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#1 streek405  Icon User is offline

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Job interview but no related experience

Posted 16 September 2013 - 10:22 PM

I'm not sure if this is proper place for me to ask this; if it isn't, would mod please move this to the proper forum then?

This Wednesday my university is holding something called TechFest. I recently heard about it and it a place where engineering and computer science majors go to find a job/internship related to their field. There are going tons of interviewers there. I am very excited to go to this, but I have no professional experience in at all in computer science. I only have about 6 months total experience (3 months from Panda Express 1 year ago and 3 months from an internship 3 years ago) and I am afraid that my lack of experience is going to hinder my chances of getting an internship. The only thing I have to show is that I have a basic understanding of Java and I have made some very VERY basic programs over the summer, the longest one being 300 lines of code. I am 22 and I feel that if I dont get an internship now, then I will be doomed!

Please, any help or suggestions is greatly appreciated.

PS: Would it be a bad idea to show them the short programs that I have created over the summer? Like should I print it out or save it to a usb?

Thank you.

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#2 NeoTifa  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job interview but no related experience

Posted 17 September 2013 - 03:23 AM

Well they're coming to a college tech fair, they're expecting students with little to no experience. That's the point of the fair. Just have good interviewing skills and you're good to go.
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#3 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job interview but no related experience

Posted 17 September 2013 - 04:29 AM

You can't magic ten years of experience out of thin air but you can do better with what you have. Compare these:

Do you have any tech experience?
I have no professional experience in at all in computer science. I only have about 6 months total experience (3 months from Panda Express 1 year ago and 3 months from an internship 3 years ago) and I am afraid that my lack of experience is going to hinder my chances of getting an internship. The only thing I have to show is that I have a basic understanding of Java and I have made some very VERY basic programs over the summer, the longest one being 300 lines of code.

Do you have any tech experience?
Yes. I've been lucky enough to get two separate internships. One at Panda Express and the other at a secret militatry base. At Panda Express, I was involved with making plugins for their core Panda mating platform. It was mainly java coding to their in-house API. I signed an NDA for the military stuff so I can't talk about the specifics. In addition to the coding I had to give regular presentations and my public speaking came on leaps and bounds. I have put a couple of small hobby programs on my website. You can take a look if you want.
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#4 depricated  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job interview but no related experience

Posted 17 September 2013 - 04:57 AM

One thing that has worked for me was to give away programs fresh out of school.

I still contribute to several Free projects, volunteer to maintain code for a NPO, and run several hobby websites. When I got my current job - VBA(primary) and VB.NET(Secondary) programming - my interview went something like this.

Hiring Manager: "Do you have any programming experience?"

Me: "The answer to this is complex. I do not have corporate experience, I haven't coded in a way I could list it on my resume as previous employment. However, I don't code just for the paycheck - I have a great deal of freelance experience. (point to 'relevant experience' section of resume) As you can see I tutored C++, Java, and PHP in school. I have several websites I can show you, and have several programs I've built for friends to expand my portfolio."

My boss knew I was 'raw' coming in. You don't want to lie about your abilities - programming isn't the kind of job where you can fake it til you make it. It's too rigid for that. But I demonstrated that it's something I hadn't just gone to school for but was interested in pursuing outside of the classroom. That it was something I sought to continually improve myself in.

Getting my foot in the door took a few months of genuine job hunting and interviewing all over the place. You'll find plenty of hiring managers who only care about your work history, have no concern for what you do outside of the office. Don't let that discourage you. You'll also flub interviews - my most embarassing moment was when I applied for a Jr. Java Dev position, walked in, and immediately forgot everything I knew about Java. But Java was what I worked with the most before my current job. It happens.

Be realistic so you don't face unrealistic expectations, practice your interview questions - and have some questions of your own to ask. Remember that an interview is a 2-way street. It leaves a good impression if you show interest in learning more about the job, for one, but also you'll know if the company isn't a good fit for you. I turned one offer down because the environment sounded too hostile.
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#5 DarenR  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job interview but no related experience

Posted 17 September 2013 - 05:08 AM

Just turn your experience into strengths....

Panda --- I was involved in day to day customer communication and satisfaction blah blah blah and so on

This post has been edited by DarenR: 17 September 2013 - 05:08 AM

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#6 depricated  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job interview but no related experience

Posted 17 September 2013 - 05:08 AM

Quote

PS: Would it be a bad idea to show them the short programs that I have created over the summer? Like should I print it out or save it to a usb?


No this would be a GREAT idea.

I go into my interviews with 3 extra copies of the following 'packet'. The reason I choose 3 is that I want one for me, one for the interviewer, and one for anyone the interviewer might bring in (sometimes it's the supervisor to be, sometimes his boss, another developer on his team who could make sense of code, whatever).
  • Resume
  • Code Samples (3 small classes demonstrating a design pattern, and one complex class)
  • Several Pictures of the GUI (sometimes they want to see how your UI design is)
  • 2 Process Flowcharts and 2 Object Models
  • A Relational Database Model

The last 2(5?) items in the list can be easily put together with Lucidchart for free if you don't have Access or Visio.

This way even if all of the above are from one small, simple project you've demonstrated your ability to model data, plan flow control, design objects, implement and utilize established patterns, code, and design the interface.
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#7 streek405  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job interview but no related experience

Posted 17 September 2013 - 11:21 AM

View Postdepricated, on 17 September 2013 - 05:08 AM, said:

Quote

PS: Would it be a bad idea to show them the short programs that I have created over the summer? Like should I print it out or save it to a usb?


