Are these entry-level-job handicaps show-stoppers?"

Are these entry-level-job handicaps show-stoppers?"

Post by Mark » Tue, 01 Jul 1997 04:00:00



A few months back Gary Longsine posted a thoughtful, detailed response
(quoted at the bottom of this post) in reply to somebody wondering about
getting an entry-level programming job.

I'm wondering  if he or anyone else would like to comment on my situation -
it's similar but with a difference:  I don't have the CS degree.

I lack no confidence that with some diligent work I can become competent in
Unix programming, Objective-C, the OpenStep API, and fundamental OOP
principles.

However I'm not confident that I can land an entry-level programming job of
some kind because

        * I'm in my mid-thirties

        * never finished my CS university degree

        * and I have no workplace programming experience.

I fear that even if follow Longsine's prescription to the letter, I'll be
shut out of the marketplace.   (It could be though that I have an
unrealistic
and unnecessarily intimidating image of that marketplace.)

So - are the handicaps I've listed show-stoppers? Or I am blowing these
problems out of proportion? Does it amount to doing something unheard of --
or merely unconventional?

I'm kind of in a Catch-22 where I can't afford to go back to finish the
degree without getting a good job first and I can't get a decent job
without getting that degree.

Or is this a self-imposed Catch-22?

What's your _hard-headed_ take on this?

 -- Mark

PS  Naturally, I do understand that even if the entry-level job was
feasible without the degree, that longer-term career considerations are
hindered by the lack of it.

= - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - = - =




> > Hi, anyone got any suggestions on how to write business application
> > to help someone with a B.A. in CS to get hired as a programmer. I
> > have some programming skills but not the full stuff everyone wants?

> > Thanks,

> > Jeff

> Hi Jeff,

> There are lots of variables that go into picking your path.

> How desperately do you need a job?  
> How much time are you willing to put into it?  
> How much can you spend on hardware/software before you get a job?  
> Do you want to be a god, and learn cool stuff, or just be a Visual Basic
> programmer for the next 20 years?  

> Here's my advice:

> If you want to be *really* good, then learn to program in C, under UNIX.
If
> you start on UNIX, and start in C, you will likely master the skills
required
> to quickly learn any new development environment, OS, or programming
language
> that you will ever encounter.  (of course many of them you'll not like at
> that point, but it won't bother you much.)  After a couple of years,
you'll
> get to the point where you can pick up a new language in about a week, if
> you're motivated to do so.

> If you are still a student, get a copy of the OPENSTEP for MachOS 4.1
> Academic Kit
> OpenStep runs on intel PCs, but not just *any* pc -- check out the NeXT
web
> site to make sure  hardware is supported BEFORE you buy hardware.  (same
goes
> for any UNIX on intel).  Alternatively, you could buy a used NeXTstation
Mono
> fairly cheap (get 32MB of RAM at least and a nice new 2gig disk put in
it).  
> check out:

>    Spherical Solutions   http://www.veryComputer.com/
>    DeepSpace Technologies   http://www.veryComputer.com/

> Both of these companies have good reputations for dealing in used NeXT
> hardware.  

> ($300 through your campus bookstore, if they don't have a clue, call NeXT
and
> they'll help you help them figure it out).  

> http://www.veryComputer.com/
> (800) TRY-NEXT
> http://www.veryComputer.com/
> http://www.veryComputer.com/
> ftp://next-ftp.peak.org

> this will get you started.  buy the following books:

> Teach Yourself C in 21 days
> Using C on the UNIX System  (O'Reilly & Associates http://www.veryComputer.com/)

> Now, TYCin21Days used to be a really decent self-education book, there
may be
> better ones now, i don't know.  I'm sure it's still OK.   UsingC is
great,
> once you get the C basics.

> Once you get up to speed in C, start right away with Objective-C under
> OpenStep's way cool IDE (integrated development environment).  NeXT is a
> niche player right now, but they were bought out by Apple in December,
and
> are providing the foundation of Rhapsody - a new OS from Apple which will
run
> on PowerMac and Intel based hardware.  It will be fun, cool, *, and
you
> will enjoy programming in that environment (if you like programming.)

> When you get to this point, (after you're up to speed in C, not before)
call
> up Springer-Verlag (publisher) and get "NeXTSTEP Programming" by
Garfinkek &
> Mahoney -- it's a bit out of date with respect to the NeXT programming
> environment, but it's still an excellent introduction in most respects
(it's
> very well written.)

> If you're not a student, and don't know any, get a Linux box and start in
C,
> then move to Java when you're up to speed in C.

> Expect to work 2-3 hours a night, 5-6 nights a week (assuming you're FT
> employed) and more if you can, for about 3 months before you're feeling
your
> oats.  Don't be frustrated if nobody wants to hire you at that point.
You'll
> have a better understanding of what things you'll need to teach yourself
to
> become valuable.  At that point you can start learning more about source
code
> control systems, networking, other stuff.  Take some public domain apps
with
> source code and modify them to make them do something you want.  

