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what do I need to to know?

darren malt

Joined: Aug 17, 2002
Posts: 23
Ok, so I've been playing around with java for about a year now and have dicided I want to do it for a living. The problem is, what do I need to know to get my first java job.
I am currently learning servlets, and then I plan to revise and take the SCJP exam. Is this enough. Can I walk into an interview with SCJP, knolledge of servlets, maybe a project as an example of my work, but no prior experience in the IT industry and expect to have a chance.
I didn't for one minute think it would be easy but is this enough, or do I need to know xml, jsp and the likes. By the way I am 32 which probably doesn't help.
any assistance you could give will either put my mind at rest or ...
lets no go there for now.

"Know where I can get a compiler with a sense of humour?"
John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
- Given the current state of the Java market --- here goes.
- Need BS - Computer Science (or closely related field).
- Will need some type of experience (the classic "catch-22" - how do you get experience if you need experience). You will get this at school while doing internship.
- For first Java job: Core Java (SCJP2), Servlets, JSP, HTML, DHTML, JavaScript at a minimum. Probably would not hurt to learn STRUTS, Tag Libraries, ANT and one of the web servers (WAS or BEA).
- Again. The market is tough. You must be willing to relocate ANWHERE in the USA. And (in my opinion) you should have a college degree (Bachelor of Science).
- The above is only a minimum specification.
- I hold BS-Applied Math, BS-Comp Sci, MS-Comp Sci. Have about 3 years actual Java experience (paid experience). Been through 4 layoffs, two cross-country moves (Philly to Denver and Denver to Evansville, Indiana).
- The above requirements are pretty stiff. This is why I see Java programmer salaries climbing up again once the market bounces back.
- I am personally looking to get out of the IT field within the next 4 or 5 years. Am totally fed up with USA Management crap and having to constantly re-learn at my own expense. Am tired of being in a cubicle all day and being treated worse than the secretaries. At least they have their own printers.
- Eight years of college --- what!!! For this? No thanks.
- I spent last summer guiding (fly-fishing) in Yellowstone Park, Montana, Utah, Wyomming. Now I live in god-forsaken Evansville, Indiana where the nearest trout stream is like 200+ miles away.
- Why am I in Evansville. Because the market out there is that tough. I'm not going to Wash DC, Balt, Philly for US$45-US$55K/year. Not when rent in those markets is around US$600+/month for a basic 1 bedroom apartment. I was actually offered a position in DC for $50K/yr a few weeks ago. No thanks!!!

- Am getting my nursing degree, having finals tomorrow (Mon 8/4) in Anatomy 101. Will graduate in 2 years. Want to be a contract travel nurse - where you go to hospital for 13 weeks and then contract is done.
- Seriously!!! If you are thinking of a career in J2EE --- don't. It's not worth the hassle, the time, the education requirements, the constant re-learning, the constant after-hours work.
- How many of use here work more than 40 hours a week at current IT job? Most of us put in 50+ hours a week. How many of us have had to come in on the weekends to get project done? Or better yet, are told at 3PM Friday that you have to come in over the weekend because of some mainframe unit testing that you Java application depends on.
- How many of us are told when we HAVE to take vacation.? I want to choose my vacation dates -- not have some moronic manager tell me when I can or can't go on vacation.
- I won't even get into the interview game? You can read my posts elsewhere on this board.
- Sorry about such a negative post. But you asked for an honest response.
- Here's the irony. I'm one of the lucky ones (on this board), to have a full-time Java programming position.
Good luck,
John Coxey
[ August 03, 2003: Message edited by: John Coxey ]

John Coxey
Evansville, Indiana, USA
John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
- Another thing.
- I see that you are 32. That will not hurt you in this game.
- I will be 40 this Janurary (2004). I have not really seen any age discrimination issues come up when at interviews. In fact, most of the J2EE folks I know of are in their 30's.
- Why? Because it takes quite a few years to get that BS-Comp Sci degree. Most folks take 5 yrs to get it -- not 4 (yeah, there are exceptions). Also, it takes another 1 to 2 years to learn the J2EE model outside of college.
- Most employers don't take Java programmers right out of college. They want you to have a few years handling software support issues.
- NONE of the employers that I interviewed with (went through college interview process 3 yrs in a row - due to layoffs), wanted a Java programmer. Lockheed-Martin hinted at it, but in reality they wanted folks to maintain existing C/C++ systems and then move into the Java arena (maybe) after a year or two.
- Where I work at -- we are a 4 man Java shop.
- Manger is 40 yrs old - does not know Java. Is an ex Visual Basic programmer with BS-Elecrical Engineering, MS-Electrical Engineering.
- I am 39 yrs old, J2EE (Servlets, JSP, VAJ, WSAD). MS-CS.
- Co-Worker 1 is 45 yrs old. J2EE (Servlet, JSP, VAJ, WSAD). 2 yrs with United Airlines as J2EE programmer. MS-CS
- Co-Worker 2 is 45 yrs old. HTML, JavaScript Guru. Servlet, JSP, VAJ. BS-CS, BS-English, MBA. Been in Java game with this outfit for 5 yrs now.
- At Hewlett-Packard.
- Our immediate team:
- Girl from CA: 30 yrs old MS-CS -- had 2 yrs J2EE experience.
- Girl from TN: 28 yrs old BS-CS -- had 3 yrs J2EE experience.
- Lead from IL: 35 yrs old MS-CS
- Guy from PA: 50 yrs old BS-CS -- just starting in J2EE.
- H1B from India: 30 yrs old MS-CS from Drexel -- J2EE guru/genius.

