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How to "get my foot in the door"

Keith Rosenfield
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 277
Hello all:
I am currently persuing an entry level job in java development. I have extensive education in java and passed the SCJP and SCWCD. I plan on taking the SCBC in a few weeks and fully expect to pass it. The only Java Development jobs that I see posted on the job sites require work experience. Even though I lack job experience, my education has afforded me plenty of real world experience. I have submitted my resume for numerous position by without much success. I did get an interview a few months back and made it to the second interview but did not get an offer. A recruiter gave me a couple suggestions on how I can "get my foot in the door". One of her suggestions was to call local consulting companies to see if they have openings for entry level. I will try this. Her other suggestion is to get a job in another technology and work my way into java development. Although, I have some level of proficiency in other technologies I am most proficient in java. Besides, java is my passion. I would prefer getting a java development position right of the bat, rather than working into one.
I would welcome any other suggestions on how I could get "my foot in the door." If you currently are employed in java development, please tell me how you got your start. Do entry level positions in java really exist?
I would hate to abandon my passion to persue something else.
Thanks,


Keith Rosenfield<br />SCJP<br />SCWCD<br />SCBCD
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
You can get experience working on an open source project.
Keith Rosenfield
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 277
Hi Rufus:
I have plenty of development "experience" through the courses I have taken. I graduated from a three month highly intensive java course. During the three months, I wrote over 10000 lines of code in the development of several full featured java applications. At this point, I want to focus on getting employed and receiving a paycheck. What I'm asking for a suggestions on getting employed and others experiences on getting employed.
Just in case, how would I find these open source projects?
Thanks,
Jon McDonald
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2001
Posts: 167
A few things that have worked for me:
1) Tell EVERYONE YOU KNOW what you do for a living (or what you want to be doing). Most of the job offers I have received came from friends, family, friends of family, family of friends, friends of friends,... you get the point. It is amazing how effective this method is. Even at the consulting firm I used to work at, all of our business came from referals. When we tried to break into the generally advertised contracts we found it difficult to even get through the door.
2) Learn something besides Java. Lots of jobs out their today (especially those in small companies) require IT specialists who can not only code, but do some system administration/troubleshooting, basic web design (nothing fancy) and work with databases. In many cases, you are not known as the software engineer, but rather "the computer guy".
3) Take some college computer classes and do well in them. This is an absolutely great place to network. There seemed to me to be a higher percentage of people who were already in the IT field taking college credit computer classes than those in the certificate classes. Also, instructors can write recomendations, provide you with contacts in the business world, and give you valuable tips for gaining employment in the field.
4)Help people who need technical assistance. This does two things. First it improves your reputation with whomever you helped, making it more likely that they will speak highly of you to others. Second, it sharpens your skills. Even if it seems boring, use your skills to make it more exciting.
Hope this helps. These things have worked for me,
Jon


SCJP<br/>
"I study politics and war that my sons may have the liberty to study mathematics and philosophy in order to give their children a right to study painting poetry and music."<br />--John Adams
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
At this point, I want to focus on getting employed and receiving a paycheck.

We know your pain.
If you search this forum with the phrase open source you will find several threads that talk about sourceforge.net et al.
IMO, get more certificates. But the mindset in this business is that experience is everything.
I hope you're not 30+ or you could be fighting a tough career for age discrimination.
Many large companies seek, are seeking, people of your status, if you meet the description of recent college grad.
Keith Rosenfield
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 277
Thanks Jon and Rufus for your input.
I'd like to touch on the points Jon made.
1) Tell EVERYONE YOU KNOW what you do for a living (or what you want to be doing).

Most of my friends and family already know I'm looking for work and what I wnat to do. I do recall my stepmother mentioning that one of her relatives, her cousin I think, works in the IT field. I will explore that possible lead further.
2) Learn something besides Java.

I do have many other skills other than Java. I have studied web development and database programming. I have focused on java for two reasons. I love to program and I love the Java programming language.
3) Take some college computer classes and do well in them.

I'm all schooled out for now. Three years ago I attended The Chubb Institute for an 8 month program and two summers ago I attended a three month, highly intensive Java Development course. I addition I have spent numerous hours in self-study preparing for my Java certifications. One of my instructors at Chubb wrote a glowing recommendation for me. I'm at the point in my life that employment is my foremost priority. I have tons of education behind me.
4) Help people who need technical assistance.

I am the computer guru of my family and friends. I'm the one always fixing their computer woes. I have also been private tutoring which I find to be a great way to keep sharp. I'm just not sure how to translate this in a carrer possibility.
Now to touch on a couple points made by Rufus.
IMO, get more certificates. But the mindset in this business is that experience is everything.

