C programming career advices

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    Question C programming career advices

    Hey people,

    I am about to graduate from an university, but i don't know how much I worth, and how to talk to employers during my interviews. Can some good nature veteran programmers share your knowledge that you wish somebody had told you years ago that could help you tremedously later on.

    I am not smart, but i have a solid understanding about c/c++ and oop. i am most interested in c/c++ low-level to intermediate programming. I just began to learn about MFC & Win32. I don't know ODBC but knows JDBC better. I also have a beginner level opengl understanding (taking a comp. graphics now). During 2nd & 3yr i worked lots of c/c++/java projects.

    Any good resources on the internet that you can recommand?
    Anything i should know about employers before i apply? interviewed?
    Anything i should avoid? be cautious? be aware of?
    What's appropriate to say and not to say during an interview?

    --TING

  2. #2
    Code Goddess Prelude's Avatar
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    >I am about to graduate from an university, but i don't know how much I worth
    That's simple. As a recent graduate, you're worth nothing unless you can boast real experience on a real project such as some of the open source software. The hardest part of looking for a job is trying to convince an employer that you're worth hiring without prior experience.

    >knowledge that you wish somebody had told you years
    >ago that could help you tremedously later on.
    Languages and APIs are fleeting. Make sure that you have solid fundamentals (in programming, design, people skills, and business sense) and you'll always be a strong candidate for any project.
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    Job markets are different across the world. But finding a good place to "start out" will be the challenge. Many small/medium sized companies prefer people with experience. Large companies sometimes take on new-grads just because that means they can get them trained to the "company standard" - mostly because large companies have a greater ability to take on "untrained people" and get them trained, where a small or medium sized company haven't.

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    l'Anziano DavidP's Avatar
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    Does your school have a career center and career fairs? At my university we have career fairs where potential employers come purposefully looking for college students who either want internships or are just about to graduate and are looking for a full-time job.

    Most employers understand that you are a student and that you won't have much real-world experience, but they still want to see as much experience as you have to give them. If you have been lucky enough to have a programming-related job while being a student, talk about the work you did at that job. If you have done any programming-related stuff outside of just your school work, talk about it. You should also talk about the really cool projects you did for school. They will also show your talent and ability.

    I find it interesting that in most interviews that I have been in, the potential employer almost always asks questions that are related to your basic data structures and algorithms knowledge such as sorts, searches, hash tables, trees, linked lists, grammars, and that kind of stuff. If you are solid on your knowledge of those things, you should perform well in a lot of interviews.

    Many companies (especially those that work with C/C++) will ask you questions relating to performance improvement or bitwise operations. In my interviews I have been asked at least twice to do some simple bit masking tasks, convert a 4-byte field from big endian to little endian, and also write a fast routine that can tell if a given point is inside a circle.

    In reality, none of the questions that I have ever been asked in an interview have required knowledge beyond that of a 2nd-year university student. You just need to have that knowledge solidified in your mind.
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    >> As a recent graduate, you're worth nothing unless you can boast real experience on a real project

    I disagree with this. As a recent graduate, you are worth something if you show potential to be able to succeed. For some employers, showing that you can go to university and do well is important. If you can show that you understand what you've learned, even if you learned it in a class several years earlier, then that is important. You can apply for a job that wants you to write Java despite learning C and C++ in school, as long as you show that you learned and retained the knowledge.

    I'm not saying real-world projects are bad. In fact, if you can work on some that is an excellent boost to your resume and your experience. But if you haven't then that doesn't mean you can't get a job.

    >> the potential employer almost always asks questions that are related to your basic data structures and algorithms knowledge such as sorts, searches, hash tables, trees, linked lists, grammars, and that kind of stuff.

    I agree. We always ask about these kinds of things, and we are looking for real understanding and ability to apply that understanding.

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    Train to be an accountant

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    ting: Why not be your own boss? Then its just a matter of finding a client and/or something to do. For my college project I'm making an epos system for the chinese where I worked doing deliveries. Basically its just using old refurbished dells + a printer running on some java software I'm in the process of making, but it will sell for a fraction of the cost of what the rest of the stuff on the market does and can (hopefully) be sold on. Its only recently become apparent to me that there loads of opportunity to make stuff for small businesses and it means you wont get stuck with a 9-5, you just have to ask around.

    esbo: You're in no position to rip into the OP here. Its not like anyone would give you a job as a programmer. Or if they did then they would deserve all the disaster they can get

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    Captain Crash brewbuck's Avatar
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    I am 100% certain I would never have been able to break into the C industry if I had not started out with an internship. All the C jobs around here require over 10 years experience as well as systems programming experience. Nobody is writing brand new stuff in C if they can avoid it. It's either a driver of some kind or some multi-million line legacy system.

    Oddly, C is an extremely common choice in Open Source circles. I don't quite understand why. But as others said, contributing to Open Source is another great way to demonstrate your proficiency.

    This makes C a potentially lucrative language, but it is also extremely hard to get hired. If you can, get an apprenticeship or internship as soon as possible.

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    Thank you!!! These are Gems. Thank you all (Prelude, the Code Goddess; Matsp, the Kernel Hacker; DavidP I'Anziano; Daved, esbo).

