Like Tree2Likes

landing a job.

This is a discussion on landing a job. within the General Discussions forums, part of the Community Boards category; Hi, I have a pipe dream. I have no degree. No certifications and want to get a computer programming job ...

  1. #1
    Bored Programmer
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Tomball, TX
    Posts
    407

    landing a job.

    Hi,

    I have a pipe dream. I have no degree. No certifications and want to get a computer programming job that exceeds my current salary (50k). Any suggestions on cost efficient certifications/interview tactics ect?

    Thanks for any and all advice given.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    3,183
    Don't bother with certifications/interview tactics. That's just wasting time and money. Yes, some companies make hiring decisions based on "certificates". You don't want to work for those companies anyways.

    Companies want to hire good programmers. If you become good programmers, companies will want you.

    Not having a degree is not a big deal, as long as you have the skills. If you have practical skills comparable to those with degrees, I don't think you'll have any trouble getting jobs.

    Just do a few major projects, and use them to impress potential employers.

  3. #3
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Posts
    6,657
    Out of curiosity, cyberfish, what would you describe as a "major project" that someone could do, in order to convince an employer s/he has skills?
    Right 98% of the time, and don't care about the other 3%.

    If I seem grumpy or unhelpful in reply to you, or tell you you need to demonstrate more effort before you can expect help, it is likely you deserve it. Suck it up, Sunshine, and read this, this, and this before posting again.

  4. #4
    Bored Programmer
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Tomball, TX
    Posts
    407
    Good programmer is declared but not defined in this scope... All kidding aside I really have no idea what would qualify me as good or at least good enough. I have a couple finished games and am currently working on an Xboxlive game that will be released early next year. Would a portfolio consisting only of games be a bad way to go?

    I ran into some problems a few years back when I tried to get the local college to let me get into advanced programming classes based off a portfolio of projects I had completed. The prof told me to put it together and then the dean said she had no way of verifying that I authored the code. I told her I could explain all the data types classes and processes in then and she said thats not good enough so I got annoyed and gave up with the college as they wanted me to take a full year of pre reqs and spend nearly 2k before I could enroll in intro courses.

    I kind of gave up at that point, but recently I got some new hope. I was hoping with sheer amount of talent on this site someone who was in charge of hiring programmers would be on this forum and have some insight on what concepts I should know ahead of time. Or at least tips on what they look for when hiring a new programmer. Of course I have heard of internships as well. Are these useful and practical? Being a restaurant manager I already work 50+ hrs a week so I have been skeptical of this approach, but if it truly helped I would be willing to sacrifice another 30hrs a week.

    Thanks for taking the time out to read this and providing what useful information you have. This site has always been a valuable resource and I appreciate you all for that.

  5. #5
    IYS
    IYS is offline
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2012
    Posts
    2
    It's actually very possible to build a highly successful career in software development without a degree or any certification. I've built my career this way and have managed many high impact software projects for many different companies and agencies. In my experience the three most important factors for succeeding in this field are finding out the skills that currently in demand in the industry, obtaining those skills and communicating in your resume that you have those skills.

    You find out which skills are in demand by searching job postings on websites like monster or careerbuilder. Search for jobs requiring your favorite languages but don't be afraid to learn other languages. In most cases, if you can code in one language, then half the battle of learning another language is already over. Learn the job titles associated with these positions. Learn the difference in titles across salary ranges. Don't let the list of requirements on these jobs intimidate you. Research any terms you don't understand. Learn them as best you can by finding whatever information you can on the internet.

    Learn at least the basics of querying and storing data into databases such SQL. Learn how to gather information on a web page, store it in your database, and list that information on another web page. Once you can do those things, you have foundation required to begin learning the things that will be listed in most job postings.

    As far as internships go, an internship can be an excellent way of gaining real world experience that you can put on your resume. Without a degree or any certifications, most jobs will require additional years of professional experience to compensate for the lack of a degree. Breaking $50K in your first year of professional experience is possible but not very likely. After a year of interning I think it should be much easier to accomplish.

    Again, I'm writing all of this based on my own personal experience. This is not the only way to make it and is just how I've come up in my career. I started as a developer, reached the ceiling, and have now transitioned into management without any degrees or certifications.

    I'll say one last thing on this, I am in no way saying that people should not pursue a degree/certification or that what I did was easy. Do things my way required a lot of research, hard work and long hours at work. I can't say that the lack of a degree has ever slowed me down but I can say I've had to travel some rough terrain due to not having certifications. If nothing else, I would definitely recommend paying attention to the certification requirements that you find on any job postings that you look up. You can often get around them but you're just creating more work for yourself.

  6. #6
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    4,913
    Would a portfolio consisting only of games be a bad way to go?
    Nope - as long as you're smart about it. The skills you pick up making games can be very useful in lots of areas other than games. I know several programmers who skipped college, had experience primarily in games and landed good jobs. One of them worked in games, the other two ended up using their knowledge of graphics to build graphing / data visualization software at different companies.