I am currently preparing for my third sun certification. Are there any other certs that I should focus on? When you say experience, do you mean work experience? If I was getting work experience, that would mean I was working which is why I made this post in the first place. I have plenty of non-work related programming experience.
I hope you're not 30+ or you could be fighting a tough career for age discrimination.

I am 30+, 36 years young to be precise. My age is something I can not change. I prefer to work on things that I can change. I think I have more to offer than a recent college grad. I am mature, focused, skilled, and very proficient in most aspects of Java Development. I am very determined to make it in and I need to focus on how I can make it and not why I can't. Are there any developers out there in my age bracket that can give me some advice?
What I'm asking for are first hand accounts from individuals currently employed as a Java Developer and how they broke into the field. If you are currently a Java Developer, please share your story. Jon and Rufus, what do you both currently do for a living?
Thanks for your input,
Matt Cao
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 03, 2003
Posts: 715
Hi Keith,
I'm with the recruiter advice because in any competitive game there is no straight line to the goal. They are all seems zig-zag.
But at your age, I would be scare too. Are you going to visualize yourself retired with Java Developer? At that age, I sit behind executives and directors give them a different insight as the project architect demonstrating.
Regards,
MCao
Tony Collins
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 435
Keith,
I'm 34, with 8 years experience at a blue chip company and a good education. I am finding it hard to get back into the job market, I suspect age. The problem comes when you want to switch sectors( or start late in a sector ). I worked in telecoms which is all but dead, so I have to start at the bottom in another industry. But employers want to take 21 year olds on in these positions and mould them.
Tony
D. Rose
Ranch Hand

Joined: Apr 25, 2003
Posts: 215
Yes Tony, I suspect the same. Industry wants younger people. Older people are seen as outdated.
If you are in then age does not matter but if you are out then it does matter.
SJ Adnams
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 28, 2001
Posts: 925
you could take a temping job (data entry or something) then socialise with the programmers/managers.
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
Rufus, what do you both currently do for a living?

I have a big lance tied to the top of my car. I drive around the country looking for windmills.
Keith Rosenfield
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 277
Hi all,
I appreciate your contributions and I would like to respond:
But at your age, I would be scare too. Are you going to visualize yourself retired with Java Developer? At that age, I sit behind executives and directors give them a different insight as the project architect demonstrating.

I do visualize myself as a Java Developer for now. That's what I have prepared myself for. I don't have a clue what I'll be doing when I retire and I don't see why that should have any influence on my immediate goals.
Yes Tony, I suspect the same. Industry wants younger people. Older people are seen as outdated. If you are in then age does not matter but if you are out then it does matter.

A company that hires using age as a basis is shooting their own foot. I don't see the advantage to hiring someone younger. I have tutored many younger programming students, and for the most part there skill level and maturity could not compare to what I have to offer. Younger is not necessary better. Better is better.
As I said in a previous post, my age is not within my control. You can tell me that my age is an issue in endless ways but I still can't turn back the clock. I wouldn't want to either. I'm in a better place now than when I was 21. Please refrain from making this thread a discussion of age.
you could take a temping job (data entry or something) then socialise with the programmers/managers.

I have no intention of working as a data entry person. I have invested too much time, money, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into preparing myself for a programming career. I plan on being the programmer that data entry people socialize with, not vice versa.
But employers want to take 21 year olds on in these positions and mould them.

That doesn't sound reasonable in the current job environment. Why would a company prefer to invest resources into molding a new hire rather than hiring an already molded individual especially with such a large turnaround in this industry.
I have had my fill of reasons why I can't make it and why I should give it up. I'm fully aware of what I'm up against. As I said in my last post, I want to hear from those currently working as Java Developers and how they broke into the field.
Please don't waste my time with statements like
I have a big lance tied to the top of my car. I drive around the country looking for windmills.

I'm looking for postive contributions not negativity and jokes.
Thanks all,
HS Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
I have a big lance tied to the top of my car. I drive around the country looking for windmills.

Perhaps that is what he does for a living.
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
I am not keeping you from getting hired...
Read Matloff's Assertions. Find the statement that goes something like - no matter the amount of training an older worker gets - the industry simply refuses to hire older workers without actual industry experience.
I have a whole pile of certificates, all the ones you have and more. I go on an interview and I am certain I have better technical knowledge than the interviewer. I have slaughtered the tech-check, brain bench and a bunch of other tests offered by the vendors to test my java knowledge. They just don't like to hire older people.
Try reducing the number of years of experience you list on your resume.
Watch for the look in there eyes when they call you in for more interviews and find out you're playing the game.
Work on being a smooth interviewee.
SJ Adnams
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 28, 2001
Posts: 925
I have no intention of working as a data entry person. I have invested too much time, money, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into preparing myself for a programming career. I plan on being the programmer that data entry people socialize with, not vice versa.
I suggested that because I know someone who was having trouble finding work. They took a temp role which was basically data entry work, meeting a few people (including myself) networking, they now have a permanent role as a developer.
Tony Collins
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 435
Originally posted by Keith Rosenfield:

I'm looking for postive contributions not negativity and jokes.

