing, human smuggling, and extortion/kidnapping, those kinds of things. I don't recommend hit jobs. They can be messy and sometimes they stab back.

  • Take a break (Score:5, Informative)

    by buk110 ( 904868 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:46PM (#40400957)
    I know you're looking for work stuff to do, but this is most likely the last real break you're going to have. Because it's classes & internships & part-time jobs & everything else. Take some down time to just a some girls/guys/whatever You're only young once
    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:49PM (#40401047) Journal

      Indeed. There's plenty of time to polish up your resume during college. Spend your last free summer buying cigarettes for slutty high school girls. Remember, if she smokes, she pokes.

      • by rachit ( 163465 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:40PM (#40402775)

        Indeed. There's plenty of time to polish up your resume during college. Spend your last free summer buying cigarettes for slutty high school girls. Remember, if she smokes, she pokes.

        I'm not sure I'd want to be with a girl that "pokes". I guess if that's your kind of thing, go for it.

    • Re:Take a break (Score:5, Insightful)

      by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:50PM (#40401061)
      Yeah. And get outside. During college I hit the books all year long. Then, over a couple of summers I worked on the landscaping crew for a big company in my town. Those were the best summers I ever had, even though I got a couple of internships the next two summers. Driving a giant riding mower across acres of grass at 15mph, the smell of fresh cut lawn and sunshine. Those were the days...
      • Re:Take a break (Score:5, Insightful)

        by localman57 ( 1340533 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @04:01PM (#40403095)

        I worked on the landscaping crew

        By the way, I would also add that when you take a job like this, you sometimes end up working next to people who are doing it to scrape a living, rather than saving for college books or earning movie money. Act accordingly, and be respectful of other people. Don't act like your job is trivial, or a joke, or whatever. I enjoyed the novelty of doing it for 10 weeks over two summers, but I feel for people who end up, for whatever reason, do it for a living. Be humble, and keep this in mind, or face a lot of animosity.

    • Agreed. If you do need the money, just do something part time for the cash. Otherwise, enjoy yourself.
    • by Bigby ( 659157 )

      Make a mobile app that helps people relax

    • Yep. Have a life. From here on out it's going to be summer internships then a career.

    • Re:Take a break (Score:5, Insightful)

      by houghi ( 78078 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:25PM (#40401723)

      I would say that you should visit other countries. And I am not talking about Canada or Mexico. I mean seriously travel.

      My experience is that people who have traveled and seen other countries are better able to handle unexpected situations and stress. Things that will be helpful when you are in a working environment and other situations later in life.

      And it is so much fun at the same time. If possible take a year and work in another country at any odd job for a few weeks before going on the road again.

      • Re:Take a break (Score:4, Informative)

        by slyrat ( 1143997 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:47PM (#40402077)

        I would say that you should visit other countries. And I am not talking about Canada or Mexico. I mean seriously travel.

        My experience is that people who have traveled and seen other countries are better able to handle unexpected situations and stress. Things that will be helpful when you are in a working environment and other situations later in life.

        And it is so much fun at the same time. If possible take a year and work in another country at any odd job for a few weeks before going on the road again.

        Maybe not right before college but certainly try to study abroad while in college. Either for a foreign language or your major, it is certainly worth it. Those were some of the best experiences I had during college.

    • by jd ( 1658 )

      I disagree on the relaxing. Never waste a good opportunity, never let your brain run on idle. Yes, you're only young once, but there's other options. If you don't go for a work solution, push your horizons. Explore, learn, develop. Learn a new language by going overseas and immersing in an alien culture. The more alien the better. The object wouldn't be to have something directly practical, the object would be to develop your mental faculties, to go from a problem-space to a solution-space efficiently, and

  • Have some fun (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    This is probably the only time in your life you can have some fun, guilt free. Don't forget to take advantage of this.

  • I'm doing the same thing as you, minus being able to get a job beforehand. What I'm going to do this summer is start learning. There's so much on the internet to learn that you can be way ahead of everyone and make college a lot easier. Of course since you said you have a job programming java, you're clearly ahead of me, but there's always more to learn and it's a great opportunity i you can get your hands on an internship.
  • If you don't need the money, enjoy your summer! Spend time doing hobbies, volunteer opportunities, working on open source projects [programming]. Worry about education and internships when you get to college.

    It'll be A LOT easier to get employed after your sophomore year. You should try after Freshmen year, but no guarantee it'll happen.

