Author Topic: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?  (Read 2610 times)

StealthFundip

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Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« on: February 11, 2018, 04:14:12 PM »
Hey everyone, happy to be here!

As I mentioned in my intro post, I'm a 21 year old, Associate's Degree holding college grad looking for a full time Software Developer position. 

The biggest issue I've had is getting my foot through the door for an interview.  A handful of positions will truly consider a 2 year degree, and I got to an in-person interview with all those companies in my area.  Sadly, I didn't prepare very well and was passed over for hiring.

Since May, I've applied to over 100 different positions.  All of them were "Entry Level," but they also "require" 4 years experience in X language, 6+ years in Web Development, etc.  I still apply to them, hoping that the HR drone that wrote the position isn't comparing my resume to their list of requirements.  So far, I haven't had any luck.   

Since I've heard a large portion of forum members are also in the IT industry, I was wondering what advice you guys have for a budding software developer?  Any tips would be greatly appreciated!
« Last Edit: February 11, 2018, 04:38:09 PM by SteatlhFundip »

gooki

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2018, 04:56:13 PM »
Contribute to open source projects and start counting that as experience.

Work on personal projects and release them to the public.

Hunt down companies that have a graduate program. Talking to your college may help here. Otherwise start phone around, or turning up in person to potential employers.

secondcor521

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2018, 06:41:00 PM »
Almost every software development position I've seen in the last 20 years requires a 4 year degree.

Do not expect the HR person to not match the list of job requirements with your qualifications.  That is exactly what they do (at least at most larger companies).  After they do the basic filtering, the hiring manager looks at whomever makes it past the initial screen.

Applying online and trying to get past the HR people won't be an effective strategy for you, so you are wasting your time doing it that way.  Either go back to school and get a 4 year degree, or find some company that hires people like you AND you have a personal connection to the company - your Dad's cousin is the marketing manager, or your next door neighbor works in manufacturing there, or something like that.  Then respectfully work those connections to try to get a job interview.

Also, if you can get a co-op or internship or anything like that at a company while you are finishing the 4 year degree, that is a way to get your foot in the door.  Connections via your school career office might help if they are doing a good job there - some schools are good, some aren't.

Finally, you want to look for "New College Graduate" positions, which can be one step down from "Entry Level" positions, but you're more likely to get seriously considered because the company has already decided that they're OK with someone without experience.  Trying to persuade them of that when they're looking for a college grad with X years experience is very much an uphill battle.

Good luck!

(I was a software developer for 17 years and a software development manager for 6 years managing teams from size 2 to 15.  Worked for two Fortune 500 companies for the majority of that time.)
« Last Edit: February 11, 2018, 06:42:32 PM by secondcor521 »

DK82

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2018, 06:53:16 PM »
Do you have any experience on your resume?  In tech, an Associate's Degree with zero experience isn't going to get you far if you just take the "apply online" steps.  You need to network and get your resume in front of the right person.  That right person can absolutely be the HR person as well -- don't be so dismissive of HR's role in the process. 

CDN_Dreamer

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2018, 06:54:44 PM »
You could try applying for another position just to get in, something like support or QA.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2018, 07:18:49 PM by CDN_Dreamer »

405programmer

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2018, 09:02:24 PM »
I think this is very dependent on what city / part of the country you're in. If you live in a decent sized city, (I'm calling Oklahoma City decent sized so it doesn't need to be huge), then checkout meetups / dev user-groups and go to all the ones that line up with your skills. These social events will be a great place to ask real developers and recruiters if there are any open spots. If you don't mind public speaking offer to give a talk about a tech subject. I've known junior devs who've gotten interviews and eventually offers for senior positions because they consistently showed the community how good they were at software.

If you still don't have luck going through a recruiter then maybe you should go back to school just to get your foot in the door at bigger companies / internship programs. Keep in mind with recruiters they will take some of your salary as a placement fee but they're more likely to get you a job quickly than just spraying applications. These guys and girls keep a network of basically every open position in the software community and are desperately trying to fill them all. I don't really like working with recruiters if you can leverage your own network but if you don't have a network yet they can be useful!

