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#1 PhillyDiva1982  Icon User is offline

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Practicing my IT skills

Posted 23 June 2011 - 09:52 AM

Does anybody know where or how I can practice my programming skills so I can get hired for a job. I own two computers, a desktop and a lap top. I would look for jobs everywhere but they all say I need experience. But the only experience I've had was in school (University of Phoenix). Any suggestions?

-Charnelle
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#2 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Practicing my IT skills

Posted 23 June 2011 - 09:54 AM

Do some of your own projects for fun. Participate in an open source project. Volunteer to do work for a nonprofit, friend, family member, etc. Get an internship. Put together a portfolio of impressive projects you did at school. These are just a few ideas. Hope this helps some. :)
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#3 PhillyDiva1982  Icon User is offline

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Re: Practicing my IT skills

Posted 23 June 2011 - 10:36 AM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 23 June 2011 - 10:54 AM, said:

Do some of your own projects for fun. Participate in an open source project. Volunteer to do work for a nonprofit, friend, family member, etc. Get an internship. Put together a portfolio of impressive projects you did at school. These are just a few ideas. Hope this helps some. :)



Well I already have some homework projects that I saved up when I was in school. Do you think job companies will even look at it or consider it?
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#4 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Practicing my IT skills

Posted 23 June 2011 - 10:53 AM

Depends on the language and the projects. In general a portfolio is a bit odd for a programmer, but it can't hurt.
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#5 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Practicing my IT skills

Posted 23 June 2011 - 01:40 PM

Every time this question comes up I say the same thing:

Walk through life with your eyes open. There are needs everywhere.

It seems I can't go to
  • the barber without them saying "Sorry, our old DOS based appointement software sucks."
  • Or the auto insurance agent saying "This damned computer locks up every time we take a payment"
  • Or the UPS guy bitching that the truck loading software does a piss-poor job.


What about your own home needs?
Home automation... better recipe book for the wife... DVD/AVI library program... Something related to your photography or automobile hobby... Are you into flying? How about a pilot's log book... Word Processor...

Really, all you have to do is *live* life as a participant instead of a spectator and you should see 1,000 times more needs than you have time to produce.

When I started out in graphic arts I would race the stopwatch to reproduce existing magazine ads and newspapers. You can do the same thing with coding. TRACK how long it takes you to re-make Quicken, and any other program. IF you have an accurate idea as to how long it takes you to make standard things ranging from individual custom UserControls to entire checkbook applications then you can be prepared to offer bids on jobs that will earn you more that 1.50/hour. And you can talk to recruiters with some knowledge about your performance time, strengths and weakness.

At that point you can look at vWorker and eZdia and other on-line coder for hire sites to see what you qualify to do.

You can also watch those sites to see what kind of work employers are contracting for, as a way to keep you skill/education current with market needs.
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#6 PhillyDiva1982  Icon User is offline

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Re: Practicing my IT skills

Posted 23 June 2011 - 04:44 PM

View PosttlhIn`toq, on 23 June 2011 - 02:40 PM, said:

Every time this question comes up I say the same thing:

Walk through life with your eyes open. There are needs everywhere.

It seems I can't go to
  • the barber without them saying "Sorry, our old DOS based appointement software sucks."
  • Or the auto insurance agent saying "This damned computer locks up every time we take a payment"
  • Or the UPS guy bitching that the truck loading software does a piss-poor job.


What about your own home needs?
Home automation... better recipe book for the wife... DVD/AVI library program... Something related to your photography or automobile hobby... Are you into flying? How about a pilot's log book... Word Processor...

Really, all you have to do is *live* life as a participant instead of a spectator and you should see 1,000 times more needs than you have time to produce.

When I started out in graphic arts I would race the stopwatch to reproduce existing magazine ads and newspapers. You can do the same thing with coding. TRACK how long it takes you to re-make Quicken, and any other program. IF you have an accurate idea as to how long it takes you to make standard things ranging from individual custom UserControls to entire checkbook applications then you can be prepared to offer bids on jobs that will earn you more that 1.50/hour. And you can talk to recruiters with some knowledge about your performance time, strengths and weakness.

