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self-taught, can I get a job?

Randall Twede
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 21, 2000
Posts: 4351

I am a self-taught SCJP. I am good at html and servlets, and have some experience with JSP and JDBC. If anyone who reads this is self-taught and has landed a programming job I would like to hear about it.
After reading a similar post from a while back, I thought I should mention I have written a mock e-commerce site using servlets, JSP and JDBC. It runs on an Apache server I have here at home. I am not always online, but if anyone is interested, the url is
I also have a simple resume page and the source code of the servlets used for my "e-commerce" site at my other site.
if anyone wants to spend time checking them out and provide any feedback I would appreciate it.
PS: I wrote both these sites before studying for certifications, and know more now. Im sure some things would be different if I wrote them now(mostly style issues).

[This message has been edited by Randall Twede (edited January 20, 2001).]

Visit my download page
William Joi

Joined: Jan 21, 2001
Posts: 2
No, it will be quite impossible for you to get a job. Give up now.
Randall Twede
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 21, 2000
Posts: 4351

If that wasnt your stock answer to everyone, I would thank you for your opinion.
Eric Barnhill

Joined: Feb 25, 2000
Posts: 233

I can't believe this guy (William Joi) came back to bug my forum again. He changed his name to get past the block...Does he truly have nothing else to do?
Brett Knapik
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 15, 2000
Posts: 255
I wouldn't see why not. I am only 14 and when I get certified my brother can probably get me a job for his company in the summer.
I wish there was a button on my monitor to turn up the intellegince.
Theres a button called 'brightness' but it doesn't work

"Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning."
M Prembroke
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 03, 2000
Posts: 56

Not to discourage you but...
Getting a Java job without a CS or similar degree, or without some related IT employment, will be very, very difficult. At this time there is little shortage of qualified programmers in most areas, including Java. In addition, a couple hundred thousand foreign programmers will be entering the US job market soon at a time when tech employment layoffs are increasing. There are dramatically fewer jobs even for US Citizens who want to enter the IT field-including programming- even with lots of training. Even those spots will soon be taken as the H1-B1 backlog clears under the new caps. Even though its legally dubious, lots of shops prefer H1s over hiring US citizens due to lower salaries and the higher work hour demands that can be placed on them (the H1s).
In all honesty, your only hope would be some type of personal contact- some private "in". If you really love programming then keep doing it, but the field won't be paying even close to the kind of salaries it has been in recent years due to growing oversupply,and frankly real unemployment for experienced programmers may be a reality in a few more months. Things are changing very fast- qualified and degreed applicants for lower/mid position are fairly easy to find now- we've been able to drop salaries on new hires significantly since September 2000.

John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
It seems like the responses here have been rather harsh.
With only the SJCP - and no degree - it's going to be a
tough sell to an employer. If you know Servlets and JSP,
make sure you let the employer know this in your resume.
If you have a degree in a related field - like engineering
or perhaps even business then this should help knock down
some doors.
I would even go so far as to list one of your own Java/JSP
projects under your Work Experience (no I have not seen your
resume). Revise your resume to sell your computer skills.
I used to put/mention that I was a tractor-trailer driver
on my resume'. Yeah, it generated a lot of conversation,
but in reality it did nothing to get me a computer job. In
retrospect, it may have hurt me. So I ended up taking it
of the resume' and never mention it at interviews anymore.
I can tell you that with an MS-Computer Science - I had to
still bang on alot of doors - but I made it. I remember this
Oliver guy knocking me for wanting to move from Philly to
Colorado - but guess what? I am out here in Colorado (received
3 offers) starting my 3rd week with new company. I actually
had more offers/interviews from Colorado that from Philly,
go figure. Unfortunately, just about all the trout streams
are frozen solid around here.
I would recommend jumping into a data structures class at a
local university. But don't quit looking. While at the
university make contacts with your professor(s) and career
services center - start looking for internships. Even now,
start looking for internships...I know the pay may be low ...
but it's a start.
You are going to have to be super aggressive in the job search.
You may have to relocate. Attend job fairs. Deal with the
headhunters. Send hard copies of your resume out - as well as
e-mail copies. Turn your job search into a fulltime job.
And if something pops up in the Java field - by all means grab
Now here is the bonus. Alot of employers today (it's almost a
standard benefit in the IT industry), are offering tuition
assistance to college - some are paying the full tab. Perhaps
you could work and go to school at same time. It's tough -
but if you have a dream then go for it. I did it with the MS
degree. Fell down a few times - but kept going - like that
Energizer Bunny I guess.
The important thing here is that you do not give up. This is
a career not a job. And remember, in another five years the
technology will probably different - so never quit learning.
Which means, if you have the programmer's exam out of the way,
then go for the developer's exam, etc.
Even if you have to take a help-desk job in the computer
field - do it. It's something you can put on your resume and
perhaps you can move over to the software development side
of the game from the help desk side while at this company.
Regarding the H1B thing. The companies/teams I dealt with
only have maybe 1 out of 10 people as H1B's. The company
I am with now - posts their H1B employee information next
to the required govt posters regarding working conditions.
Lucent in New Jersey did the same thing. They had about 30
H1B's out of 600 people in our office. They were looking for
2yrs Visual C++ experience. The salary was $75 to $80K
per year. And the company posts this information for everyone
to see. Naturally, they don't post the person's name or such.

