I was just rereading my favorite book on software engineering, Peopleware. On page 101, they give a tip they learned from a CS professor in 1979. This professor was very concerned about getting his students jobs. In his class, in addition to practical experience at local companies, each student built up a portfolio. It's more common today to ask candidates for code samples. But what always impressed me are candidates who came in with demos. I highly recommend that you build up a portfolio. It may contain any of the following:
Bring a laptop with a live working demo of osftware you've worked on.
Have a web page the interviewer can point a browser to, to see a demo.
Bring code samples with you. Whereas the demos might be things you've worked on with other people, the code smaples should be code you yourself have written. Along with the code, include some big picture documents, to help put the code in context.
Include writing samples. If you written documentation, any documentaion, from requirements, to design spec to user manuals, bring a copy of it with you.
If you can, have this on CD, and leave a copy of these items with the interviewer.
[/OL] Please remember to respect company confidentiality agreements, and do not use proprietary code and documents.
I brought a Fractal and Chaos graphical demo I developed on dos with the faster speed than any commercial one on market then (1993) to an interviewer when I was about to get my first full time programming job. I showed my interviewer my website and my programming team on the Internet when I was interviewing for my current job. I agree with the point Mark try to make whole heartly. Need Java real project experience? Join our project team here!
When I was first out of college and was going out for interviews as a programmer, I presented a diagram of a system that we were designing for one of my classes. I mounted a presentation, showing everybody what we were planning to do. I'm sure that this got the job; I was able to beat out many other students who were competing for the same job. Although the job market is very different these days, a portfolio definitely helps at an interview.
When I interviewed for my current job I did something similar. I made a few diagrams of the architecture of projects I had a worked on whilst at University to help explain the development experience I had. I think this definitely had a positive influence on getting my present position. Marks right. A portfolio is recommended, especially for Java Developers like myself who are looking to break into the market. Best Regards, Mark