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I started a 4 year CS degree at a state university about 3 years ago and completed 2 semesters. My wife and I ended up having a baby and I needed a better job that had benefits, not just a get me through school part-time job.

I was lucky enough to get a full time software development position and have been working here for almost 2 years. I left the state university when I got the job because I had to move to a different town. I re-started my degree a year ago at an online university and it has been great.

I have started to look for other jobs recently and have had almost no luck. I am struggling to even get interviewed. I have on my resume that I am currently working towards a bachelors degree. I am wondering if this is possibly being seen as a negative. Or if it is just that I don't yet have a degree that is the problem.

EDIT: I guess it all comes down to since I don't yet have a degree, is it better to show that I am working towards a degree or not?

EDIT 2: I feel this question is not a duplicate of how to show an in progress course on my resume. I am already doing that. The question is whether I should show that I have an in progress degree on my resume.

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    @JoeStrazzere No it doesn't, sounds like it is something I should add
    – Mr. Spock
    May 19 at 16:18
  • Why mention it at all?
    – Kilisi
    May 19 at 16:21
  • @Kilisi I thought it was better than not having a degree listed, that assumption (and whether or not it is correct) is really at the core of my question
    – Mr. Spock
    May 19 at 16:24
  • "I thought it was better than not having a degree listed" I'd say you're wrong. Heaps of devs do not have degrees. The big problem is that you are mentioning you are currently working on a degree. That is a huge negative.
    – Fattie
    May 19 at 16:59
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    "I have on my resume that I am currently working towards a bachelors degree." - Does your resume indicate the state university or the online university? Indicating you are working towards a degree is never a negative. It's an indication you are dedicated to improving your craft.
    – Donald
    May 19 at 18:35
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I agree with Kilisi's answer that it largely comes down to the individual employer whether they would care or not, and some people may view it as a negative (e.g. drag on your time).

As a counterpoint though,

  • particular in software development, "continuing professional development" is really important. Ideally, you're in a place that's supporting you learning on the job (and not expecting you to do it all in your free time). But taking on a degree in your free time is showing dedication to your career goals & that you're someone willing to put in the time & energy required to upskill and learn new things etc.

  • You will get some employers who think that someone without a degree "doesn't have enough grounding in CS to be a good developer". Showing these people that you're currently going through a degree can go some way to tick that box.

As Joe mentioned in comments, I'd definitely make it clear that this is a part-time course at night/weekends and that you're available for full-time work.

I also wouldn't phrase it as something you've been working towards for 4 years (to avoid the need for explaining that city change, etc.)— I'd be more likely to just list it as:

BSc in Computer Science (part-time evening degree, in progress) — expected graduation 2023

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    I can't agree with you on this one, A-Dave. While "continuing development" is good ("I lead seminars", "I went to the game show" etc), I'm afraid in my opinion "doing a degree part time" is a kiss of death and not in that category.
    – Fattie
    May 19 at 17:01
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I guess it all comes down to since I don't yet have a degree, is it better to show that I am working towards a degree or not?

It depends if it's something the employer is interested in which is an unknown.

It is a risk for several reasons.

It says you have other commitments outside work, which can be a worry especially since you also have a new baby. Great personal things to be doing, but they're not building my product. They're just indicators that you may be under a lot of external pressure.

I may not care you don't have a degree, if I did, studying for one online isn't a degree so would not make a difference.

My first thought would be 'So what? You going to need time off or expect a payrise?'

I can't really see an upside to mentioning it.

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  • "studying for one online isn't a degree" — really depends on the quality of the institution, in my opinion. Not every short-course you do online is a degree of course, but if a university is willing to put their name to a degree that was completed online I'd presume that they're saying it's of the same calibre as those awarded from in-person learning. Some institutions don't differentiate (e.g. your parchment would just say "BSc in X" without any 'distance' or 'online' mentioned) May 19 at 16:48
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    @anotherdave thats beside the point, the OP doesn't have an online degree. Once you get the degree it's a degree, until then it's just some stuff you're doing online.
    – Kilisi
    May 19 at 16:55
  • Oh I get what you mean now. Yeah that's true from that POV. I wouldn't consider it a qualification while in progress alright, but given then amount of filler like "Hobbies: cooking, walking" that I've seen, I'd still say it's worth putting down :) May 19 at 17:03
  • @anotherdave those examples are generic, not potentially harmful. It's risky to put anything potentially harmful in just for filler.
    – Kilisi
    May 19 at 17:07
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It sounds like you have already had your "first job" in software - which is great.

I simply wouldn't mention that you did part of a degree.

(The fact that you are currently trying to do more of the degree part time ...... don't mention at all. That is a huge no-no.)

One point, it's somewhat common for people to mention a degree and just add "incomplete". Folks, particularly with higher degrees, often do this. So like

Doctorate Fine Arts (incomplete) U Mich 2018

type of thing.

I couldn't advise, you but you MIGHT want to do that. It's just one line in your resume. Steve Jobs and Bill Gates did this since they dropped out.

Some people say it looks good. If I personally saw it on your resume it would be a positive. ("Great, studied comp sci for a few years.")

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  • hi JS. as always, it seems every part of the "software world" is pretty different. as others said above "It says you have other commitments outside work, which can be a worry especially since you also have a new baby. Great personal things to be doing, but they're not building my product. They're just indicators that you may be under a lot of external pressure." I would really just be more blunt and say, who's going to hire a junior or 2nd-jobber who is focussing on some course? there are so many who want the job who will be all-in.
    – Fattie
    May 19 at 19:30
  • That's true, but you know it's often mentioned on here how hard it is these days to get that "first SW job". (I guess this is a "first-ish job".)
    – Fattie
    May 19 at 21:16
  • quite right but as it says "I have started to look for other jobs recently and have had almost no luck. I am struggling to even get interviewed"
    – Fattie
    May 19 at 21:40
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    @Fattie, I agree with Joe. Improving the quality of your education is never something to be ashamed of and almost always a positive. Btw, many of your answers are very cynical and bordering on the extreme, just fyi
    – Anthony
    May 19 at 22:06

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