    Since you currently have a job that (I assume) meets your basic financial needs, my advice to you is not to give up. I would guess that you will find what you're looking for in less time than it would take you go through college. Also be careful however, to never be arrogant and make sure you work on your professional and people skills. In hindsight, I found that college was a colossal waste of time for me in terms of technical skills, but it's value for me was in the things I didn't know I didn't know. I learnt a lot about how to be creative, how to jump through hoops (you might avoid having professors make you do it, but you probably won't avoid having managers make you do it), how to communicate with my team better, where to find good literature in my field, etc. Being active in online communities, open-sourcing little projects on Github, attending local tech / user groups, etc... are all very valuable in my opinion.

    edit:

    Or at least tips on what they look for when hiring a new programmer
    Every person and every company is different, so do your homework on what they're looking for, but also be yourself. Personally, when I interview I want to see that in general you're well-informed about the current state of the industry, that you're good at general problem-solving and coding (rarely specific languages), and that you can communicate well (i.e. that you're upfront about what you do and don't know, that you can explain how you're thinking through a problem, etc.).

  7. #7
    Bored Programmer
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Tomball, TX
    Posts
    407
    you're well-informed about the current state of the industry
    How would I find out that kind of info?

  8. #8
    Super Moderator
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Posts
    4,913
    How would I find out that kind of info?
    Follow technical news and have a side-project that's using a new technology or two - and of course cater it to where you're trying to get a job. For instance, let's say I was interviewing you for a job at Microsoft - I'd expect you to be basically familiar with what the new Windows 8 ecosystem looks like for a developer, what new APIs there are, etc. If I was interviewing you for a company that does high performance computing (like a financial analysis company or something like that) I'd probably expect you to know the recent trends in GPGPU programming, or something in that vein.

  9. #9
    Bored Programmer
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Tomball, TX
    Posts
    407
    Thanks for the information. I will do some google searches for technical news ect. Do you have any magazines/website suggestions that you think would assist me? I also started setting up a resume and I am worried that having nothing but Food Sevice and Management as job history will stop them from even finishing to the "special skills" section. I did email around 5 companies about trying to do an internship or allowing me to assist in a project. I guess it just complicates things that I will always have to give the restaraunt #1 of my time to keep my current salary, but I still want to participate in something where I can.

    1. Get around professionals and learn from years of work experience.
    2. Get the experience of participating and colaborating on a group project.
    3. Someday know enough to break out of my field of getting yelled at by people who think their chicken is too spicy.

    Alot of the internship/job postings I saw had a long list of requirements and expecting full time immediately. Any suggestions of where to look to find part time internship options that could be done from home? (Otherwise I am restricted to my geographical locale. Which luckily is at least a big city)
    Last edited by Lesshardtofind; 12-07-2012 at 08:44 PM.

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Canada
    Posts
    3,183
    Part time internship positions are hard to come by unless you are willing to work unpaid. For companies, it's risky to hire interns, too. Sometimes they get very good people, and sometimes they get people like me. But in all cases, the company will have to spend significant money to train you (this applies to full time positions, too), and there's always a chance that they won't get the value back from your work. The chance of them getting the value back is even less if you can only work part time.

    From my experience (I've done 3 internships and applied to about 20), many companies won't even consider 4 month internships, because that's about the amount of time they need to get a new hire (intern or full time) up to speed so they can start contributing significantly. 8 months is about break even for them, and 4 months is almost always a net loss for them, even if you work unpaid, because their cost to you is not just your salary, but also the salary paid to senior employees that have to spend time to train you, instead of doing other useful work.

  11. #11
    Registered User rogster001's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Location
    Liverpool UK
    Posts
    1,438
    1. Get around professionals and learn from years of work experience.
    2. Get the experience of participating and colaborating on a group project.
    3. Someday know enough to break out of my field of getting yelled at by people who think their chicken is too spicy.
    I think number one you are involved in already, collaborating on this board, - think about somewhere else that you could be in town, and essentially sit down with a similar group with a huge range of expertise in software and technical fields?
    For number two, opensource projects? - and read the hackers link on the how to ask questions the smart way page - I think you will like.
    for number three - just darn funny! - and by the way - vindaloo strength spice on mine please :->
    Last edited by rogster001; 12-09-2012 at 09:38 AM.
    Thought for the day:
    "Are you sure your sanity chip is fully screwed in sir?" (Kryten)
    FLTK: "The most fun you can have with your clothes on."

    Stroustrup:
    "If I had thought of it and had some marketing sense every computer and just about any gadget would have had a little 'C++ Inside' sticker on it'"

  12. #12
    a_capitalist_story
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    2,657
    3. Someday know enough to break out of my field of getting yelled at by people who think their chicken is too spicy.
    It seems to me 50K/year for this is actually a pretty damn good salary! Not saying I'd want the job (food service management?) but that's much better than I would have expected! You must be very good at it!

