How to Gain Experience.

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#1 LFO  Icon User is offline

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How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 08:28 AM

I want to first thank everyone who reads my post for taking the time to do so.

I am currently going to school to get my Degree for this but I know I can do the jobs now. The only thing that's holding me back are general ed credits and a few High Level Programming classes that I can't get to because I have insufficient Credits. Now I'm not going to go into detail about why I don't have my degree yet but lets just say I've had to relocate 4 times in 2 years.

Okay, Now my Question is basically my topic title that I posted. To go more in depth I would like to ask specifically how to prove to companies and myself that I can be a programmer. I have created countless C++ Programs but they were all for myself. Some simple level programs such as calculating how much my check is gonna be this week. Nothing that's really pushed me. Which is about as effective as me teaching myself something. I'm sure everyone can agree that putting what you know into action is one of the best methods of learning. You can teach yourself a language but trying to talk to someone is completely different then remembering vocabulary.

I'll work for free, one of those everyone can contribute projects, I'll do anything. I just wanna test myself. I just want to have something to show people if you choose me I can get the job done.

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Replies To: How to Gain Experience.

#2 Kilorn  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 08:51 AM

Well, if you're already creating projects for yourself, then use those projects as proof of what you can do with the language, and continue to expand on those projects. You said you had a program to see how much money you're going to get paid this week when you get your paycheck. Go further than that and allow the program to calculate, if it doesn't already, taxes and any other expensive that are normally taken out of your paycheck per week. You can also make this program write to file to keep track of how much you've made over any period of time and to estimate how much you'll make in a future period of time based on current and past trends.

Other than that, you can always find other people at your school and work on projects together to get more experience working in teams. If you're interested in game programming, then I'm sure you'll find plenty of people who would love to work on a game with you. The most important thing is to make sure that you've documented which portions of the code you've written, as those will be the pieces that you'll want to show potential employers.

Just keep looking for a job and keep programming. Update your portfolio as often as you need to and tailor each resume to the position that you're applying for. If you're applying for an entry level UI developer, skills with photoshop or other image editing software might be relevant to put on the resume, but if you're applying for a job where all you'll do is sit in a dark room and write code all day, then skills that don't have anything to do with writing code will just clutter your resume and make it look unprofessional.

Just keep writing code and developing things that show your talents. Don't just constantly write the same type of program over and over, you need to show that you can push yourself and overcome the challenges that every programmer is faced with when they move to more advanced programs. Basically, just keep at it and make sure you have your most impressive and most recent work ready to send to potential employers to show your abilities and you'll find something eventually, even if the job market isn't in the greatest shape right now.
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#3 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 09:02 AM

Well you are partially in luck. Most programming jobs I had applied for recently required some sort of knowledge based testing. Now that might be local to my economy, but there was a plethora of online testing, home brewed testing, and whiteboard examples.

Of course that might not help if you are not getting in the door if you don't have your degree or prior experience. Are you planning on getting a degree?

Other routes available - internships. Yeah those can help beef up that resume. Also find an opensource program and help out in spades. Lastly make up a website that highlights your complex experience, but recognize that only goes so far sans "doing it for a paycheck".

Project ides:
Project Ideas....
Martyr2s Mega Project List
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#4 Kilorn  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 09:07 AM

View Postmodi123_1, on 22 December 2010 - 11:02 AM, said:

"doing it for a paycheck".


I've always felt that if you're doing a job just to get a paycheck, then you're really in the wrong field. If you're not happy performing the regular duties of your job, then your performance is going to suffer and you're going to hate getting up early in the morning. If you enjoy the work you do, you'll find that doing it on a regular basis becomes a joy rather than a chore. Unfortunately there are far too many people who do jobs and get into careers nowadays just because of the amount of money they can make doing it. The problem with this is that you end up with people in a field making money that really do not care about the field they are in. This is a huge problem when it comes to medical personnel and anyone that is responsible for teaching others.
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#5 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 09:12 AM

Ugh, that is not what my intention was. I mean HR people equivocate experience as only being gained while doing it for a real job versus as a hobby. A real job provides a paycheck.. hence shortening it to 'doing it for a paycheck'.
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#6 LFO  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 09:15 AM

I can see your point in pushing my programs. I mean I know how to do all this stuff and I never use it. Like my program I was talking about earlier does account for my taxes, my insurance, and overtime. I never thought though to actually save the information and put that information to use as an estimator for the future. It's a great idea but I never thought of it because I never needed it. Necessity being the mother of all inventions. Most of the people in my class are kind of lone wolf programmers. Doing everything on there own. Even when we work on projects no one is together, they just throw all there code into pile and I'm stuck putting it all together so we can turn in the project.

