Thread: Entry Level Programming Jobs

  1. #1
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    Sep 2007

    Entry Level Programming Jobs


    I've been programming C++ in my spare time for the last year or two. I finished a Psychology degree in May, and since then, I've been spending a good 6 or 7 hours a day, 6 days a week coding. I find it really fulfilling and rewarding.

    Leading on from this, I've managed to get accepted onto a Masters course in Computer Science (I showed them some of my programming and that, in combination with my 2:1 in Psychology, was enough). The course is part-time, so I'm looking for work while I do it. I'm wondering: how hard is it to get into entry level programming jobs? Would someone with my level of experience be able to get into something like a trainee position somewhere?

    I don't have any formal programming-related qualifications (yet). That said, I do have an understanding of quite a few features of C++. I've finished the book C++ Without Fear twice, and have a pretty good understanding of most of the stuff in it.

    I've also been learning to program by creating a modification for the game Half-Life. Essentially, it's a chat bot that is able to react to game events. I've made it so that each bot is basically an object of one of a new class, with a number of member functions for different thought processes. I've tried to make it work like a new data type, with everything encapsulated within the class itself. By doing this, it's made it a lot easier to keep track of how the bots interact with the Half-Life program code.

    I've also made use of inheritance. I created an interface class, which has sub-classes; one sub class allows the chat bot to interact with Half-Life. Another sub-class of the interface allows the bot to interact with a console simulation of the game. Other sub-classes could be created as interfaces for other games.

    So what do you think? Might I be able to find myself an entry level programming job somewhere?


  2. #2
    Super Moderator
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    Sep 2001
    Might I be able to find myself an entry level programming job somewhere?
    Most likely. A couple of thoughts, though:

    1) Unless you have a lot of experience and a specific degree, your best bet probably isn't a job that requires in-depth knowledge of C++ just yet. If that's the direction you want to go - you're certainly on the right track, though. For now, I would recommend branching out and learning about other programming languages and paradigms. It's the old adage "Don't learn a programming language - learn how to program". A bit more diversity will show a potential employer that you understand how to solve programming problems, and that you have a good background knowledge. It shows that you will probably understand their situation quickly and be able to adapt to it.

    2) A lot of student towns have a huge number of web-dev jobs available. Maybe learn some web programming and try for one of these jobs. You learn a huge amount from professional experience (even if it's not exactly the kind of programming you want to be doing eventually), and that could probably help springboard into the kind of job you really do want. If your school hires students to maintain their websites, systems, etc... they would be willing to hire someone without much experience, and probably be prepared to help train them.

    That being said, it depends on the employer. Some employers just want to see a degree, and they don't even know how to see if you're really qualified. Other places will meet with you and work through a problem - just to see if they like how you think. So don't get frustrated if you don't succeed at first - just keep adding to your skill set and try applying at lots of places.

  3. #3
    (?<!re)tired Mario F.'s Avatar
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    May 2006
    Your degree in psychology is very interesting and there's a few areas where it can be a decisive advantage. Well done!

    Education and special education software, graphical user interface design, and forensics software are areas of the top of my head where a psychology degree has the potential to provide valuable insight. Of these, perhaps education software -- especially children related -- may constitute a good entry-level option.

    Keeping an eye out and inviting yourself over if you know of any related projects is one way to make yourself noticed. It's just difficult otherwise since you don't expect these type of projects to include a job opening on your local newspaper. On the other hand, staying in close contact with universities and schools is one way to have these projects come to you, since they often either start there or provide support to education software development by third-parties.

    Nothing of this though precludes sean advise, though. Especially pay attention to point 1). And you should further your C++ current knowledge well beyond your current point.
    Originally Posted by brewbuck:
    Reimplementing a large system in another language to get a 25% performance boost is nonsense. It would be cheaper to just get a computer which is 25% faster.

  4. #4
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    Sep 2007
    Thanks for the help, guys. Sean, by web-dev, do you mean Java? Or are there other languages I should try messing around with? Actually I wouldn't mind making some games people could play online. Maybe I could learn how to do that.

  5. #5
    Officially An Architect brewbuck's Avatar
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    Mar 2007
    Portland, OR
    I know a great programmer (though not in C or C++) who has degrees in philosophy, psychology, and geology.

    The best way into the computer programming world is through somebody you know. Impressing the right person at the right time can work wonders.
    	if (a) do { f( b); } while(1);
    	else   do { f(!b); } while(1);

  6. #6
    l'Anziano DavidP's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    Plano, Texas, United States
    by web-dev, do you mean Java?
    I think he is actually referring more to PHP or Python. Those are two languages very commonly used in web development.

    Sean is right in his statement that web-development jobs are typically very numerous in college-campus areas. I had one, in fact, for almost 2 years, and it helped me to gain a lot of experience.

    Although I agree that a web-development job could provide a lot of good experience, I would also encourage you to stay the course with C++ as well...not because "it's C++", but because so far it is the language you are most familiar with, so I think it would be good to start learning data structures and algorithms in the language you are familiar with.

    Start learning about sorts, trees, searching, etc., and code up these kind of solutions using C++. It will help you learn the language even better. But like sean said, getting some familiarity with other languages will be helpful, I would personally just put more importance on learning things like data structures and algorithms.

    So far it seems like you are off to a good start though! There are jobs out there for sure, so keep searching. Universities tend to have lots of job listings and job fairs, so I would suggest looking at a university nearby.
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