If your looking for a particular answer you maybe disappointed, you have to be truthful with yourself and then make a plan.
Your looking to come into a profession that has been hammered the past few years with a lot of unemployed engineers with more experience than yourself. You may find it hard. Also if you use the same tone in your interview as in your posts you won't get anywhere, particully when your looking for junior roles. Maybe that's why older engineers aren't as highly valued, they talk back. This isn't negativity it's the reality of the situation.
Tony
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
Please don't waste my time with statements like ...
I'm looking for postive contributions not negativity and jokes.

I just love it when I get the timing wrong and the mill blade knocks me off my horse and about kills me.
HS Thomas
Ranch Hand

Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
Originally posted by Rufus BugleWeed:

I just love it when I get the timing wrong and the mill blade knocks me off my horse and about kills me.

I knew there was a Business Model in there somewhere!
Phil Teng
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 06, 2004
Posts: 7
Keith,
I have to say I really admire your spirit. I've had chances to do things I love for my life, but didn't have enough courage to go with them. So I'm blowing the horn for you, way to go.
There is no reality with a clear line seperating black and white. They are all mixed up. So don't be upset with negativity, for it's not on the side against you, but part of you, just like possitivity.
How many times have you been tripped by the obstacles you had already seen? Probably not many. We get tripped by the things we don't see. So if you are having a hard time advancing, there must be something you don't see that's playing tricks with you.
If I were you, I'd study three things.
1) Me. What are my advantages and disadvantages. What people say in forum are true? Since they've said it, there must be some reason to it. What is it? How am I going to balance it?
2) Employers. What do they need? How am I going to fulfill their needs? Email them, call them, fax them, pound them with questions and talk to them. If I couldn't get a job, at least I could get an answer that leads to one.
3) Competitors. Study them, thoroughly.
Do what you believe, since you get critisized anyway ^_^.
Keep up the good fight and things will work out for you.
Phil,
PS, do you have to be an employee? Why not an employer?


5th Dan wannabe
Keith Rosenfield
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 277
Hi all:
Over the last few years I have put all of my energy into developing my technical skills. I attended The Chubb Institute for an 8 month web development course and attended SetFocus for a three month Java training course. I graduated at the top of the class in both. It was my belief, apparantly mistaken, that finding employement would be relatively easy if I excelled in school. Now that I've been in the job market for a while and I've seen the reality, I'm no longer singing the same tune. That said, I still haven't given up my dreams and I'm in this game for the long haul. I WILL SUCCEED!!!
Tony Collins said:
Also if you use the same tone in your interview as in your posts you won't get anywhere, particully when your looking for junior roles. Maybe that's why older engineers aren't as highly valued, they talk back.

What tone have I used in my posts? I am just a bit frustrasted that I'm hearing so many reasons why I can't make it, instead how I can make it. Maybe, I've got my head buried in the sand and I need a reality check. Now that I've been dished a healthy serving of reality, I would appreciate it if the following replies are restricted to constructive advice.
This isn't negativity it's the reality of the situation.

What I mean by negativity is when someone tells me what my obstacles are without any advice on how to overcome them. I'm not saying that you shouldn't say something like "your age might be a factor", but please follow it by suggesting a way to overcome this obstacle. It doesn't do me any good to hear what the hurdles are, if it isn't accompanied by advice on how to get over them. If there are obstacles that are insurmountable in my path then maybe I need to find a new path. I haven't gotten to that point as of yet.
The jist of many of the posts to this point have been "you're too old and inexperienced. You will never make it in this field so give it up". I am too determined to pay any mind to this kind of message. When I do succeed, it will be that much sweeter. I will know that I followed my dreams, and I never payed heed to those who say I should "give it up".
Phil Teng said:
I have to say I really admire your spirit. I've had chances to do things I love for my life, but didn't have enough courage to go with them. So I'm blowing the horn for you, way to go.

Thanks for you support Phil. I needed that about now.
It seem that my spirit is my most valuable asset at this point. I never expected success to come easy, so challenges as difficult as they have been, have never detered me from my goals. My spirit can not be broken.
Thanks for your 3 points on who I should study. That will be helpful.
Phil Teng said:
PS, do you have to be an employee? Why not an employer?