    Maybe take a general ed class that will transfer at your local community college if you must do "something productive"

  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:47PM (#40401009)

    This summer marks the end of your childhood.

    • by WillAdams ( 45638 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:50PM (#40401067) Homepage


      I've always regretted that I spent that summer after graduating from high school working --- I'd considered hiking the Appalachian Trail --- which I've finally begun, but I'm reduced to doing it in sections, which is far more expensive and lacks the sense of achievement of doing it all at once.

      • Perfect reading material for this summer would be a copy of Dr. Donald Ervin Knuth's _The Art of Computer Programming_

    • Agree. I got about $700 for my graduation, and I spent it all on gas and food hanging out at our vacation house all summer long. Granted, not everyone has a vacation home, but the sentiment is still valid.

    • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:08PM (#40402375)

      Also get a manual labor job. A job that you really hate and despise, which pays almost nothing, outdoors or in a warehouse w/o air conditioning or with a crew chief that screams at you for flipping burgers too slowly. That's real life. Then when you get the programming job you will appreciate it and not act like a prima donna.

      Even if mom and dad are paying for everything and you don't need a job and just want something to do to get in touch with yourself, you need to do something down to earth instead of a stupid vacation. If you want to hike the trails, then do it as a volunteer who cleans up the trails and cuts brush. If you want to visit Europe then get a job volunteering at a charity there instead of partying and trying to get laid.

  • Android SDK! (Score:5, Informative)

    by cplusplus ( 782679 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:48PM (#40401017) Journal
    Why not work on an Android App of some kind? Download the Android SDK []! It's free, the Eclipse development environment is free, and the SDK even has a really nice emulator so you can run your Apps even if you don't have an Android phone.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:48PM (#40401023)

    two chicks at the same time, dude

  • by guises ( 2423402 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:48PM (#40401025)
    I would suggest relaxing. You're not going to have many more summers like this and you might as well enjoy it. This is especially true since you just graduated - most of your high school friends are probably still around, you may not get the chance to see them again.
    • I second this. If your life follows a common trajectory, you'll be very busy with school, and then with establishing your career, and then with kids, and then with paying for their college.

      The next time you have a big break could very well be when you retire.

      If you can afford to, enjoy your summer and build good memories.

    • Take any job. You aren't going to get a job doing what you want probably and that's ok. So if you want money, and work experience, take it where you can get it.

      I did work summer after high school as a surveyor's assistant. Actually was a good job and I'd consider going in to surveying if I ever get sick of IT. Minimum wage stuff but hey, the work wasn't bad, it was a job, it was outside, and since I was living with my parents minimum wage meant plenty of toys.

      It can help too because it is work experience. S

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Go out and get laid FFS.

  • by AnotherShep ( 599837 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:49PM (#40401051)
    if you have an itch, scratch it. Work on a personal project - something that bugs you or that you can improve. Personal accomplishments like that can make a huge difference come job interview time.
    • Agreed. Work on something that you can show off in an interview (or to link to on a resume). It would be impressive to have a project with you on your smartphone that you could show off, or something you could pull up on the interviewer's computer.

      It could do a lot to make up for the typical sparse resume you have when you are first starting out.

      Even if it isn't something that you can show off, it will give you something interesting to talk about.

  • New Zealand (Score:3, Interesting)

    by terbeaux ( 2579575 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:49PM (#40401055)

    Get a working holiday visa. []

    Go to New Zealand.

    Enjoy the best year of your life.

    Go home.

    Start your career.

  • by geekd ( 14774 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:50PM (#40401083) Homepage

    Write something. Participate in the Liberated Pixel Cup [] or write a game on your own. I just wrote one and it was fun: []

    The best programmers learn on their own. They tinker at home. Don't rely on school to teach you everything, or even most things.

    Or you could just party and drink and get laid. :)

  • Pick a project. Look at a website, find something cool. Now duplicate it in your own work. Try and make it better. You will gain a ton of knowledge, and you can show your code to the next employer.

    If your parents did their finances well they will be paying you to internship for free somewhere. If not... take a job selling coffee / delivering pizzas in the evenings.

    And you need to be spending 1 hour a day, every single day weekends included, filling out grant applications.

    Just my $.02 and what my kids will b

  • Get involved with an open source project. Go for fame rather than money. When you're looking for a job or internship, it certainly can't hurt for you to have your name attached to a few successful projects.

