Flying a kite about working with python

djbarraclough d.j.barraclough at
Sun Feb 20 21:38:25 CET 2000

Hopefully this is not too off topic- see last section for directly python
related questions.

Summary :- consider this an electronic informational interview concerning
moving into software development, hopefully using python :-)

Some background:-
I am considering my future career plans. I am currently a scientist working
in academia (in the USA but I'm british without a green card so I quite
probable I will have to return to the UK) and feel that I need a fallback
position if/when I finally decide that I can't go on post-docing for ever.
This lapse into sanity has been brought about by the recent arrival of our
first child.

One possibility I am considering is to switch into software development as
1. I currently spend roughly 50% of my time writing code so I can acquire
and process data for my experiments 2. I rather enjoy having to write said
code 3. I hear tell that the pay is not bad.

I have not received any formal training/ education in programming/computer
science. I have, however, had to learn a number of different proprietary
programming languages as well as C, so I could/can do real time data
acquisition and graphics, but thankfully I now can use python for everything
else.  I have also tinkered with smalltalk. Currently I find myself easily
distracted away from my real work by texts on algorithms, making little
languages and generally finding out how python ticks. As David Ascher
recently put it when explaining why he was leaving his science day job,
"python pulls".

My questions after that rather long preamble are
1 What do people think are the possibilities of making such a switch and how
would they go about it?

2 What strategies would people suggest to make myself more marketable? Note
doing a degree in computer science, while attractive, is out as "she who
must be obeyed" has threatened that if I consider another degree she will
divorce me or worse. I am wondering how constructive it would be to gain
some certification i.e. MSC* or similar - if nothing else as a way of
providing something more concrete on the CV than have "x years of experience
using y to do z".

Finally something directly python related!
3 I like using python and would like to capitalize on the time I have
invested in learning it, - so how realistic is it to consider getting a job
using python or python/c(++)?

4 Am I wrong to think that the demand for python programmers is growing and
will continue to grow in the near future? There seems to be a steady
increase in interest in the use of python by business and I note that the
number of jobs listed on the site seems to be growing.

Thank you in advance for your replies

Dominic Barraclough
Department of Neurobiology and anatomy
University of Rochester
NY 14642

d.j.barraclough at
djbarraclough at

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