At this time I am seeking an Java Development opportunity. I'm not sure how I could be an employer and a Java Developer at the same time. Down the road I may look into this possibility.
Thanks again to all that have taken time to contribute to this discussion.
[ January 06, 2004: Message edited by: Keith Rosenfield ]
[ January 06, 2004: Message edited by: Keith Rosenfield ]
Tony Collins
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 03, 2003
Posts: 435
Keith we know the problems you are having, many of us have the same problems. I myself have a degree and three postgraduate degrees in Engineering but no job. My advice was, be humble, in this industry that attribute is a neccessity.
Tony
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Keith Rosenfield:

I'm looking for postive contributions not negativity and jokes.

I agree that negativity is the reality (at least according to some people), and as for jokes, well, we like to keep things lighthearted here at the ranch (as long as thread don't get too off topic). Even if you don't wnat to hear the negativity, others may. They may be more willing to give up and that may be appropriate for them. Although you began the thread, it is for everyone at JavaRanch. We have a significant number of "lurkers" (people who have not registered but browse the site regularly) and they might find this information (positive and negative) useful, too.
--Mark
Keith Rosenfield
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 277
Hi Mark:
I appreciate your input but please look at how I defined negativity in my last post.
The purpose of this thread was to get input from current developers on how they made it or suggestions from those not currently employed as developers on how to get employed as a developer. I appreciate the few individuals that have answered this call.
As this thread has proceeded, it has occured to me that if someone is currently employed as a Java Developer they wouldn't have the time or the need to visit this forum. It seems that most of the responses are from individuals in the same boat as me. Unemployed, struggling, looking for answers and direction. If this is not the case please correct me. If you are not unemployed, then please tell me how you became employed. THAT is what I'm asking for.
Thanks,
[ January 06, 2004: Message edited by: Keith Rosenfield ]
[ January 06, 2004: Message edited by: Keith Rosenfield ]
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Keith Rosenfield:

As this thread has proceeded, it has occured to me that if someone is currently employed as a Java Developer they wouldn't have the time or the need to visit this forum.

I don't think we've done a survey, but I would suspect a good number (probably greater than 50%) of the people who have posted in this forum in the last month are employed. I come here to help others (which is why I was asked to be a moderator, not the other way around :-), so I'm sure many others do, too.
I got my current job through networking (it was from a program I teach at MIT). My last job came from a college mailing list I was able to stay on because the list admin likes me (networking). In both cases, the job didn't exist as I took it, but I talked them into creating the position I wanted.
I haven't looked at the latest numbers, but back in 2001 I was saying that the bottom 10-20% of the deveopers need to pack up and go home. This is not a comment about H1-Bs, I'm using the imagry metaphorically. During the boom a lot of underqualified people got into software development. They would have better success in other industries. (This isn't sour grapes because I've been able to find jobs and, if you'll pardon the conceit, I consider myself to be on the other end of the spectrum and not competing with them. If I'm wrong about my abilities, well, so be it, it's a free market and I'll happily compete again them; I just think they're better off elsewhere.)
Some number of people may still need to leave our industry, or quickly develop better skills.
--Mark
Keith Rosenfield
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 277
Hey Mark:
I consider myself to be on the other end of the spectrum as well. I have invested most of my energy into my technical skills, while my job searching and networking skills have suffered. That is why I am posting to this forum. To get a better feel for what is and is not effective in getting "my foot in the door." It sounds like you have some great connections. I don't have those kind of resources at my disposal. I have nearly exhausted any networking possibilities I could think of. I will not be packing my bags any time soon. I am here to stay.
BTW..What is your current job? I am looking for input specifically from current Java Developers but any input is appreciated.
Thanks again,
[ January 06, 2004: Message edited by: Keith Rosenfield ]
Bela Bardak
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 02, 2004
Posts: 179

What I mean by negativity is when someone tells me what my obstacles are without any advice on how to overcome them. I'm not saying that you shouldn't say something like "your age might be a factor", but please follow it by suggesting a way to overcome this obstacle. It doesn't do me any good to hear what the hurdles are, if it isn't accompanied by advice on how to get over them. If there are obstacles that are insurmountable in my path then maybe I need to find a new path. I haven't gotten to that point as of yet.

