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Changing Careers: how hard is it at the moment.

ione walker
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 19, 2001
Posts: 31
I am in the process of making a career change.
I graduated from college in 1984 with a BA in Chemistery from Reed college.
I spent the next 15 years in the Pharmasudical industery as a chemist and as a Production Supervisor and as a
QA Manager.
I quit in June on 2000. I was working helping out a friend as a receptionest at Rare Medium in Detroit.
When I talked to the Director of Production/Programing & asked him what I would need to do to get hired as a entery level Java programmer, given that I was NOT willing to go back to school to get a 4 year computer degree.
His responce was that a local HTML/WebDeveloper School would be good.
He had several people who had come from there.
All well & Good.
RareMedium Detroit is closed.
Any ideas on how I can get that citical first Job.
I really appreciate you responses.

------------------
=======================
Ione Walker
walkeri@uas.net
========================


=======================<BR>Ione Walker<BR>walkeri@usa.net<BR>========================
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
I completely disagree with his advice, and wonder if maybe his incorrecting thinking had something to do with the company shutting down. From their web site, looks like they were a combination VC/consulting firm for .coms; I'm surprised by his advice; although I don't know exactly what you asked or how he responded, so I may be misunderstanding.
Web/HTML != Programming/Java
I would even say Web/JSP != Programming. (!= means not equals in programmer speak.) What happened the last few years is that everyone started a .com and needed a web site. There were nowhere near enough programmers and/or web developers. Many people switched careers and become web developers. Building websites and writing HTML (circa 1997 - present) was not that difficult, so many people with little technical backgounds could pick it up. With today's tools you can even build full e-commerce web sites nearly right out of the box, with little programming ability, just some basic technical saavy.
Now that the world has come to it's sense and realized .com does not imply IPO, web programmers are out of jobs. Application programmers, people who know how to code in Java and C/C++, are still in good demand. So if you only know web/HTML you're out of luck. Also, kids just out of school, even CS majors, are having trouble, because companies have hiring slow downs/freezes, and don't want people with no experience.
Bottom line. I would be surprised if you can find a programming job in the next 6 months, even if you did learn full blown progamming, and not just HTML. No one will hire you without experience. Beyond 6 months, who knows? If the economy is like it is now, forget it. If it gets better, maybe.

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
ione walker
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 19, 2001
Posts: 31
Maybe I need to clarify.
The class also did some HTML & other
general Web Stuff.
I have just completed a 5 mo course in
Java programming.
I am in the process of working my way through the
Cattle drive.
Thanks
Peter Lyons
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 12, 2000
Posts: 202
If you already have some Java, how about some Oracle? Also consider working on getting you SCJP.
I agree with Mark too; spending time and money learning HTML and web development probably isn't going to help you get a job in the current market.
ione walker
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 19, 2001
Posts: 31
I just posted & I guess I was not clear.
I just compleated a 4 mo course in Java programming,
as well as a 4 mo course in HTML, javascript & the rest of web developer
I have just finished / Assignment Java-5 (Times) /
I think I am readdy for a job as an ENTERY level java programmer.
What can I do to make myself more attractive to an employer?
I do have a BS degree in chemistry from Reed College in Portland OR.
I also am not a kid just out of college.
I have 20 years work experiance.
Any sugestions on what I CAN do will be greatly appreacated.
Thanks again.

------------------
=======================
Ione Walker
walkeri@uas.net
========================
Tony Alicea
Desperado
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 3222
    
    5
Sure I do. If you already have a degree in one of the hard sciences (Chemistry in your case), then go for the Sun Certified Java Programmer Certification, to prove at least to you that you learned the fundamentals. It would be better than just mentioning the course you took in your resume. And get a near 100% score in it too, even though you can pass with a measly 61% (Don't Ask Me!).
And while you study for the Sun Certification, get your own free Web site where you can place your student coding non-trivial self-assignments on the Web so that (in lieu of actual professional experience which would be better), you can show to prospective employers that you know what you are doing.
Again, with a degree in a hard science, any knowledgeable (versus idiot) interviewer should pay you attention as a Junior Programmer.
At least you know how to multiply! Ha ha!
Oh, yes, I'm a Physics graduate who followed the recommendation I just gave you. With 110% success (don't ask!)
OK! Ask! As soon as our links come alive again, you can "read all about it" in:
Tony's Java Certification and Job-Related Stories (Not Bedtime)

Tony Alicea
Senior Java Web Application Developer, SCPJ2, SCWCD
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by ione walker:
I just posted & I guess I was not clear.
just compleated a 4 mo course in Java programming,
as well as a 4 mo course in HTML, javascript & the rest of web developer
I have just finished / Assignment Java-5 (Times) /
I think I am readdy for a job as an ENTERY level java programmer.
What can I do to make myself more attractive to an employer?
I do have a BS degree in chemistry from Reed College in Portland OR.
I also am not a kid just out of college.