Good luck on the search and rest a little easier knowing that all jobs after the first are drastically easier to get.

mxt0133

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2018, 09:24:32 PM »
Almost every software development position I've seen in the last 20 years requires a 4 year degree.

Do not expect the HR person to not match the list of job requirements with your qualifications.  That is exactly what they do (at least at most larger companies).  After they do the basic filtering, the hiring manager looks at whomever makes it past the initial screen.

Applying online and trying to get past the HR people won't be an effective strategy for you, so you are wasting your time doing it that way.  Either go back to school and get a 4 year degree, or find some company that hires people like you AND you have a personal connection to the company - your Dad's cousin is the marketing manager, or your next door neighbor works in manufacturing there, or something like that.  Then respectfully work those connections to try to get a job interview.

Also, if you can get a co-op or internship or anything like that at a company while you are finishing the 4 year degree, that is a way to get your foot in the door.  Connections via your school career office might help if they are doing a good job there - some schools are good, some aren't.

Finally, you want to look for "New College Graduate" positions, which can be one step down from "Entry Level" positions, but you're more likely to get seriously considered because the company has already decided that they're OK with someone without experience.  Trying to persuade them of that when they're looking for a college grad with X years experience is very much an uphill battle.

Good luck!

(I was a software developer for 17 years and a software development manager for 6 years managing teams from size 2 to 15.  Worked for two Fortune 500 companies for the majority of that time.)

+1 on what secondcor521 suggests.  If you need more structure vs open source or personal projects, you should consider getting a certification.  Pick an environment and language and get a certification in that area.  On the way to your certification you can then use the skills you learned to create a personal project that you can post on GitHub and demonstrate to prospective employers.  AWS and Azure offer free one year accounts where you can host your projects.

As long as you are showing you are willing to put in the time and effort to improving your skills, as a hiring manager myself, I would pick a less experienced developer that is motivated to learn and willing to put in the effort vs a more experienced developer that thinks that they know everything they need and does not pursue new skills on their own.

damyst

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2018, 01:22:04 AM »
I think the best tip you received here so far is secondcor521 telling you to apply via a connection, even one that's far removed. This advice applies to everyone, no matter their level of education and/or experience.

I've had the dubious pleasure of sifting through online job candidate applications for software development positions. The quality of that candidate pool can be shockingly bad. An application won't tell you whether the candidate can utter a complete sentence, or tie their own shoelaces. A comment from someone inside the organization saying e.g. "my brother knows this person, he says they're cool" will increase your chances of getting an interview by orders of magnitude.

The co-op suggestion is also a very good one. Companies assume far less risk by taking on co-ops, and if you do well during your internship you'll be first in line for a full time offer.

StealthFundip

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2018, 09:55:11 AM »
Thanks for all the suggestions, everyone! 

I'll try to give more info about me.  I currently have an internship at a large-ish city (the county seat of the area), and also work at my old tech school as a lab assistant, both part time.  I've been considering leaving the internship, as it's mostly end-user helpdesk stuff as of late and pays less than my position at the tech school.  I currently have ZERO student and personal debt, and was truly hoping to get a job with my 2 year degree. 

I'll definitely look for some open-source projects to contribute to, and I've been considering releasing some sort of app for mobile devices -- maybe I'll prioritize that.

I don't even bother using the LinkedIn "Easy Apply," I know those are never taken seriously unless I've got oodles of experience.  I will definitely start asking around, I know at least a few of my old classmates have positions in software, and my professor still has good connections in the field since he "retired" only 18 months ago.

I live in far northern Wisconsin right now, but have been looking for jobs all across the state.  I might need to expand my search and check out the Mustachian places to live post... 

formerlydivorcedmom

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2018, 10:25:21 AM »
With only a 2-year-degree, keeping that support desk job might be a really good thing.  Once you learn the company - and make connections there - it can be a LOT easier to transition to a dev job later.  I know several people who've made the jump from support to either development or networking.