    The situations are not exactly parallel, but after dot com bust, I was out of work for two years. I spent that time writing a CMS and putting together an internet hosting service -- small potatoes, maxed out at ten clients -- got a backpack, stuffed it with a good selection of tools and did piecemeal s

  • If you can afford it, enjoy your last summer to yourself. Unless you become a teacher (or filthy rich), you won't have the same rhythm in your life anymore, so make the most of it.

    Maybe I'm just being to nostalgic, I worked 6 days a week my Final Summer fixing bicycles to make extra money for school. And I ended up with way more spare cash than most of my college friends, but that summer my core highschool friends did a ton of fun once-in-a-lifetime stuff that I had to miss out on.

  • It's June... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bughunter ( 10093 ) <> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:57PM (#40401217) Journal

    I have bad news and good news for you.

    The bad: if you haven't already found an internship by June, you're not going to find one. Most internship programs start screening and interviewing applicants around January, or even earlier. I've been in aerospace and commercial engineering work for 30 years and I've never seen a summer internship program that didn't already have their candidates in for interviews by March or April at the latest. And by the time the term ends, lodging and all the other logistics are already worked out.

    The good news is that most intern programs are looking for college students, not HS Grads, so you have four or five more chances to qualify. Join the ACM and IEEE chapters at your school and let them know you want to apply for summer internships.

    At this point I recommend two things, not mutually exclusive, both of which have essentially been mentioned before:

    1) Find a project to work on... either FOSS or just a homebrew thing. Something small enough that you can finish so as to demonstrate your development skills. But also push the envelope and pick a project that will force you to learn something new... one or two minor things. And then document what you learned by writing a report; 2 or 3 pages will suffice.

    2) Have fun. You're an entering freshman. You have no idea how little free time you're going to have come fall. I recommend you blow off some steam and go do some fun things you've always wanted to do. It's going to be at least four years before you have a chance to do that again. You will not be criticized for doing that.

  • by garcia ( 6573 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @01:58PM (#40401235)

    I agree, I really do, but many aren't providing any reasons why:

    1. No employer is going to care what you did the summer before you went to UG

    2. The work leading up to the degree you learn at the end of your UG work may not challenge you at all. Working to "get ahead" may leave you frustrated and bewildered as to why you worked so hard.

    3. School is just school. Just do it, enjoy it while you're there, get good grades, and get a job after you're done (or go on to advanced studies, whatever).

    As for this summer, enjoy it. If that means writing code for fun or screwing around w/friends, do it. You'll be able to do that stuff in college too but in a much different way--especially if you want to do extremely well.

    Good luck.

    • by dkleinsc ( 563838 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:05PM (#40401377) Homepage

      Another good answer: Something other than coding.

      You're going to have many many summers to code. If all you've ever done is coding, you're going to find yourself to be an exceptionally boring person. You may also find that your first love isn't coding at all, but actually something completely different. It's far cheaper to make that discovery now than 3 years into your CS major.

    • by jd ( 1658 )

      School is just school.

      Not if the school is any good. School should not be about grades, it should be about learning how to learn. It should be where you hone and develop your research skills, boost your mental flexibility and practice the application of these skills. The subject itself is almost secondary - if you've learned how to learn, any specific skill picked up at school becomes immaterial. It'll also largely be out-of-date. Research skills never date.

      Working to "get ahead" is useful if you keep in mi

  • Get experience. Internships and jobs are not the only way. Open source software, personal projects (the two can overlap a lot), do whatever you want. Just write code if you want to get good at it. Get on StackOverflow and ask/answer questions (once you have the relevant knowledge).

    If you can talk about programming well, show you truly understand it, then people will know you are capable. To be honest, you'll learn more doing that than doing your degree, if you do it right. The internet is a great resource.


  • Have some fun with your last summer before college. Spend time with your friends, especially those who you will not be seeing in college. You should also study fun things, things that schools do not teach you. Read books (not just programming books), study interesting approaches to programming (Forth comes to mind -- not commonly taught in schools, not strictly applicable to most careers, but definitely an interesting language that is worth studying, if you have time). College should be about having you
  • MIT (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:02PM (#40401323) Homepage

    MIT open courseware. Take all the courses now. That way you can get ahead of the curve by leaning from the TOP professors instead of the second tier ones you will have elsewhere. IF you do good enough you could test out of many classes for course credit so you can be further ahead of the game.

