I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Are there any good practice problems for a journeyman like me?

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11 Replies - 3120 Views - Last Post: 24 July 2010 - 12:38 AM

#1 Guest_SKondrk*


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I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 05 July 2010 - 06:44 PM

I graduated from college about eight months ago (~3 GPA @ Full Sail University), and I've been trying to get a programming job. Any programming job really, just to get on that first stepping stone. Mainly the positions I researched involved game development, but there were a few other places I tried as well.

However, a lot of the places I apply to either ignore me or throw me away for a better candidate (could blame globalization/job market, but I won't). I'm starting to feel like maybe I'm just not that good, despite other people telling me how smart I am. Back when I was young, there was a lot of talk about autism too, but I don't really want to blame that either... so I'm not sure how I feel about people putting down my skills!

Two programming tests that I've taken so far that should have taken me 1-3 hours have ended up taking me 4-6. I typically design programs on paper before I feel comfortable about moving to the compiler, but I still run into snags on both paper & computer. I tend to get stuck between the design and code phase, and try to reference books with little closure.

I feel like I just work very slowly, or that minor distractions (noise, light, heat) take up way more of my time than it does for other people. I'm good with math and writing, but reading can take a while sometimes if the subject is complicated. Sometimes I have a hard time explaining myself, or I'll get frustrated and blame my feelings or confidence. My workspace at home is problematic as well, sometimes (too much noise, light, heat; those distractions!).

Some ask what languages I know:
I had a few high school courses for Java and VB.NET. I used VB a little at the time, and then I went into some scripting with NWN. (After that, some depression about my late father, lost practice, etc.)

Then I went to college and jumped into VB, C++, C#, LUA, XML, OpenGL, x86 (pretty good with that), Maya, some Direct X, some IP/TCP/UDP, and several dev studios... I learned ActionScript 3.0 and FlashDevelop on my own time.

I'm not sure what other applications of programming I'd be interested in trying. (Any suggestions are great! Thanks in advance if you have some.) Since I studied a lot for gameplay/3D dev, what might be a good stepping stone for a programming job?


TL;DR, How do you know if you're not a quick enough programmer? What should you do if you're not, and are there any good practice problems for a journeyman like me? I can't seem to find any (I just find forums!).

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Replies To: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

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Re: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 05 July 2010 - 06:47 PM

I just saw the Assignments sticky up there. I don't know how I could have missed it! I'll check that out, but if you have some suggestions, I am all ears and ready for criticism.
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#3 nooblet  Icon User is offline

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Re: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 05 July 2010 - 09:52 PM

To be honest, comments from friends and people you meet in real life rarely mean shit. They're generally bias opinions and are a lot nicer. A lot of people I know growing up got comments saying they're good at this and that and they're smart. But of course that's common for some people. Does this mean they're really smart? No. And you know for a fact almost everyone avoid saying negative stuff to people even if they were dumber than mud. Having said that, I'm not saying you're not bright or that you're dumb. But for all intent and purposes, let's pretend you didn't bother writing that whole part in your description above and I didn't have to write what I just did. Because in all honesty, none of that shit has anything to do with how you program right now.

That said, you shouldn't have to waste time trying to compile shit on paper only to reapply it on an editor later. You should be able to just jump right in and code. Great coders problem solve. If you want a job, particularly in this economy with many people fighting for the same position, you got to distinguish yourself by your programming abilities (read portfolio). Anyone can code just like anyone can write in English. Not everyone can write good code just like not everyone can write great novels. Same shit. How good are you at building secure code, solving problems, writing great algorithms, etc... Don't be discourage because someone out did you. They may have more experience. That's what you need to gain for yourself. And you don't need to work for others to improve your skills and display them to potential employers. Check this old post I wrote as well for some tips on applying.
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#4 peligirl  Icon User is offline

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Re: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 07 July 2010 - 08:04 AM

Hi there,

After reading your post, I felt some similarity between how you feel now and how I felt when I dropped out of the CS program 9 years ago.(I'm now back, very confident with my skills and have a great internship where I get to work on cool stuff!)

When you said you get distracted easily and that you like to figure it out on paper first, that is exactly me about 9-10 years ago. For the easily distracted bit, I researched and found out that I'm one of the many engineer types with ADD. To combat this, and because I think ADD meds are more harmful than helpful, I listen to happy hardcore, hard dance and house music while I code. It occupies that part of my mind that needs something else to focus on and lets my intellect work at solving problems. I also write lists of tasks that I need to accomplish and post them on my shelf or on my monitor, in line of sight, in case my mind wanders. This helps me refocus.

The coding on paper part...no disrespect, but I disagree with nooblet about just hopping in and beginning to code. I don't necessarily code on paper anymore, but I do a ton of sketches, calculations and other related scribbles to the problem at hand, before I sit down and start coding. Problem solving needn't be done in your IDE(well, except for debugging of course!). I have a white board that gets used a TON! And in university, when working on a big project, we brainstorm and psuedocode the white boards to our heart's content! I also tutor for some of the entry-level programming courses and I try to teach my tutees(yes, it's a real word on Merriam-Webster, I checked!) to organize their programs BEFORE coding. If they do anything in the IDE, I encourage that it only be comments and skeleton methods and classes.

