Congrats on getting selected to the Postgrad Program.
IT Mgmt is a hot track, definitely a good career move for the
future. Apparently the selection board still thinks you're a
Lieutenant, at least according to the message below.
Paige E. Craig Senior
Systems Analyst Office
I was initially confused about who the hell sent me this
email. Then I remembered. Where are you working these days?
How is it going as a "Mr?"
Thanks for the email. I was waiting for the message and
my wife and I are excited about going to Monterey. I still can't
believe that the Marine Corps is paying me to go get a masters
The reason they have me on the list as a Lieutenant is because
that what I was when I applied. I am currently frocked. Hey,
as long as my name is on the list, I don't care if they call
Again, thanks for the email and let me know what is going
-- Capt Grose
I am a consultant, working in the DC & Northern Virginia
areas. My current project is in support of the Marine
Corps Warfighting Laboratory in Quantico; I just can't seem
to escape! But really, this is great work. I am
developing a Management Information System that will integrate
all warfighting lab experimentation, funding, etc. It's
very cutting edge stuff - I am using SQL Server, MS Transaction
Server, Interdev, ASP, and producing several web based applications
in a 3-tier model for the lab.
Enjoy Monterey, Iíve been there many times. They probably
have the coolest aquarium on the West Coast, and the beaches
are beautiful. Make sure you guys take a scenic road trip
up the Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1), it's a great time.
How did you catch wind of the SEP selection?
Also, I have been getting advice and now I am asking you.
I applied and was excepted to the Information Technology Management
degree but I have also been told that I should switch over to
Computer Science. What do you think? I know that Computer Science
is a tougher degree but in terms of Marine Corps jobs and future
civilian employment, which is the more valuable in your opinion?
I do not know how the NPS approaches these tracks. But,
I just looked at their web page, and the CS track is definitely
programming intensive. In the academic world there is
a big difference:
1) Information Technology Management, also called Management
Information Systems, and & Information Systems Management
is a broader understanding of ALL information technology to
include: Internet, Databases, Computer Hardware, Applications,
Programming, Networks, Architecture, Etc. This is one
of the degrees that I completed, an Information Systems Degree
from Maryland University. When you're done, you will understand
how ALL technologies fit together. That's very broad,
and what you end up with is a very strategic view of technology.
2) Computer Science is much more specific. Generally
a CS engineer will become an expert in certain areas such as
object-oriented programming, visual modeling and graphics, networking,
etc. This is a much more technical field where you generally
become an expert in a certain area. When you're done, you will
understand and be able to manage the development of specific
software, but you will not have the broad understanding associated
with an IT degree.
However, I have to warn you that the decision must be based
on what you want to do, your current strengths, and your current
interests. I picked an IT degree because it is rather easy for
me to pick up programming languages; I've been programming since
I was about eight years old. And, if you don't have any
computer programming skills, it is fairly easy to go out and
get MCSE certifications or other training. With the IT
degree I was able to understand how several strategic issues
that escape the CS engineer: organizational issues, such
as Human Resources, Manufacturing, Management can be improved
through technology; how technology effects a society or organization
in terms of freedom, security, ethics, quality of life, etc.;
how disparate technologies fit together, technology trends.
You also have to decide what you want to do in the future.
Outside the military both degrees are valuable, provided you
know how to apply them: With a CS Degree you can go out
and develop specific software, you might lead a software development
team, and you will probably spend many hours behind computers
developing software. With an IT degree there are many
different possibilities: While you probably won't be hired
to develop software, you will have the ability to lead much
more complex and diverse projects. You might develop new
technology, or lead a team of web masters, computer programmers,
network gurus, systems analysts, etc.
As far as the comparative utility of these degrees to the
military, I am unsure. Personally, I would not recommend
training military personnel to be programmers. Languages,
software, and development packages change so quickly that it
is usually better to get contractors to do the hard programming
and actual development. It is much better for the military to
invest in officers who have a strategic understanding of information
technologies; these officers will be able to work within organizations
to improve and develop new systems.
I guess another distinction here is the level of interaction
with the organization. A CS engineer understands the computer
and the software, and if he's good he can make some kick-ass
applications; yet, he does not focus on improving the organization.
The IT bubba should look at the organization, understand its
requirements, deficiencies, and challenges, and develop the
proper IT acquisition and development strategy.
That's my opinion, hope it helps.
P.S. As a quick comparison, I could have gotten out
and taken advantage of my computer programming skills and worked
for a company developing software. The salaries ranged
from $55000 to $70,000. However, with my background and
IT degree my compensation is double that. This doesn't have
much application to the military world, but what it implies
is that a Jack-of-all-trades with a Strategic understanding
is more valuable than an expert. And you see this, in some form,
within the military. The SSgt who can rip apart and fix
any problem on an M1 is very important, he is a specialist;
then you have officers, who are not experts, but who have a
broader understanding of the organization and the different
fields, from Armor to Intelligence.
I truly appreciate the detailed email you sent me. I read
it twice through when I got it and then I read it to my wife.
We then discussed my options, strengths, interests, etc.
As a result of the information you provided, I realize that
I should stick with ITM. Please indulge me while I explain my
reasons. BTW, this is probably more for my benefit than yours
because I get to get it out in writing.
My college degree is technical communications with a focus
on web page design and computer issues. When I was searching
for a major, I initially tried to go computer science but succumbed
to the "weeder class" aspect of my first programming class.
It definitely turned me off of programming as a major.
I did not want to go computer engineering because I did
not want to learn to build computers. What I realized is that
I wanted to USE computers and learn how to USE existing programs
to create something. I know that sounds pretty vague and I was
stuck trying to find a field that fit that amorphous parameter.
That's when I found TC. It was almost verbatim what I wanted.
I learned many different programs, used a lot of computers,
and created everything from online help to newsletters. It had
design aspects, translation of technical info to "average guy"
speak, and touched so many different areas.
As an Adjutant, I was surprised to find that this diversity
helped me succeed in the admin field. Like you mention, it is
the difference between being a Jack-Of-All-Trades and a specialist.
Ironically, I have always stated that I never want to be the
end-all expert at anything but would rather know a little about
a lot of different things.
So you can imagine my reaction to your email. If I understand
it, I would be a specialized, single-minded, chained to a computer,
debugger of programs as a CS guy. But you can see from my background,
that is not what I want to do. Also, I am very temperamental
when things do not work out right (one of my weaknesses). Ask
my wife how many times I throw a fit when I cannot get my webpage
to do what I expect it to do. So a lifetime of debugging will
probably leave me wifeless and dead within a decade.
On the other hand, it sounds like IT is more along the lines
of what I had in mind. I would work in a diversity of fields,
be in charge of the pieces of a project rather than actually
working the individual specialties, and work on a wider platform
where I can take into account the big picture associated with
the project. That also fits nicely into my background as a technical
What I find interesting is your comments on the civilian
future of the degrees. From what I gathered, the reputation
of ITM is that it is comparatively easier that computer science
and that it is for those who rock out of CS. But if what you
say is true, your earning potential is double with IT than CS.
This seems to be counterintuitive: Harder degree = less money.
Lastly, if you have stuck with me thus far, I have about
9 months before I start. Is there anything I should read up
on. Some intro books you would suggest? I am talking basic stuff
to get me primed for the course. Any info would help.
Thanks again for all the info. Without it, I could have
made a really bad move.