    Right now is the best time to be a teen before college. You have world class undergrad and graduate level stuff available to you for free. Eat all of it and ask for more.

  • It seems that others are saying similar things, but my general thought here is, don't expect a real programming job. People complain about CS graduates lacking experience, so a high school kid? Forget about it.

    If you need the money, find the best-paying job you can get, even if it's working as a waiter. These jobs offer good experience too. There are many jobs that require some kind of customer-service and communication skills, and something like waiting tables provides experience for that.

    If you want

  • by HockeyPuck ( 141947 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:10PM (#40401491)

    My father told me once, "You've got 40 years of working ahead of you, enjoy your youth. It's the one thing that we always wish we had more of."

    My favorite summer was between high school and college, before everyone went off in different directions. Have some fun, travel, chase girls, go camping... whatever floats your boat. Spending your summer writing code, is not something that you'll look back at and say,

    "Man... I wish I had spent July and August writing code instead of that time at the lake with my best friends and that blonde girl from two cabins away..."

  • You're booked into college?

    Go have fun, make friends, party it up, live your fantasy. You'll never get to do it again, and your summer internship will do nothing for you long term!

  • After HS a buddy and I went camping in the mountains for a couple of weeks. It was awesome.

    The summer my brother graduated from HS and I graduated from undergrad (before grad school) we hiked on the Appalachian Trail for a month. It was a life changing experience for me.

    Camping does not cost much and you get some fresh air. Backpacking pushes your body and gives you time to think / reflect.

    And you can meet some interesting folks...

  • A serious thing to consider is, how much does college cost and is there anything you can do beforehand to get out in three years (or less) instead of four.

    College is fun but life and freedom REALLY begin after college. If you set yourself up for a life with less debt you have a lot more options once you are out of college and really free.

    So while taking the summer off might be fun, it's even more fun to position yourself for some serious freedom in your twenties.

  • Don't take CS take a tech school / IT class load it will give the skills needed for the job.

    • And end up as yet another under educated tech school grad. Bad advice. These guys do not know how to adapt because they've been taught how to do things by rote instead of by thinking, and they're taught the current techniques and fads which do not help when the times change or the job does not exactly match what was in the classroom. These train you for the sorts of jobs that are most easily outsourced or given to the lowest bidders. These schools very often are oriented towards students who could not g

  • by RobertLTux ( 260313 ) <{gro.nitramecnerual} {ta} {trebor}> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:19PM (#40401617)

    If at all possible work out a map of your school with all the needed "waypoints" so that you do not waste time getting from class A to Class B. Bonus points if you can actually see some/all of your teachers.

    oh and a bit of a tip as soon as you get your school email address start signing up for the various company school programs
    DreamSpark is a keyword for the M$ stuff.

    • for fun you can write a program to find minimum spanning trees to get to class faster....or you could just party all summer bro! The thing is, if you don't party enough before you are old you won't be as well rounded as someone who just codes all day. Also, other experiences in life give you insights to problems that need solving. Enrich you life.
  • I know I am going to catch a lot of mod-downs for this but, NEVER GIVE YOUR WORK AWAY FOR FREE.

    Working for free establishes the value of the kind of labor you engage in at zero, which means you and others have a more difficult time finding (paying) employment doing that kind of work. It doesn't just hurt you, it also hurts every other person who does that kind of work by increasing supply at zero dollar cost. Not only does it do so for all your potential employers, it also does the same thing in your own

  • by account_deleted ( 4530225 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:23PM (#40401681)
    Comment removed based on user account deletion
  • No, your part-time jobs will not all be in front of a computer. You might have to lower yourself and do something else.
  • Defer your college year, head to Australia for 6 months working odd jobs, hitchhiking, surfing, sleeping with various other foreign backpackers.


  • Unless you are paying for it in cash, the debt will hardly be worth it.
  • Seize the Summer (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tverbeek ( 457094 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:40PM (#40401961) Homepage

    Don't "further your career or education". Go do something else!

    The summer I graduated from high school my parents lined up a job for me, working with computers for a small business, giving me a great opportunity to start building professional credentials. I appreciated it, but I turned it down. Instead a friend and I got on a plane, and set off on a 6-week tour of England, Wales, and Scotland, camping at caravan parks in a 1.5-man tent, and getting from place to place by bicycle and by train. It was an extraordinary experience. Some bad, some good, but I wouldn't trade it for anything.

