How to get a programming job?

I know this is an awkward question but I am just stumped!  I am
presently a College student at Devry University Online.  I am working
towards my Bachelors in Computer Information Systems.  I have a 4.0
GPA, Dean's List Award & President's List Award.  I have already
graduated from College America with my Associates Degree in Computer
Programming, with similar achievements as those listed above and was a
College America valedictorian.  Yet none of that helps me because
every programming job I run across on Dice & CareerBuilder require at
least 1 year industry experience >.<  How do they expect the people
getting out of College for this to get the experience required to
apply to the job?  I mean eventually...all the experienced programmers
are gonna retire and I am gonna be sitting here with no experience.
Anyways, to get back on track, anybody else had these problems or have
some suggestions?
0
CSharp
12/18/2009 4:28:21 AM
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CSharp-Jay wrote:
> I know this is an awkward question but I am just stumped!  I am
> presently a College student at Devry University Online.  I am working
> towards my Bachelors in Computer Information Systems.  I have a 4.0
> GPA, Dean's List Award & President's List Award.  I have already
> graduated from College America with my Associates Degree in Computer
> Programming, with similar achievements as those listed above and was a
> College America valedictorian.  Yet none of that helps me because
> every programming job I run across on Dice & CareerBuilder require at
> least 1 year industry experience >.<  How do they expect the people
> getting out of College for this to get the experience required to
> apply to the job? [...]

Not really on topic, but I suppose if I keep it brief, it's an important 
enough question to discuss...  :)

First, your college should include a career services department.  If it 
doesn't, you chose the wrong school (small consolation now, I realize, 
but still...)  If it does, then the first place you should be checking 
is at that department.  They will have a large portfolio of companies 
that specifically target new graduates from your college, an organized 
recruiting program that includes job fairs and screening interviews by 
companies held on-campus, and alumni contacts within the companies.

Second, lots of companies hire right out of college, so if you are only 
seeing job listings inappropriate for new graduates, you're looking in 
the wrong place.

Third (to directly answer the specific question you asked), to some 
extent you will in fact have problems competing with candidates who have 
obtained some industry experience while they were in school through 
internship and summer programs.  It's actually possible for a new 
graduate to still have a year's worth of industry experience.  And of 
course, there are all those programmers out there with at least a year's 
experience who got laid off from some other job.

It's a lot easier for a company that has the luxury of still hiring 
people to add that as a requirement.

Finally, note that we are in a global economic slowdown.  There are jobs 
out there, but a lot fewer than there used to be.  It might be better to 
target individual companies rather than looking at head-hunting web 
sites, focusing your efforts on the larger ones that are more likely to 
be hiring.

And of course, as has always been the case when looking for a job, 
there's no substitute for being thorough and persistent.  :)

Pete
0
Peter
12/18/2009 5:04:00 AM
On Dec 17, 10:04=A0pm, Peter Duniho <no.peted.s...@no.nwlink.spam.com>
wrote:
> CSharp-Jay wrote:
> > I know this is an awkward question but I am just stumped! =A0I am
> > presently a College student at Devry University Online. =A0I am working
> > towards my Bachelors in Computer Information Systems. =A0I have a 4.0
> > GPA, Dean's List Award & President's List Award. =A0I have already
> > graduated from College America with my Associates Degree in Computer
> > Programming, with similar achievements as those listed above and was a
> > College America valedictorian. =A0Yet none of that helps me because
> > every programming job I run across on Dice & CareerBuilder require at
> > least 1 year industry experience >.< =A0How do they expect the people
> > getting out of College for this to get the experience required to
> > apply to the job? [...]
>
> Not really on topic, but I suppose if I keep it brief, it's an important
> enough question to discuss... =A0:)
>
> First, your college should include a career services department. =A0If it
> doesn't, you chose the wrong school (small consolation now, I realize,
> but still...) =A0If it does, then the first place you should be checking
> is at that department. =A0They will have a large portfolio of companies
> that specifically target new graduates from your college, an organized
> recruiting program that includes job fairs and screening interviews by
> companies held on-campus, and alumni contacts within the companies.
>
> Second, lots of companies hire right out of college, so if you are only
> seeing job listings inappropriate for new graduates, you're looking in
> the wrong place.
>
> Third (to directly answer the specific question you asked), to some
> extent you will in fact have problems competing with candidates who have
> obtained some industry experience while they were in school through
> internship and summer programs. =A0It's actually possible for a new
> graduate to still have a year's worth of industry experience. =A0And of
> course, there are all those programmers out there with at least a year's
> experience who got laid off from some other job.
>
> It's a lot easier for a company that has the luxury of still hiring
> people to add that as a requirement.
>
> Finally, note that we are in a global economic slowdown. =A0There are job=
s
> out there, but a lot fewer than there used to be. =A0It might be better t=
o
> target individual companies rather than looking at head-hunting web
> sites, focusing your efforts on the larger ones that are more likely to
> be hiring.
>
> And of course, as has always been the case when looking for a job,
> there's no substitute for being thorough and persistent. =A0:)
>
> Pete