- The New Jersey team:
- 5 Guys working on SwissCom Project:
- All were 28-32 yrs old. Half had MS-CS. All had BS-CS.

- 5 Guys working on Colgate Project:
- Youngest was like 28 yrs old.
- Most were 35+ yrs old.
- From what I have seen. The J2EE game is not full of 18-20 yr olds. It's a tough game. ALL of us (both at HP and at American General) spend 1 or 2 hours EVERY SINGLE DAY hitting the books outside of work.
- I am sort of slacking off in that regards --- as I am devoting most of my after hours effort towards nursing school.
- Why am I leaving the J2EE arena?
1. The instability of the market place.
2. The instability of the J2EE world. Do I want to continually work 50+ hour weeks and study another 5-10+ hours a week -- just to keep up? Will I want to maintain this pace at 60 yrs of age.
2A. On a side note: I don't ever plan on retiring. Even if I hit the lottery for 100 Billion - Trillion Dollars. This sitting around the nursing home/mall/couch/tv is for the birds. I through my TV the hell out -- got so sick of being a couch potato. Lost 120 lbs in the process. Still keeping it off after 2 yrs.
3. The ever present mentatilty of management, that IT workers are "Blue Collar Workers in a White Collar Environment". That we can be pooped on at any time, any place, any where.
4. The fact that it quit being "fun".
5. Don't get me wrong. I love to program. Nothing like getting out the books, a case or two diet-pepsi, a case of Doritos, and hacking out a few hundred lines of code at 2AM. Remember those days!!!
Remember the days of no management. No stupid management training courses. No getting yelled at because I left 10 min early for lunch. Fishing a major bug hatch at 8AM and comming to work in waders at noon or 1pm (depending on the hatch).
Not any more.
We'll probably have to start wearing suites and ties again in a few more years.
So those are my reasons.
Gotta run.
John Coxey
darren malt

Joined: Aug 17, 2002
Posts: 23
John thanks for your honesty.
I can't honestly say I enjoyed reading it but it's better to hear it straight. I new the industry wasn't in great shape but I didn't think it was that bad.
I can't do the BS, too much time. (currently unemployed with a family to support).
However I am based in surrey England, where there is quite an IT industry. Don't know if that makes any difference, if it does mean anything to anyone I'd like to hear from you before I give it all up.
What about the agency's, there are loads around here that I haven't gone to because I haven't yet done my SCJP2, can't they put me in work.
I never thought I would be making much money for the first couple of years as a programmer but I thought it would happen. Then gradually I would pick up the experience to make a decent wage.
John Coxey
Ranch Hand

Joined: Oct 24, 2000
Posts: 503
- In the USA - You will need a BS-CS just to get an interview.
- Also, every single Java programmer that I know of has been laid off at least once in the past 5 years. I know about 40 J2EE programmers. Not one is working at the same place they were 5 or 6 years ago. All have been laid off. The longest employed one at my current position was laid off 5 yrs ago and came to where I work at now.
- If you could somehow get into an IT shop without a degree, and then get 4 or 5 yrs experience, it will still be tough (if not impossible - at least in USA) to get on with one of the big boys. My personal experience has been with the Fortune 500 companies (Hewlett-Packard, Lucent, Qwest, Osh-Kosh Clothing, American General Finance, EDS, Bethlehem Steel). All pay decent salaries (you can support a family on), but all will want to see a college degree before they interview you.
- And no matter what, are you prepared to keep studying every day? You will study more (just to stay in game), than you will for a college degree. Not being mean - just truthful.
- And are you prepared for the reality that your skills (if you do not study), will be outdated in 5 years. Don't believe me? Look at all the IT folks getting laid off that went into managmeent and let their technical knowledge get behind. Middle management is the first to go when times get tough.
- If I were to do it all over again. I would have gone into the medical field. Not as a doctor -- but as a nurse, paramedic, or some such. Granted, the pay is about 1/2 what CS majors make, but, you at least have something of a life.
- My reason for travel nursing is that here in the states - you make about $25-$35/hour for travel nursing. But you are on 13 week contracts. So I figure on taking breaks and fishing between gigs. My yearly pay will probably be less -- but my yearly happiness will shoot through the roof -- and at the age of 40 -- that's what counts.
- Continuing my little discussion:
- I have been looking at bus to motorhome conversions the past few weeks. Plan on purchasing a used one in a few years to use for both travel nursing as well as fly-fishing. Can't wait to own my own Greyhound Bus. And yes, I am going to put in a fare box. For a quarter I'll give you a transfer
- Maybe this is my midlife crises -- who knows. All I can really say is that I don't like being in a cubicle 10 hours a day - 200 miles from the nearest trout stream.
- Gotta run.
John Coxey
[ August 03, 2003: Message edited by: John Coxey ]
Billy Tsai
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 23, 2003
Posts: 1304
I am in my early 20's I have a Bachelor of Science in Information Systems Specialisation, Consisted of computer science and information system papers from the start to the completion of the degree but not a full blown double major conjoint degree, prepares for an information technology position within the commercial sector.
I have the following certs and I am out of work

BEA 8.1 Certified Administrator, IBM Certified Solution Developer For XML 1.1 and Related Technologies, SCJP, SCWCD, SCBCD, SCDJWS, SCJD, SCEA,
Oracle Certified Master Java EE 5 Enterprise Architect
shay Aluko
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 01, 2002
Posts: 167
I would definitely go with John Coxey on this one. Its no more fun. I think I am one of the lucky ones but I have had to reinvent myself as a WebSphere Administrator to survive. I have to live under the constant threat of layoffs etc...I have not written a line of code in more than a year. I plan to leave too as soon as I can find something else viable to do that can pay my bills
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