Today, many are drawn to the allure of the Computer Science (CS) industry, dreaming of quick success and lucrative salaries. However, recent observations, especially on online forums, have highlighted a growing sense of entitlement among those trying to break into the field. This sentiment raises concerns about the current state of the industry and the sometimes unrealistic expectations of aspiring software engineers.

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Key Takeaways

  • Many aspiring computer science professionals are displaying a sense of entitlement, expecting high salaries after minimal training or study, which is out of touch with industry realities.
  • Current IT education and platforms like Leetcode are under scrutiny; while some believe the system is producing underprepared programmers, others blame the over-reliance on such platforms for recruitment.
  • Despite the method of entry into the CS industry, whether with a formal degree or as a self-taught individual, the emphasis is on genuine skills, adaptability, and continuous learning.

If you browse through sites like Quora and Reddit, you will see a lot of questions sounding something along the lines of “How much can a CS earn after having X years of experience?”, “How much will I make after getting a master’s degree in computer science in the US?” “What is the average salary of a computer science graduate from X university?”.  Everybody, especially those just entering the field, seems obsessed with earning above 100k freshly out of college. 

This trend is understandable in light of the current economic state of the world. Just in the US the inflation rate as of July this year was 4.7% and was expected to average above 3.0%. Just a year ago, in December 2022, average housing prices reached an all-time high of $56 8700. So, undeniably, it’s clear why youngsters try to think ahead of time and find a career path with the highest income possible. 

However, some professionals think that such a viewpoint comes not from realistic views, but from an enlarged sense of entitlement. Like this one Reddit user, who decided to share his frustration with the current state of the CS industry and the qualifications of those trying to enter it.

The main point of OP’s frustration seems to stem from the fact that many believe that short periods of self-study or attending boot camps entitle them to high-paying jobs. This mindset seems to be out of touch with the realities of the industry, where genuine qualifications and experience are essential. The author emphasizes that true success in the CS field requires more than minimal effort and cautions against falling for misleading narratives about easy entry into the industry.

We decided to dig into the discussion and see what other fellow coders had to say about such a state of things.

The Messed-Up System

The discourse started with one user noting, that the current IT education system is failing due to the growing number of programmers now knowing how to code to begin with. However, this raised a lot of voices who seemed to find this to be an overstatement:

“There’s a huge push for language agnosticism in education. Also saying people “can’t code” is usually hyperbole, I’ve worked with senior developers who Google the syntax for everything since we had codebases written in different languages. The concepts are way more important than whiteboarding Leetcode solutions.”

Here, Redditors started to pitch in saying that googling syntax is not a problem and doesn’t actually show any lack of knowledge in coding:

“There is a difference in having to Google some basic syntax because you forget the little nuance yet understanding there was a nuance in the first place.”

“Same here. At a certain point, unless you become a specialist in a really narrow subject, you might struggle with information overload and lack of constant practice on certain topics/languages, but with a little help from documentation and literature it is easy to solve most problems.”

Other programmers also mentioned that when you reach a certain level of professionalism, coding isn’t your primary work:

“After senior level, 90% of your technical time isn’t coding anyway.”

“Senior engineer and I am overjoyed when I get to ship actual projects. Mostly I advise and consult with juniors on theirs while doing small bug patches on past projects I own.”

Leetcode is To Blame

Reddit Users Give a Reality Check to CS Students Chasing Six Figures Salaries

The other thing that seemed to unite programmers is Leetcode. Many viewed this programming platform as one of the reasons that the CS industry is “in decline”:

“I personally believe Leetcode has been heavily damaging to our industry. The skills and techniques you learn from it are seldom used and can be googled. And while it’s a decent interview strategy to tell if an engineer is competent, it incentivizes engineers to spend their time learning how to Leetcode, rather than learning more useful skills.”

“100% leetcode is extremely damaging. I was against the trend from the beginning like 6 years ago but this is the direction the industry is pushing. It just boils down to ageism. Children and new grads can grind leetcode, but someone with a family or looking for a 9-5 doesn’t necessarily have that time. It ensures hires will be on the job market for months and thus be more desperate for jobs once they beat the interview treadmill.”

“…When I ask leetcode questions, I’m not expecting optimal answers, or even complete answers. I just want to see someone code. I want to see that you have spent time coding and to demonstrate some basic level of competency. Usually I give about 10 minutes to do this, and I tell my candidates not to worry if they can’t finish. I tell them I just want to see them code and to narrate their thought process a bit as they go. I make a point to reduce the pressure on them as much as possible because correctness is not really what I am after. Personally, I choke in leetcode interviews, and I hate the way most companies use them in interviews. At a certain point, practicing leecode is a waist of time when you could be practicing by building something you’re actually interested in building.”

CS – A New Business Major

In the end, people turned to what seemed to be the key to the problem – CS study programs. What knowledgable programmers noted was that the current level of education on those courses remind them of any business major:

“CS has turned into the new business major at a lot of schools. You just need to get past the math courses and most people are good to go. And there are tons of people getting a CS minor or double major on the side just like people did with business curricula. I’ve noticed a lot of companies have started to prefer people with an engineering background but have SWE internships and experience, especially Electrical or Computer Engineering. Engineering has stayed extremely difficult so it’s a much better filter than a CS degree. Companies are starting to notice how unprepared the average CS grad is. A lot of people exit school not even knowing how to program.”

“That along with the fact that now so many of the programs focus on just the theory and never actually teach folks how to problem solve just to regurgitate the answers they memorized”

Some, however, noted, that a surface degree is just a part of the problem, and the other part is that current workplaces don’t provide junior professionals with any training

byu/FunSelf5 from discussion

The Main Point

After going through the whole discussion what seems to be the key point is that in today’s world with high competition ranks nothing can 100% guarantee a job. It doesn’t matter if you have a CS degree or if you are a self-taught programmer. Everything comes down to the level of skills you have and how well you can adapt and develop new ones. 

byu/FunSelf5 from discussion


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