Ok. I'm going to give you my standard line about how to find work when you don't fit the standard template people are expecting: Buy and read Guerilla Tactics in the New Job Market . It comes in two editions with slightly varying titles. Plain Guerilla Tactics in the Job Market or the one I linked. Doesn't much matter which one you read. Nor are the resources listed in this book applicable to the UK (It's from the US). It's olddddd.... Dated. And still the best.
Twenty years ago I was an econ major trying to enter the programming field in hard times. "No chance, kid, peddle your papers elsewhere." A kindly HR exec told me to read this book. Less than two weeks later I almost landed a job on a telephone interview against 5 more or less experienced applicants when I had no experience myself. That guy called spent about $50 bucks on long distance charges and talked 3 hours with me. He was serious, no jive!
Two months later I landed my first job (for real) against 5 others. The guy said he couldn't pick between us, so I asked him to give me a small project which I could do at my university. He gave me the project which I finished a couple weeks later. Now he still had 5 people he knew nothing about and one persistant bastard whom he did. Guess who got hired?

The jist of many of the posts to this point have been "you're too old and inexperienced. You will never make it in this field so give it up". I am too determined to pay any mind to this kind of message. When I do succeed, it will be that much sweeter. I will know that I followed my dreams, and I never payed heed to those who say I should "give it up".

Sounds familiar. You have to work the seams of the system. IBM, Sun, Micro$oft? Fuggeddaboutit for a couple of years! You need to become exploited, underpaid labor for some small outfit which is looking to get stuff done for the minimum. Monster.com is probably not for you. That is a numbers game. I worked college bulletin boards in the early 80's. Every one I could find.
Absolutely don't give it up. Jackson tells you to write 'No' all across and down a notebook sheet of paper with a single 'Yes' in the lower right corner, then post it on your refrigerator door. Every time you get a 'No' of any kind cross one off. You're getting closer to 'Yes'.

It seem that my spirit is my most valuable asset at this point. I never expected success to come easy, so challenges as difficult as they have been, have never detered me from my goals. My spirit can not be broken.

Your spirit is the most important thing. And your ability to think agiley and work out new stuff to try and new places to look. Most of these fellows started during decent times I think, or with advantages you and I didn't have. You don't fit into the intake for IT training programs. But guess what? Those programs ain't hiring anyway!. Not many of them!
[ January 06, 2004: Message edited by: Bela Bardak ]
[ January 06, 2004: Message edited by: Bela Bardak ]
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Keith Rosenfield:

I consider myself to be on the other end of the spectrum as well. I have invested most of my energy into my technical skills, while my job searching and networking skills have suffered.

I don't mean to be harsh, but I also believe in telling "the truth" (meaning how I see it). I don't think you are. Now I can't judge your intelligence (because it turns out, remarkably that everyone in this site is in the top 25% intelligence-wise, just ask them, they'll tell you), or many other attributes. I only know two things about you, but neither are on the high end of the spectrum (maybe I'm just missing information):
I have plenty of development "experience" through the courses I have taken. I graduated from a three month highly intensive java course.
In today's market that's a very poor position to be in. You have no experience, and no college CS degree, unlike a majority of the field.
Again, I'm not trying to be mean, but this is the reality.

I have invested most of my energy into my technical skills, while my job searching and networking skills have suffered.
Here again, that's not putting you at the top of the spectrum, but right in the middle. Experts without networking skills are not in a strong position. That's part of who you are.

Originally posted by Keith Rosenfield:

BTW..What is your current job? I am looking for input specifically from current Java Developers but any input is appreciated.

I'm currently working as director of engineering. My last job (I left in Sept) was Java development.

--Mark
Rufus BugleWeed
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 22, 2002
Posts: 1551
SCWCD is probably getting weak as a marketing tool. You need struts and JSTL on your resume to get more attention.
Sonny Gill
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 02, 2002
Posts: 1211

Originally posted by Keith Rosenfield:
Hi Mark:
it has occured to me that if someone is currently employed as a Java Developer they wouldn't have the time or the need to visit this forum.
[ January 06, 2004: Message edited by: Keith Rosenfield ]
[ January 06, 2004: Message edited by: Keith Rosenfield ]

I am with Mark on this one. No numbers to support, but I have a feeling that a significant number of people posting here are employed and come here to help others out, and share knowledge with others.
Keith, people who you thought are being negative and frivolous might just be the ones who are trying the best to help you.
Should scoring 100% on SCJP get you a great job? I got 100% on SCJP way back in 2001. Did I have jobs being thrown at me? NO. Did I expect it? NO. I realised that SCJP is a good start, but you need more, a lot more. And the fact that I had never done any university degree at that time didnt help much either. I had to work for free at a small company to get started, and I dont regret it, It was fair enough.
I am just about to finish an Advanced Diploma, and will start working in Feb on a fairly good job. I have got another job offer in Bangalore, India if I wanted to take it (right now I am in Malaysia), but that is in VB, ASP. Both of these jobs came to me through personal networking. And I got hired not only on the basis of my certification, or diploma, but more on the culmination of experience, understanding of software development, and ability to communicate acquired over last few years. And I had to be flexible with my goals, and expectations through out this time.
I do not really have anything to say that hasnt been already said. Hope things work out for you. If you are really passionate about programming, then dont give up, but try to be adaptive.
IMHO, employers dont place too much value on 3-month or 8-month courses. Sorry to say that, but I am afraid it is true.
I would say most of them value experience, CS degrees, and vendor certifications in that order. You definately need to show some real project experience to get a job these days. Consider working at a whatever development related job you can find at whatever pay for about 6 months, do a certification in the mean time, and then try to get a better job.
Best of Luck.