> At some point you will have built up enough skills and confidence that
you
> get hired as an entry level programmer and put through the grind.  

> Best of Luck.

> /gary
> --
> Gary W. Longsine, Systems Engineer | ____/| OpenStep, MachOS,
> PLATINUM Technologies, Inc.        | \ o.O|   Objective-C:

> (Can i have his spam?)   & MIME)   |.   U   Elegance is Relevant.

 
 
 

Are these entry-level-job handicaps show-stoppers?"

Post by Dru Nelso » Wed, 02 Jul 1997 04:00:00


I understand your situation (all too well I'm afraid.)

Anyhow, I think Mr. Longsine's advice is good. If you follow it you
will have much greater chances of getting a job. Also, you might
want to mention your location. This can be important sometimes when
looking for a future job.

Just keep learning, there is enough need out there for people who
can do things. The openstep market for programmers is starting
to pick up, so in 6 months it will be very healthy.



 
 
 

Are these entry-level-job handicaps show-stoppers?"

Post by Ralph Zazul » Wed, 02 Jul 1997 04:00:00


Hi -


> A few months back Gary Longsine posted a thoughtful, detailed response
> (quoted at the bottom of this post) in reply to somebody wondering about
> getting an entry-level programming job.

> I'm wondering  if he or anyone else would like to comment on my situation -
> it's similar but with a difference:  I don't have the CS degree.

> I lack no confidence that with some diligent work I can become competent in
> Unix programming, Objective-C, the OpenStep API, and fundamental OOP
> principles.

[...]

Here are some thoughts - there are many different roles to be filled in
a large software development organization.  You may find that you can
find a path to becoming a software engineer by starting with a position
in:

        - support
        - testing
        - release control
        - training
        - system installation/setup (e.g., grunt)
        - pre-sales support

If there is a particular company you want to work for, you may want to
search out these types of positions.  The real key is to leverage your
insider position to learn as much as you can about the platform and make
sure you take time to learn new skills.

Chances are, companies will encourage you to move to higher-skilled
positions.  It is up to you to make them notice you.  Once you have
established yourself as a compentent contributor, things like the
lacking degree should become less of a barrier.

Ralph
--
Ralph Zazula
Running Start, Inc.

520/760-4890 (4891 FAX)
http://www.running-start.com

 
 
 

Are these entry-level-job handicaps show-stoppers?"

Post by Bill Perkin » Fri, 04 Jul 1997 04:00:00


OK, I'll take a crack at this:
  I don't have a degree of any sort; some college, not enough for that
  piece of paper saying that I know what I'm doing, as yet. However,
  about 13 years ago, I got lucky when somebody realized that I knew
  something about computers, so they put me in a position where I could
  really show them.  Since that time, I have not had the very _best_ of
  luck finding jobs, but it hasn't been real terrible, either. Entry
  level (at least, as far as I can tell) means that you know what a
  computer is, you know how to run at least one compiler, you have a
  favorite editor, and you know how to run a de* effectivly. It
  also means that when the boss says "I need a small program to generate
  a report of statistics from these data files" that you will know at
  least enough 'C' to be able to open files, parse the data in that file
  (if you know the format of the data), and print out some simple
  information as the file is read. If you can pass a simple programming
  test (most companies have them) and not get too self-concious about
  your lack of experience/schooling/whatever, you _might_ be able to get
  a foot in the door. I also recommend the books and procedures outlined
  in the prior message; UNIX (Linux, FreeBSD, etc) is a wonderful
  programming environment. However, to be safe, also be familiar with
  the Wintel programming "environment". As crummy as it is, _most_
  companies out there _really_ want you to be able to deal with Visual C
  and all the other Micro$haft stuff. Given a limited budget, I would
  try and find someone with an unused copy of the Micro$lush compilers
  and have them "transfer" it to you (don't pirate it, please. It's just
  not a good habit to get into, IMHO.) Learn enough about it that you
  know it's limitations. Then get into a _real_ programming environment
  like UNIX, and have a ball. If you can say you've been writing and
  debugging software for 6 months to a year, and maybe have some
  shareware outthere for your prospective boss to look at, it'll help.

  Sorry to ramble, but I hope this helps.


>A few months back Gary Longsine posted a thoughtful, detailed response
>(quoted at the bottom of this post) in reply to somebody wondering about
>getting an entry-level programming job.

>I'm wondering  if he or anyone else would like to comment on my situation -
>it's similar but with a difference:  I don't have the CS degree.

>I lack no confidence that with some diligent work I can become competent in
>Unix programming, Objective-C, the OpenStep API, and fundamental OOP
>principles.

>However I'm not confident that I can land an entry-level programming job of
>some kind because

>    * I'm in my mid-thirties

>    * never finished my CS university degree

>    * and I have no workplace programming experience.

Etc. Sorry for the snip, I've got a flaky new processor here.

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