    I am shocked !!! I've already tried as hard as I can yet never seem to be enough for the real world. I am an average person who does average in school, but I study hard everyday to stay sharp in programming in c/c++; I am learning MFC & Win32 outside of class (school doesn't teach us about that), and more subtle points in c/c++ compiling & linking errors everyday after school. I like to tackle bugs from all angles and find satisification in doing so in the process. Can these personal attributes work towards my advantages when I am applying a decent c/c++ job?

    I am quite confident that I can answer most c/c++ question right with some interview preparations. I also have solid training in oop and java, backed up by 4 to 5 school-project experiences.

    Please do post feedback(positive or even negative), i'd really appricate it. I really want to pursue a career in c/c++/java and i need to know the challenges ahead. Please feel free to bombard me with the reality; I want to be bombarded, because the reality is what matters.

    I've learned that in realtiy:

    1) Schooling worths little or nothing; project and real work are the 1st thing employers look for
    2) Understanding of STL and data structures are crucial for interviews
    3) This forum is full of gems advices and good people, i'd like to contribute back when i become a veteran programmer (hopefully sometimes soon =.=)

    I still have a few questions:

    1) Do i stand a chance if I want to apply for a c/c++ job that offers $36,000CAD?
    2) $40,000 CAD?
    3) $45,000 CAD?
    4) What websites/resources would you recommend?

    --TING

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    Also Thanks to mike_g and brewbuck comments !!! I just saw your posting.

    --TING

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    Quote Originally Posted by mike_g View Post
    it will sell for a fraction of the cost of what the rest of the stuff on the market does and can (hopefully) be sold on.
    Can you explain? I don't quite understand the previous sentence.

    Quote Originally Posted by mike_g View Post
    Its only recently become apparent to me that there loads of opportunity to make stuff for small businesses and it means you wont get stuck with a 9-5, you just have to ask around.
    Thanks for this tip. I think i get it. what would you recommend for a bunch of new graduates that are thinking of starting a company. something that you hope somebody had told you before you opened your own business?

    i heard some very bad thing about contact binding & its legal consequence. what do you think i should know before i sign a contract, for employments or taking on a project.

    Everyone is welcome to comment as well.

    --TING

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    Quote Originally Posted by mike_g View Post
    ting: Why not be your own boss? Then its just a matter of finding a client and/or something to do. For my college project I'm making an epos system for the chinese where I worked doing deliveries. Basically its just using old refurbished dells + a printer running on some java software I'm in the process of making, but it will sell for a fraction of the cost of what the rest of the stuff on the market does and can (hopefully) be sold on. Its only recently become apparent to me that there loads of opportunity to make stuff for small businesses and it means you wont get stuck with a 9-5, you just have to ask around.

    esbo: You're in no position to rip into the OP here. Its not like anyone would give you a job as a programmer. Or if they did then they would deserve all the disaster they can get
    I was not ripping into the OP just suggesting the programming might not be a great career.

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    When looking at a graduate I am more interested in their work ethic, enthusiasm and thought process (as I understand we will have to 'mould' them).
    I will ask questions to see if they consider 'edge' cases (how the code can fail) and what to do about it. I listen to what questions they ask and if what we do excites them.
    I see if they find my jokes funny....

    Being willing to learn, excited by the work, able to work in the team and having common sense are the factors I use to decide between candidates (who usually have similar education).


    IME...

    Big firms usually have better mentoring programs (experienced coders have more time to help you).

    Small firms are more interesting to work for and value employees more (your knowledge of their systems is an important asset to the company).

    Coders here are in such short supply we are importing them. Last time we hired we did not have one local applicant and hired someone from the UK (who then immigrated to Australia).
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    Quote Originally Posted by novacain View Post
    When looking at a graduate I am more interested in their work ethic, enthusiasm and thought process (as I understand we will have to 'mould' them).
    I will ask questions to see if they consider 'edge' cases (how the code can fail) and what to do about it. I listen to what questions they ask and if what we do excites them.
    I see if they find my jokes funny....

    Being willing to learn, excited by the work, able to work in the team and having common sense are the factors I use to decide between candidates (who usually have similar education).


    IME...

    Big firms usually have better mentoring programs (experienced coders have more time to help you).

    Small firms are more interesting to work for and value employees more (your knowledge of their systems is an important asset to the company).

    Coders here are in such short supply we are importing them. Last time we hired we did not have one local applicant and hired someone from the UK (who then immigrated to Australia).
    See that the sort of attitutude, you are no longer a programmer but a 'coder'.
    You have gone from an artist to a painter an decorator.
    It's no wonder no one in Austraila will work for you anymore.

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    I will say is this... It is a very good time to be graduating as a software engineer. At least here in California, we are having a very tough time filling positions.

    As for experience - internships are good, but not required. If you have worked on a interesting project in the past, that will help you quite a bit. When I interview people, that are 2 main things that I look at:
    1) can they code? (easy to determine via questions and tests).
    2) what's their personality like? (can be a bit tougher to figure out. People tend to be nervous during interviews so it can be tough to gauge their personality).
    The rest can be taught relatively easily.

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