At that point you can look at vWorker and eZdia and other on-line coder for hire sites to see what you qualify to do.

You can also watch those sites to see what kind of work employers are contracting for, as a way to keep you skill/education current with market needs.


And that's the thing, I need to learn how to do more coding other than "The Mortgage Calculator"! That's the only thing they taught me and the other students. I wish there was more programs to learn other than the annoying "The Mortgage Calculator"!
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#7 GhostOfPerdition  Icon User is offline

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Re: Practicing my IT skills

Posted 23 June 2011 - 05:01 PM

View PostPhillyDiva1982, on 23 June 2011 - 06:44 PM, said:

And that's the thing, I need to learn how to do more coding other than "The Mortgage Calculator"! That's the only thing they taught me and the other students. I wish there was more programs to learn other than the annoying "The Mortgage Calculator"!


The point of learning how to write "The Mortgage Calculator" (or any other academic project) was not to teach you how to write only "The Mortgage Calculator". You should have learned the programming and problem solving skills that allow YOU to figure out how to write other kinds of software yourself.

You were not just handed a fish, you were taught HOW to fish.

If you feel uncomfortable with your current skill level then just start small with a simple application and expanded it slowly as you become more comfortable. The best way (for me) to learn is to do.

macosxnerd101 posted a link to a great list of project ideas. Pick one that sounds interesting and give it a go.

This post has been edited by GhostOfPerdition: 23 June 2011 - 05:03 PM

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#8 macosxnerd101  Icon User is offline

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Re: Practicing my IT skills

Posted 23 June 2011 - 05:53 PM

Quote

And that's the thing, I need to learn how to do more coding other than "The Mortgage Calculator"! That's the only thing they taught me and the other students. I wish there was more programs to learn other than the annoying "The Mortgage Calculator"!

It's a good thing then I linked to a thread with over 150 projects to do. :)
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#9 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Practicing my IT skills

Posted 23 June 2011 - 07:02 PM

Quote

And that's the thing, I need to learn how to do more coding other than "The Mortgage Calculator"! That's the only thing they taught me and the other students. I wish there was more programs to learn other than the annoying "The Mortgage Calculator"!


This sounds like you're saying "With all of my University experience the only think I know is how to reproduce the Mortgage Calculator they taught me in school."

You learn by doing. Not just by reading someone else's how-to that hand-holds you step by step, line by line. If you want to make a Point of Sale system, then do it. Don't look for it as a ready-done application that someone else is going to walk you throw. You say you've got a college education for this; you shouldn't need kid gloves any more.

Please tell me that your tens-of-thousands-of-dollars education included how to plan out a project... how to look at the big picture then break it down to smaller parts, and smaller parts... until you have a series of small objects to code and a workflow to string them all together. If not, I can suggest a couple $30 books that can.

Since you're basically saying all your college education on coding didn't teach you anything beyond Mortgage Calculator, here are the standard references I give to all the newbies. It includes some good tutorials on "How to make my first application" and so on that can teach you the basics of planning, structure, inter-object communication and so on.


Standard resources, references and suggestions for new programmers.


I would recommend you start with "Hello World" just like the other million+ coders out there. Then work your way up to the more advanced tasks like this.

The problem with taking on large, complex tasks like this when you are new to coding is that
  • it will frustrate you to the point of quitting,
  • you don't know enough about coding to know where to start or in what direction to design your program
  • You risk learning via the 'Swiss cheese' method where you only learn certain bits and pieces for the one project but have huge holes in your education.


I am going to guess that you are trying to teach yourself C# without much guidance, a decent book or without knowing where to look. Sometimes just knowing where to look can make all the difference. Google is your friend.
Search with either "C#" or "MSDN" as the first word: "MSDN Picturebox", "C# Custom Events", "MSDN timer" etc.

