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Ask HN: Which online CS course to take if I want a job tomorrow?
10 points by coralreef on Dec 29, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 7 comments
Background: I taught myself iOS app development and have been doing so for about 3 years. I have enough income/savings to survive for a while, so there's no rush, but I've been considering finding a job, perhaps at a startup or an app dev shop. My apps are mostly kids games/entertainment, nothing super complicated.

I took a couple courses, CS1 and Intro to C/Unix, at a local university, got 4.0 GPA each (bell curved up).

I can program, but I lack most of the formal CS education that normal engineers have. If I wanted to apply for a job after 1 month, what online CS course would be most beneficial for me (things I would actually need/use day to day or in an interview to show competency)?

Algorithms? Databases? Data Structures? Entry level courses of course. Any input appreciated. Thanks

If you're doing iOS development and have previously only done non-business apps, competency could be demonstrated by being able to architect a non-trivial app. The lines of code don't matter as much as how you manage the code (low coupling, strong cohesion).

Unfortunately, the non-business apps may hold you back from a portfolio standpoint, especially since you said there was nothing complicated in their inner workings.

It might be worth your while to work on a more serious/business-oriented app (that scratches an itch of yours - not something that you have no interest in). Something along the lines of something that reads from an API and displays it/allows the user to do something with the data. Throwing in some nice visual eye candy with UIDynamics or the older CoreAnimation is a nice touch, as well.

In general, during the course of the interview, since you have a non-traditional background, you want to demonstrate that you took on technical challenge(s) and solved them. Since your apps to date appear to be not too complicated, please consider building something complicated in the month you have allotted yourself - just for the experience of it. The bar keeps getting higher with each successive iOS SDK release - at this point, you should be comfortable with storyboards, blocks, not blocking the main thread, handling async stuff, networking, and the many open-source libraries out there that make things better for iOS developers.

For bonus points, build the app all in Swift (and then you can tell the interviewers about it - most developers have not seriously delved into Swift for lack of time/bandwidth).

Also, start reading the articles curated by http://iosdevweekly.com if you have not already

Good luck!

If you're familiar with online courses, then you probably know Coursera, but there are two decent algorithm courses that cover a lot of good stuff about data structures and algorithms starting again in the new year. You can check them out on these pages:

https://www.coursera.org/course/algs4partI https://www.coursera.org/course/algo

Just go get a job. Half the normal engineers have forgotten any of their formal CS the other half don't have a CS degree. If you taught de yourself Objective C and have published some apps you should be able to get yourself into an entry level dev job at a mobile shop. Then learn from there. If you are in a location where there are jobs like this available. If not and you just want a dev job start applying and networking to find one.

In my research, I found that the dev shops I'd apply to do ask technical questions in the interview (oop design, APIs, data structures, etc.).

It would probably increase my chances a lot more if I could answer some of those questions. It would probably also give me more bargaining power for salary. I think its a worthwhile investment to make, even if the skills are in vain.

http://www.learnhowtoprogram.com/ is the entire curriculum of the [Epicodus](http://www.epicodus.com) Boot Camp. It seems to go directly towards understanding these concepts. I used it when first doing exactly what you are in a similar situation. Now I work remote for a wonderful startup and couldn't be happier. Email is my my profile if you would like to ask anything specific. Cheers and happy hacking!

Thanks, I'm doing iOS development however!

Algorithms and discrete mathematics.

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