Practice networking with the IT staff - especially the devs - in your internship company.  Ask them about their jobs.  Ask their advice on the industry.  Make sure they know what kind of job you are looking for.  They might be able to refer you to opportunities.

ender

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2018, 11:18:29 AM »
What's your 2-year degree in?

I don't see anything here that suggests you have experience in software dev at all, so it's unsurprising to me you aren't getting called for interviews.

GuitarStv

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2018, 11:51:17 AM »
Almost every software development position I've seen in the last 20 years requires a 4 year degree.

Do not expect the HR person to not match the list of job requirements with your qualifications.  That is exactly what they do (at least at most larger companies).  After they do the basic filtering, the hiring manager looks at whomever makes it past the initial screen.

Applying online and trying to get past the HR people won't be an effective strategy for you, so you are wasting your time doing it that way.  Either go back to school and get a 4 year degree, or find some company that hires people like you AND you have a personal connection to the company - your Dad's cousin is the marketing manager, or your next door neighbor works in manufacturing there, or something like that.  Then respectfully work those connections to try to get a job interview.

Also, if you can get a co-op or internship or anything like that at a company while you are finishing the 4 year degree, that is a way to get your foot in the door.  Connections via your school career office might help if they are doing a good job there - some schools are good, some aren't.

Finally, you want to look for "New College Graduate" positions, which can be one step down from "Entry Level" positions, but you're more likely to get seriously considered because the company has already decided that they're OK with someone without experience.  Trying to persuade them of that when they're looking for a college grad with X years experience is very much an uphill battle.

Good luck!

(I was a software developer for 17 years and a software development manager for 6 years managing teams from size 2 to 15.  Worked for two Fortune 500 companies for the majority of that time.)

+1

My only additional suggestion is that if you maintain a portfolio of applications that you've developed to high standard on GitHub this will make the interview you get with the company that hires people like you go a lot smoother.  This usually takes a few years to really put together properly, but in lieu of development experience it's really a good way to demonstrate that you know what you're doing.

StealthFundip

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2018, 10:02:55 PM »
What's your 2-year degree in?

I don't see anything here that suggests you have experience in software dev at all, so it's unsurprising to me you aren't getting called for interviews.

My bad, let me give you the pared down resume!

I've got an Associate's in IT Software Development, with a focus on C#/SQL/Java object-oriented programming.  I've made both desktop and Android applications.
My final semester was spent working with a real client to develop a database-driven MySQL/PHP webpage, using source control/issue tracking/teamwork/etc.

I currently work part time as an I.T. Intern at a city.  As in a municipality, the City of [insert name here]. I've got to work a bit with Python, but mostly data entry/end user support.  I also work as a part time lab assistant at my old tech school, I help students with programming concepts, make up answer keys, do QA testing for a software product we really aren't impressed with, etc.

Trust me, ender, I've got a bit of related experience and I've been including it on every resume I send out! My biggest issue is locating jobs that don't require a Bachelor's to be considered :(
My personal pet peeve is seeing entry level jobs that require a cumulative 10-20 years' worth of experience in a dozen different technologies, but that's beside the point. 

With only a 2-year-degree, keeping that support desk job might be a really good thing.  Once you learn the company - and make connections there - it can be a LOT easier to transition to a dev job later.  I know several people who've made the jump from support to either development or networking.

Practice networking with the IT staff - especially the devs - in your internship company.  Ask them about their jobs.  Ask their advice on the industry.  Make sure they know what kind of job you are looking for.  They might be able to refer you to opportunities.

The thing about this position is that it's at a poorly funded municipality, known as "The City of [insert city name here]".  There's an IT Director with a completely unrelated degree, a Network/SysAdmin who took the job because it was in his backyard basically, and my supervisor.  Her job title is "GIS Coordinator" and her role is to provide GIS maps and support for the city workers.  Don't get me wrong, my coworkers here are awesome! It's just that there isn't much room to develop software for a City. It's mostly end user support and getting to put band-aids on 15+ year old Access databases, which doesn't carry the same weight as putting band-aids on SQLServer databases. If I didn't have this job, I was planning on using the extra 20 hours a week to work more on my personal portfolio of projects for GitHub/a blog/whatever.