Thanks Pete!  I think you were right on the money here:
"Second, lots of companies hire right out of college, so if you are
only
seeing job listings inappropriate for new graduates, you're looking in
the wrong place. "

Any ideas for different sites on that one?  I will hook up with my
College's internship & job placement program per the advice.  I also
read an article after my original post that mentioned doing freelance
programming.  But well, since I have no industry experience it all
looks kind of scary.  Like you see things at eLance like "iPhone App -
Broadband Speed Tester" or "Project Cost Entry and Tracker" and your
first reaction is...."what?"  I wouldn't even know where to start with
something like that!
0
CSharp
12/18/2009 5:14:20 AM
CSharp-Jay wrote:
> Thanks Pete!  I think you were right on the money here:
> "Second, lots of companies hire right out of college, so if you are only
> seeing job listings inappropriate for new graduates, you're looking in
> the wrong place. "
> 
> Any ideas for different sites on that one?

Unfortunately, no.  I admit, I haven't really looked at the head-hunter 
companies/web sites recently, and my previous impression of them wasn't 
really all that favorable.  A lot of promises, but not much living up to 
those promises.

I think you will have better success focusing on individual companies 
that are hiring.  They often have their own web sites for reviewing job 
listings, submitting resumes, etc.  Even there, success will be limited 
as compared to having some more direct contact (e.g. through your 
college job placement office), but at least you're one step removed from 
the huge numbers of people swamping the head-hunters.

I have found, in practically everything in life, worthwhile results 
require effort to match.  The easier something is, the less likely it is 
to result in the outcome you want.  The head-hunter web sites are easy 
to get into.  But you have to be really lucky for them to pay off.  On 
the other hand, if you put a lot of effort into making personal, very 
directed applications (including custom cover letters) to a large number 
companies, and especially in following up on those applications, that's 
more likely to get results.

It's a lot harder, and there are still no guarantees.  But your odds are 
much better the more effort you put into it.

Of course, also keep in mind that there's always a bit of "job 
description inflation" going on.  Just because they _say_ they want one 
year of industry experience minimum, that doesn't really mean they will 
insist on it.  The best way to guarantee you don't get a particular job 
is to never apply for it.  :)

> I will hook up with my
> College's internship & job placement program per the advice.  I also
> read an article after my original post that mentioned doing freelance
> programming.  But well, since I have no industry experience it all
> looks kind of scary.  Like you see things at eLance like "iPhone App -
> Broadband Speed Tester" or "Project Cost Entry and Tracker" and your
> first reaction is...."what?"  I wouldn't even know where to start with
> something like that!

Well, unless you've done Mac OS X programming (Cocoa), the iPhone app 
might be kind of daunting.  But the speed-testing aspect shouldn't be 
too hard.  I mean, you send some data over the wire and time how long it 
takes.  No big deal.

I don't even know what the other one you mention is, but to the extent 
that part of the problem may be to flesh out the specification better so 
that you _do_ know where to start, that's not bad experience to start with.

Without experience, you may not be able to get the usual going rate for 
work like that.  But if you find someone with some patience and willing 
to take some risk on someone just starting out, it could be win-win for 
both you and the employer.

Actually, I'm kind of intrigued by that eLance site.  Last Spring I was 
looking at these various freelance/contract web sites, and what I saw 
was mostly ridiculous stuff (e.g. "web-based, full-featured MMO, max 
contract $1000").  And maybe there's some of that stuff on eLance too. 
But the few things I browsed actually look appropriate for short-term 
work, and price-wise at least in the rough ballpark (hard to tell for 
sure since I didn't bother to create a user there, but the vague numbers 
I can see aren't completely absurd).

No, wait...eLance has dumb stuff too.  I see a ".NET Online RPG 
Engine/Editor" where the employer wants to pay between $5-$10/hour for a 
5-hour/week job.  That's clearly not targeted at programmers living in 
the US.

And looking at some of these job listings, it's pretty clear that a huge 
volume of hiring through the web site is via India-based clearing-house 
firms (you _know_ no individual programmer in India's pulled in $5 
million over the lifetime of that web site).  So maybe it's better to 
focus on jobs that require some specialized criteria an Indian developer 
just isn't going to meet.

Anyway, you've got to start somewhere.  And if you see something on 
eLance that looks remotely within your capabilities, just make sure you 
underbid the competition, work something out with the employer, and get 
that experience under your belt.  :)

Pete
0
Peter
12/18/2009 6:26:23 AM
My advice is that you don't jump right into a coding job. Rather, jump
into a QA job. Most companies that hire software Quality Assurance/
Control people will hire internally for programming positions from QA.
0
not_a_commie
12/18/2009 3:54:45 PM
Reply:

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