I'll have to see if I can join people here with making a game or Interfaces, Websites. How do I prove that the code I write is mine though.
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#7 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 10:44 AM

I did it with freelancing.

As modi said... 'do it for a paycheck'. And he's right, most companies don't give a crap about the stupid 'dum' apps that you wrote at home that really don't accomplish much. It doesn't show that you can work in a team, it doesn't show that you can take directions and create a finished product from it, it doesn't show that you can handle deadlines, and the biggest problem.

One can not test themselves.

The quality of a test is as good as the inventor of that test. You can't effectively test yourself because there is a strong bias in your idea making.


Where as freelance work is easy to jump into, and it gives you tons of problem solving opportunities. You'll be surprised by the stuff people will want you to do, and that you'd never have dreamt up doing yourself.

And it comes with that 'paycheck' that is both beneficial to your financial status, and looks good on a resume. It also is a great tool for giving you incentive to do a job. For example I bet you've thought of ideas and then thought, "nah, that's to stupid/easy/boring/etc", and then moved on to the next. The thing is as a freelancer you might get one of those stupid/easy/boring jobs... that once you dig into it, you find out that low and behold... it isn't that stupid/boring/easy. It's actually challenging and a great learning experience. That's the kind of bias I'm talking about, and I GUARANTEE you will quickly recognize the bias in yourself. You never saw it before because you weren't experienced enough to recognize it... and that's why you're here. To get experience damn it!

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 22 December 2010 - 10:47 AM

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#8 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 10:52 AM

View Postmodi123_1, on 22 December 2010 - 09:12 AM, said:

Ugh, that is not what my intention was. I mean HR people equivocate experience as only being gained while doing it for a real job versus as a hobby. A real job provides a paycheck.. hence shortening it to 'doing it for a paycheck'.



Bingo!

I was looking for something local a while back and a college needed a "Programmer" with an associate's degree and "2 years wage earning programming experience".


I went to their HR department and said, "I have a Bachelor's and three years of noncommercial programming experience, can I still apply and be considered?"

HR person's response: "No, don't bother. We won't even look at your application if you don't have it [two years of getting paid to do it]"

I said, "This position hasn't been filled in months, who exactly are you holding out for?"

HR: "Uh...how do you know it's been open for months?"

Me: "Says so right on the billet: 'Date opened: ' "

HR: "You shouldn't know that."

Me: "Who put in the requisition? Can I speak to whoever is in charge of your IT department? I'll be more then happy to take a skills test/show aptitude."

HE: "Sorry we can't do that."

Me: "Why not?"

HR: "It's against our operating procedures."

Me: "That is very unfortunate."


Now I'm getting paid over twice what this local gig offered, so the joke's on them.
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#9 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 11:00 AM

As I haven't been in enough interviews nor do I have enough experience to speak as to whether or not this will help, perhaps try volunteering at a non-profit organization to do dev work. You can call yourself a staff member by volunteering, and even though you won't be getting a paycheck, it's still real-world experience, and it builds professional references. It can't hurt, but I don't know if not getting a paycheck here will make a huge difference.

Just my $.02. :)
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#10 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 11:05 AM

Depending on who/where you're applying the rules regarding "credit" for volunteer work vary greatly. For example, if you're vying for a GS [government] position (computer scientist for example), noncommercial/volunteer work is given full credit. In direct contrast is the vast majority of the private sector where paid experience is king, with no substitute.


What eventually worked for me was to put projects on the resume under each position/experience regardless of its paid status. A list of positions sans that information can't get past the nontechnical HR screen unfortunately. I always thought that type of information was better left as discussion fodder for the interview, but if you can't get the interview...
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#11 LFO  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 11:10 AM

Yeah, that's the major problem with me. I'm just worried that most people will want someone with a degree if they wanna hire freelancers and I don't have my degree yet.
I could of had my associates, but I decided to skip the associates degree and head right for the 4 year degree. Looking back now I should have probably just gotten the associates and found a job. Now I'm stuck still in college and still 2 years from finish since schools only carry over certain credits.
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#12 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 22 December 2010 - 11:24 AM

View PostLFO, on 22 December 2010 - 10:10 AM, said:

Yeah, that's the major problem with me. I'm just worried that most people will want someone with a degree if they wanna hire freelancers and I don't have my degree yet.
I could of had my associates, but I decided to skip the associates degree and head right for the 4 year degree. Looking back now I should have probably just gotten the associates and found a job. Now I'm stuck still in college and still 2 years from finish since schools only carry over certain credits.


not in freelancing...