There are no Devs, and I guarantee there won't be any Dev jobs.  The biggest software anyone has made there are automated scripts -- good for Sysadmin type resumes, not as impressive for a software developer resume.  They do suggest positions they find, but I've usually found them before they mention it to me.


My overall plan for now is to keep searching for jobs that will consider Associate's degrees, while building up a respectable portfolio of work on GitHub. 
I've seen elsewhere that I could form my own "Company" to publish various Android apps, and list that as development experience.  Bonus if I think of an app that I could sell/monetize for an extra stream of cash!  What do you guys think about that, is that dishonest or a brilliant idea?

letired

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2018, 10:24:38 PM »
+1 to the user groups. It can be harder and less immediately fun than doing a deep dive on your favorite personal/side project, but do it anyway. It gives you the connections and also invaluable experience talking about yourself and your qualifications and interests. At this stage, having the skills is a smaller part of the game than seems fair, and it seems like you've got that bit worked out pretty well. You need to practice presenting yourself as A Bright Young Lady/Chap, because people are more interested in taking risks on unproven people who either remind them of themselves (and very few people in hiring authority see themselves as less than great) or seem like less of a risk because they present as Smart(tm) (glasses optional).

And to make the most of where you're at: GIS stuff is a legit skillset, and if there is a way to help out with that type of work at your current place (and you are interested/like it), it can be an awesome thing to know how to do.

Paul der Krake

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2018, 10:51:02 PM »
Find out who are the recruiters that cover your area, and for which companies they recruit. Widen your net to the neighboring larger cities with a healthy supply of tech jobs, which for Wisconsin are most likely Minneapolis and Chicago.

Get good at interviewing and whiteboard coding. When you land that interview, nobody will give two shits about your lack of traditional CS education if you crush this part.

StealthFundip

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2018, 08:55:51 AM »
...And to make the most of where you're at: GIS stuff is a legit skillset, and if there is a way to help out with that type of work at your current place (and you are interested/like it), it can be an awesome thing to know how to do.

I do help with data entry and occasional debugging with GIS, but it's not what I planned for my future career.  I've applied to jobs with GIS as a minor responsibility, but no dice yet.  I'll keep an open mind and start listing it as a subject I'm experienced in.

Madison seems to have oodles of jobs, and has pretty decent bicycling support.  For various reasons I could NEVER see myself living in Chicago, or anywhere in Illinois for that matter. But thank you for the other town suggestions, I'll start looking around there as well :)

Find out who are the recruiters that cover your area, and for which companies they recruit. Widen your net to the neighboring larger cities with a healthy supply of tech jobs, which for Wisconsin are most likely Minneapolis and Chicago.

Get good at interviewing and whiteboard coding. When you land that interview, nobody will give two shits about your lack of traditional CS education if you crush this part.

Yeah, the whiteboard coding is what tripped me up at my most recent interview.  I thought to myself, "I program stuff all the time! I don't need to practice off the computer."
And as you might expect, I made a real ass of myself in front of my #1 pick company's primary software dev screener.  I've had enough interviews to be comfortable with the standard HR type questions, but I will 110% be doing whiteboard practice from now on.  I've never felt so embarrassed in my adult life :/

As for recruiters, I sent an application to one just last night.  I'll try calling the contact person in a day or two if I don't get a call/email first, I've got a good feeling about my chances for that job!

spicykissa

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #16 on: February 14, 2018, 09:38:40 AM »
My husband has great fun planning whiteboard interview questions that will trip up overconfident or unprepared candidates, so I feel your pain. Good luck with your job search!

405programmer

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #17 on: February 14, 2018, 10:41:01 AM »
If you don't mind going back to school to get the 4 year degree I have heard Epic is a good place to work in Madison! Once you're in a city there always seems to be opportunities around every corner. Smaller towns and municipalities just don't have as many options.