No this would be a GREAT idea.

I go into my interviews with 3 extra copies of the following 'packet'. The reason I choose 3 is that I want one for me, one for the interviewer, and one for anyone the interviewer might bring in (sometimes it's the supervisor to be, sometimes his boss, another developer on his team who could make sense of code, whatever).
  • Resume
  • Code Samples (3 small classes demonstrating a design pattern, and one complex class)
  • Several Pictures of the GUI (sometimes they want to see how your UI design is)
  • 2 Process Flowcharts and 2 Object Models
  • A Relational Database Model

The last 2(5?) items in the list can be easily put together with Lucidchart for free if you don't have Access or Visio.

This way even if all of the above are from one small, simple project you've demonstrated your ability to model data, plan flow control, design objects, implement and utilize established patterns, code, and design the interface.


Ok thank you!

View Postdepricated, on 17 September 2013 - 04:57 AM, said:

One thing that has worked for me was to give away programs fresh out of school.

I still contribute to several Free projects, volunteer to maintain code for a NPO, and run several hobby websites. When I got my current job - VBA(primary) and VB.NET(Secondary) programming - my interview went something like this.

Hiring Manager: "Do you have any programming experience?"

Me: "The answer to this is complex. I do not have corporate experience, I haven't coded in a way I could list it on my resume as previous employment. However, I don't code just for the paycheck - I have a great deal of freelance experience. (point to 'relevant experience' section of resume) As you can see I tutored C++, Java, and PHP in school. I have several websites I can show you, and have several programs I've built for friends to expand my portfolio."

My boss knew I was 'raw' coming in. You don't want to lie about your abilities - programming isn't the kind of job where you can fake it til you make it. It's too rigid for that. But I demonstrated that it's something I hadn't just gone to school for but was interested in pursuing outside of the classroom. That it was something I sought to continually improve myself in.

Getting my foot in the door took a few months of genuine job hunting and interviewing all over the place. You'll find plenty of hiring managers who only care about your work history, have no concern for what you do outside of the office. Don't let that discourage you. You'll also flub interviews - my most embarassing moment was when I applied for a Jr. Java Dev position, walked in, and immediately forgot everything I knew about Java. But Java was what I worked with the most before my current job. It happens.

Be realistic so you don't face unrealistic expectations, practice your interview questions - and have some questions of your own to ask. Remember that an interview is a 2-way street. It leaves a good impression if you show interest in learning more about the job, for one, but also you'll know if the company isn't a good fit for you. I turned one offer down because the environment sounded too hostile.

Ok thanks a bunch.I just hope I dont get too nervous and stutter during the interview!
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#8 no2pencil  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job interview but no related experience

Posted 17 September 2013 - 11:21 AM

View Poststreek405, on 17 September 2013 - 01:22 AM, said:

I'm not sure if this is proper place for me to ask this;

Nope! The corner cubicle is designed for work related questions.

I'll move it.
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#9 streek405  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job interview but no related experience

Posted 17 September 2013 - 11:24 AM

View Postno2pencil, on 17 September 2013 - 11:21 AM, said:

View Poststreek405, on 17 September 2013 - 01:22 AM, said:

I'm not sure if this is proper place for me to ask this;

Nope! The corner cubicle is designed for work related questions.

I'll move it.

Thank you

View Postcfoley, on 17 September 2013 - 04:29 AM, said:

Do you have any tech experience?
Yes. I've been lucky enough to get two separate internships. One at Panda Express and the other at a secret militatry base. At Panda Express, I was involved with making plugins for their core Panda mating platform. It was mainly java coding to their in-house API. I signed an NDA for the military stuff so I can't talk about the specifics. In addition to the coding I had to give regular presentations and my public speaking came on leaps and bounds. I have put a couple of small hobby programs on my website. You can take a look if you want.

LOL!
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#10 depricated  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job interview but no related experience

Posted 17 September 2013 - 02:35 PM

View Poststreek405, on 17 September 2013 - 12:21 PM, said:

Ok thanks a bunch.I just hope I dont get too nervous and stutter during the interview!

That I wouldn't worry too much about. It might help if you follow up a stutter with a smile and tell them, "Sorry, I'm a bit nervous. I really want this."

Nervousness is totally understandable. I've hired people for tech support, and the only time I held that kind of stuff against anyone was one guy who was kind of crippled by it. I asked him if this was a common problem for him, how he'd be able to handle it if a customer got abusive on the phone. He got completely flustered and said it was how he responded to stress, and tech support is one of the highest stress jobs out there. I thanked him and sent him to a coworker who needed a tech for his team in a less customer facing role. He got hired there and was doing well when I left. Most of the time I got something like "no, I'm usually good, just nerves right now" and I was happy to let it go with that. So what I'm saying is, try to relax, if you do get nervous and stutter or talk too fast or fumble your words, just apologize, offer a very quick explanation, and move on. Don't dwell on it either. Be zen.
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#11 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Job interview but no related experience

Posted 17 September 2013 - 06:20 PM

What is the point of an interview, if not to find out who you want to spend your valuable time and money on.

It is your job to sell and market yourself well enough to make them want to invest in you.

There's a single question that will cripple you in an interview if you don't have a good answer:
- Why should we hire you?

If you can't answer that well, chances are you're out the door and your resume is in the bin.
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