Novice Programmer Humbly Requests Job Seeking Advice

This is a discussion on Novice Programmer Humbly Requests Job Seeking Advice within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; I wanted to get a couple opinions on how to get hired as a software engineer given my low level ...

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    Novice Programmer Humbly Requests Job Seeking Advice

    I wanted to get a couple opinions on how to get hired as a software engineer given my low level of expertise. Would you be willing to give me advice?

    About me: BA in Business Administration from a large school in the Pacific Northwest. I recently enrolled in a C/C++ certificate program through ucsd extention: C/C++ Programming Certificate - UC San Diego Extension. I have completed the first two courses and feel I am quickly becoming a proficient coder, although not an expert. What I have learned is that I love writing code and would like to do it for a living. Woo hoo!

    I am finding that the majority of job postings ask for nearly 8 years experience in the field. In addition there are often multiple languages that they would like you to be proficient in. Is there any hope of me finding a job in software development in the near future? If so how and where should I look? If not, what should be my next steps?

    Thank you for any advice. I truly appreciate it.

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    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    Moved to GD. As it's title implies the Job and Recruitment board is used exclusively for job postings and/or project recruitment.

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    You need to look for people hiring recent graduates. Career fairs are usually a good place to be. How much access do you have to the UCSD career counseling staff? I'd go there first, since they are in the business of helping graduates find jobs. It might be difficult if you aren't actually in San Diego, but you might also be able to take advantage of resources at a local university.

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    The superhaterodyne twomers's Avatar
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    Try getting into some open source projects, perhaps, or making your own.
    This has two (potential) good effects. People seem to like open source coders, and if a potential employer wants to know how your coding be they can look at the hosting site. Of course, the latter point is only beneficial if your coding knowledge/style is good...

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    I am finding that the majority of job postings ask for nearly 8 years experience in the field. In addition there are often multiple languages that they would like you to be proficient in.
    That shouldn't necessarily deter you. A lot of times a job description describes their dream employee, and they actually have very little expectation of hiring a person that meets all those requirements. A good employer should understand that it's not so much about your experience in specific languages, but your ability to solve problems in any given language, and your understanding of computer programming in general.

    So I agree - try getting some student jobs, or maybe do some simple web dev work, and then as you get a stronger resume, try going for some of the more advanced C++ positions. Check out career fairs, etc... But remember that more important than your resume or experience, is whether or not you can show up to an interview and show the company that you know how to program, and that you can be a valuable employee.

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    Disrupting the universe Mad_guy's Avatar
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    Network. Talk to people. It's important to have good communication skills and connections, really. In fact I have actually never gotten a job totally by myself - it is always through other people those opportunities have been opened to me. I am not even out of college yet, but I was able to score a gig.

    I was in a similar position, and about 4 months ago a friend of mine at my university (who was a grad student, which I met through another grad student which I met through a guy I went to parties with,) got me a job at the company he was working at, and I am now officially a full time software developer for them. I have been programming for ~9 years now, but it was through him I was able to get the opportunity to talk to them and impress them (I guess!) and actually get an offer.

    Tip: write open source software. My resume was nothing but some open source projects I had contributed to or in some cases, tiny ones I had started. That was good enough. It's concrete evidence you know what you're talking about, and who knows, it may earn you brownie points.

    Here's something else that's important: do not limit yourself to a single language. It is important to explore, and you will gain insights in programming that would otherwise potentially be lost to you. Write in a lot of different languages, and study lots of algorithms etc. Find some simple-enough project (sudoku solver, tetris, etc) and implement it in every language you learn. It is important to be broad in your abilities I think.

    One final thing: a lot of development out there is not there because it is the money-maker, only because that IT is a "necessary evil" for a company and can be treated as such, and so the code quality can be abysmal etc. I work for a company that actually sells a software product - the code I write is code we ship to customers. We (the developers) are therefore given more responsibility and say in the way things happen than in the other case. Keep this in mind when you look for jobs, because it cultivates a different atmosphere within a company and this can be important in shaping your outlook on working on such things.
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    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
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    A good employer should understand that it's not so much about your experience in specific languages, ...
    Unless they want someone that can hit the ground running in a specific language. In order to do that requires some knowledge about the language.

    However they usually will make concessions if the candidate demonstrates a good overall knowledge since they understand that knowledge could bring the candidate up to speed on a specific one in little time.

    I used to let those HR postings scare me and deter me but after some very good advice from the members here I went ahead and applied to them anyways. After a bit of time I was finally offered the chance to interview and eventually landed the job. After having been through all that and involved in the hiring process I would never advise someone not turn in a resume just b/c they did not meet every qualification in the posting. They won't bring you in if they feel your qualifications don't meet what the position requires. The worst they can do is not call you which happens every single day. One thing for sure is if you never apply there is a 100% chance they won't call you.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 10-19-2009 at 04:28 PM.

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    Epy
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    I think the real question here is how one goes from business to programming.

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