Heck, before trying to go back to school reach out to the recruiters at Epic. They hire TONs of junior devs out of college and it sounds like you have the experience that would make you a perfect fit for a junior dev role. Alas with many corporate companies they just want to see that 4 year degree.

Good luck!

JamieNewmarket

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #18 on: February 14, 2018, 11:24:38 AM »
Slightly different take for you.  Basing it on my experience. 

Build up a portfolio of things you can point to.  This, in my opinion, matters far more than education.  When I went back to school for a college diploma in software dev, most of my classmates were university Comp Sci grads who couldn't code themselves out of a box because they never really made anything useful in school. 

I have worked for myself as both a small business software company owner and contract developer (once my son was born I needed to slow down). 

Most recently I do website and web applications for a marketing company that farms out the tech stuff to focus on the radio, video, print side of their business.  Nobody has ever asked to see my education in software development.  I just point to a pile of things I have made, big and small, and then I am sent requests for projects to work on.  The money is less steady but if I were to try to push it to "full time" I would be making very good money. 

Also, with this portfolio in hand, it allows you to try the most fun job application strategy I have ever come across.  My friend, who first used it to get a Telecom job, would characterize it as the "meh, I don't care either way".  Just send in a cover letter about how you have a large portfolio of projects, maybe with a website link, say that you play well with others, the job looks like it could be interesting, would be curious to see if you want to tell me about it to see if I would be interested.  Basically flipping the script on the HR person and their Minimum 1000 years experience requests.  Every now and then I do this just to test the validity of the approach.  Last time I tried, I got a callback later that day to come in for an interview ASAP. 

I find that the straight forward confidence approach will take you far.  It is also a lot less time consuming than networking. 

bacchi

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2018, 11:46:00 AM »
If you don't mind going back to school to get the 4 year degree I have heard Epic is a good place to work in Madison! Once you're in a city there always seems to be opportunities around every corner. Smaller towns and municipalities just don't have as many options.

Heck, before trying to go back to school reach out to the recruiters at Epic. They hire TONs of junior devs out of college and it sounds like you have the experience that would make you a perfect fit for a junior dev role. Alas with many corporate companies they just want to see that 4 year degree.

Good luck!

Good gods no. They code in MUUMPs. Don't do this to yourself.

letired

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #20 on: February 15, 2018, 12:31:05 AM »
If you don't mind going back to school to get the 4 year degree I have heard Epic is a good place to work in Madison! Once you're in a city there always seems to be opportunities around every corner. Smaller towns and municipalities just don't have as many options.

Heck, before trying to go back to school reach out to the recruiters at Epic. They hire TONs of junior devs out of college and it sounds like you have the experience that would make you a perfect fit for a junior dev role. Alas with many corporate companies they just want to see that 4 year degree.

Good luck!

Good gods no. They code in MUUMPs. Don't do this to yourself.

They are also sort of terrible, depending on what department you work for. source: my sibling got forced out. didn't work in software dev tho. They chew through local engineering talent, from what I've heard.

thesis

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #21 on: February 15, 2018, 09:49:24 AM »
I definitely feel your pain. I've been in the industry for just under 5 years. I earned my degree in a non-comp sci field and was very fortunate to enter the industry, but my tech stack is non-standard and last year I was unemployed for about three months. Some people get lucky and jump right into a job where all the technologies line up and experience just flows, but that was not my case. I heard that the demand for software developers is high, but the truth is that the demand is only high for experienced software developers who know very specific languages.

From my experience, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn one core language really well (ie C#, Java, Javascript, PHP, obviously there are others). Knowing a framework is maybe second in importance to knowing the core language. Know the language, then know how to do something with the language. You can easily find a flame thread on these sorts of things, just be smart and know what sort of job you're looking for, as this will guide what you learn.