OK, that's more information, but I would still give the same advice. All the web, HTML and related training won't be very helpful. Javascript might be mildly useful. The Java programming course is good.
Yes, I know you're not just out of school, but the bottom line is you are inexperienced wrt programming and that will hurt your chances, even for an entry level position.
I disagree with Peter and Tony about the SCJP. I don't think it's worth while getting it (although the knowledge in it may be useful). But that's a different discussion I don't want to get into (see the other threads on SCJP in this forum).
A degree in hard science is good (I was a physics major, in addition to CS, and think I learned more from physics, wrt to problem solving). I always view that as a plus. But there are things you learn in CS programs which you don't always get in these crash courses, such as algorithms, discrete math, computer architecture, etc. I use these skills weekly.
I would suggest playing up your previous work experience. Show that you realize there's a whole production process, from planning through development, to QA, release, and support.
Continue to work on Java, and do development projects on your own, to show your work to potential employers.

--Mark
hershey@vaultus.com
Ravindra Mohan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 16, 2001
Posts: 216
Hi Tony,
I visited your home page , but unfortunately I was
not able to any further than the home page of your site.
Could you please look into as to why the links are not working.
Ravindra Mohan.
Tony Alicea
Desperado
Sheriff

Joined: Jan 30, 2000
Posts: 3222
    
    5
Thanks for visiting my Java mini-site, Ravindra.
The folks here at Javaranch are aware of the unavailable links which are ZIPped and hopefully soon will be unzipped. We had a major reorg here recently and old pages had to be archived to make room, but as I understand it, when the "dust settles" from the reorg, the pages will be available again.
Joel Cochran
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 23, 2001
Posts: 301
I disagree with some of Mark's statements. HTML, JavaScript, and such web items won't get you a job as a programmer, but I think they are valuable and may be very helpful getting that job when combined with your Java knowledge. If you are going to be a junior Java programmer, an employer very well might want you to learn .jsp/servlets, Java technologies that go hand in hand with your web training.
I do agree that a degree in hard science is good. I have NO such degree (and neither will the recruiter most likely) so a degree like that is simply impressive in its own rights, and it should speak highly of your ability to solve problems and analyze situations. These skills are essential to good software design.
So you ask what you can do? I disagree with Mark on the SCJP assessment. If you have no real world experience, at least the SCJP is some indication that you have the basic knowledge required to get started in Java. And if I passed with a 61%, I wouldn't advertise it.
One thing that hasn't been discussed here is databases. If you are looking at business programming, I personally think that understanding databases is one of the most important things you can do. It amazes me to this day, but I took a 10 week undergraduate course in C programming a few years ago and they NEVER talked about data. In the end, thats what computers are for: accessing, organizing, manipulating data! All I'm saying is you should be able to hold your own in a basic DB conversation, at least enough to get past the HR person.
Other than that, I would just keep scouring. If you have questions about how to get your foot in the door at a company, why not contact a programmer/manager in the company and get their advice? If you make a friend, it could go a long way towards getting that first job.
Best of luck to you,
Joel


Wait a minute, I'm trying to think of something clever to say...<p>Joel
randy arvizu
Greenhorn

Joined: May 12, 2001
Posts: 7
Hi Ione,
(Sorry, I got in late on this thread.) I work as a program manager for a software engineering division and I have definately hired individuals without technical degrees. I myself got my start being mentored by a developer who had an advanced degree in Oceanography; man could he sling code!
When I interview someone who is obviously looking for a career change, I try to find out what it is that draws that individual to the software world. Sometimes folks are only in it for the money, and they typically wash out after a few minutes, but folks that truly have an aptitude for programming and are willing to learn, genuinely stand out.
Don't discount your 20+ years of prior employment. Its part of what you bring to the table as a potential employee. You will find that a development job is much more than writing code eight hours a day. Your organization skills, your ability to communicate, time and resource management are all key attributes that managers look for in candidates.
People have given you good advice. The SCJP certification is nice. However, in all honesty, I'd probably skim right past it looking for your college degree. What the certification does tell me about you is that you are serious about your profession and that you are willing to learn. That goes a long way. But more importantly, the certification should give you confidence in what you've learned.
Best of luck to you. I am sure you will do well.
randya
John M. Gabriele
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 18, 2001
Posts: 232
[me listening in...]
thanks for the advice/comments randy.
i think i may have needed to hear that.
Michael Pearson
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 11, 2001
Posts: 351
I like working with people that have experience outside of the traditional CS or Engineering background. Often they bring a creative approach to tackling projects.
My advice is to look for opportunities that leverage your experience. If you have a teaching background try to find a software company that creates education-related software. If your a chemist or truck driver you'll find many companies like people to understand their business model that are working to fulfill their IT needs. Use your experience to your advantage.
Michael
Rashid Ali
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 16, 2001
Posts: 349
And what about to move to Medical Transcription Field.
The market is getting hard about it as well.
Just wanna to add it in discussion
Good luck
Rashid
 
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