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Applied math major looking for advice

Homer LeMar
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 04, 2003
Posts: 4
Howdy all,
Ive been looking for jobs recently and am having trouble finding jobs that will allow me to do a good chunk of programming. Ill graduate with an applied math degree and a cs minor ( i have my SCJP 1.4). I was wondering if anyone could provide me with some suggestions that would help direct my search or make me more marketable.
Thanks


Homer<br />SCJP 1.4
Jon Egan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 24, 2004
Posts: 83
Homer,
I had the exact same story 7 years ago. Because I was not a CS or MIS major, I was concerned that I might have a tough time finding a programming job.
My approach was to hit the on-campus recruiting HARD. I found that a lot of companies were filtering out applicants and only interviewing those with CS or MIS majors, or only those with 3.0 or above GPAs. Mine was Applied Math (CS minor) 2.92 GPA, so I had 2 strikes against me.
My University's placement office had an established procedure for petitioning companies to make an exception and interview me even though I did not exactly match their criteria. I did this in several cases and interviewed with over 30 companies. The advantage there is that after a few, the interview is very polished.
I found that many of the companies appreciated the fact that I showed the interest and initiative to ask for the interview. They almost all saw the value in the Applied Math degree as demonstrating the necessary aptitude for a programming job. They were also all looking to fill "entry level" positions, and were more interested in aptitude than experience. I had second interviews with over half of them, and ended up with 8 offers. Most of my friends with CS or MIS majors had 2 or 3 offers at the most.
Also, because of my situation, I showed particular interest in companies offering a new hire training program. This was December 1996, and there were several companies offering training. I imagine now that is not the case (the company where I started abandoned theirs years ago, unless you had a Masters from a select list of schools...).
I think the SCJP is a great step to demonstrating that you also are "ready" for work. Be aware though that the HR reps sent to colleges to recruit are not particularly tech-savvy. I found this especially true for companies that are in other industries that are just hiring for their internal IT departments. Those same recruiters are there for the business school grads, etc. as well. As such, they may not make much of the SCJP until you explain it.
I think that if you are aggressive enough, you are not at any disadvantage compared to CS or MIS majors. My advice is to take full advantage of the placement office at your school, and interview with as many companies as you can fit into your schedule.
Another suggestion: get yourself some amount of non-academic experience if possible. I had a 2-month internship at a software company during my final term, I think that may have helped as well. If you can't find something like that, bid on some jobs on elance.com or sologig.com. You may have to do the work for free to get the experience.
Good luck,
Jon Egan
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Homer LeMar
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 04, 2003
Posts: 4
Thanks Jon,
Unfortunately when you go talk to the people at the career center at my school, they dont seem to allow you the opportunity to talk to companies whose qualifications you dont match exactly (been my experience at least).
Thanks for the info though, ill look into the contract stuff.
Take care
Homer
Jon Egan
Ranch Hand

Joined: Mar 24, 2004
Posts: 83
Originally posted by Homer LeMar:
...the people at the career center at my school, they dont seem to allow you the opportunity to talk to companies whose qualifications you dont match exactly (been my experience at least).

You want me to go down there? Cuz I will!
These people are WRONG.
I would seriously push them on this. I felt like the number of companies available through the university placement office was more than I could ever reach on my own. And that was my single biggest factor in getting good results.
Your placement office should not be making this call, you should insist that they at least ask these recruiters whether they will consider bending their requirements to interview you. Like I mentioned before, nearly all of the recruiters were happy to interview me when I got past the placement office's filter process.
The filter is there to keep out the truly undesirables, the fine arts majors looking to interview with NASA . The companies come to the universities with the lure of a well-filtered candidate pool. But you are not what these companies want to filter out.
From the business world, I can tell you I'd rather work with someone with your background, and a SCJP, than someone with a CS degree and only 1 semester of Java doing academic projects.
One other thought: you should know what you don't bring to the table. When you get into an interview with a company that is primarily looking at CS majors, be prepared for the questions regarding the tyes of classes you didn't take.... database theory, OO analysis and design, operating systems, data structures/algorithms, ... If you've read up on those types of topics, you can put at ease the recruiter that's on the fence about your major.
alright, enough out of me. Good luck on your search.
-- Jon
Homer LeMar
Greenhorn

Joined: Jul 04, 2003
Posts: 4
OK thanks again Jon, just have to keep looking.
Take care
 
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