During those three months of unemployment I had maybe four interviews, but two that I really wanted I missed because my knowledge didn't add up. In fact, one is really embarrassing because I didn't know a key OOP term, and I'm fairly certain that cost me the job despite a fantastic discussion with the owner. So in a sense, not knowing your sh*t is the greatest barrier, but if you do know it, you can impress in the interview. Don't worry so much about how many interviews you are getting, somebody will take a chance on you for that, but you have to prove yourself once you get there.

This reminds me of the whole degree vs no-degree debate (please don't anybody start this here). Even if a degree gets you more interviews, even if experience gets you more interviews, does not mean the lack of a degree or the lack of experience excludes you from all interviews. You don't need a million interviews, you just need one, and you need to make that one count. Amiright? It may take time, but don't panic :). If you want to finish your bachelor's, calculate the ROI first. The people at my current job who interviewed me didn't even remember that I didn't have a comp sci degree and we all had a good laugh over this a few weeks ago

StealthFundip

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #22 on: February 15, 2018, 08:33:48 PM »
If you don't mind going back to school to get the 4 year degree I have heard Epic is a good place to work in Madison!

I've heard that they're a good place to get a job, but sort of a meat grinder.  I've been considering it just to get my foot in the door for software, but I won't walk into a meat grinder lightly.
Hey, bacchi and letired agree!



Slightly different take for you.  Basing it on my experience. 

Build up a portfolio of things you can point to.  This, in my opinion, matters far more than education.  When I went back to school for a college diploma in software dev, most of my classmates were university Comp Sci grads who couldn't code themselves out of a box because they never really made anything useful in school. 

I have worked for myself as both a small business software company owner and contract developer (once my son was born I needed to slow down). 

Most recently I do website and web applications for a marketing company that farms out the tech stuff to focus on the radio, video, print side of their business.  Nobody has ever asked to see my education in software development.  I just point to a pile of things I have made, big and small, and then I am sent requests for projects to work on.  The money is less steady but if I were to try to push it to "full time" I would be making very good money. 

Also, with this portfolio in hand, it allows you to try the most fun job application strategy I have ever come across.  My friend, who first used it to get a Telecom job, would characterize it as the "meh, I don't care either way".  Just send in a cover letter about how you have a large portfolio of projects, maybe with a website link, say that you play well with others, the job looks like it could be interesting, would be curious to see if you want to tell me about it to see if I would be interested.  Basically flipping the script on the HR person and their Minimum 1000 years experience requests.  Every now and then I do this just to test the validity of the approach.  Last time I tried, I got a callback later that day to come in for an interview ASAP. 

I find that the straight forward confidence approach will take you far.  It is also a lot less time consuming than networking. 

As for the classmates who couldn't code themselves out of a box, I know several.  I've been doing some tiny quality of life stuff for myself, but nothing that I'd want professional developers to scrutinize! I am consistently hearing the "Portfolio" approach, and I've got it on my to-do list now! Thanks for your advice :)

I definitely feel your pain. I've been in the industry for just under 5 years. I earned my degree in a non-comp sci field and was very fortunate to enter the industry, but my tech stack is non-standard and last year I was unemployed for about three months. Some people get lucky and jump right into a job where all the technologies line up and experience just flows, but that was not my case. I heard that the demand for software developers is high, but the truth is that the demand is only high for experienced software developers who know very specific languages.

From my experience, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn one core language really well (ie C#, Java, Javascript, PHP, obviously there are others). Knowing a framework is maybe second in importance to knowing the core language. Know the language, then know how to do something with the language. You can easily find a flame thread on these sorts of things, just be smart and know what sort of job you're looking for, as this will guide what you learn.

During those three months of unemployment I had maybe four interviews, but two that I really wanted I missed because my knowledge didn't add up. In fact, one is really embarrassing because I didn't know a key OOP term, and I'm fairly certain that cost me the job despite a fantastic discussion with the owner. So in a sense, not knowing your sh*t is the greatest barrier, but if you do know it, you can impress in the interview. Don't worry so much about how many interviews you are getting, somebody will take a chance on you for that, but you have to prove yourself once you get there.