  13. #13
    Bored Programmer
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Tomball, TX
    Posts
    407
    @rog Nice information I definitely like the hacker link. I bookmarked it so I can really sift through it when I get a day off (just logged 40hrs in 3 days). As for getting involved in an open source project I hadn't thought of that. I am not really sure where to begin. I had recently thought of doing my own open source 2d image editor with advanced blending techniques. I spend so much time in paint doing shading that I realized I could do an algorithym pretty easy to accomplish the same affect that would be alot quicker, but the rest of the program I am still not so good at as a good picture editor would have to be able to open all known picture formats and save in them as well.

    I don't want to start it until I finish the Xbox project though. I am notorious for dropping a project if I start something new I'm more interested in.

    It seems to me 50K/year for this is actually a pretty damn good salary! Not saying I'd want the job (food service management?) but that's much better than I would have expected! You must be very good at it!
    Those are kind words sir. I do as well as I can while I am there, but honestly my heart isn't in it. I kind of obsess over programming. I dream about code (I'm sure that sounds weird lol), I listen to harvard and berkley lectures duing non open hours and non peak periods, and I visit this board too often on my phone when no one is looking lol. (don't tell my boss)

    On a side note most dine-in restaraunts 2-star + pay salaries you wouldn't expect. 5- star manager is pretty rediculous, but you never get away from the possibility of working a 60+ hour work week and 15+ hr days. (like today was for me)

  14. #14
    Cat
    Cat is offline
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Posts
    1,571
    Quote Originally Posted by Lesshardtofind View Post
    On a side note most dine-in restaraunts 2-star + pay salaries you wouldn't expect. 5- star manager is pretty rediculous, but you never get away from the possibility of working a 60+ hour work week and 15+ hr days. (like today was for me)
    60-hour weeks are hardly unknown in the IT world, either, though my average week is 50 and a good week is 45. My worst week was 98 hours in a calendar week (which occured within an 11-day period where I logged about 135 hours). That is a rare occurrence, thankfully.

    If you want to get into the industry, my biggest recommendations:
    * Learn a variety of languages of distinct types (e.g. a modern OOP-focused language like C# or Java, a lower level language with manual memory management like C, a functional programming language like Haskell or F#, etc.) Once you cover the basic language types, you can easily pick up other languages because you already know how to 'think' in that type of programming.

    * Don't worry so much about knowing all the details of each language. Worry about knowing good design patterns. Say I was looking for a C# programmer - I'd be much less concerned if you knew every detail about lambda functions than if you could come up with a good project design and implement it well.
    You ever try a pink golf ball, Wally? Why, the wind shear on a pink ball alone can take the head clean off a 90 pound midget at 300 yards.

  15. #15
    Super Moderator VirtualAce's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2001
    Posts
    9,598
    If you want to be a good programmer then program. It really is as simple as that. If you program frequently in your spare time and learn new technologies and APIs and design code then you will be prepared for the real deal. For years I thought my hobbyist experience could not translate over. For some odd reason I had a notion that all professional code was somehow superior to my homegrown code. Now years later I can tell you that simply is not the case. Kudos to those on this forum that helped me along the way and poked and prodded me to simply dive in and attempt to land a position. I finally did (minus a CS degree) and I can tell you I have never looked back. You might get strange treatment from other devs but once you prove you know your stuff they won't blink twice at the fact you lack a proper CS degree.

    A degree is important in any field b/c I think it proves that you know how to learn and think critically. But times are changing and I must admit that most of the required knowledge can be learned through books and the right sites on the internet. It is impossible today to know every single aspect of a language or API because they are constantly changing and you must change with them. If you want to know which books to read then ask friends that are in CS programs. I found out from a great many people that the books I was reading to learn the craft were the very same books they used in college. In fact I could talk shop in relation to books with any college graduate which clued me in that I was reading and learning from the right sources. This forum is also a great asset to you. There are many members here that are talented programmers and knowledgeable about several languages and technologies along with C++.

    My advice is to go to college but if that is not an option you can program your way into a position. One very important factor that many college graduates miss is people skills. You will be working with all manner of people that come from all manner of backgrounds. If you cannot effectively communicate with them and work with them then regardless of what you know your project will be doomed. At some point in your career you will be asked to lead a group of people or possible a feature team. You won't always be a code jockey and as your design skills and programming skills improve you will move into different roles. Quite honestly you advance quickly in software engineering but can also stagnate quickly as well if you do not make a conscious attempt to constantly learn and adapt. You never stop learning in software.

    I echo the sentiments of those that have posted and re-iterate.....concentrate on good design fundamentals and not so much on the syntactical sugar of language A or B. Once you do the rest comes rather easily.

    In an interview I am more concerned with what the candidate knows, where to go if they don't know, who they are as a person and how they will fit into the company than where or how long they went to school or how many certificates they hold.
    Last edited by VirtualAce; 12-14-2012 at 07:40 PM.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Popular pages Recent additions subscribe to a feed

Similar Threads

  1. Chances of landing a job...
    By grtsmkymts in forum A Brief History of Cprogramming.com
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 09-15-2007, 07:26 AM

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21