The important thing is not to use the H1B program as an
excuse for not finding a job. You gotta just keep pounding
the pavement. Yeah, it may be tough - but something will
come your way.

John Coxey
Evansville, Indiana, USA
John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
In regards to M Prembroke:
I agree that getting into this field without a degree is difficult. Yes, there are exceptions.
I can't imagine the placed I have worked at or done business with: EDS, GE Transportation, Lucent, or Osh-Kosh, hiring someone to do program/development work without a degree. The first topic at an interview seems to be your education background.
But, I did start at a local mom and pop software shop (4 people) just out of trucking. It was doing production support - but I
learned some programming skills (they programmed in Prolog of
all things) and was able to make some contributions to the software development process.
I think this is the route you are going to have to take if you want to break into the IT field without a degree.
I agree that the market is starting to soften, but it seems to
be in certain spots though - not all over. Some areas (from my experience with the recent job search) are still going strong (Atlanta, Florida, Denver, and California). Soft areas seem to include NYC, Philly, and Pittsburgh. I had lots of phone calls and 1 offer from the Washington DC area.
Regarding entry-level. Look at how many of these MCSE schools
are out there. Must be about 20 of them advertising every Sunday in the Philladelphia Inquirer alone. I think this might have more to do with the "soft" market than the current problems with the dot-coms. Could it be the same that the market is getting flooded with just too many new SJCP's.?
My opinion about the college degree thing is that employers are
looking for stability. Meaning, are you going to stick it out
with a project - or are you going to walk out the door when the
going get's rough. There are occaisions when you learn Friday at 3PM that you are going to be stuck in the office over the weekend. Or how about those 2AM production support phone calls.
Are you going to be there? An employer wants some sort of confidence factor...I think the college degree serves this need.
I think a college degree shows that you are willing to "stick it
And yes, there are no guarantees when you hire somebody.
Kind of reminds me of an old saying, "No one ever got fired for
buying IBM computers".
Just some ideas.
John Coxey
Michal Harezlak
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 06, 2000
Posts: 185
... but of course it is all H1's fault and do not forget about priests and cyclists ...
eric moon
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 26, 2000
Posts: 133
Well, just to counter the responses in this forum. I got a GUI job based on having a BA in an unrelated field, non-technical experience in UI, and teaching myself Java. I'm not even certified. But I did have clever, working applications on my laptop to take to my interview.
I got my tip through a job fair. And I was lucky to get to go straight to a technical interview. I've had bad luck talking to recruiters and HR people. If somebody can't ask you a more inteligent question than "how many years of job experience do you have in java", or "rate yourself as a java programmer from 1 to 10" you're sunk. Just get out of those situations as fast as possible. But in both cases where I got actual technical interviews, I got offered the job. Maybe I'm just lucky. But I'm also articulate and I read people decently, so I guess I interview well.
Maybe that's a more hopeful response. Fact is, the more automated the work becomes, the fewer people it takes to do it. But the technology is a long ways from mature. There will continue to be jobs. And someone will appreciate the fact that you are a self-starter. It happened to me.
Good luck!

<BLOCKQUOTE><font size="1" face="Verdana, Arial">quote:</font><HR>"Those who cast the votes decide nothing. Those who count the<BR>votes decide<BR>everything." <BR> -Joseph Stalin<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Randall Twede
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 21, 2000
Posts: 4351

Thanks everyone,
I am thinking it will be very hard for me. My next step is to get help with creating a resume that makes me look good. I also need to check into this internship thing. I am of the opinion that the work I have done on my own will mean more than the certification if I can get them to examine it. For that reason I also need to recompile my servlets to fix problems like member variables that should be local and other things. I really should get back to work instead of spending the rest of my life savings, I just have to be ambitious(after im employed) instead of accepting a boring nowhere job for the rest of my life. If I was as smart as I think I am I would write a killer app that everyone wants. But its not that easy is it?
William Joi

Joined: Jan 21, 2001
Posts: 2
Actually it is.
Randall Twede
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 21, 2000
Posts: 4351

I know who you are william joi.
It is not easy at all. You cant just re-invent ICQ and make a fortune. ICQ already exists. So does Napster. It is not that easy and we all know it. It was a facetious question.
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: self-taught, can I get a job?
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