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#1 DivideByZero   User is offline

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When should you feel good enough to be a professional?

Posted 22 February 2011 - 05:21 AM

There have been a few times where I felt good enough to be a professional programmer, and then I find out I need to know certain things and that feeling goes out of the window for a few months.

So what do you believe a programmer should know before he should start applying for jobs?
Hopefully this thread will become a checklist for people like me :donatello:

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Replies To: When should you feel good enough to be a professional?

#2 macosxnerd101   User is offline

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Re: When should you feel good enough to be a professional?

Posted 22 February 2011 - 08:12 AM

For me, when I started answering questions in Java on-par with the other experts and mentors. It got to a point where a lot of my answers started echoing those of the other Java members. Certainly we all take different approaches sometimes, but when I could provide quality help to most of the people with Java problems, I felt I was ready for professional Java work. :)
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#3 Curtis Rutland   User is offline

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Re: When should you feel good enough to be a professional?

Posted 22 February 2011 - 08:29 AM

Well, my first job just kinda fell into my lap. A friend of the family hired me as basically a paid intern to help out for a few weeks. I was actually supposed to be learning RPG development (god help me), but I noticed an efficiency choke point in one of our tasks, and I wrote an ASP.NET web app to make it go much smoother. It was really crap, it was my first try with .NET. But they were sufficiently impressed to offer me a job, so I got two years experience out of that.

edit: added link for RPG because it's relatively uncommon knowledge.

I tell that story to make a point: I wasn't "ready" to be a professional developer, but I found a job with a smaller company and used that time to become ready to be a professional developer. If you can do something like that, you'll get miles ahead.

Also, you could try to take on small jobs from a pay-to-code type site. See how well you can actually deliver when there is money on the line. If you do that successfully a few times, then perhaps you're ready to find a job.

This post has been edited by insertAlias: 22 February 2011 - 10:12 AM

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#4 Craig328   User is offline

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Re: When should you feel good enough to be a professional?

Posted 22 February 2011 - 01:26 PM

View PostDivideByZero, on 22 February 2011 - 07:21 AM, said:

So what do you believe a programmer should know before he should start applying for jobs?


That would depend on the job. Most entry level positions will be explicit about the skills you need to be considered for the position. It's really the employer that decides whether you're possessed of the skill level to be employable and therefore professional.

Understand though, professional does not mean expert. You shouldn't think you're not a professional if you encounter something new and don't know it yet. The next person who tells you that they know everything to know about a subject you can pretty much safely label as "bullshit artist". Even the most experienced devs will tell you they don't know everything (the smart ones will anyway).
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#5 Curtis Rutland   User is offline

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Re: When should you feel good enough to be a professional?

Posted 22 February 2011 - 01:42 PM

It sounds like Craig328 is describing the Dunning Kruger effect there at the end. In simple terms, it says that the more of an expert about a subject you actually are, the less likely you would be to classify yourself as one.

I've noticed this every time I feel like I've moved further into a topic. When I started learning C#, I could write a few apps and I figured, yeah, I'm pretty much good at this. I know all the keywords and I can make programs do what I want them to do. Then I actually started doing some complicated stuff, and I realized just how much I didn't know.

Even now, I feel overwhelmed by the things that I don't know and will probably never know about the language I'm labeled an expert in.

But don't let that stop you from proceeding in your career. Everyone starts out that way.
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#6 Craig328   User is offline

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Re: When should you feel good enough to be a professional?

Posted 22 February 2011 - 01:56 PM

I don't think I improperly rate my knowledge of my preferred subject lower than it truly is. For myself it has more to do with what you said: "I actually started doing some complicated stuff, and I realized just how much I didn't know". My playground is ColdFusion and while I "know" a fair chunk of it I still find that I run into things about the language I didn't know. Normally this happens when I'm building something new that isn't like anything I've built before.

Someone on the CF forum the other day asked about editing entries in an active directory. While I was aware of CF LDAP tags and such, I've never personally used them and would say that I'm not proficient with them. It's an example of because I'm aware of the breadth of capabilities of the language, I know that there are places I haven't gone. The more exposure you have to it, the more you know that you don't know.
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#7 Curtis Rutland   User is offline

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Re: When should you feel good enough to be a professional?

Posted 22 February 2011 - 02:40 PM

Quote

For myself it has more to do with what you said: "I actually started doing some complicated stuff, and I realized just how much I didn't know


But that actually is part of the effect. A third party observer would likely rate you higher than you would rate yourself, on an expertise scale.
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#8 Nikitin   User is offline

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Re: When should you feel good enough to be a professional?

Posted 23 February 2011 - 01:17 AM

As you can see from the thread, people have different standards on what it is to be ready for professional work. What I would suggest is, first of all, think of a company where you'd like to work. Then try to get an internship at one of the similar caliber (so if you want to work at Google, get internship at a top company as well). See what work full-time employees are doing there, and see how well you fare.
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