Valley Voices

Jim Makofske: We teach IT, you can learn IT

Taking computer classes at Fresno City College can give a technology career a boost without committing to a four-year degree program.
Taking computer classes at Fresno City College can give a technology career a boost without committing to a four-year degree program.

Like playing with computers? How does a job that pays six figures a year to start, plus fantastic benefits and working conditions, sound to you? All this can be yours – and a four-year college degree is not necessary!

Recent magazines and YouTube videos have maintained that schools today are not teaching courses leading to high-demand, technically oriented jobs in computer coding and programming. We offer such instruction at Fresno City College to qualify you for these careers.

The market for computer programmers, or coders as they are also called, is big and growing. Industry figures reveal that more than one and a half million jobs in computer coding are unfilled today due to lack of qualified candidates. How do you become a qualified candidate? There are several paths you can follow.

Many people get a programming book, combined with a personal computer, and follow the written steps to gain experience and proficiency. This “self-taught” approach is more common than you might think.

This was my original path. The more I typed in and ran the code, the more I learned; complete applications in a menu-driven setting resulted. I completed a yearlong programming project, on a part-time basis as a Navy reservist, for the Navy Postgraduate School in Monterey.

A second and more efficient option is to take a class at Fresno City College. This is a great choice, since we teach all the mainstream programs, and some not so mainstream. We offer classes mostly in the classroom setting, but some are available in a hybrid or online format.

Students can learn to program in modern, English-like languages such as Visual Basic or Python, or more challenging coding languages such as Java, Java script or C++. How about learning programming applications for Apple or Android products? We have those as well.

You will learn to use one of the modern, Windows-based line editors, such as Sublime Text or Pycharm. These make writing the code much easier to assemble, correct, update and keep in one place. If you want to start out with something that is not extremely code intensive, you might try Visual Basic or one of the courses in creating websites.

As you progress, you might want to go into more rigorous language structures. Consider earning an associate degree in information systems. Doing so enables you to transfer to Fresno State for the bachelor’s degree in information systems, which will open many doors to future employment and enhanced job security.

I have written a new semester-long course in learning the Python programming language. This is a high-level language, meaning very English-like, that is being used in more and more applications. The name of the language is titled after “Monty Python and the Flying Circus,” not the reptile. To be an effective programmer and instructor, it pays to have a healthy sense of humor.

Want to be a help desk support-staff technician, either online or working for an organization? We can help you with a certificate in that area (system support specialist). Should you wish to install and maintain networks, and leave the coding to others, we have a certificate of achievement in networking.

We have a new curriculum in computer security, which is an up-and-coming field of high demand. These courses also prepare the student for professional exams in these technical subjects.

Keep in mind that any type of professional exam you complete will certainly boost your job prospects and future career. These certificates of successful completion will provide proof to a prospective employer of your achievements. There are several accredited, independent organizations, such as CompTia, giving exams in various subject areas; ask in class about these.

We have something in the IT field that interests you and will provide a pathway to a better future; call us for a counseling appointment with Katherine Medina-Gross at 442-4600, ext. 8787. We are here to serve the community. See you in class!

Jim Makofske is an instructor at Fresno City College in accounting and information technology. He is in his 27th year of service and has developed, written and instructed several new classes in both disciplines. He is completing requirements for his doctorate in business administration and is a retired U. S. Navy Reserve captain. He can be reached at