The future is here. It's just not evenly distributed yet. - William Gibson
Consultant @ Xebia. Sonny Gill Tweets
Jon McDonald
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2001
Posts: 167
Originally posted by Keith Rosenfield:

Jon and Rufus, what do you both currently do for a living?

Well, I work as a "technology coordinator" at a university. Essentially, it is a "jack of all trades" position. Some app development, some database design, some system administration. I am not solely a Java developer. Then again, I am glad that I am not, since being tied to a single technology, in my opinion, increases the risk of being let go when the technology changes or not being able to find a job because the technology is not in vogue. I just started the position, but it seems pretty fun so far.
Jon
Bela Bardak
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 02, 2004
Posts: 179

I have invested most of my energy into my technical skills, while my job searching and networking skills have suffered.
Here again, that's not putting you at the top of the spectrum, but right in the middle. Experts without networking skills are not in a strong position. That's part of who you are.

This is why I suggest that Keith reads Guerilla Tactics. He is on the opposite end of the job market from an MIT grad like you, Mark. But that doesn't mean his plight is completely hopeless. Energy and motivation are hireable traits. Keith is going to have to get out and find his opening the hard way, because the entry-level programs aren't hiring the likes of him these days. So? They aren't hiring much of anyone these days.
If I were Keith I might look for unposted openings in places like college placement center BB's. Also do some informational interviewing. Could be that someone will be impressed and either hire him to do something humble or refer him. Keith also needs to work on the networking skills fershure, and Geurilla Tactics will help with that.
Jon McDonald
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2001
Posts: 167
Originally posted by SJ Ponsardin:

From Keith:
I have no intention of working as a data entry person. I have invested too much time, money, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into preparing myself for a programming career. I plan on being the programmer that data entry people socialize with, not vice versa.

From SJ:
I suggested that because I know someone who was having trouble finding work. They took a temp role which was basically data entry work, meeting a few people (including myself) networking, they now have a permanent role as a developer.

To be perfectly honest, I read people recomending doing this type of thing 3 years ago on this board and thought it was a pretty dumb idea... until I did it, and it worked for me .
In 2001 I had been out of work, with no tech degree but a few CS classes in college and my SCJP. I took a data entry position because I needed the money. Yeah, it was somewhat humiliating that a big bad java programmer needs to do data entry to pay the bills, but I did what I had to do.
Within a few weeks of working there I was able to show SOME of my technology skills to them (offered suggestions on redesigning and consolidating a few of there smaller databases). So they started putting me on special projects, a few months after that, they hired someone else to do the data entry stuff and put me in a new position as fulltime database developer . Not only that, but some of the other employees gave me connections to small contract projects with some small businesses. Keep in mind that this company was a MAJOR financial institution in my area, that would NEVER have looked at me for a position like this had I applied directly (to be honest, the position didn't even exist, they created it when they saw what I could do for them).
It may seem demeaning and counterproductive to take a data entry position, but this is actually a good way to "get your foot in the door" as you titled this thread.
Jon
[ January 07, 2004: Message edited by: Jon McDonald ]
Jon McDonald
Ranch Hand

Joined: Sep 02, 2001
Posts: 167
Hey Keith,
Quick question. Do you have a Bachelor's degree. If so, in what? It makes a difference in the suggestions I would provide. Also, if you have one, did you go to a school in the same area as you live now?
Jon
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Bela Bardak:

This is why I suggest that Keith reads Guerilla Tactics. He is on the opposite end of the job market from an MIT grad like you, Mark.

I haven't rewad that book per se, but I agree with Keith, and most engineers for that matter, need to read books like this.
For the record, MIT does a terrible job teaching its students networking skills (as compared with peer schools like the ivy's). The program with which I'm involved is designed to reverse this problem.
--------------------------------
Keith,
I hope you're taking the advice somewhat, but not tally personally. By this I mean, we aren't trying to be rude or put you down. At the same time, I at least (I can't speak for the others) believe a good dousing with cold water is what's necessary to get you to open your eyes a bit more. I don't want to discourage your enthusiasm, which is an assest, but I also think you're more likely to score a run if you just try to get a base first, rather than trying to hit a home run.
--Mark
Bela Bardak
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 02, 2004
Posts: 179
Originally posted by Mark Herschberg:

I haven't rewad that book per se, but I agree with Keith, and most engineers for that matter, need to read books like this.
For the record, MIT does a terrible job teaching its students networking skills (as compared with peer schools like the ivy's). The program with which I'm involved is designed to reverse this problem.