But honestly, just typing away and seeing what pops up in Intellisense is going to make your self-education take 20 years. You can learn by trying to reverse engineer the language through banging on the keyboard experimentation - or you can learn by doing the tutorials and following a good "How to learn C#" book.

Free editions of Visual Studio 2010

May I suggest picking up a basic C# introductory book? There are so many great "How do I build my first application" tutorials on the web... There are dozens of "Learn C# in 21 days", "My first C# program" type books at your local book seller or even public library.

D.I.C. C# Resource page Start here
Intro to C# online tutorial then here...
C# control structures then here.
MSDN Beginner Developer video series
MSDN video on OOP principals, making classes, constructors, accessors and method overloading
MSDN Top guideline violations, know what to avoid before you do it.
Design patterns as diagrams

The tutorials below walk through making an application including inheritance, custom events and custom controls.
Bulding an application - Part 1
Building an application - Part 2
Quick and easy custom events
Passing values between forms/classes

Working with environmental variables
'Why do we use delegates?' thread

Debugging tutorial
Debugging tips
Debugging in detail
Great debugging tips
It still doesn't work, article

Build a Program Now! in Visual C# by Microsoft Press, ISBN 0-7356-2542-5
is a terrific book that has you build a Windows Forms application, a WPF app, a database application, your own web browser.

C# Cookbooks
Are a great place to get good code, broken down by need, written by coding professionals. You can use the code as-is, but take the time to actually study it. These professionals write in a certain style for a reason developed by years of experience and heartache.

Microsoft Visual Studio Tips, 251 ways to improve your productivity, Microsoft press, ISBN 0-7356-2640-5
Has many, many great, real-world tips that I use all the time.

Writing a text file is always one of the first things people want to do, in order to store data like high-scores, preferences and so on
Writing a text file tutorial.
Reading a text file tutorial.

And everyone always wants to connect to a database, right out of the gate so
Database tutorials right here on DIC

These are just good every-day references to put in your bookmarks.
MSDN C# Developers Center with tutorials
Welcome to Visual Studio

Have you seen the 500+ MSDN Code Samples? They spent a lot of time creating samples and demos. It seems a shame to not use them.

Let me also throw in a couple tips:
  • You have to program as if everything breaks, nothing works, the cyberworld is not perfect, the attached hardware is flakey, the network is slow and unreliable, the harddrive is about to fail, every method will return an error and every user will do their best to break your software. Confirm everything. Range check every value. Make no assumptions or presumptions.
  • Take the extra 3 seconds to rename your controls each time you drag them onto a form. The default names of button1, button2... button54 aren't very helpful. If you rename them right away to something like btnOk, btnCancel, btnSend etc. it helps tremendously when you make the methods for them because they are named after the button by the designer.
    btnSend_Click(object sender, eventargs e) is a lot easier to maintain than button1_click(object sender, eventargs e)
  • You aren't paying for variable names by the byte. So instead of variables names of a, b, c go ahead and use meaningful names like Index, TimeOut, Row, Column and so on. You should avoid 'T' for the timer. Amongst other things 'T' is commonly used throughout C# for Type and this will lead to problems. There are naming guidelines you should follow so your code confirms to industry standards. It makes life much easier on everyone around you, including those of us here to help. If you start using the standards from the beginning you don't have to retrain yourself later.
  • Try to avoid having work actually take place in GUI control event handlers. It is usually better to have the GUI handler call other methods so those methods can be reused and make the code more readible.
    btnSave(object sender, eventargs e)
    {
        SavePreferences();
    }
    
    SaveMenuItem(object sender, eventargs e)
    {
        SavePreferences();
    }
    
    SaveContextMenu(object sender, eventargs e)
    {
        SavePreferences();
    }
    
    Form1_Closing(object sender, eventargs e)
    {
        if (IsDirty) SavePreferences();
    }
    

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