7 Replies - 1236 Views - Last Post: 05 August 2016 - 02:23 PM

#1 kathy025  Icon User is offline

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Having doubts about my desired career path

Posted 05 August 2016 - 01:20 PM

I have worked with Struts 2, MySQL, sql2o, Hibernate, JUnit, and other Java libraries.
However, I discovered that I cannot, for the life of me, implement my own sorting algorithm for an int[].
I've been so used to Arrays.sort() and I'm having doubts whether I can pass an entry level position for Java Developer.
I believe sorting algorithms are common hands-on tests in interviews? I feel discouraged to be honest...
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Replies To: Having doubts about my desired career path

#2 modi123_1  Icon User is online

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Re: Having doubts about my desired career path

Posted 05 August 2016 - 01:21 PM

So why not read up on sorting and implement one? Typical homework assignment.
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#3 astonecipher  Icon User is offline

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Re: Having doubts about my desired career path

Posted 05 August 2016 - 01:23 PM

I personally don't see it as a big deal, and I have never been on an interview that wanted a sort function, if they did I would say I would use the built in sort.

If the discouragement comes from not being able to implement 1 algorithm, it is unfounded. If you commonly cannot complete a task then it is more of an issue.
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#4 kathy025  Icon User is offline

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Re: Having doubts about my desired career path

Posted 05 August 2016 - 01:23 PM

@modi123:
Yes, I tried. That's how I realized it was a problem for me. :oops:

@astonecipher:
I usually figure out the other things and I just came around this while researching common interview questions. Yes, I do use the built-in sort a lot as opposed to writing an implementation.

This post has been edited by kathy025: 05 August 2016 - 01:27 PM

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#5 tlhIn`toq  Icon User is offline

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Re: Having doubts about my desired career path

Posted 05 August 2016 - 01:30 PM

If you're really having doubts about this as a career path its over more than just a sort routine.
Join the military for a 4 year hitch. See the world. Get exposed to a bunch of other ways to think. Gain some personal and professional confidence. Then decide where the 2020 edition of Kathy wants to be.
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#6 macosxnerd101  Icon User is online

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Re: Having doubts about my desired career path

Posted 05 August 2016 - 01:48 PM

Typically, folks with a basic proficiency in programming can refine their algorithmic thinking abilities with a degree of success. Designing algorithms comes down to making useful and provable observations about the problem. In most cases, algorithms come from (proofs of) these observations rather than by artistic flair in an Intro to Java class. Perhaps an Algorithms text like CLRS would be worth the investment. Work through the sections on sorting, as well as a lot of the other chapters. CLRS is an excellent and fairly readable resource. You can really grow if you invest in learning the material.
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#7 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Having doubts about my desired career path

Posted 05 August 2016 - 02:08 PM

For a junior position, typically the most important question is not how much you know, but how well you respond to problems you haven't solved yet, and how well you work with other developers to solve them. So if you and I were in an interview situation and I asked you to solve some particular problem I'm not looking for you to write out a perfect solution off the top of your head, I'm looking for you to be able to make a good start, get stuck, and understand what it is you're stuck on and talk your way through it. And once we get something like a solution, you should be able to reason with me about how your solution works, and what's good and what's bad about it. So if we used sorting as question (I wouldn't, personally, but whatever) and you figure out that progressive swaps are one way to get to the goal, that's at least a start: you've got an idea towards a solution. And if you get stuck on the way to implementation, but get there with a hint or two, you're still in the running. And if I ask you "how fast do you think this runs" and you can tell me the correct answer ("not very fast at all") and more importantly if you can give me a good reason for your answer, then I'm still not writing you off.

A junior position is filled on the basis of potential, not current ability or knowledge. Show some curiosity and initiative, an ability to reason about a problem, and an ability to collaborate, and you're in with a chance. If you're also someone that people want to work with - positive attitude, good grasp of the basic courtesies, pick up after yourself, that sort of thing - then you're looking good.

That being said, the fact that you're getting stuck on sorts suggests that you should probably take a data structures and algorithms course at the next possible opportunity. Not because you'll ever really need to implement a sort in the real world, but because it'll make you work through the basics of algorithmic complexity, and you definitely want to be able to give a good answer to the "how fast does this run" question. (which is to say, an answer in terms of Big-O notation)
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#8 kathy025  Icon User is offline

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Re: Having doubts about my desired career path

Posted 05 August 2016 - 02:23 PM

Thanks for all the tips everyone. I didn't know what "CLRS" was until I saw the cover. My professor used the 2nd Ed.
I realized algorithms need more attention than 3 units and making code work is different from designing/understanding an algorithm.
In college, we only had 1 subject about it (mostly book theory) and the rest are all Java subjects (frameworks, best practices, etc.).
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