general advice on jobs
I'm just looking for some general advice. If the things that I mention strike you as at one time being the case for yourself, or if you are just knowledgable about such things, I would appreciate any comments.
Looking 9 months ahead, does it seem reasonable to expect to find a full-time development or maintenance job (making say 30-35k a year; enough to support myself independantly and make loan payments) having only a BA/BS in Computer Science, personal projects, and minimal and somewhat informal "contract" work to show for yourself?
If not, is an intership generally seen as a necessary prerequisite to being hired? Do potential employers value personal projects, or perhaps personally developed libraries/applications that are in use by others, those others having found them via the internet?
Is it reasonable to expect to be able to find a job of this sort without considerable experience with particular technologies (such as certain database technologies, or certain server-side technologies)? For example, is profeciency in C/C++, Java languages or perhaps in design desirable on its own? Will I see any benefit from investing as much of my free-time as is possible into becoming profecient with WinAPI programming or perhaps non-server-side Java application development?
For those who have recently graduated with 4-year degrees, what has been your experience with regard to these things? Can I reasonably expect to find a development or maintenance job sufficient to support myself, or in your experience is working the register at the local gas station an all too real possibility?
I am in the upper Mid-West if there are regional particularities to these considerations.
Thank you folks.
My opinion is that the economy will affect employment and is the greatest common factor.
As far as languages go, from what I see, most low tech companies want to use fast and easy solutions such as .net and Java.
I found my time out of work to be quite unbearable when the economy started to slow over the last couple years. finding jobs isn't as easy as it used to be. Our kind saturated the market for a few years but it's not hopeless. I chose to work in odd places for very low wage until the resume struck just to keep some sort of income flowing. You will catch on somewhere if you are persistent. Maybe faster than you can imagine. But there's no shame in working behind a register to support yourself for a time. Sometimes I have more respect for those people than I do my co-workers.
I graduated with a BS last December. I just found a job this last week. Since then I've gotten many calls back from other companies that I was applying to. I would say the market is getting better and should be OK 9 months from now.
As far as experience goes, I have very little 'real life' programming experience but my position is as a developer/system support. I was talking to the tech supoort guy and we agreed the most important thing to do in today's technology is have a broad knowledge of the field. C/C++ and Java are big but you should also know some database (SQL Server or Oracle would be good), some simple networking (maybe setup a server or something) and some web programming (make your own website). Learning other software tools is a good idea too. Maybe even some software testing if you're going to be a developer.
I guess it really depends on what you want to do, but it doesn't hurt to know a little bit about a lot of things.
/* edit: added section below */
Oh, what I'm doing right now is creating web reports with Crystal Reports (from queries to a SQL Server DB) and modifying ASP pages. They're going to have me doing mostly Java programming (as soon as I learn the system), a little bit of C++, and maybe train me to be a tester, since the software is installed on my workstation. I work in a small group of developers (4 including myself) so everyone sort of has to be able to do everything. I'm sure it's much different at a large development firm.