    There will be another summer next year, which you can spend working on cool programming projects or whatever, and there will be year after year and decade after decade in which you can do that sort of thing as much as you please. You have a whole lifetime of formal education and career ahead of you. But you will never have another entire summer in which you have entirely closed the book on one phase of your life, but the next phase is patiently waiting for you unopened, a few months off in the future. You have the freedom to do damn near anything you are capable of doing. This is a once-in-a-lifetime window of opportunity. Do something worthy of that.

  • I took a summer job in a metal shop, and learned a ton of suff I was never going to get from a formal education.

    The real world is filled with messy, hard, interesting, demeaning, uncomfortable, fun, maddening jobs. You could learn how a mean boss makes you do shoddy work just to get out of his face; something that may be important to remember in the future. You will meet interesting and boring people. You will probably meet racists and homophobes and criminals. You may not appreciate or like them, but you m

  • Take a year off. Make a travel plan to see the world. Stay in hostels that have wifi, and split your time coding for open source projects and exploring the world.
  • you are 18. go out, get drunk get laid have some fun. get a meaningless job and just have some fun.. You'll thank me for this advice in about 15 to 20 years.

  • by tlambert ( 566799 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @02:49PM (#40402121)

    Pick something as far from programming as possible, and do that.

    I was convinced from a very early age that I wanted to be a nuclear physicist (this was back before it was politically corrected into "high energy physics"). I learned everything I could about it, learned all the math, derived neutron numbers from information gleaned from "The Curve of Binding Energy", and basically absorbed information like a sponge.

    Then I went to my first year of college (entering as a sophomore due to my AP credits), did well in the first couple of quarters of physic classes (started in at the junior level, since I was pretty advanced in physics already), and things were going great. Then I was visiting a lab, and saw my first microcomputer with a graphics card (a Terak 8510, as it turned out).

    Now I'm a software engineer for Google, having worked previously for Apple and IBM.

    I tripled in physics, math, and CS, and physics taught me an incredible amount about how to think about problem solving that I couldn't have achieved without studying an actual hard science, but I'm not working in the field by building bombs for TRW to balance on top of pencils of fire.

    The point of this little autobiographical journey is that, even if you know what you want, you might not know what you want /more/, until you encounter it.

    So set yourself up in a situation where you'll encounter something outside your comfort zone, and which is far away from your experience to date. You might find you hate it; you might find you love it, but either way, in doing that, you'll find out more about yourself and the world. And if you find something you hate, remember that you can do something you hate while looking for something else; a summer is long enough to sample up to half a dozen things you find that you hate.

    If I had my summer between high school and college to do over, I'd probably try for the news room at a newspaper, an art studio co-op, a cruise ship, a CPA firm, a law firm, an airline, or randomly opening the yellow pages.

    -- Terry

  • So what is a high school graduate who wants to work as a programmer to do?

    Learn botany.

  • Whats a programmer to do?


    There is a ton of open source projects on the internet.

    But I feel sorry for you, since obviously you can't think for yourself. SoE (Sony online Entertainment) hires programmers who can't think for themselves, give them a call.

  • by Shotgun ( 30919 ) on Thursday June 21, 2012 @03:01PM (#40402297)

    "So what is a high school graduate who wants to work as a programmer to do?"

    Seek professional counseling. You know not of that which you think you desire.


  • You'll only get so far with just programming skills. Now's a good time to brush up on writing, so you come across as intelligent.

    For instance, TFS leads off with "I graduated high school two days ago."

    "I was graduated from high school two days ago" will make people think you're refined.

    "I graduated from high school two days ago" most people will accept.

    "I graduated high school" is actually wrong, and people will think less of you for it. It doesn't matter what you think, that's what other people will thin

  • go out and get experience in another field that interested me. Relatively few jobs in software development are purely about computers. Most involve programming in knowledge of another field where the computer system will be applied.

    You've had a summer of coding in the workforce already, and that puts you ahead of most incoming freshmen. Go out and learn about something else because you'll need it later. It'll help you to know what you actually want to do with your degree when you get out. You hav

  • by alexandre_ganso ( 1227152 ) <> on Thursday June 21, 2012 @04:27PM (#40403401)

    Find something wrong with it, and fix it. Or just enjoy the goddamn summer and go get some girls. Even if you fail, you will not regret in the future. But the "wasting my youth and summer" part... well.

The only function of economic forecasting is to make astrology look respectable. -- John Kenneth Galbraith