Can I have your thoughts on this? [career advice sought]

Ok, so here’s my situation. I live in San Jose. There’s an adult education center called “Campbell Adult and Community Education”, also known as CACE, which is in San Jose. And there’s another adult education center called “Mountain View - Los Altos Adult Education”, also known as MVLAAE, which is in Mountain View. Both of them offer career certification programs in Microsoft Office. The MS Office program at both CACE and MVLAAE has already started, but the enrollment is ongoing for the program at both centers. I talked to both centers. If I enroll with CACE right now, I’ll be paying $60. And I’ll be paying another $60 next month, because the Spring quarter begins March 24. This current quarter ends March 21 (and started on January 6). My parents tell me I’d be wasting $60 if I enroll now, since this quarter will end in March. So I could wait until March 24 to enroll. That’s about 38 days. Isn’t that a long time to wait? The MS Office program at CACE is about a year.

If I enroll with MVLAAE right now, I’ll be paying $69, but I won’t be wasting it, because it’s a career technical education program, and the program runs on a semester system (it’s called a semester if a class is 5 months, right?). This program semester began January 14 and will end May 22. I’ve taken a few lessons in Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. So MVLAAE told me that if I’ve had experience using those applications, I’ll probably be finished in a couple of months. It’s far, but I’ve gone to farther schools.

I graduated from high school in 2005, and I’ve been spending years struggling with some general ed courses (like geometry, for example. I’m not a big math person) that are required for an associates degree. It was only last month that I realized, maybe college isn’t for me. Maybe I should try career technical education. It’s practical and it takes a shorter time to finish. Since it’s been almost 9 years since I graduated high school, I want to finish faster.

So considering the facts I stated above, I’m thinking of choosing MVLAAE over CACE. Does this seem like a reasonable decision?

Very reasonable and good luck with the course!

It seems odd to me that you’ve floundered for 9 yrs in getting an Associates, and now you’re worried about a month…
Do you realize a MSO cert. is not a career? There are MANY, MANY MS certs. Office is just your first one. You can’t run office w/o windows. Windows is pretty useless unless they are networked. Networks must be designed, implemented and administrated… I could go on… and on…

Frankly, very few people I know have that sort of certification but are able to use Microsoft Office just fine. (And if you graduated in 2005, it sounds like you’re 27 years old. Aren’t you already familiar with Microsoft Office? Don’t kids just pick this stuff up by osmosis nowadays?)

How about one of those intensive coding academies, like this one that will teach you Ruby on Rails in nine intensive weeks? I saw a story on them someplace and they claimed to have a very good placement rate. I think they’re in San Francisco.

I added a bit to the title to make it more description. Best wishes, Mr. Stoner.

California regulators have different ideas about some of these coding bootcamps. Their tuition is absurdly high for what they offer and their advertised placement rates are unrealistic.

Still, would learning to code be more useful and marketable than learning Microsoft Office?

Definitely. But there are better ways to do that than shelling out $15,000 for a bootcamp, IMHO.

ETA: For example, community colleges offer good programming/CS courses which could eventually be used towards a computer science degree.

I think there needs to be more in the way of “vocational” computer programming training (i.e. a programming certificate rather than a computer science degree.) But it doesn’t really exist yet. There are no reputable accreditation bodies or certification programs beyond vendor-specific ones.

There’s a lot of overlap in programming skills and math skills. While it’s not direct and obvious (unless you’re doing heavily mathematical programming), both require a similar underlying facility for symbolic manipulations and logical thinking. People with weak math skills are likely to have to have a hard time learning programming.

Well, after 9 years, I feel I should be doing something rather than waiting for a month for a class to begin.

Do you have Microsoft Office installed on your home computer? If so, I recommend that you wait the month for the class to begin, but in the meantime make a serious attempt at learning as much as you can about Microsoft Office. All sorts of training materials are available for free online and you could also buy (or borrow from the library) a book in tutorial format. I think you should still do the course, partly to show your parents that you are trying, but you can learn a lot on your own.

And as I said, Microsoft Office is basic computer knowledge. You really ought to learn more than just that.

What kind of a job are you looking for that requires this? Speaking as a guy in in his 40s, I assume that everyone knows Word.

Now, if you can pull some sweet artistic work out of Powerpoint, then there are creative jobs in Marketing that might apply to you.

If you can nail some photoshop, Marketing can use you as well.

Learn how to use (and there are dummies books, and online training for that) - and you can find a job in Sales Operations once you can generate reports, manage a company’s account, etc…

Excel itself is a good tool, and knowing how to build financial models in Excel can get you into Finance roles.

Have you thought about a manufacturing trade school?

All I know are all the radio reports about how manufacturers are desperate to hire skilled workers who can handle the technology that is part and parcel of modern manufacturing, in particular people who are certified in computer numerical control (CNC certified).

One article.

And near you.

Really the job market is chockful of people who know how to work Office and Photoshop and who can generate reports (if not understand how to really analyze the data).