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#1 psc86   User is offline

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Want to move from Systems Administration to Software Development

Posted 28 December 2017 - 07:59 PM

I work as a Systems Administrator and have been doing so since I graduated from college four years ago. I have a B.A. degree in Computer Systems, and my degree program was very similar to the Computer Science curriculum that they offered. In college, I did do a brief software development internship that involved building a prototype web application. That internship is the extent of my real-world experience with software development.


With that in mind, I am interested in advice or suggestions related to how to best go about making a transition to an entry-level software development job. I feel comfortable with my educational background, but I feel I am at a disadvantage due to lack of experience, particularly because I haven’t worked as part of a team on a large software project.

So far, I have created a Github profile and I am working to create some current samples of my work. I also intend to get involved in some open source projects in order to get some experience working on a project. I am looking to make the career transition sooner rather than later, but I don’t really know what to expect or what amount of ‘preparation’ would make me stand out to potential employers. Any input would be appreciated.

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Replies To: Want to move from Systems Administration to Software Development

#2 tlhIn`toq   User is offline

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Re: Want to move from Systems Administration to Software Development

Posted 28 December 2017 - 08:31 PM

> With that in mind, I am interested in advice or suggestions related to how to best go about making a transition to an entry-level software development job
Learn to code.

> I feel comfortable with my educational background, but I feel I am at a disadvantage due to lack of experience,
Nope. Your schooling for coding doesn't amount to a hill of beans. Sorry.

Understanding, "entry level developer" doesn't mean you walk in knowing nothing and they pay you while they teach you to code. It does't work that way. You learn to code at least on a basic level first. Then your new employers will assign you grunt coding assignments so you can see what enterprise-grade code looks like. You will get 'up-trained' through experience - learning patterns and reasons that come from the real world and not some text book and college teacher that hasn't had to write code for a paycheck in decades.


Step 1 - Pick a field. You can't just say "a developer". That's like saying "I want to work in plastics" where there are 10,000 different related jobs. Do you want to develop PC games... Or embedded systems in cars, or security systems... or mobile phone accounting software... or medical imaging...

When you know what area you want to aim at, you can start researching the computers and languages and other skills you need. If you want to make PC games its an entirely different world than Macintosh artist software for example.

> what amount of ‘preparation’ would make me stand out to potential employers.
Nothing skill-wise will make you stand out. There are 10,000 software developer students graduating every year. 100 people interviewing for every 1 spot. And all of them are just students with no skill that have to be re-taught anyway (from the perspective of the employer). So look for ways to be desirable in other areas. Loyal work history and not a 'jumper'. No criminal history. Find a town that isn't Silicon Valley but has a software developer need: If you live in a developer drought they will be more apt to hire anyone that can make half a claim.

But until you can sit down and actually code something... Your only job in life is to learn to code. You don't watch movies. You don't party all weekend. You don't spend hours with your drone. You code. You read about coding. You put in the work to gain an enterprise-grade skillset if you want an enterprise-grade job.
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#3 andrewsw   User is offline

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Re: Want to move from Systems Administration to Software Development

Posted 29 December 2017 - 12:56 AM

As a Systems Administrator do you have (or could you have) some contact with some developers? You could approach one or two in a friendly way. Not that they would mentor you or let you sit with them for an extended period, but it might be interesting to discover how they got where they are, and they might offer a few words of advice and encouragement.
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#4 psc86   User is offline

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Re: Want to move from Systems Administration to Software Development

Posted 29 December 2017 - 05:29 PM

View Postandrewsw, on 29 December 2017 - 12:56 AM, said:

As a Systems Administrator do you have (or could you have) some contact with some developers? You could approach one or two in a friendly way. Not that they would mentor you or let you sit with them for an extended period, but it might be interesting to discover how they got where they are, and they might offer a few words of advice and encouragement.


I work at a small software company, so I have regular contact with the developers. I have tried to take the opportunity to learn about what they do whenever such opportunities arise, but it is difficult to express much interest outside of my job role, because people catch on to that quickly at a small company.
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#5 macosxnerd101   User is online

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Re: Want to move from Systems Administration to Software Development

Posted 29 December 2017 - 05:57 PM

If your current employer values you and you want to take on more responsibility, it seems reasonable that your employer should want to encourage this. You’re looking to contribute after all, rather than take away someone else’s job.
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#6 psc86   User is offline

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Re: Want to move from Systems Administration to Software Development

Posted 02 January 2018 - 03:34 PM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 29 December 2017 - 05:57 PM, said:

If your current employer values you and you want to take on more responsibility, it seems reasonable that your employer should want to encourage this. You’re looking to contribute after all, rather than take away someone else’s job.


A big issue I face where I'm working currently is that as a software company, they do not follow good processes. That affects me a lot as a System Administrator, but that is a different story altogether.

I remember that at one point, I inquired as to what software development method the company was using, all I got was blank stares. For version control, they are still using Visual Source Safe (circa 1998). Just from the experience I have from my education, I know they aren't doing things right. That makes me reluctant to put too much trust in things I have learned from the developers that I work with.
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