I actually am familiar with all 4 of those languages XD
I agree with you, knowing one language REALLY WELL seems to be much more beneficial than being acceptable at four separate ones.  I'll be focusing on Java for a while, since I'm comfortable building Android apps and they could potentially generate some passive income!  They'll get tossed into the new portfolio deal I'm working on    :)


I'm getting so many great and thoughtful answers, I'm glad to be a member of this great community!

RecoveringCarClown

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #23 on: February 15, 2018, 08:53:25 PM »
I know someone that was in a similar situation. She was able to get a job via a temp agency and made herself useful/relied on.  Since most companies have rules about how long they can keep a temp/contractor, they could not help but hire at the end of the contract.  The downside is the lack of degree is definitely hurting upward mobility, the upside is that the company will pay for tuition so a degree is on the way!

thesis

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #24 on: February 16, 2018, 08:05:40 AM »
Quote
I'll be focusing on Java for a while, since I'm comfortable building Android apps and they could potentially generate some passive income!

Do it! :)

Also don't forget, if you FI in 10 years or even less, you won't need a bachelor's degree, you only need to stay in the industry that long. (I also believe that associates degrees in lucrative fields have the highest ROI, but that's just me). But, the degree can confer a bit more pay, and it sounds like you really enjoy what you are doing so it may be worth it. I used to worry about whether I needed to go back to school for the comp sci degree, but then I discovered FI and breathed a huge sigh of relief realizing "early retirement" could be done. Programming is not a huge passion of mine - I do enjoy it, but would prefer to work on open source software or combine it with helping people in the world. Just know that an FI person has options galore and the standard programming career path is not an absolute requirement unless you plan to live a clownish middle class lifestyle with the proceeds. It is known for helping people FI very quickly :)

dandarc

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #25 on: February 16, 2018, 08:13:09 AM »
My final semester was spent working with a real client to develop a database-driven MySQL/PHP webpage, using source control/issue tracking/teamwork/etc.
This should be your easy button to get that first job - the client is likely providing this internship-lite as a recruiting tool.

StealthFundip

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #26 on: February 16, 2018, 03:22:07 PM »
I know someone that was in a similar situation. She was able to get a job via a temp agency and made herself useful/relied on.  Since most companies have rules about how long they can keep a temp/contractor, they could not help but hire at the end of the contract.  The downside is the lack of degree is definitely hurting upward mobility, the upside is that the company will pay for tuition so a degree is on the way!

Quote
I'll be focusing on Java for a while, since I'm comfortable building Android apps and they could potentially generate some passive income!

Do it! :)

Also don't forget, if you FI in 10 years or even less, you won't need a bachelor's degree, you only need to stay in the industry that long. (I also believe that associates degrees in lucrative fields have the highest ROI, but that's just me). But, the degree can confer a bit more pay, and it sounds like you really enjoy what you are doing so it may be worth it. I used to worry about whether I needed to go back to school for the comp sci degree, but then I discovered FI and breathed a huge sigh of relief realizing "early retirement" could be done. Programming is not a huge passion of mine - I do enjoy it, but would prefer to work on open source software or combine it with helping people in the world. Just know that an FI person has options galore and the standard programming career path is not an absolute requirement unless you plan to live a clownish middle class lifestyle with the proceeds. It is known for helping people FI very quickly :)

My plan going into the 2-year degree was getting a foot in the door, then either taking advantage of any company assistance for a Bachelor's, or just paying for the classes out-of-pocket without needing a ridiculous loan.
Since I've started reading MMM, I am a complete convert to Mustachianism!  I will NOT be doing any of the stupid clownish middle-class habits that I've noticed in my parents and other friends and family.  Maybe I can lead by example and help convert a few more to the cause.

My final semester was spent working with a real client to develop a database-driven MySQL/PHP webpage, using source control/issue tracking/teamwork/etc.
This should be your easy button to get that first job - the client is likely providing this internship-lite as a recruiting tool.

RANT TIME!

My tech school sent out an open call to local volunteer/non-profit organizations, or anyone that would accept free labor for a software product.