Having a sheepskin from MIT IS a networking credential. I worked for an MIT guy twice some years ago. Based upon that experience, if I saw an MIT alum's resume cross my desk I'd invite him or her in for a talk. I can't say that for all the 'top' schools. Basically just MIT and Carnegie-Mellon. I'm sure not all MIT guys are good, but some are really good....
You probably can find a copy of Guerilla Tactics in the public library. It's about a 3-5 hour read and well worth the trouble. I bought a used copy this spring and read it again. It helped a lot.
[ January 07, 2004: Message edited by: Bela Bardak ]
Keith Rosenfield
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 277
Hi all:
WOW...Once you guys get started, there's no stopping you. As Martha Stewart would say, "That's a good thing". I am grateful for your contributions. This exchange will not only benefit me but all those in my situation.
Thanks Bella for the book recommendation. I found used copies on Amazon US for $1.50. I hope I have as much success with as you.
Jackson tells you to write 'No' all across and down a notebook sheet of paper with a single 'Yes' in the lower right corner, then post it on your refrigerator door. Every time you get a 'No' of any kind cross one off. You're getting closer to 'Yes'.

If things continue the way they have for me I'll have to write the No's real small.
Mark Herschberg Said:
I only know two things about you, but neither are on the high end of the spectrum (maybe I'm just missing information):

What two things do you "know" about me and how do you know what end of the spectrum I fall on. The spectrum I was referring to is the technical one. I have excelled in every programming course I have taken. My lowest score on an exam at Chubb was 93%, which was the first one. I answered only one question incorrectly in the last five exams, resulting in four 100%'s and one 98%. I always finished the exam way before anyone else in the class. Even though the exams were open book, I rarely cracked one open during an exam. As far as project work, one of my instructors wrote in his recommendation that, mine "was the best that he had seen". My classmates always came to me for assistance. Some even preferred me to the instructor. I've had similar results in my other schooling. I expect to have the same level of success in the business world. I'm not saying all this to brag, but to give you a better insight into my abilities.
Mark Herschberg said:
In today's market that's a very poor position to be in. You have no experience, and no college CS degree, unlike a majority of the field.

How can you say I don't have a CS degree. You never asked and I never said anything to the contrary. For a smart guy, you made a dumb assumption. I do have a college degree in information systems but for all you know it could have been CS. As far as experience, the reason I started this post is to discover ways to gain experience. This is the kind of "negativity" I'm talking about. You tell me what factors are working against me, which I am fully aware of, without suggesting ways to overcome them.
Jon McDonald said:
Quick question. Do you have a Bachelor's degree. If so, in what? It makes a difference in the suggestions I would provide. Also, if you have one, did you go to a school in the same area as you live now?

As I mentioned above, I do have a BA in Information Systems and I live a thirty minute drive from my Alma Mater.
Jon McDonald said:
It may seem demeaning and counterproductive to take a data entry position, but this is actually a good way to "get your foot in the door" as you titled this thread.

This would be my last resort. After all the money, time, effort, blood, sweat and tears that I have invested into a programming career, it would be a HUGE let down to take a job that I could have right out of high school. I know that it could lead to better things but there is no guarantee. I commend you for making it work for you.
Mark Herschberg said:
I hope you're taking the advice somewhat, but not tally personally. By this I mean, we aren't trying to be rude or put you down. At the same time, I at least (I can't speak for the others) believe a good dousing with cold water is what's necessary to get you to open your eyes a bit more. I don't want to discourage your enthusiasm, which is an assest, but I also think you're more likely to score a run if you just try to get a base first, rather than trying to hit a home run.

I am soaking in all the advice that you guys have generously provided. I am not taking anything personally. How could I when you don't know me personally. Besides, I believe in myself too much to be swayed by criticism. My problem is not getting to first base, it is getting up to bat.
Thanks again for all that have taken time to contribute.
Bela Bardak
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jan 02, 2004
Posts: 179
It may seem demeaning and counterproductive to take a data entry position, but this is actually a good way to "get your foot in the door" as you titled this thread.

This would be my last resort. After all the money, time, effort, blood, sweat and tears that I have invested into a programming career, it would be a HUGE let down to take a job that I could have right out of high school. I know that it could lead to better things but there is no guarantee. I commend you for making it work for you.