As for whether you are slow or not, I cannot judge that from just reading your post. It's all about practice, reading and writing code, when it comes to getting better in our field. A few books that I really enjoy and feel have made me a better coder AND software engineer are "The Pragmatic Programmer" and "Head First Design Patterns". Besides those, it's been school, practice and my internship that have helped me improve(and still do!) as a practicing code-poet.

On the job front, it is a very challenging time to find a job in any industry. One thing you may consider is getting an internship. You don't make a ton of money, nor get awesome benefits, but you get practice and real-world experience working on projects. I have two friends who just graduated who are working at internships because they couldn't find a job(note: they didn't want to move out of Montana, so their choices were especially limited).

I hope my comments and suggestions will help you in some way. Even if they don't, and I interpreted your post all wrong, I wish you luck and progress.
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#5 nooblet  Icon User is offline

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Re: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 07 July 2010 - 02:17 PM

I'm not saying it's bad to brain storm on paper or on a white board. I do that all the time. I build db schema out first before I program. What I was arguing against is writing code on paper, and then retyping it out an editor. Maybe I misread what he meant but that would be dumb. It's a lot different than mapping out what the program does, as opposed to trying to write out the code on paper. If I misunderstood that part, then I apologize on the misinterpretation. But I stand by my argument on that point if it is like that.
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#6 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 07 July 2010 - 03:38 PM

Design yes, writing out full code on paper? Ick. I tried that exactly once.
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#7 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 08 July 2010 - 07:01 AM

@peligirl: Well said! I definitely use a whiteboard when drafting and designing, which is mainly at school and work.

@KYA: I wish you were making the AP Computer Science exam. Writing 4 FRQs by hand kind-of sucks, except it's just basic class design. This is the last time I will write any code beyond some pseudo-code or a small method by hand.
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#8 taylorc8  Icon User is offline

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Re: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 09 July 2010 - 12:17 AM

Btw, for the ADD stricken, visual studio has a "Task List".. I use it.

:magic:
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#9 moopet  Icon User is offline

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Re: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 10 July 2010 - 07:48 AM

Whiteboards are brilliant. A piece of paper is ok. I find I map out things before starting to code or if I discover a new problem, and if I look back at the paper in a week it looks like I was trying to draw a picture of a bird chasing a jeep, or something. The act of pushing the ink around on the paper in defined shapes is what helps me visualise things. I'd agree with writing out code longhand being a waste of time.

Side issue, anyway.

I'm here to sympathise with your lack of comeback while searching for jobs. Even in the best of times, companies get a lot of CVs through, and in my experience, most of the ones without hard experience get thrown straight out, no matter how good they were in their education. It's one of those situations where perseverance and luck have more influence than you'd like. And the nasty fact is, some great programmers never get the breaks they deserve. I can to career programming fairly late in life, but I've always found it much easier to get into small companies than big ones. You'd think that IBM would take any old crapweasel, and Bob's Internet Club would be picky because their staff will all have to work closely with you, but it's not as simple as that: IBM will have an HR department only interested in ticky boxes on your CV, and BIC will often be more ready to pull you in for an informal chat instead of a long series of interviews.

My tip is to find out who does any kind of IT and might need a coder in your area, go directly to their websites and check for vacancies, research the company and apply with a covering letter saying why you are specifically interested in working for them.

You have a lot of interests in a diverse range of programming... things. I doubt you're too slow. Good luck.
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#10 Sergio Tapia  Icon User is offline

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Re: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 10 July 2010 - 09:29 AM

View Posttaylorc8, on 09 July 2010 - 02:17 AM, said:

Btw, for the ADD stricken, visual studio has a "Task List".. I use it.

:magic:


Where do I find this magical unicorn? I've never heard of it.
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#11 Bacanze  Icon User is offline

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Re: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 10 July 2010 - 12:58 PM

View Poststapia.gutierrez, on 10 July 2010 - 08:29 AM, said:

View Posttaylorc8, on 09 July 2010 - 02:17 AM, said:

Btw, for the ADD stricken, visual studio has a "Task List".. I use it.

:magic:


Where do I find this magical unicorn? I've never heard of it.


Same lol, just found it in the View drop down menu, super simple but pretty good, I like it.
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#12 brova  Icon User is offline

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Re: I Graduated, but Now I Feel Slow At Programming

Posted 24 July 2010 - 12:38 AM

View PostSKondrk, on 05 July 2010 - 05:44 PM, said:

or that minor distractions (noise, light, heat) take up way more of my time than it does for other people.


are you seeing a doctor for anxiety? Just from reading that sentence, i know what your going through. Its easily helped and i think its worth your time to check out
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