This is how my group and I got our assignment.

I only put that on my resume because it was my only "real life" experience.  The client was a group very similar to the Boy Scouts, so not much in the way of jobs there.  We used Agile-style 3 week sprints as a way to practice working in a corporate environment.  We worked directly with an old scout (think 80+ years old) who had a grand vision - a searchable database to see every member since 19xx.  He had some authority and pull, and he contacted us directly with his idea -- BEFORE TALKING WITH ANYONE ELSE IN THE ORGANIZATION.  Of course AFTER we started he started to share it at the nationwide level, and apparently everyone was getting excited.  Then our team learned firsthand the joys of software development in a corporate setting...

After working with his ideas for most of the semester, we finally meet the System/Website administrator that will actually supervise our website.  After working for months on a hand-crafted PHP/HTML webpage, this guy lets us know that if we want to host ANYTHING on his servers it's gotta be a Joomla website (if you don't know what that is, think Wordpress drag n' drop website design)
With 4 weeks to go, our 3 man group needs to COMPLETELY REBUILD EVERYTHING but the database from scratch, in some convoluted Content Management System, which doesn't support databases or PHP code in any way.  We managed, but the site was hardly worth mentioning to recruiters.  The client refused to have his website look like it was from this millennium, so this website was basically unstylized HTML with solid ROYGBIV colors.

Since we hadn't learned our lesson yet, we volunteered to work with this guy after graduation, to try and polish the site to be a usable resume item.  A month into summer, he started calling one member of our team at ALL HOURS, multiple times a day, with any random ideas for the website he had come up with in the last 3 minutes.  When we didn't get all his ideas completed by the next time we met in person, he started complaining about our work ethic. 

The final straw was when he said something along the lines of,
 "I would NEVER expect this level of laziness from someone I hired to complete a simple request!"

...We politely told him to F*uck off on the spot.
One teammate was a member of this guy's church, and from what I've heard it sounds like he and his children's children's children will no longer be welcome there.

Our instructors were pissed, because the client broke several different stipulations that they agreed to in contract form.  One instructor in particular told us to put him as the contact for that project, and said he would explain how shitty the client was, but how we still managed to complete a deliverable website with such short notice.


Yeah, if we had a different project for a different client, we might have been able to work out a maintenance contractor for X dollars an hour.  I know at least one group that was able to negotiate that.  A few got jobs at a huge global company because their project taught them useful skills (C# and .NET web app design).  Not us, we got stuck learning how to use some shitty CMS that no one has heard of.  The webmaster removed our site about a month after we stopped working on it, since "He doesn't know HTML and sure as hell won't be maintaining it."

dandarc

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #27 on: February 16, 2018, 03:40:51 PM »
Wow - that is quite a different experience than I had on our capstone project back in the day.  Although you did get good experience out of that - dealing with unreasonable clients is part of the job.  Joomla isn't really an obscure cms either - I've heard of it.

Any way - good luck in the job search.  Projects like that could be a good way to build a portfolio, but dealing with tiny organizations is always a pain in the ass.  Not that large organizations are much better, but usually there is at least a semblance of structure to the whole operation.

crimwell

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Re: Getting Software Dev interviews WITHOUT 4+ years experience?
« Reply #28 on: February 17, 2018, 12:57:27 AM »
I've seen elsewhere that I could form my own "Company" to publish various Android apps, and list that as development experience.  Bonus if I think of an app that I could sell/monetize for an extra stream of cash!  What do you guys think about that, is that dishonest or a brilliant idea?

Whoa whoa whoa, how would this be dishonest? It's only dishonest if you make it look like you're an employee of someone else's company. But starting something from scratch and actually publishing it is, if anything, MORE impressive than being an employee.

Do this, list the apps in your portfolio, list the company as experience and be open with hiring managers that it's your sole proprietorship for side projects because you are so passionate about software development that you needed an outlet for your desire to code code code. Maybe you can get freelance clients building simple apps for local real estate agencies, school districts, doctors, etc.