I started freelancing 4 months after writing my first line of code in my life! I'm talking July 2007 I wrote my first line of code, October I was freelancing all sorts of web applications in PHP, AS3, and Java. I was never asked if I had a degree, not once (which I don't have of course). They were more concerned about seeing stuff I had done (any stuff), and even then it was negotiable because you could sweet talk your way in, reduce your price, etc etc. You may work for peanuts the first few freelance jobs, but you'll get those rep points that you can then sprinkle around the internet. Before you know it you'll have people just offering you work, you'll be receiving emails and calls from all over the place throwing work at you.

That is if you're any good. And with practice, you can be.




You need to do 'real work'. Real work is where you run head first into all the problems... and that's what programming is, problem solving. School is like learning to code at walking speed, jumping deep into the paid work is like a rocket ship. Yeah if you screw up it's going to burn, burn real bad, shit for a moment I found myself on a street corner in Los Angeles, 5200 miles from home, wondering if I could last in this awful city or should trudge back home defeated by the HUGE dive I took only 8 months into my programming career. I trudged home, I failed at meeting the expectations of my employer. But I will say, I learned... I learned a lot. And those experiences gave me a lot to take into my next job.

Don't be afraid damn it! You grit your teeth and rocket forward, and before you know it you'll be on the moon... or in the programming world have a real job, have a pile of languages on your belt, and a list of connections and people to pump your reputation up. But even then, you'll still be looking at Mars and wondering if you could go further instead.




Note: I'm not saying school is bad... actually it's very good. As the saying goes... you must walk before you run. I may not have a degree in computer science, but I did go to school. I just happened to go to school for math (and subsequently drop out a couple years in). It was actually my math knowledge that allowed me to quickly adapt to programming.

My point to OP is that he's done some school. He's learned the walking bit... time to run!

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 22 December 2010 - 11:40 AM

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 23 December 2010 - 11:16 AM

lordofduct, you dropped out of a community college... And you consider that to be enough of school? Now you're telling LFO, who has only done the first 2 years of school that he "learned the walking bit... time to run!". No offense, but I don't think you even know what a real education is, what it means to be in a real school, and what it feels like to go through a real undergraduate education path.

You know who's doing the walking? The freelancers. If you want easy money, and a codemonkey career, go straight into freelancing, and don't worry about a degree.

If you want to truly learn, and be able to "control the rocket" to take you places, run through the fire that is real undergraduate education. Now that's a challenge that many cannot pass.
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#14 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 23 December 2010 - 11:28 AM

Undergrad was fire I had to run through? Sure there's a difference between a proper university and community college and online degree, but I wouldn't say it was "fire". Sure I pushed myself into hard ass classes ("Automata and Language Theory" comes to mind), but I did that to myself; it was my choice. Maybe I am smarter than the average bear and maybe I am not, but to romanticize undergrad as a 'trial by fire' is an exaggeration.... well that is unless you don't count my liver being inflamed! :P

This post has been edited by modi123_1: 23 December 2010 - 11:28 AM

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#15 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: How to Gain Experience.

Posted 23 December 2010 - 11:36 AM

HAHAHA, I didn't tell him to drop out of school. You can easily freelance while in school.

And here's to your sheep mind who thinks the standard university style school is the only learning mechanism out there. It's even more hilarious that you try to assert this in the computer science realm, a realm that is loaded full of drop outs who rocketed to the top. Most of the tippity top guys are drop outs and/or autodidacts.

Of course this doesn't mean school is worthless... I'm just saying I didn't need it. Semester after semester I'd enter a class who was teaching things that I had already learned 2 years prior because I was bored in that class and would read forward in other books. But hey, some people do very well in the college atmosphere! We're different people.

And lastly, what makes you think everyone wants to run all the way to the top most position? Not everyone wants to be a doctor/lawyer/president/etc.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 23 December 2010 - 11:37 AM

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