From An Anonymous CSE/CIS Graduate

I'm working now at [a major employer] in San Francisco with a medical research group that handles data for international studies in women's health. There have been quite a few changes within the group since I started here a little over a year ago, mostly due to growth, and I'm trying to carve out my own little niche along the way.

The biggest need that they rely on me to fill is programming in SAS to build datasets, run reports and find discrepancies in the data - I enjoy it, especially the problem-solving aspect of it all, but it's mostly SQL types of things so I've tried to branch out as well.

I've learned Perl and write scripts when I feel the urge... that's another thing I like is that I have enough respect from my boss and my peers that I can kind of create my own tasks with part of my time, based on how I interpret the needs to be.

I also help write the more difficult database checks in an OO type of language and like that a lot.

My boss has talked about having me start a "special projects" type of group where I'd create tools that would help the others in our group do their jobs better... they have to get enough stable funding first, but it's great to see the confidence she has in my skills and vision.

I really wanted to pass on what my co-workers say about me and my programming skills. My supervisor is a more "true" generalist programmer in that she has worked for start-ups and has been a programmer for her entire career, unlike myself. But I consistently hear from my non-programmer co-workers, especially the ones who work with me on developing the specs for the checks and reports we need to create, that, in their minds, I am a far superior programmer to her.

Most of what they put behind that is how I think through the creation process and don't just rush to sit down and bang something out, and how I can explain things and understand things in ways that they can relate to -- I don't talk like what they call a "computer person" but I still know what I'm doing enough to help.

Some of this I know is just my natural abilities and my past experiences that help me see all sides, but part of it is also how the SCE sequence taught me how to approach creating a program. I think the structure that you provided for us to work within and the incremental nature of especially your series was really helpful for me. I think I naturally gravitate towards big-picture thinking anyway, but you all helped me put that type of thought process into my programming skills.

I recently had a temporary co-worker who was my first peer in that she was also a SAS programmer but had a stats background instead of CS. From her first day, all she could do was marvel at how I had set up the system, how efficiently everything was set up to work together, and how much reusable code I had created that genuinely saved a lot of time and effort. I hadn't had a non-CS perspective on my SAS coding before, so it was very interesting.

I've really come to appreciate the focus we had on component-based design, but with the flexibility to work outside of that structure as well. I've found that I had a really good foundation to build upon to help me make decisions about when to create a component and when not to.

I have a long way to go, for sure, but I thought you might want to hear what others think about my skills and where I attribute at least part of them to :).