I agree with ciderpunx dude,
You have to get your hands dirty. You have to understand what is going on.
Bugs WILL come, and some of them are pretty nasty... if you don't understand what you coded, how can you solve the bugs?
And then, your friends are damn right. Everything you learn increases your labor market value; and that is what will most matter to you.
By the way: .NET and the Microsoft IDE are dead easy anyway.
I started programming with punch-cards (don't know what I'm talking about?... check them out: http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/univac/cards.html
) and then a 48 KB RAM Apple II. There was nothing not even close to the debuging tools available today.
Good luck in your career.... Joel