You're going to need to be more flexible in your outlook. The programming job may have to be your second stage goal. Another possibility may be to do some temp work. Look around for a friendly-seeming manager and an opportunity to make something better around there. Work out what you want to do with some care, then ask the manager for a little time to make a proposal. Most of them will be impressed, and you might just get the chance to do it. You could be on you're way to a job.
Mark Herschberg
Sheriff

Joined: Dec 04, 2000
Posts: 6037
Originally posted by Keith Rosenfield:

What two things do you "know" about me and how do you know what end of the spectrum I fall on.

Well, I only "know" what you told me. I didn't knwo you had a CS degree because you never said anything. I didn't ant to make assumptions, so I assumed the default.
Originally posted by Keith Rosenfield:

The spectrum I was referring to is the technical one. I have excelled in every programming course I have taken. My lowest score on an exam at Chubb was 93%, which was the first one. I answered only one question incorrectly in the last five exams, resulting in four 100%'s and one 98%.

Again, this does not put you at the top of the spectrum. With all due respect, that's like saying you're the best batter in little league. You may be good against other little leaguers, but no major baseball team is going to sign you. You may be just as capable as the other guys, or even more so, but the people who have only these short training programs are put at the bottom of the list. You may be at the top of the bottom section of the list, but it's still on the low end of the list.
Originally posted by Keith Rosenfield:

As far as experience, the reason I started this post is to discover ways to gain experience. This is the kind of "negativity" I'm talking about. You tell me what factors are working against me, which I am fully aware of, without suggesting ways to overcome them.

Keith, we can't always solve your problems. I'm trying to help you understand just where you stand, because I think you're not seeing it correctly (of course, this is just my opinion). I think that alone is valuable. I don't have any easy answers of, "do A, B, and C" and you'll get a job.

--Mark
Keith Rosenfield
Ranch Hand

Joined: Nov 25, 2003
Posts: 277
I didn't knwo you had a CS degree because you never said anything. I didn't ant to make assumptions, so I assumed the default.

Well you did make a false assumption. This seems to be coming from a "better than thou" attitude. With all due respect, for someone who claims to be "at the top of the spectrum", you writing has an abundance of typos and grammatical errors. The following statement that you made earlier makes no grammatical sense.
I haven't rewad that book per se, but I agree with Keith, and most engineers for that matter, need to read books like this.


Again, this does not put you at the top of the spectrum. With all due respect, that's like saying you're the best batter in little league. You may be good against other little leaguers, but no major baseball team is going to sign you. You may be just as capable as the other guys, or even more so, but the people who have only these short training programs are put at the bottom of the list. You may be at the top of the bottom section of the list, but it's still on the low end of the list.

All big leaguers started in the little league and I would guess that they were all at the top. What I'm saying is that in every technical 'league' that I've been a part of, I've been at the top. I can't say that I've been at the top of the big leagues because I haven't been there yet, but I imagine I will be when I get there. I'm sure that you were in my position once or did you skip the "little league". I wouldn't be persuing this career if I didn't have a love and an aptitude for it.
I really don't see why you keep focusing on where I stand. I KNOW where I stand. I am at point A and trying to get to point B. You keep reminding me that I'm at point A instead of guiding me to point B. It wasn't easy for me to get to point A and I know it won't be easy to get to point B. I am not afraid of the journey, I just need someone to point me in the right direction. I'm sure there will be challenges on my way there, and I'm ready and willing to take them on.
Keith, we can't always solve your problems. I'm trying to help you understand just where you stand, because I think you're not seeing it correctly (of course, this is just my opinion). I think that alone is valuable. I don't have any easy answers of, "do A, B, and C" and you'll get a job.

I'm not looking for someone to solve my problems. Only I can solve my problems. I'm just requesting that others who have been in my shoes and have made it to tell me their success stories. This kind of input will be invaluable.
I just want to say that I am extremely proud of my accomplishments thus far. Nothing that is said here or anywhere will take one iota away from that. If I completely fail in this field, I will know that I have put every ounce of my being into succeeding.
Thanks again for your support.
[ January 07, 2004: Message edited by: Keith Rosenfield ]
Stefan Andretti
Greenhorn

Joined: Jan 07, 2004
Posts: 1
Hi Keith,
Since and you are looking for a job for some time, maybe this can help: Try to contact an IT company, and offer to work for them for free for couple of months. After two months, they might give you an offer. If not, you still bebefit from the experience that you gained with them.
 
I agree. Here's the link: http://aspose.com/file-tools
 
subject: How to "get my foot in the door"
 
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